SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Father Joe Carroll is a San Diego brand name. An empire builder and self-described hustler who has spent the past three decades as a relentless advocate for San Diego's downtrodden. He's recently retired, and medical issues have confined him to a wheelchair.
"One of the reasons I retired is the health. When you get old and you have bad legs to begin with, they get worse," Father Joe said.
Yet, Father Joe remains the face and the voice of the lost souls of our streets.
"We're still doing the ministry, helping over 3,000 neighbors every day of the week," he said.
Larry Himmel: What are some of the things that you look back on with a sense of accomplishment?
Father Joe: It's every day of the week, when I'm out in the public, I run into someone, either in a grocery story or who works in an office. I've had nurses in a hospital that are graduates of St. Vincent. That empowers you.
LH: What's the biggest misconception that people have, the public or in general, about people who end up at your front door?
FJ: I think they believe it's a free ride, that we give people food who don't deserve it. It's not really a free ride. You're giving up all your rights. We tell you when to go to bed. We tell you when you do this, when you do that. You've got to go to classes. You've got to go to counselors. You've got to go to addiction programs.
Despite all of his good works, Father Joe still has some bad days.
"There are times when I come home at night and come down 16th Street and I wonder did I accomplish anything, after 28 years, because there are still so many people out there," he said.
LH: Between now and through the holidays, if people find it in their heart and they want to be in the true spirit of the season, what are some of the ways they can help?
FJ: Well, absolutely, money is the best. For example, if you went out today and bought me $100 worth of groceries at a grocery store, I could have bought the same for maybe $60, because we buy in bulk. You can buy gifts for teenagers, but you're better off giving us a gift certificate or cash and say, "This is for a teenager to go shopping," so they can get what they want.
LH: When your time comes, when you get to depart this "veil of tears" and meet your maker, I mean, you've go to be thinking he's going to say, "Pretty good job."
FJ: That's all I want him to say. "Pretty good job."
A job that's far from over for Father Joe.