In this incredible seventy-fifth episode of The Gap Minders, we chatted with the impressive Walter Philips, who is the CEO of San Diego Youth Services.Listen to “Episode 75 | Walter Philips, CEO, San Diego Youth Services” on Spreaker.
In this excellent episode, Nancy and Jose are joined in the studio by Walter Philips, the CEO of San Diego Youth Services. San Diego Youth Services was founded in 1970 by John Whittemier and his wife. John, a graduate student of the Master’s in Social Work program, saw the need to provide shelter to homeless youth in San Diego and opened his own home as the city’s first runaway and homeless shelter. Over the years, San Diego Youth Services has expanded significantly, now offering over 30 programs with 250 staff members, addressing the needs of vulnerable youth in the community.
Hear Walter discuss the importance of trauma-informed care, emphasizing its integration into every aspect of their work. They recognize that many of the youth they serve have experienced trauma and tailor their services accordingly. Mental health support has become a central component of their programs, with psychiatry services and a team of licensed clinicians.
Listen in as Walter emphasizes the importance of collaboration and how San Diego Youth Services works closely with local politicians, nonprofits, and organizations like United Way to advocate for youth homelessness and secure funding. Walter also touches upon the need for unified efforts and capacity building in the field of mental health services. Walter acknowledges the shortage of mental health clinicians and emphasizes their commitment to training and bringing in young therapists and counselors to bridge the gap.
This episode also discusses the invisibility of youth homelessness, as many young people are not readily seen on the streets due to couch-surfing or hiding to avoid exploitation. Walter explains that youth homelessness often involves mental health crises, substance abuse, and educational challenges. He emphasizes the urgency of addressing youth homelessness to prevent them from falling victim to human trafficking. Walter encourages individuals to become educated about existing programs, volunteer, and donate, stressing that even small contributions can make a difference. He advises against hasty actions and suggests learning about specific needs and challenges before taking action.
An excellent episode on filling gaps in the community with Walter. Here are some other takeaways from the interview:
- San Diego Youth Services’ origins and its expansion over the years to serve a wide range of needs for vulnerable youth.
- The importance of programs in schools to prevent youth homelessness and mental health issues.
- How trauma-informed care is integrated into the organization’s services to address the mental health needs of youth.
- Efforts to raise awareness and collaborate with other organizations and advocates to address youth homelessness and mental health.
- Walter Philips’ journey to becoming the CEO and inspiring success stories of youth who have benefited from San Diego Youth Services.
- The answers to the rapid-fire questions
An excellent interview from a passionate gap minder. Thank you, Walter, for your contributions in San Diego, and for joining us on The Gap Minders.
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