Your Support Brightened the Holidays for Over 380 Families!

family-with-unicorn_x300Thanks to generous partners like you, many Home Start families were adopted and received gifts just in time for the holidays. In addition, at our Annual Toy Distribution, we gave out more toys than ever before to local families. In their own words below, you can hear the amazing impact your gifts have made!

“Thank you so much! You have a beautiful heart and my daughter loves her toys already.”

“Without this program I probably would not have been able to get anything for my children, so thank you with all our hearts.  We love you! “

laura-and-bike-winner_x300“Muchas gracias por hacerme feliz! Con amor, E.G.” (age 6)

“I appreciate this so much, I can’t even put it into words. You just made my family’s Christmas.”

“I am so humbled and grateful to you for blessing my family. May you and your family be blessed today and always.”

WATCH: Home Start’s Maternity Shelter Program

Created for our Blue Ribbon Gala, this video spotlights our Maternity Shelter program and shares the story of Vanessa, one of our young mothers who has benefitted from her Home Start experience.

SCOUT Teams Up With Home Start to “Repurpose With a Purpose”

At holiday season, local retailer, designer and staging expert Paul Scott Silvera looks for creative and meaningful ways to give back to the community. This year, he has teamed up with HOME START, Inc., and donated nearly $3,000 of Scout Staging materials to be sold at their newly launched Thrift Boutique in Normal Heights.

Home Start is committed to assuring the safety and resiliency of children by strengthening families and their communities. The Home Start Thrift Boutique is a home for excellent quality, gently used items for resale, including clothing, jewelry and household items, as well as small sized furniture.


The store will provide Home Start’s clients and volunteers a learning opportunity and resume builder, helping them gain valuable work-related skills and experience they can use in the future. Home Start’s clients will be eligible to apply for employment at the Home Start Thrift Boutique. Proceeds from the thrift boutique will go back into Home Start’s programs and services.

“At SCOUT, we have a history of donating furniture around the holidays. In the Bay Area, we worked with a homeless women’s shelter, so I was looking for something that helped women and children. I know my mother, grandmother and beloved aunts would be proud.”

“At SCOUT, we have a history of donating furniture around the holidays. In the Bay Area, we worked with a homeless women’s shelter, so I was looking for something that helped women and children. I know my mother, grandmother and beloved aunts would be proud,” explained Paul Scott Silvera, SCOUT Creative Directo

SCOUT and his team loaded a Home Start truck with items from Scout Staging including chairs, tables, artwork, kitchen items and even a delightful rocking horse! “We are thrilled by SCOUT’s support of our new Thrift Boutique/Social Enterprise partnership. With SCOUT’S generous…and stylish…help, we will continue to provide assistance to our most vulnerable families in need,” said Laura Mustari, Home Start CEO.

This holiday season, SCOUT is doubling his efforts to support the community. He recently launched another year of his creatively conceived Shiny Brite by Scout. For the third year in a row, he is reaching out to community groups to help decorate the homes of the elderly….free of charge. Using their own holiday artifacts, heirlooms and decorations, he will add nearly a dozen seniors to his client list, at no charge.

“So many seniors have boxes of long forgotten holiday decorations in their attic or garage just waiting to be given a new life,” Silvera explained. “Seeing the joy people have when their Christmas memories come alive is what the season is all about!” he added.

San Diego Magazine: Donate Toys to Home Start

Home Start is pleased to be included in San Diego Magazine’s 2015 List of Toy Drives

KUSI Thrift Boutique Segment

KUSI segment with CEO, Laura Mustari, on Home Start Inc’s Thrift Boutique

Service Enterprise Certification

As of January 2015, Home Start is officially recognized and certified by Points of Light as a Service Enterprise.  With this certification, Home Start becomes one of the first organizations within the state to be recognized as a Social Enterprise by CaliforniaVolunteers, the state service commission in California.

Service Enterprises fundamentally leverage volunteers and their skills to successfully deliver on the social mission of their organizations.  Research conducted by the TCC Group, a national program and evaluation firm, found that organizations operating as Service Enterprises outperform peer organizations on all aspects of organizational effectiveness and are more adaptable, sustainable, and capable of scaling their work.

With support from Create Possibility, Home Start completed an extensive assessment, training/consulting, and certification process that led to this recognition. By achieving this level of excellence and certification, Home Start is now better equipped to leverage the time and talent of volunteers in building our organizational capacity.


For further information regarding the CaliforniaVolunteers Service Enterprise Initiative, please visit:

Home Start Thrift Boutique Article in Uptown News

Home Start is excited to announce that we have opened a new social enterprise, Home Start Thrift Boutique. Take a look at this article published by Jeremy Ogul, Contributing Editor at San Diego Uptown News.


Read Now: Thrift boutique aims to create opportunity for struggling families

Home Start’s Hallo-Wine Fall Festival

CBS News 8 – San Diego, CA News Station – KFMB Channel 8

UnitedWay Campaign

Home Start is pleased to partner with the UnitedWay for an Employee’s Giveback campaign.

For more information, visit:


Maternity Shelter Success Story

Check out this inspiring story about one of our Maternity Shelter Graduates.


Maternity Shelter Program Recognized in Union Tribune!

MSPUTHome Start Maternity Shelter volunteer Kathy Gumm, left, and Chaunice Cowan, who is being mentored by Gumm. — Andy Wilhelm

Mentor Mom Helps Single Moms Cope


By Karla Peterson Aug. 26, 2013

As a 19-year-old single mother without a job, a high-school diploma or a place to live, Chaunice Cowan knew she needed help. And when a spot opened up in Home Start’s Maternity Shelter Program — where struggling young mothers get a place to call home and the support to get their lives on track — Cowan she knew she was lucky to get it.

When the Home Start staff suggested she meet with a mentor, however, Cowan was pretty sure it was the last thing in the world she would ever want to do. But after just a few minutes with Kathy Gumm, Cowan knew she was wrong.

“At first, I did not want a mentor. I thought there was no point in having one,” Cowan said, settling into the couch in the Normal Heights Maternity Shelter bungalow she shares with daughter Laneice, who turns three next month. “But we met at Phil’s BBQ, and I saw that we had similar backgrounds and she could really understand my life. It was really cool.”

Gumm is a 55-year-old legal secretary with a career she loves, two grown-up children she is proud of and memories of surviving young single motherhood that she is happy to share. Even if the road to wisdom was often no fun at all.

“When I started reading about this program, I thought, ‘Whoa, this is something I can relate to,’ ” said Gumm, who takes Cowan and Laneice out for regular dinners, drives Cowan to job interviews and advises her on everything from applying for subsidized housing to how to get a student bus pass. “I wanted to share my story. I wanted to let her know that there will be up times and down times, and easy times and hard times. But you just need to stand firm and be the best mom you can be.”

Founded in 2009 as part of a pilot program funded by the United Way, Home Start’s Maternity Shelter Program gives at-risk young mothers safe and secure housing, child-care, parenting education and help finding jobs, finishing high school or starting college.

Earlier this year, MSP added volunteer mentors to the mix, hoping that strong, successful women could be a source of inspiration for girls whose lives have been long on hardship and short on role models. After hearing about the Home Start maternity program through the San Diego Legal Secretaries’ Association, Gumm decided she wanted to be one of those women. And she knew what it would take.

Born and raised in Louisville, Ky., Gumm gave birth to her daughter, Wayneshia, when she was 15. Busy with college and then the Army, the baby’s father was never really in the picture. But Gumm’s mother sure was.

When her teen daughter got pregnant, Florence Mitchell insisted she keep going to her regular high school instead of hiding out in the special school for pregnant girls. When Wayneshia was born, Mitchell offered to take care of her every day, as long as Gumm stayed in school.

“My mother was very strict and very old school,” Gumm said. “She was determined that I was going to be a mother to my daughter and that I was not going to sit around getting food stamps and being on welfare. I guess my mother was my Home Start.”

After studying computer science at the University of Louisville, Gumm packed up Wayneshia and moved to California in 1978. They lived with relatives in Santa Ana, and Gumm got a secretarial job. Then she started taking paralegal classes at Santa Ana College, and the scattered pieces of her challenging life took gratifying shape.

Classes lead to a career, which took her from law offices in Orange County to firms in San Diego. Wayneshia is now a married mother of three with a Ph.D from San Diego State and a counseling job at San Diego City College. Gumm’s 28-year-old son, Jaye Dale, is an engineer at Hewlett-Packard. As a mother, Gumm’s work is more or less done. As a mentor, the adventure is just beginning. And it promises to be another good one.

“Hopefully, Chaunice can take what I’ve learned and learn from it, too,” said Gumm, who was married to William Gumm for 26 years before his death in 2010. “Things like the importance of school, and that a job is not just about a paycheck, it’s about the future. I thought I could help her stay motivated and show her it is possible to succeed. The proudest day of my life was when my daughter graduated from college.”

From her end of the couch, Cowan looks at the woman in the spiffy navy-blue suit and shiny red pumps and smiles the stunned smile of the recently converted. She’s got the right person on her side now. She just knows it.

“Look at where she is now,” said Cowan, who is getting her GED and working as a telemarketer. “She’s got a great job and she’s volunteering to talk to me. She isn’t even getting paid.”

Then it was the mentor’s time to grin.

“I get paid by watching you grow.” • (619) 293-1275

Home Start’s Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the Maternity Shelter Program Featured on FOX 5 News

Home Start Named One of The Nation’s Top 50 Best Places to Work

San Diego, CA – Home Start, Inc. for the third year in a row has been named as one of the Best NonProfit Organizations to Work for in 2012. The awards program was created in 2010 and is a project of The NonProfit Times and Best Companies Group. Home Start was the only San Diego charity to make the list!

This nationwide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in the nonprofit industry, benefiting the industry’s economy, its workforce and businesses. The Best NonProfit Organizations to Work for 2012 list is made up of 50 organizations.

To be considered for participation, organizations had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
– Have at least 15 employees working in the United States; must be a nonprofit organization with 501 (c) 3 status, have a facility in the United States; and must be in business a minimum of 1 year.

clip_image002_0000Organizations from across the nation entered the two-part process to determine the Best NonProfit Organizations to Work for in 2012. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated organization’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of a confidential employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top organizations and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in the United States and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

“My sincere thanks to each and every Home Start employee for taking the time to share your thoughts through the survey, you have made this award happen three years in a row! We want to continue to strive to be the best nonprofit to work for in San Diego, and our employees input is taken very seriously.” said Home Start Chief Executive Officer, Laura A. Mustari, LCSW, “This award we share together as I am truly proud to be working with the best staff around!!”

In the overall ranking of the 50 nationwide recognized organizations, Home Start is recognized as #17. For our size category of medium organization (those with 50-249 employees), we are #8 out of 22 organizations, as listed in The NonProfit Times April 1, 2012 issue.