Teach a Man to Fish

Sometimes all we need is to be given a chance; for someone to open that window of opportunity. At Alpha Lofts -- a permanent supportive housing complex for homeless military Veterans -- they’ve done just that. 

Based in San Diego, CA, Alpha Lofts supports qualified higher risk clientele found on the streets and brings them into their housing unit providing continuous care for both their health and wellbeing, if they comply with the program guidelines holding each resident accountable for their future.

Todd Vance, Project Manager of Alpha Lofts, explains to us at Virago that they use housing as a foundation while providing other services which include; case management, financial assistance, healthcare enrollment, VA assistance, appointment scheduling, and making sure their tenants get to where they need to be. "Ultimately we are preparing them to be out on their own again," Todd informs us as we toured the facility. Just like the famous Chinese Proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day”, what really stands out to us about Alpha Lofts’ approach is that they don’t simply feed their residents, they teach them to fish. For example, instead of simply putting a roof over their heads, Alpha Lofts works with SDGE to get each apartment’s utilities in the Veteran’s name to re-establish credit. 

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Throughout our tour we caught a glimpse of Alpha Lofts’ modern apartment structured facility fully equipped with a laundry room, food pantry, outdoor quad where tenants can enjoy some sun and fresh air, parking garage, and security. The open hallways and elevators make the complex wheelchair accessible, accommodating anyone with mobility restrictions. Walking around the building we could feel the homey atmosphere, as Todd showed us around tenants would politely greet Todd and the Virago team. Alpha Lofts felt like a community of its own and we are so excited to be a part of a foundation like this as we hope to add to the resources available for these Veterans.

Upon visiting Alpha Lofts and meeting with Todd, Virago Fitness is eager to bring our FIT Program -- where we promote post-traumatic growth through our free fitness classes and use fitness as a form of therapy, to the Veteran residents of this facility. We have already held one yoga class and it was a huge success. Implementing our FIT Project mantra -- “You Are Strong, You Are Bold, You Are Resilient, You Are Fearless, You Are Committed, You Are Driven, You Are Humble, You Are Limitless. You are Virago.”, and the breathing tactics of yoga, we aided a handful of men and women in working toward their recovery from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and begin to let go of any stressors they may have. “I’m deeply committed to the idea of bringing yoga to our residents. I know firsthand that it will help them be mobile, move without pain, and not focus on the negativity around them.” Todd’s willingness to bring yoga to these men and women stems from personal experience as he turned to yoga to cope with his own traumas from being in the military. When learning about our mission he could not wait to partner with us and bring this opportunity to his brothers and sisters in arms.

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Currently, we have scheduled two more yoga classes for the Veterans of Alpha Lofts and are excited to continue this partnership. If you'd like to help this amazing foundation they are always accepting in-kind donations and are currently in need of summer attire to accommodate the heat along with any food items. You can also extend your help outward on a day-to-day basis by simply treating these homeless Veterans as human beings – simply stopping and “having a normal conversation with them can go a long way” (Todd Vance). 

With the community’s help and support, Alpha Lofts is a pioneer in social change, recognizing their residents not only for their needs but for their sacrifice and service to this country. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

Find out more by visiting their website and watching our interview with Todd Vance of Alpha Lofts.


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JESSICA BLANCO | JOURNALIST INTERN

Jessica Blanco is a student athlete graduating this December 2019 with a Bachelors Degree in History. Her journey as a student has led her to us as she has experienced first hand the therapeutic benefits of fitness.

At the age of 7 Jessica began playing tennis, but 11 years later when it was time to leave to college she decided to leave sports…

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