Safety Net


Man at a clothes storeGoodwill of Orange County is in the business of helping people who are facing barriers, get and keep jobs while finding purpose, pride and dignity. Goodwill plays a vital role in building a financial safety net by helping people find work--enabling them to find a path out of poverty, as well as manage other barriers they may face in life.

Goodwill creates and provides quality training and employment services to empower individuals to be productive and independent, placing fewer demands on public resources. Goodwill’s stores, processing centers, donation sites and business services, serve as training grounds to provide people with supportive work experience and on the job training that opens doors and opportunities for higher paying jobs in the community.

In 2011, the organization’s retail stores netted more than two million transactions which played a major role in funding services for 10,354 people. People who found jobs through Goodwill received new-found independence and immeasurable value to local individuals and their families.

Taller San Jose WorkersSince 1995, Taller San Jose has helped more than 4,500 high-risk young adults restructure their lives, finish high school and develop marketable job skills. The program has consistently reduced criminal recidivism and increased youth success at securing living wage employment with corresponding health benefits.

Short-term, intensive paid training is offered in construction, medical and office careers. These industry driven programs are coupled with extensive case management, employment placement, and job retention support for two years, enabling participants to establish a strong foundation for employment and continuing education.

And this support pays off. Roughly 80 percent of students remain employed one year after graduation, and one in four graduates begin college or an apprenticeship—strong indicators of a productive and self-reliant future.

Since1990, Working Wardrobes has helped more than 55,000 individuals struggling with crises such as homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence or illness confidently enter the workforce.

The idea behind Working Wardrobes is a simple one: People are more confident when they’re well-dressed and well-prepared for interviews—and confidence along with an increase in self-esteem helps land jobs.

Program participants have access to personal career assessment tools, computers for online job searches, interview coaching and professional wardrobing. In addition, a chain of resale stores provides income and on-the-job retail training.


A family getting ready for a roadtrip.South County Outreach serves low-income individuals and families in crisis in South Orange County. South County Outreach helps those in crisis reach self-sufficiency by providing food, rental and utility assistance, homeless prevention counseling, housing, computer training, clothing and other seasonal programs.

South County Outreach’s transitional housing program operates through 17 condominiums housing approximately 20 adults and 30 children at any given time as each family seeks a more seeks permanent housing. As a result of the program, 30 families each year move to permanent housing.

Someone serving food outdoors.Moving away from traditional shelter models, Illumination Foundation (IF) created innovative and cost-effective solutions to house homeless families in Orange County. IF’s housing programs demonstrate the Illumination Foundation’s reputation as an organization that constantly shifts and evolves to better meet clients’ needs. IF’s comprehensive assessment and triage moves families from the streets to determine the appropriate housing solution for them. Over 15,000 individuals have been triaged by IF. Many triaged families receive assistance with Permanent Housing or Interim Housing. In these housing programs, each family receives comprehensive case management, mental health counseling and a variety of other services tailored to enable family self-sufficiency and ensure their long-term independence. Illumination Foundation has moved nearly 1,000 families into the housing programs.

Kids at Mercy HouseMercy House provides a continuum of services for homeless individuals and families throughout Orange County. Its programs include homeless prevention, emergency shelter and services, and permanent housing.

Mercy House seeks out new and creative ways to serve homeless and at-risk individuals, including partnerships with city governments, corporations, foundations and individuals. 

Through its Rapid Rehousing program, Mercy House offers housing search and placement, rental subsidies, and on-going case management to help homeless individuals and families quickly regain self-sufficiency.

In 2011, Mercy House prevented homelessness for nearly 600 individuals, provided emergency services to 3,600 individuals, served over 190 individuals through their transitional shelters, achieved nearly a 90 percent success rate in re-housing transitional shelter clients, and housed over 400 individuals through their permanent housing programs.

A mother and a child  with a teddy bear.Families Forward provides housing-related programs to families in Orange County who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.

Families Forward helps families in financial crisis achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Rather than simply providing support; the organization supplies the tools for families to become independent, productive residents of the community. 

One program, Housing First, provides immediate access to permanent rental housing in collaboration with local apartment communities. Other programs provide transitional housing, homeless prevention, a food pantry, career coaching and healthcare.

Last year, Families Forward served 126 families and 395 individuals through homeless prevention programs, fed 5,384 families through its food pantry program, provided career coaching for 200 individuals and provided 101 free services through 40 health professionals.


Kids eating.Second Harvest provides a host of programs to individuals throughout Orange County who suffer from or are at-risk of hunger.

Programs include after-school snacks, weekend and summer meals, and nutrition education for kids; a mobile pantry that distributes food to partner agencies; grocery delivery for seniors; emergency food provision; grocery rescue through local grocery stores; and assistance in food stamp registration.

The Food Bank has worked with 10,500 volunteers and 478 partner charities to distribute food, and donations from food manufacturers, growers, packers, restaurants, grocery stores and food drives, and has provided more than 272 million pounds of food since its founding. In 2012, it has distributed more than 18 million pounds of food, serving 240,000 individuals each month.

Kids at a Farm to Kids booth.The Community Action Partnership Farm to Kids program provides lessons on nutrition and physical activity to elementary school children from low-income families.

The program is a mutually beneficial collaboration between the Food Bank and local schools. Food is distributed to students in need at schools that have about half of their students on Free and Reduced Lunch Program which provides free or significantly discounted meals to children living at or below the poverty level.

In exchange for the food donations, schools teach the nonprofit's nutrition curriculum to students. Each student takes home a bag of fruits and vegetables to complement a lesson from The Network for a Healthy California - Children's Power Play! campaign.

Since the program began in November 2011, it has provided over 362,800 pounds of fresh produce to 72,563 low-income children throughout Orange County.

A senior and caretakerSeniorServ helps older adults remain secure in home, health and heart through programs such as Meals on Wheels, senior center lunch programs, volunteer transportation and adult day health care.  SeniorServ is known for being an innovator in low-cost, high-impact solutions that help older adults live independently, with dignity and wellness in the homes and communities they love.  They provide services to over 2,500 older adults each day most of whom are living below the poverty level.