We had the good fortune of connecting with Marcus Belgrove and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marcus, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
The most important lesson my career in nonprofit community outreach has taught me is the opportunity to offer compassion, dignity, gratitude, solidarity, and the importance of fighting hunger and poverty in the San Diego community and beyond. Learning to see unhoused neighbors as an opportunity for success and not as the problem, but the solution.
I meet people and neighbors all throughout San Diego County as the CEO, President, and Founder of You Saved Me Foundation. We are a nonprofit Public Charity with a 501 c3 status. We pride ourselves in removing the barriers and stigmas that allow people to fall into poverty and experience hunger. To help combat poverty and hunger we implemented several programs.
All of our programs are free and open to all. We are an anti-discriminatory organization and a safe space. All Forms are easy to sign up and online. If you do not have access online you can walk up at any site for immediate assistance and relief. We provide immediate services and relief, we do not have any income or immigration restrictions. We will never ask for an ID for any reason. We believe in no extensive paperwork, long lines, or wait times for help. You can easily set an appointment through our Facebook Page or website. However, no appointment is necessary. Are Distributions sites are discreet and in covid-19 safety protocol compliant.
We currently have over 15 Distribution sites throughout the county and we often Pop Up at local Hotspots ( where blight, poverty, homelessness, and hunger are more saturated. We offer a Free Food Pantry serving healthy and nutritious foods through our Partnership with the Jacob Cushman San Diego Food Bank. We allow our clients to make their own bags for groceries, which eliminates waste and shows them we respect them as individuals with preferences and dignity.
Many of our clients are working-class people who live paycheck to paycheck and may need help with essentials from time to time. We serve all socio-economic statuses of our clients from Doctors, Police Officers, Retail workers, to unhoused neighbors as well as blended and multi-generational families with free Pet Food, through our partnership with SD Humane Society’s Community Pantry Program. This program helps to fight Pet Hunger from owners experiencing hardship.
Our largest program is the Fresh family Program where we allow a parent to register for 100 diapers and two packs of wipes for free each month. Saving families money and resources that can be redirected to cover other household expenses.
The Program that was most requested in the Community came from our unsheltered neighbors who often fade into the background of our lives. The majority of unhoused neighbors requested a Home Cooked Meal. That is a program I take extra pride in not feeding anything I would not eat or serve my family and friends, We make sure the food is top quality and a meal all will enjoy. We have seen a high success rate in all of our programs but the need is abundant,
We have other programs to help solve the crisis of homelessness and poverty. Which includes reaching down to our youth as young as 3 years old. At this age, it is pivotal to teach them the importance of Finacial Literacy. We have established a Finacial Literacy Program that is accessible through our website and is also Free of charge for anyone. The courses cover ages 3- to Seniors.
Financial Literacy is not enough to combat Hunger and Poverty but it’s a great foundational tool to avoid a life of hardship. This was not available to my generation growing up, so it’s imperative we teach the Youth all they can utilize. We also implemented the ACES (Art, Commerce, Entrepreneurial, & Sports Program which targets Youth Development and Workforce Training while in elementary, middle, and high school.
In an effort to redirect unhoused neighbors away from living on the streets, in cars, and in wooded areas we have developed a pathway for success. We believe there is a job for everyone, No one deserves to be forced into poverty or denied a career based on Drug Addiction, Mental Health, or being homeless. We are encouraging Employers to utilize compassion and safety when offering employment. I see many people who have been denied employment based on addiction, mental health, and living unhoused. Which has increased the number of people living on the street, experiencing hunger and poverty. With compassion, education, empathy, opportunities, and resources we can defeat hunger and poverty. It’s not about money but the hearts of the people. You must be willing to see everyone in your community as valuable and resourceful. Including those living unhoused. They are also members of a family. Our family, and our community.
To date, we have helped over 5,000 individuals and over 1300 families since 2019. Our work is not done and we have seen an uptick in individuals and families needing assistance. To help more people we have public events that serve as a networking outlet for opportunities and Resources for anyone in the community. You never know who will be there. There is a mix of politicians, business leaders, small business owners, and the community in general. Our events allow those who have no access to certain key individuals and industries to be available,
I am very proud of the work we are doing but we can use more resources and opportunities for the community. That is why we need all hands on deck, including you the reader, to eliminate hunger and poverty in San Diego. You can help out by donating on our website at www.yousaved.me/donate or by Liking, Sharing, Reposting on our Social Media pages, or volunteering your time with us. However, you decide your impact is valuable. No amount of money or time is too small or large for us. We have bold plans that are taking off with the support of so many across the state and country!
What should our readers know about your business?
We are a 501c3 Public Charity that provides free Services to the Community of San Diego County. We do not have income or immigration restrictions. We pride ourselves in removing stigmas and barriers for those in need of immediate assistance. We believe we can solve hunger and poverty in California and beyond with compassion, opportunities, and resources for all individuals in the community. We see value in any human or pet.
It’s not easy convincing people that unhoused neighbors can be a viable part of a thriving community if they are offered the necessary opportunities and resources afforded to most. I’ve learned that when you treat people like a human being they respond like human beings. When you treat people like the scum they react to that as well. When we ignore the problem it grows immesly.
As a Comunity Leader, I have to represent the interests of all. However, I do bring light to the behavior of homeowners, taxpayers, business leaders, and politicians that we are only as strong as the most vulnerable in our community. How can we be the best place to live in America when our neighbors are sleeping on the streets? Im here to awaken those to that delusion of complicity and lack of motivation to bring opportunities and resources to those most in need.
Giving an unhoused neighbor a home is not enough. They need lifeskills, home training, steady employment, a steady middle-class income, and resources to avoid falling back into poverty. We have that plan, and that is why I do what I do. Not to just help a person off the street but to restore the Middle class in America through wraparound services. The government is a help but the real help comes in making a person self-sufficient and not relying on the government when they can be gainfully employed and creating a thriving economy and community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start at Breakfast Bitch for Brunch where I love the Skinny Bitch meal( think acai’s bowl served in a half pitted pineapple and a hard Kombucha for a great time! I would then head to Ocean Beach where I would take them to see a live performance at THC. Hopefully, Jehlad, Raiin & Scribe of Joseph or Roi Bars Band is playing. I would take them to Serpentine Cider, in University Heights, for my favorite craft Pear Cider, and hopefully, The Vegan Urbano is there serving up his best Mexican Street Food. I would go to Verbatim Book Store where you can find me enjoying rare books. Then finish at Coin-Op in North Park or Gas Lamp playing my favorite vintage video games like Packman and shooting some hoops on the Basketball.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would have to give a big Shoutout to our Community Partners that keep us going and motivated to help all we can. Those would be the Jacob Cushman San Diego Food Bank in particular Nonprofit Coordinator Valeri O’Derio, and Katherine Lemieux and Quinn Douglas-Hiley, and Elkie Wills at The San Diego Humane Society’s Community Pantry Program. Also, my father Michael Belgrove always allowed me to grow at my pace, but reminded me to always be my best, and never give up on what I believe in. I’ve found my mission and I am all in thanks to this great support team,
Image credits for Cigna Health Campaign https://www.prughphoto.com