If you are stranded, fleeing an abusive situation, or without any resources, Travelers Aid may be able to help. In an emergency, it’s always best to call 911. Please note: we are only able to provide transportation assistance to those who are physically in San Diego, and clients may be asked to contribute towards the price of their tickets. If you need to speak with a case manager, please call:
619-233-8500, ext. 1157
Or visit our case manager’s office (please call first before coming):
St. Vincent de Paul Village
1501 Imperial Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Sarah and George were a two-income family, working hard, and earning enough to afford rent on their one-bedroom home. All in the span of three months, Sarah was laid off, George was injured on the job, and their landlord decided to sell their house. Without income, they were unable to find a new place, and found themselves moving from friend’s house to friend’s house, until eventually living out of their car. Once that was repossessed, they were literally on the street, and needed shelter. For a cost of about $125, Travelers Aid was able to get them bus passes (to look for work) and place them in temporary housing so they could get back on their feet
Seth is a 29-year-old Iraqi war vet who was discharged here in San Diego and told to find his way home. He had visible scars from an IED explosion, shrapnel wounds, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder anxiety, but maintained a good sense of humor even though he had been living on the streets for four weeks. He came to Travelers Aid after someone told him he might find help here, and our case manager set him up with the Work Your Way Home program because he did not want charity. His ticket home amounted to $132.00 after our discount. The Downtown Partnership was very understanding, and instead of working him for the thirteen hours necessary to pay for the ticket, worked him one eight-hour shift, supplied Seth with dinner, and made sure we could get him out of town on Thursday, November 19. Travelers Aid provided him with the bus ticket, transportation to the bus station, food for his travel, and a few dollars to help him home. He has a job lined up near Waco, Texas, and is looking forward to getting back to “normal” and living with his mother. He has VA services lined up in Texas for his PTSD, and has enough meds for his trip home.
Jeanette, a young mother, had been suffering at the hands of her husband of three years. They had separated many times in the past, and each time they reunited, he promised to stay away from drugs and alcohol as well as attend counseling. Unfortunately, each time he also returned to his old habits of threatening her and abusing her physically and emotionally. Both beautiful and dignified, Jeanette had had enough, and on her own, made arrangements for herself and her daughter to move to a shelter in another part of the state. She just needed help with transportation to get there, and we were able to get the two out of town quickly. It cost Travelers Aid $214 to purchase two Greyhound tickets for them.
Raphael’s troubles began when his ten-year marriage dissolved into a very difficult divorce. Through the process, he lost custody of his two children, his home, his car, and everything important to him. A broken man, Raphael became homeless, and spent five years abusing drugs and alcohol before he encountered Travelers Aid. When the Salvation Army’s Men’s Program couldn’t place him, a Travelers Aid Case Manager was able to get him placement in St. Vincent de Paul’s Village. Encouraged by the caring and involvement of our Case Manager, Raphael, 41, has taken many steps forward to rebuilding his life. He worked hard for—and has received—his food/bar handlers training and license. He was hired by a downtown restaurant, and recently began work. Raphael stopped by to check in with Travelers Aid not long ago to say “thank you” for helping him and not giving up on him as so many others had done in his past. He plans to stay in St. Vincent de Paul while he is getting on his feet and saving money. He has high hopes of a reunification with his children, and self-dignity for his future.
Like many women who suffer from domestic violence, 43-year-old Maria was referred to Travelers Aid through the Family Justice Center and the District Attorney’s office. This had been Maria’s second relationship in which domestic violence had played a role—her husband had beaten her six years ago. This mother of four needed a safe place to stay as well as a way to get back and forth to El Centro in order to testify against her estranged boyfriend who had been charged with not only assaulting her, but a friend of Maria’s as well. This extremely violent and dangerous person had additionally threatened police officers involved in the case—a fact that lengthened his sentence from what would likely have been one year to seven years in prison. Travelers Aid was able to arrange for round trip bus tickets to El Centro so Maria could testify, and placement in St. Vincent de Paul Village so that this mom and her children can be safe while she gets her life back together.
Rebecca, age 38, had been in a relationship for seven years with her partner when it first turned violent. Her girlfriend began beating her, and was so violent that Rebecca was suffering from an inflamed and damaged kidney by the time she contacted Travelers Aid to see if we could help her get out of town. The girlfriend was to be released from Donovan State Prison shortly and since Rebecca continued to be threatened by the woman for the duration of her confinement, she was fearful and wished to leave San Diego. She wanted to return to her parents’ home, but her ex-girlfriend knew where they lived, and had threatened Rebecca’s family as well. Travelers Aid was able to assist Rebecca with a one-way bus ticket to the Boston area, where she could move in with a close friend.
Still a teenager, Marina found herself pregnant for the third time. Because of her youth, lack of education, and limited resources, her two children had been taken by Child Protective Services. Through her enrollment in a Travelers Aid program called Mobile Moms, Marina was able to turn her life around. The prenatal clinic where she was receiving care for her pregnancy offered her transportation in the form of both bus tokens and day-trippers to and from doctor and testing visits, compliments of
Travelers Aid. Not only was Marina able to keep all her medical appointments, resulting in a healthy pregnancy and birth, but she was also able to make all her court-appointed and legal appointments, satisfying the requirements necessary to be reunited with her older children. She was able to prove that she was a caring and responsible mother to all three children. Marina was made to feel that her baby and children were “important to somebody else,” and that “she could get her life back together.”
A Canadian man came to Travelers Aid as his last hope. The man was broke, desperate, and close to suicide. Having come to San Diego from Canada in hopes of finding work and beginning a new life, Ken endured several set-backs, including having his truck break down. Since he was taking medication for a chemical imbalance, once the medication ran out, he was no longer fully functioning. The staff at County Mental Health couldn’t help him because he is a Canadian citizen and had no valid insurance. Without his truck, Ken couldn’t get back to Canada where he has health coverage, and was told that he would only be extradited back to his country if he committed a felony. At the end of his rope, Ken felt his choices were to commit a serious crime or commit suicide. Travelers Aid was able to arrange for a one-way bus ticket back to Vancouver for him, and the tension release and gratitude on his face were unmistakable. As he left for the bus station, full of relief, he said, “You are the only nice people I have met; thank you.”
It’s unusual to hear back from the clients we help, but Ken sent Travelers Aid a postcard from Vancouver a few weeks later. He said that we literally saved his life. He was currently receiving help from social service agencies in Canada, had found part-time work, and was re-enrolling in high school so he could receive his diploma. So thankful for his new lease on life, he just had to keep us in the loop.
Marsha came to Travelers Aid, desperate, and without any resources, as so many women do. The mother of two children, Marsha had endured a fifteen year marriage to her high school sweetheart who turned out to be abusive, restrictive, and violent. She had decided that homelessness was better for both her and her precious children than enduring the abuse. When a Travelers Aid counselor met with her, it was decided that Marsha’s best option was to leave the state and move in with her caring and supportive brother. We were able to arrange for short-term shelter, and sent Marsha and her two children off with full bus fare as well as food and other necessities for their trip. Marsha has kept in touch since her new life began, and told us that she enrolled in a vocational training school, took classes in computer technology, and found full-time work. She had found her own apartment, and she and her children were doing beautifully. She is happy and extremely grateful to Travelers Aid for the assistance we provided.
Today, as I sit by San Diego Bay, I know I am free. As I walk by the water with blue July skies above, I sense—overwhelmingly, that I am no longer in bondage. I am a free agent in life. I can choose or refuse whatever comes my way. I can go where I want to go, I can do what I want to do, and I can make my own plans and decisions.
To feel this much freedom is a break-through for me. It is that and so much more, after coming out of 21 years of bondage. The bondage was definitely a mental one, one that had a tight grip on my thinking process. I existed in a low-quality state of life, accepting my circumstances as my destiny or rationalizing them as “somewhat normal.” This was an adapting escape mechanism that kept me from looking at reality as it was. It was an elaborate and intricate thought process that “normalized” the tyranny and oppression I was subjected to everyday.
This brainwashing and mind control is what makes women stay. This accepting of life as it is—even when they know there is a better life out there for others—is deeply rooted in the victims. They figure, “that’s for them—not for me,” or “maybe someday it’ll change,” holding on to hopes that do not exist (even with God on their side). It’s also fear of the unknown that keeps them there. Thoughts like, “How will I ever escape from him, his control?;” “How will I support the kids and myself?;” and “How will I get a job?” keep them frozen in fear. It’s a “he’ll never let me go,” mentality. That is why I stayed and that is why they stay.
Linda married her high school sweetheart and they settled in the Los Angeles area. Things were going well for the young couple when her husband began to verbally abuse her. It was shortly after the verbal attacks that the physical abuse started. Linda immediately sought help and her husband was arrested. As the abuse continued, her husband was arrested many times, only to serve several days before his release each time. Things were not improving for Linda, as her husband began to stalk and threaten her. Again, she filed charges; her husband was convicted and given time in jail. Linda knew this was her chance to do something that would assure safety for her children and herself. All along she had been seeking information to help her when the opportunity to leave arrived. From the handful of options she had to choose from, a domestic violence transition shelter in San Diego was her choice. It would distance them from her husband and provide a safer environment for the children.
Following the husband’s release from jail, he requested and was granted supervised visitations with the children. It would be Linda’s responsibility to get them to Los Angeles on the designated days. This is where Travelers Aid stepped in to help: We were able to assist Linda with transportation for three to Los Angeles to comply with the court-ordered visits. The resources we provide assure Linda’s return to her new home, the shelter in San Diego: a place where she feels safe while preparing for a new and non-violent life with her children.