This year CALI Strong is proud to say that we will be teaming up with the Voices of Our City Choir in San Diego. CALI Strong will be raising money for the charity as well as donating socks and other things the charity so desperately needs. We invite you to learn more about this amazing charity and join us on our journey.
Who Are the Voices of Our City Choir?
The Voices of our City Choir was established by Steph Johnson and Nina Deering in response to the housing crisis in San Diego. Many people were left homeless for a few reasons, and the pair wanted to learn more about homeless people and how they could help.
Nina Leilani Deering (Voices of Our City Choir co-founder and choir director) Photo by Natalie Schrik
Steph Johnson (Voices of Our City Choir co-founder)
It all started when Steph began to notice that there seemed to be more homeless people than ever before in the city. She got together with her friends to provide them with food, clothing, and blankets. She wanted to reach out to them. It was then that she noticed several of them could play instruments and sing. Being talented musicians themselves, there was an obvious path for them to follow, forming a choir.
Steph Johnson meets Janet Bolden near a park on 13th Street in San Diego’s East Village, and invites her to an upcoming choir rehearsal, Oct. 25, 2016. (PHOTO BY NICHOLAS MCVICKER)
Giving a Voice to the Homeless
One could say that the Voices of our City Choir gives the homeless a voice. The charity organizes weekly choir practices every Friday, and they also hold regular performances. They recently performed at the Santa Monica Public Library and released a single.
Voices of our City Choir San Diego
The choir members come from all walks of life, including several disabled members. One choir member – Jeff – was left homeless because he suffers from MS. Another member – Janet Bolden – is blind. Steph and Nina work hard to provide these people with a warm and welcome environment and with the love and human decency everyone deserves. They’ve noticed a change in their members over time. They are happier and have a more positive outlook on life. Some of them even find new homes through charity.
Jeff Hays of Voice of Our City Choir performs with others at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights (Photo by Robert Sanchez)
The choir has been an overwhelming success. Steph recounts how she never expected the choir would become as famous as they are, putting on up to a dozen performances each month. The charity does more than just raise awareness of homelessness; they genuinely help. Over 20 homeless people have been connected to new housing or with their families through the charity. This is 20 people that were once homeless and now have a roof over their head and can go back to rebuilding their lives.
Voices of Our City Choir members (Photo by Robert Sanchez)
Homelessness is one of the least-talked about problems in the United States. Voices of our City Choir give the homeless a chance to be heard. We’re proud to be lending them a hand this year and we encourage everyone to get involved.
Every Monday morning, police officers and city crews show up in the East Village to move out the hundreds of homeless people living there. By late afternoon, the homeless are back.
About the Author: Jim Stroesser
Jim Stroesser has amassed 38 years of experience in global consumer branding across the sports, fashion, and entertainment industries. Starting his career as a tech rep, he ascended to CEO roles with some of the world's leading brands. As the Co-Founder and CEO of CALI Strong Inc., a direct-to-consumer sports brand based in San Diego, CA, Jim has led the company in producing premium apparel, footwear, equipment, and accessories.
His tenure as Owner/Partner at Converse is particularly noteworthy. Jim was pivotal in reviving the brand from bankruptcy in 2001, elevating its value from $120 million to $285 million, and playing a crucial role in its $305 million sale to Nike in 2003, marking one of the century's significant mergers and acquisitions.
Beyond Converse, Jim has held senior management positions at renowned companies such as Nike, Quiksilver, Oakley, LA Gear, Pony, and Adio. He is also actively involved in several boards of directors positions, including SDSI, led by Chairman Bill Walton, which focuses on mentoring companies and assisting in capital raising efforts.