Home of Guiding Hands opens new doors in El Cajon celebrating 50 years


In history’s perspective, the first Super Bowl was held 50 years ago, Disneyland opened Pirates of the Caribbean, “All you need is love,” by the Beatles was the number one song. And Home of Guiding Hands began providing some of the most vulnerable citizens within San Diego County—people with developmental disabilities.

In history’s perspective, the first Super Bowl was held 50 years ago, Disneyland opened Pirates of the Caribbean, “All you need is love,” by the Beatles was the number one song. And Home of Guiding Hands began providing some of the most vulnerable citizens within San Diego County—people with developmental disabilities.

These are a few things that Mark Klaus, CEO & president Home of Guiding Hands pointed out at its Aug. 27 annual meeting followed by an open house of its new facilities in El Cajon located at 1908 Friendship Drive in El Cajon. This facility is equipped to bring HGH staff together, offers rooms for arts and play for HGH families, rooms for family counseling and room to grow.

It was an intimate gathering for the annual meeting of HGH staff, Board of Directors, Board of Governors, the Heritage society, special guests and long term HGH supporters. Klaus said that it has been a challenging year, but HGH has a bright future ahead as it celebrates its 50th year of providing services its clients.

“What started out by a small group of ambitious individuals has now grown into what HGH is today,” said Klaus. “I doubt that 50 years ago anyone could imagine the scope of services, the difference in people’s lives for people with developmental disabilities, their families, our staff and our community have accomplished. The foresight and dedication of HGH provided services long before it became law that these individuals were entitled to these services. And their foresight is truly amazing.”

Klaus said although it is proud of its past, he am very excited about our next 50 years. “We are here today to celebrate our past but to look forward. We’re looking forward to our new facility here, expansion of services. Last year alone we supported 2,569 people in San Diego County,” he said.

Board Chair Debbie McNeil said the Board of Governors is a team of diverse individuals working collaboratively to lend their expertise to HGH. “We greatly appreciate their contribution and dedication to increase the visibility of HGH in the community within their personal and professional social circles,” she said.

Rick Duramus returned to the board this year. When he became involved 25 years ago he said he saw that the founders were dedicated that HGH lasted forever.

“A lot of things have changed in these 25 years,” he said. “We now have 31 group homes in the community and we have so much more to come. We’ve not only maintained the vision of the founders, but I believe we have expanded on it. As Mark said, this year we have served more than 700 in respite care, 400 in early child development, 182 that live in our homes, more than 200 that we provide transportation for and there are opportunities for all those programs to continue to grow.”

Duramus said one thing that makes those opportunities so strong is the fact that HGH has this new building. It now has the room to bring the children in to give them the help that they need and the ability to have employees here as a group, and room to grow.

“In doing this, our goal was to raise $1.8 million. We did not do that,” he said. “We’re going to. As Mark has said more than once, we are only one donor away. That being a million dollar donor. This could really happen. We continue as board members to do what we believe that will ensure the longevity of this organization. Eighty-nine cents of every dollar donated to us goes directly to the programs. The building campaign is still going on. There is a lot of opportunity here and we have the staff and guidance to make it happen.”

Klaus said HGH still has people there that were here at the beginning of this vision 56 years ago in 1961. When you are operating a business that supports almost 2,600 people, 800 staff, dealing with legislatures, and unions, it is a business, he said. Before the open house, HGH recognized the many long-term staff that has remained with HGH, some from the very beginning. He said there are 15 staff members with more than 25 years, and in together 477 years of service to HGH and its cause. Also, it was time to give credit to some individuals that had made a huge contribution through the year with some special awards.

Board Member of the Year

Isaac Blumberg, 

Volunteer of the Year

Jessica DiMaggio, Jennifer Hawk, Paulina Payne, Miriam Snyder and Trevor Yates

Community Partner of the Year

San Diego Special Needs Law Center

After the annual meeting, people poured into the new location for a look. At a special presentation, many expressed gratitude for the long-term HGH has had in the community.

El Cajon Councilmember Steve Goble said it was a big day for HGH.

“Sometimes I think HGH stands for heroes guiding heroes, because that is the work that you do. I can think of several words that describe HGH and that is integrity, trust, compassion, skill, professionalism, empathy, knowledge. You are all so good at what you do and I and the City of El Cajon are thankful for what you do,” he said.

Assemblyman Randy Voepel said as mayor for Santee for 16 years, the city worked closely with Home of Guiding Hands.

“I remember seeing kids, clients, shopping and running around time and I always thought what a wonderful job this organization does for our community. The San Diego Delegation of the Assembly is 100 percent behind Home of Guiding Hands, so I’m not here just representing myself,” he said.

State Senator Joel Anderson said first of all he wanted to thank all the people that are involved in making HGH such a successful organization for the community that it serves.

“It’s family members, staff, volunteers, donors and a crackerjack staff that has kept Home of Guiding hands going and 50 years is a long time,” he said. “When you think about the businesses in our county, how many are 50 years old? And yet, Home of Guiding Hands is still providing services. You think about all the critical support, community housing, job skills, training, and family support, these are all so important for our community. As a representative I love to give credit to those who do great things in our community and HGH is at the top of that list. In the State Senate, I asked my colleagues if they would like to sign on with this resolution, and although they do not represent HGH, but they all recognize the great work that is done here.”