2014 Brings Renewed Passion…and a Call to Pick Up the Just Solve It Flag

April 9th, 2014

A note from our President and CEO Chris Megison:

Bolstered by an empowered community of believers who support the audacious vision to Solve Family Homelessness for North County, we see that our 15th year brings even bigger challenges for us, and for each of you, to weigh and consider. Last year at this time we had about 180 homeless kids enrolled in the Solutions University who were counting on us each and every day. Today that number is 300 kids.

You, who bring the vision of solving family homelessness to life for more families and more communities; you who give of your time, your energy, your resources and your passion; you are the wind beneath our sails. You are helping us solve homelessness by getting families quickly out of the shelters, cars, motels (and worse), and into 130 homes county-wide. And it’s not just shelter you’re giving them.  With Solutions, you’re providing jobs and a new found passion for life, free of enabling programs.  It is working because all of us are making it work, we are willing it to work despite the odds and the obstacles. We are working to innovate and succeed in the field of homelessness – alongside a 30-year-old system that doesn’t believe we can do it. But we know different. We know families can beat homelessness; we know once homeless kids can be set on an entirely different pathway, a path that ends the generational cycle of poverty and leads to newly enriched futures.

You may have heard that coming into 2014 we have made some programmatic adjustments. Due to priority realignments on the federal and state levels (and funding shifts from many of the foundations who have followed suit), we have had to get leaner, more focused and more resourceful.  With now only 14% of our annual budget coming from government grants, finding new efficiencies and being even more resourceful is as important as ever. With many other Southern California homeless organizations getting 70% or more of their annual budget from government funding sources, nonprofits often find themselves in the dilemma of chasing government funding to simply stay alive, changing their programs to align with the latest trends in the field.  We don’t chase funds because our 15 years in the field show that our program works.  It’s that integrity to our core values and program that lead us to struggle at times, but we will stay true to our purpose. We are singularly focused on the one thing that we know we can do the best: solve family homelessness – one family, one community at a time.

Nationwide, the homeless services industry is moving away from the deeper, more service-intensive engagements, on which Solutions for Change prides itself. The sector is doing this in favor of a newly adapted model called Housing FirstHousing First is a no-strings-attached housing model, where units are provided to the homeless free or near free without any expectation of changing destructive behaviors. The program builds in little accountability and even fewer support services for its homeless residents. Tammy and I, with our 23 years of work “on the ground” with thousands of homeless individuals, firmly reject that notion. In fact, we think that this model, unless modified with personal accountability structures soon, will result in significant failure to both the homeless and to the nation. We aren’t economists, but we cannot see how this model is sustainable economically. Without larger support services and a sense of accountability, the millions of homeless individuals going into these free or heavily-subsidized housing will still be there in 20 years.  While physically sheltered, nothing will have changed and nothing will have been solved.

To be clear, the leadership at Solutions for Change believes that homeless families do need housing and they need it as fast as possible. They shouldn’t be languishing in shelters or transitional programs. But our model is based on the core values of personal accountability and personal responsibility, the bedrock of the American society. These timeless core values have always driven our programmatic decisions and, as long as Tammy and I are at the helm, they always will. We don’t think that providing homeless families with taxpayer-funded free housing with optional services and optional accountability is a good idea. We’ve tried it and all we can say is, “ouch”. It does not serve them. It does not serve their children. And it certainly does not serve you, our public to whom we are entrusted to serve to solve homelessness in a responsible way. There are much, much, much better ways both programmatically and financially to solve homelessness.

Solving family homelessness is tough but it is doable with the right set of blueprints, with the right design. But even with the right design, it’s impossible without you. I am asking you if you would pick up the Just Solve It Flag and get behind the Imperative to Solve Family Homelessness in North County. Will you? Send me an email at chris@solutionsforchange.org with the Subject: I’m In. I’ve Picked Up the Just Solve It Flag, and then please join Tammy and I for coffee and breakfast, and a conversation about what that might look like for you. We will do this on Tuesday May 6 at 7:30am at the Solutions for Change main campus 722 W. California Ave.  I look forward to seeing you there! RSVP to Susan at 760-941-6545.

Serving to Solve,

Chris Megison

Bow Bonanza

April 7th, 2014

Elizabeth Kimball has found a new way to bring a smile to the faces of ailing children – through the gift of a bow. The act was simple yet effective, as Elizabeth realized after her first visit to the Ronald McDonald House clutching a stash of bows. The simple gift, coupled with some one-on-one time with the children, made far more impact than the high school student could have ever imagined.

One thing that shocked her even further: the secondary benefit to the bow makers themselves.

Kimball had reached out to Solutions for Change to see if our residents had any interest in giving back to the community through the sewing of these small treasures. Kimball found herself flooded with willing participants at Solutions, eager to contribute.

The group met and worked in a flurry of activity that produced a batch of dozens of bows, which would later be hand delivered to sick children at Rady Children’s Hospital. The day was wonderfully exhausting for both the Magnolia project team and the Solutions residents, leaving an air of satisfaction at Solutions for Change once the bows had finally been packed up and shipped off.

Out of everyone, our families here at Solutions understand how far a small token of support, like a bow, can go – especially at a time of great pain or misfortune. And just like the small tokens of support they receive every day from the greater North County community, they were happy to have a chance to provide these gifts of solace themselves.

Solutions thanks the Magnolia Project for including our families in this truly unique project and facilitating this wonderful day of giving.

Love in Action

February 13th, 2014

Valentine’s Day reminds us as Servant Leaders of “love in action.” It’s good to have the great feelings and emotions of love but it’s the actions of love that demonstrate our care and concern for others through service.  In the Bible we find a chapter that has been called the “Love chapter” (I Corinthians 13) which defines love in terms of how we treat others.  These characteristics or qualities of love point us to the behaviors of Servant Leadership and how we can best serve others in a loving way.

“Love is patient” – Servant leaders patiently listen to understand so as to take the time to best meet the needs of those they love.

“Love is kind” – Servant Leaders demonstrate respect and care in their speech and in their actions towards those they love.

“Love is not jealous” – Servant Leaders do not discount the achievements of others but praise and encourage those who succeed.

“Love does not boast” – Servant Leaders are humble and serve for the sake of others.  They look for ways to encourage and equip others instead of talking about themselves.

“Love is not rude” – Servant Leaders demonstrate respect and show dignity for every person and every role.

“Love is not self-seeking” – Servant Leaders focus on mutual benefit and how they can help others grow and get better.

“Love is not easily angered” – Servant Leaders “think about their thinking” so that they can pause and reflect before responding to people or situations, in order to do so appropriately.

“Love does not keep a record of wrongs” – Servant Leaders forgive and seek to restore relationships when possible.  They don’t hold grudges or harbor bitterness, but seek to right wrongs when possible and move forward in positive ways.

“Love always perseveres” – Servant Leaders are those who seek to influence people with a non-anxious presence, so as to inspire them to keep moving forward in positive ways in order  to get better.

“Love never fails” – Servant Leaders are those who never give up on those they love, but continue to look for ways to serve in healthy and productive ways.

As you think about love and talk about love, consider how you can best show your love to others by being a Servant Leader.

The State of Servant Leadership 2014

January 23rd, 2014

In 2012 Solutions for Change made the decision to officially adopt and incorporate into our organizational culture the principles and practices of Servant Leadership.  We made this decision because it best aligned with our organizational core values and our mission to solve family homelessness.  Servant Leadership is consistent with our goals for the personal and professional development of our staff, as well as for the families we work with.  Simply put, Servant Leadership is the attitude and action of “serving for the sake of others.”  This is what drives the mission and model of Solutions for Change.  Our purpose at Solutions is to have a positive and lasting impact on others and we believe that the principles and practices of Servant Leadership will enhance our impact by making us better leaders, teachers, counselors, family members and community partners.

2013 was a year of full implementation and growth, starting with the decision to make Servant Leadership the foundational piece to our resident’s core curriculum in the Solutions’ University.  The 32-hour Servant Leadership course was held 6 times during 2013 and 75 adults completed the course.  Our goal is that all of our residents will be equipped and inspired with the same training materials and resources that each member of our staff has experienced.  We believe that giving our families this same opportunity for self-development and personal transformation increases their success in permanently solving homelessness for themselves and their kids.

In the summer of 2013 we held our “Teen Summit” and in our morning sessions we taught Servant Leadership to 30 of our kids.  This teen version was well received as the teens were able to hear, discuss and apply the same principles and practices that their parents have learned and are working on.

This common language of “serving for the sake of others” whether it be with our kids, co-workers, neighbors or extended family, is making a difference in the culture of our organization, thus having a positive impact upon the families we serve as well as a positive influence upon the entire community.

One of many examples of this impact comes from a single mother of five, who recently completed Servant Leadership and for the first time considered parenting as a way to serve her children in terms of “listening to understand” and to discipline in ways that communicate love, care and respect rather than control and fear.  She said, “For the first time my kids are really listening to me because I’m really listening to them.”  This mom’s desire to improve herself and get better is influencing her children to be better, and at the same time teaching and modeling for them the practices of Servant Leadership.  This is the essence of Servant Leadership: “The desire to encourage, equip and inspire those we influence.”

The Servant Leadership class for new staff members was held three times during 2013, with 19 people completing the course.  In addition to this, we formed Servant Leadership small groups within each department at Solutions.  These groups began meeting in the Fall of 2013 to discuss Servant Leadership principles and behaviors on a weekly basis.  The main purpose of these groups is to support and encourage each other to grow in the practices of Servant Leadership.  The Servant Leadership model is designed to build trust among co-workers; and provides a positive and safe framework for mutual accountability and teamwork.  These small groups have enhanced our communication with one another and provided numerous opportunities to extend trust and to build trust.

Servant Leadership is a journey, and as an organization Solutions for Change has made great progress down this road in 2013, individually and corporately in the implementation of its principles and practices.  As we head into 2014 we have built well upon this foundation of serving for the sake of others, and anticipate even greater success as we work together to “serve to solve” family homelessness, one family, one community at a time.

Annual Report 2012

November 4th, 2013

Thank you for your interest in our 2012 Annual Report. You can view the report electronically here: http://www.solutionsforchange.org/AR2012/

Or download the PDF here: SFC_AnnualReport_2012


Solutions for Change 990 – 2012

October 30th, 2013

To view our 990 from 2012, please click this link: 990 2012 final

Privacy Policy

October 30th, 2013

Solutions for Change

Internet Privacy Policy

Solutions for Change knows that you care about how information about you is used and shared and we appreciate your trust in us to do that carefully and sensibly.  This notice describes our privacy policy.

Your use of the Web Site indicates to us that you have read and accept our privacy practices, as outlined in our Privacy Statement.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Privacy Statement, please contact kwerner@solutionsforchange.org.

What information about you do we collect?                                                                                                          

When you visit our Web Site, you may provide us with personally identifiable information that you knowingly chose to disclose, which is collected on an individual basis.

Personally Identifiable Information You Choose to Provide

We may ask for certain personal information from you for the purpose of providing to you content and/or services that you request.  We may retain a record of users who have contacted us in order to respond properly to questions or concerns and for purposes of future communications and marketing purposes.

How do we use the information we collect?

We use your personally identifiable information to provide you with the information or content that you have requested and in some cases, to contact you about our programs or services.  If you no longer wish to receive such information from us, please contact kwerner@solutionsforchange.org.

Solutions for Change is strongly committed to protecting the privacy of our Web Site users.  We will not trade or sell a donor’s personal information to any third-party without their written permission or consent.

Data Security

We take reasonable steps to maintain the security of personal identifiable information that we collect, including the number of people who have physical access to our servers, as well as installing electronic security systems that guard against unauthorized access.  However, no data transmission over the internet can be guaranteed to be completely secure.  Accordingly, we cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information that you transmit to us, so you do so at your own risk.


The Web Site may contain links to third party sites as well as other sites owned and/or operated by Solutions for Change.  Please be aware that Solutions for Change is not responsible for the privacy practices of any third party sites.  Therefore, we encourage our users to read the privacy policy of each and every Web Site that contains personally identifiable information.

It truly was… An Evening to Remember

October 14th, 2013

September 21st was definitely an evening to remember as more than 800 people came together united in a vision of The Imperative to solve family homelessness. We gathered at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa for An Evening to Remember…with Mrs. Laura Bush.

With the former First Lady setting the stage for why we were there, we walked into the ballroom and you could feel the energy and excitement. The sense of purpose and dedication was evident in the spirited bidding on auction items and the enthusiastic response to Mrs. Bush’s keynote address during which she praised Solutions for Change for our “strategic thinking” and results.

The event raised more than $1.25 million. It also raised the spirits of the community and the Solutions residents. Over 40 of our grads were in attendance, decked to the gills and grinning ear to ear when Mrs. Bush complimented them on their success and perseverance. Then the lights went down and five of our grads appeared in a powerful video that told of their journeys from homelessness to complete transformation.

The words of Mrs. Bush about the importance of education and literacy were an endorsement of the approach of Solutions University, which emphasizes the role of education for not only adults, but their children.

Many hands contributed to the enormous success of this, the third annual An Evening to Remember event. The presenting sponsors for this year’s event were TaylorMade Golf Company and the Issa Family Foundation. The Champion of Change sponsors were Datron and Forte for Children. We thank all of our sponsors and all those who participated in the evening!

A Message from CEO and President, Chris Megison

August 5th, 2013

I attended the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in DC last week. Although the Solutions for Change model is the design of choice here locally, we are in the deep minority when it comes to the preferred design on the national stage. I did not meet one homeless provider who “solves” homelessness the way we do it. In fact, most have completely given up on the deeper and more intensive engagements like what we do at Solutions in favor of what is referred to as Housing First, Rapid Rehousing and Harm Reduction. At first blush the approach seems super simple: the cure to homelessness is housing. Well of course I agree to that part of it, but it gets really interesting after that. Here is an excerpt of a conversation which I think summarizes my experience quite well. I had numerous conversations just like this one, but this one really surprised me:


Me: So you allow moms who are using drugs, even meth and heroin, to continue living in your housing programs even though you know they are using? Director: Yes we do. That is the point of the harm reduction and the housing first model. Me: How is that working? Director: There have been some problems, but we manage through them. Our goal is to provide housing to everyone in our community who needs housing and the only way we can do that is to lower our entry requirements to allow for access to active drug addicts. Me: would you allow, say a mother who is prostituting herself to live in your place? Director: Yes, we have had moms who unfortunately are still stuck in that lifestyle, but again we are a housing provider not a lifestyle changer. Of course if we observe criminal behavior we report it to the authorities. Me: How about jobs, do you help people get jobs? Director: We offer them help but we do not require anyone to use our help or services. All of our services are optional Me: So what if a parent can’t get a job? Director: We show them how to get on welfare and food stamps and whatever other aid we can get them on. So many of our people can’t work. Me: Why can’t they work? Director: Because they are disabled with a drug addiction or mental illness. Me: So how do they pay rent? Director: We pay their rent through government subsidies. Me: What is your success rate? Director: Chris, that is the phenomenal thing. We have a 92% success rate of keeping people housed! That is what HUD wants and all of our funders want. They want people housed. Me: Are you concerned that you are enabling people to continue a destructive lifestyle and that by paying for housing for active drug users, prostitutes and criminals that you might actually be perpetuating deep poverty and growing the next generation of addicts, prostitutes and criminals? Director: [Blank stare] Interview over.


This exchange happened with a Program Director of a very large family homeless and housing nonprofit outside of California.


I’ll close with this little editorial:


We’ve become a nation of symptom relievers thereby unintentionally escalating the very problems that we claim we care about. Most of the people who lose it all and wind up homeless have very serious problems yet for decades we’ve responded to those problems with soup bowls, shelter beds and even hugs. Those responses might make the person giving the food, shelter or compassion feel good but they do very little to solve the underlying source of the grief and loss that the person is experiencing. Now the pendulum has swung and instead of Volkswagen symptom relief strategies we are going to use Cadillac symptom relief strategies, IE: Housing First and Harm Reduction. I am deeply concerned that this new approach will be the mother of all containment designs, giving us all a false sense of ending homelessness but in reality make this more about out of sight-out of mind. We simply cannot sustain this model. If we use taxpayer funds to fund say 500,000 homeless people in low cost or free housing now, then in five years it could easily be 1.5 million and in 20 years it will be completely unsustainable.  My personal opinion, based on 22 years architecting and leading various initiatives, is that we won’t feel the consequences of the housing first movement for many more years. See my first sentence. And yes, I hope I’m wrong.

An Evening to Remember… with Mrs. Laura Bush

June 10th, 2013

Mrs. Laura Bush to Keynote Charitable Fundraiser

Former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush will be featured speaker at Solutions for Change Annual Event
San Diego, June 4, 2013- The Board of Directors for the local nonprofit group, Solutions for Change have announced September 21, 2013 as the date for An Evening to Remember…with Mrs. Laura Bush. Solutions for Change provides access to skills, knowledge, and resources so families living in homelessness can permanently break the cycle of poverty.

The annual fundraiser will be held at the La Costa Resort and Spa and is deemed one of the premier charity events in San Diego.

“We invite the entire community to join us for this special opportunity,” said Solutions for Change President and CEO, Chris Megison. “Mrs. Bush understands the important role education plays in people’s lives and we are honored to have her as our guest.

An Evening to Remember…with Mrs. Laura Bush will feature a keynote address by Mrs. Bush. The event will also feature a five-star menu, extraordinary entertainment, and silent and live auctions.

Mark King, President and CEO of TaylorMade Golf Company and Chairman of the Community Leadership Team for Solutions for Change remarked, “I have been part of this organization for several years and have seen first-hand how these programs solve family homelessness—not temporarily, but permanently. The contributions made by our guests, sponsors and annual donors have made a significant and meaningful impact on our community and continue to push the success of Solutions for Change.”

Previous guest speakers for An Evening to Remember…have included former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice and former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. This year’s gala is expected to exceed fundraising goals with proceeds supporting critical programs and initiatives to solve family homelessness.

For ticket and event information visit: www.SolutionsForChange.org/events


About Laura Bush:
One of the most beloved and admired American First Ladies, for decades Mrs. Laura Bush has championed key issues in the fields of education, health care and human rights. She has traveled to more the seventy-six countries, including two historic solo trips to Afghanistan, and has launched groundbreaking education and healthcare programs in the U.S and abroad. Today, as the Chair of the Woman’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, Mrs. Bush continues her work on global healthcare innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform, and supporting the men and women who have served in America’s military.

About Solutions for Change:
With a driving commitment that “every child has a home,” Solutions for Change is a recognized leader in establishing a replicable and sustainable model known as the Solutions University; that involves companies, individuals and the whole community as partners in providing permanent solutions to homelessness for children and families. Founded in 1999 by Chris and Tammy Megison, Solutions for Change has successfully helped over 650 families-including more than 1300 children in San Diego County permanently solve their homelessness.