A Profound Gathering

by Chamese Dempsey & Rose Davis

The Honoring of Tim RedBird could not have been better timed. On November 29, 2014 at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, 2004 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA, the stars lined up to publically recognize and celebrate a community icon and spiritual leader, while providing an opportunity for cultural change agents to fulfill their mission.

Community Members, Emerson Joe (Dine’) owner of Native Grill and Native Inc., Chamese Dempsey (Paiute), San Diego American Indian Health Center’s Community Engagement Coordinator and Mia Alvarado-Ruffner (Purepecha & Mexica), the Art Advisory Chair of the Centro Cultural de la Raza had gathered together to coordinate a celebration for Native American Indian Heritage Month. Nothing could have been more appropriate than honoring Tim RedBird Tim, also known as Whitefox, is a 64yr old Native American Indian, full blood Kiowa. Known as a traditionalist artist of sight and sound. He's a singer/composer. His drum group is the Red Warrior singers for Pow Wows and Cultural events. He is a member of these Kiowa warrior societies: Gourd Clan, Oh Ho Mah, Black Leggings & Native American Church, Kiowa chapter. He's self taught in the arts of painting and music. Raised in the house of Whitefox (Grandfather), Ernest and Ruth Redbird (parents), all famous Kiowa singers. He is proud to be a Native Son of the Kiowas.

Emerson Joe has long envisioned ways to bring the Indian Community together to carry on our tradition of gathering as a tribal group. Young and the old singing, dancing feasting and socializing while coming together as one is much needed in our urban community. We consider it to be a
blessing that Tim RedBird offered us this opportunity to rediscover our medicine.

Tim RedBird shared with us his many delightful talents such as his exceptional art display of Native American art that mounted on the walls of the Centro; he also shared with us his remarkable poetry he composed, sang many Southern Kiowa songs with his drum group Red Warriors while the Soaring Eagles danced to the heart beat of the drum. Tim ended the evening off with singing a variety of songs, some he composed himself, while playing his guitar.

The event committee gifted Tim with a beautiful Pendleton blanket while thanking him for being a positive role model to our people as well as sharing his talents for all of us to see and experience. Emerson set up his food booth, Native Grill and cooked Bison burgers on fry bread and Indian Tacos. The event turnout was a success with approximately 300 people. The event had an Indian market with several Native Arts & Crafts Booths and a raffle at the end that consisted of items from each of the vendors, sacks of blue bird flour donated from Native Grill, Christmas packages and gifts donated by Connie Grey Bull on behalf of Title VII Indian Education and hand-made beaded Christmas ornaments donated by Estelle Fisher and other items donated by the committee.

The event committee would like to thank the Centro Cultural de la Raza for opening their doors to help make this event happen. The event Committee and other community members also plan to continue to host more Native Events at the Centro in the near future to continue to bring our community together to celebrate our cultural. Nothing is more important than carrying on our cultural tradition while shielding it from influences that my exploit and otherwise neutralize us as a people. We must become self-sufficient and avoid the temptations of the colonizer and the modern day seduction of social technology.

Tim RedBird and our change agents and cultural warriors are shining a path for us to follow.

In its first three years, the project has already saved San Diego $4.5 million

SAN DIEGO, December 17, 2014 – Today, St. Vincent de Paul Village announced the award of a supportive housing services grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in support of the Project 25 program. Project 25, which targeted a minimum of 25 homeless individuals identified as the most costly, frequent users of publicly funded emergency services, has saved the San Diego community more than $4.5 million to date. The money-saving program, which was once in danger of closing due to a lack of funding, will now be able to expand its efforts thanks to a combination of the $400,000 annual grant, $100,000 in gap funding from United Way of San Diego County and private funding. The grant funding from SAMHSA will fund most of the supportive services while the housing resources will come from 20 rental subsidies designated for chronically homeless through the San Diego Housing Commission.

“Project 25 has demonstrated tremendous success over the past three-and-a-half years,” said Ruth Bruland, executive director for St. Vincent de Paul Village, the organization overseeing Project 25. “We are thrilled to continue this critical work that saves both lives and money. It just makes sense."

Project 25 began in 2011 as a pilot project to provide housing and wraparound services to homeless people with a history of accessing high-cost, taxpayer-funded services. In this Housing First program, clients receive services including Intensive Case Management, a personalized and comprehensive service plan including substance abuse services, life skills coaching, landlord mediation, transportation assistance, socialization activities, public benefits and health insurance enrollment assistance and employment skills training.  In addition, each individual will receive comprehensive health care services including primary care, psychiatric care, dental care, and medication management in close coordination with the St. Vincent de Paul Village Family Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). 

Since implementation, Project 25 has had astonishing success, say organizers. One hundred percent of participants were placed in permanent housing and all of those participants have maintained housing for at least six months. In the year prior to program implementation, selected individuals collectively cost the community over $4.2 million dollars. In the second year of Project 25, the same individuals cost the community a little over $1.5 million dollars, saving approximately $2.7 million. The new grant makes it possible to nearly double the number of clients served by Project 25.

Since 2011, St. Vincent de Paul Village has managed and overseen Project 25, a Housing-First program sponsored by the United Way in partnership with the County of San Diego, City of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission. It remains a collaboration of hospitals, law enforcement and community services providers dedicated to reducing the high utilization of public and private services by homeless individuals.

The most succinct testament to Project 25’s impact on San Diego comes from Douglas Hutchinson, 53, who was chronically homeless for 25 years before he secured permanent housing through Project 25 in 2011. “First comes the Lord, then the Beatles and then Project 25.”


As Southern California’s largest residential homeless services provider, Father Joe’s Villages and partner agency St. Vincent de Paul Village have been empowering people to achieve self-sufficiency for over 64 years. What started as a small chapel serving San Diego’s impoverished has grown into a cutting-edge provider of innovative housing programs and services. Father Joe’s Villages and St. Vincent de Paul Village prepare up to 4,000 meals and provide a continuum of care to nearly 1,500 individuals every day—from infants and adolescents to adults and seniors. This includes over 200 children and over 200 military veterans. As industry thought-leaders, the two agencies offer innovative solutions to address the complex needs of the homeless, regardless of age, race, culture or beliefs. The organizations’ primary goal is to transform lives and end the cycle of homelessness. To this end they provide housing, healthcare, food, clothing, education, job training and child development in an internationally modeled “one-stop-shop” approach. The organizations’ mission is made possible only through the efforts of compassionate staff, dedicated volunteers, and generous public and private donors. For more information, please visit: http://www.neighbor.org.

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