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Interfaith given $3.2 million from couple’s estate

The late Joan and W. Lee James Jr., whose estate donated $3.2 million to Interfaith Community Services.

The late Joan and W. Lee James Jr., whose estate donated $3.2 million to Interfaith Community Services.

Interfaith Community Services is the beneficiary of a donation from the late Joan and W. Lee James Jr., whose estate donated $3.2 million that will be used to initiate Interfaith’s newest project, a Recovery and Wellness Center for people who are struggling with unemployment, homelessness and addiction, to help them become whole again.

Interfaith’s Executive Director Greg Anglea told The Times-Advocate Monday how the estate donation came to be: “it came from Joan and Lee James. I have known and worked with Joan for many years. She was involved with her church, United Church of Lake San Marcos. She provided food for our food pantry, and was always a really strong and caring individual. She reached out a little less than a year ago, March or April, and called us to say that she had a terminal diagnosis. She didn’t feel she had a lot of time left on earth but she wanted to do something.”

At that time, Interfaith was working on the Recovery and Wellness Center, for people struggling with homelessness and unemployment. “Because of the addiction issues resources are not always available. Joan identified with the need and the desire to do for those people,” Anglea recalls.

In Anglea’s experience, people who want to leave donations don’t always get to target them. “Things don’t usually work out, but we talked over what her gift might do.”

Mrs. James died in June. Since then the project has picked up steam. During the summer, Interfaith received an Alliance Health Care Foundation Innovation Initiative grant of $1 million, which gives it the operating funds to get this project up and running, to overcome addiction and homelessness.

“That gives us the opportunity to hire people but not to money to buy or secure a physical building.” Anglea hopes to build a 75-bed facility. “That’s what we hope the estate gifts will be able to provide. We are looking for that site along the Highway 78 Corridor, to find a place to help our homeless neighbors who are struggling with those issues.”

He added, “We are very grateful and very humbled to be trusted with Mrs. James’s estate and its quite a responsibility to receive a gift of this size. We are fortunate to be able to use it and secure this center.” The new program is an expansion of the existing Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center at 250 N. Ash Street in Escondido. “It’s working very well but we see a lot of individuals who see significant mental health and alcohol issues who will do better at a center that concentrates on those issues. Lesson learned from the center on Ash have informed the design of the new program,” said Anglea.

Interfaith serves more than 17,000 people through providing basic needs, social services, shelters, housing, assistance in getting jobs, youth programs, senior and veterans services and support in addiction recovery.

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