This month we want to highlight the amazing work and endless support of two of our long-time volunteers, Traci Jylea and Rammy Cortez. Traci and Rammy have been integral to the success of the interim housing meal program in San Diego. They have also hosted fundraising and in-kind donation drives, recruited other volunteers for PATH Cooks, supported new tenants moving into the Link, an affordable housing community, and have collaborated with PATH’s housing department. We are so incredibly thankful for their ongoing support and the care they show our unhoused neighbors in San Diego.
We’re longtime residents of Downtown San Diego and currently live in East Village. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t step outside our front door and see the homelessness firsthand.
In 2019,our goal was to host a monthly young professional dinner party at our home to meet new friends and network. We also wanted to give back in our local community. Once we volunteered at PATH it hit us—why not take the money we’d spend on a fancy 8-person dinner party to impress our friends, and instead purchase food for the 120 interim residents and invite our friends to prepare, cook, and serve with us? What started with an idea for the two of us to volunteer has evolved into us hosting a monthly dinner; sponsoring the food and engaging close to 80 volunteers to prepare and serve 1,500 meals annually.
Volunteering at PATH is infectious. A big part of that is because Chef Brian Jackson and his team step back and let volunteers take part in every aspect of the meal service, including washing the dishes! At a lot of other volunteer opportunities, they don’t allow volunteers to lead—you get a hair net and scoop mystery meat for an hour and then go home.
At PATH you have fun, bump music, meet other volunteers who have the spirit of giving, and most of all help neighbors in need. If you show up to volunteer with a problem, you leave with a little more perspective and gratitude for what you do have, because whatever you were complaining about is nothing compared to the struggles our unhoused neighbors face.
Every dinner at PATH is served by volunteers for a reason—so residents know they are being served by a neighbor who cares, supports, loves and is rooting for them. That’s community. Our parents always shared with us that when they started giving, even if it was a stretch, God always provided. It’s fulfilling to experience this firsthand.