La Mesa Sunrise
Jewish Family Services Parking Lot
8804 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA  92123
United States of America
Who does the Balboa Avenue Lot serve? The Balboa Lot hosts families with children and older adults who are currently living in their cars. Clients have access to a gated lot, indoor communal space, and a shower.
How many volunteers are needed to serve dinner? Groups should have between 5-15 volunteers so that everyone feels they have a meaningful role. Volunteers should be at least 7 years old and volunteers under the age of 18 must be joined by an appropriate number of parents, guardians, or chaperones for supervision.
What time is the volunteer shift? What time is dinner served? Volunteer groups must arrive at 5:30 pm and be prepared to stay through 8:00 pm to allow time for set-up, dinner service, and clean-up. Clients begin to arrive on the lot as early as 6:00 pm and dinner is generally served until 7:30 pm.
What should we bring? Our volunteer hosts supply everything needed for the dinner:
• Food (Must be fully cooked, at temperature, and ready to serve; there is no kitchen access on-site.)
• Beverages and cups, or individually bottled drinks
• Serving dishes
• Serving utensils
• Hot plates or crock pots, if needed, with extension cords
• Plates or bowls
• Napkins
• Cutlery
• Disposable to-go containers or packaging so clients may take any leftovers
• Tablecloths, if desired, for serving tables
What does JFS provide for the dinner service?
• Indoor space with tables and chairs for clients to enjoy their dinner in a communal setting
• Four 6’ tables on which to set up your provided food and drinks
• Serving gloves for all volunteers to ensure safe food handling
• Sink for washing hands (Please note: the sink does not have a food disposal system.)
• Trash cans and trash bags
How many people should we prepare to serve? We recommend preparing dinner for about 60 people. While we host up to 60 cars (about 110 individuals) nightly at this lot, not everyone chooses to participate in the community dinners and/or some arrive later in the evening.
How do clients know dinner will be available on the night we volunteer? We require 72 hours’ notice from volunteer groups to sign up and we post all upcoming dinners on the Safe Parking community bulletin board.
What should volunteers expect to do?
• Cook or cater a full dinner: Volunteer groups should expect to feed about 60 people at this lot.
• Set up: Carry in food and supplies to set up on serving tables provided before guests arrive.
• Serve dinner: Volunteers dish out the food, pour drinks, replenish supplies, and bus tables.
• Socialize: Beyond providing a meal, your group provides company. We welcome you to sit and get to know the families. Some volunteers participate in kids’ activities while others chat with the adults.
• Clean up: Please leave the room as it was found (wipe down the tables, package leftovers, etc.)
Are there any restrictions on the food we bring? No, although we do encourage healthy choices and strongly recommend having a vegetarian option available. Groups have provided everything from lasagna and stews to pizza or tacos. Some groups love to bring desserts, but we also welcome fruit. Some groups stick with bottled waters while others prefer to include juice. Occasionally, we have clients with dietary restrictions (e.g. gluten-free, kosher, food allergies) but we don’t always know in advance. Ultimately, everyone appreciates your effort to provide dinner—whether store-bought or homemade, a hot or cold meal!
Can we bring any other donations? Yes! Your group is welcome to bring additional donations when you serve dinner; however, our staff will receive these items before clients arrive to ensure equal distribution. Since our clients have limited space in their vehicles, please reference our Safe Parking Wish List to ensure you are collecting needed items.
Where is the Balboa Lot located? The Safe Parking Program is located at Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Campus at 8804 Balboa Avenue, San Diego, CA 92123.
Where should volunteers park? We ask volunteers to park in the lot in front of the JFS buildings along Balboa Avenue. Visitor parking spaces are preferred, but you may also park in the employee spaces after 5:30 pm. The spaces between and behind our two buildings are reserved for the Safe Parking clients.