Doors of Change

Doors of Change
What makes your organization unique in its approach to addressing homelessness?


We use Music and Art to build trust with youth. This approach significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to build trust.


Our Taking Music and Art to the Street program offers free music and art lessons, with the opportunity to earn supplies or an instrument for consistent attendance. By teaching a skill, we build confidence by youth mastering something for the first time. By consistently delivering on our promise to help them, we build trust. And by following through each and every time we see them, accepting them for who they are when they attend our classes, we build connection.


That combination builds up a relationship so youth can ask for what they need. They feel empowered and are willing to trust us to help them in a matter of weeks rather than several months – the typical length of time it takes through standard outreach. That reduction in time takes people off the streets and literally saves lives.


What is a misconception you think the public has about homelessness?

The most detrimental misconception about youth experiencing homelessness is “they want to be homeless”. Most youth who experience homelessness come from such dysfunctional families that it is not safe to live in their home. Their parents are drug addicts, alcoholics, or if they are LGBTQ and come out to their families, they get kicked out. Once they are on the streets they don’t trust anyone to help them. Their parents usually do not teach them the skills to be self-sufficient. They are not adults, they are still youth.


Both the UN and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry define the ages of 16-24 as youth. This population has suffered great trauma, slower brain development, and have never been properly raised to be adults. They are still children mentally and emotionally.


When was the organization founded?

Doors of Change was established in 2001. Jeffrey Sitcov, our founder, was a physical therapist whose career ended due to an unexpected injury. He decided that his calling was to serve disadvantaged youth. He interviewed over 100 nonprofits in his quest to find a good fit for his passion. Finally, he participated in outreach for an organization that served the homeless.


That night he listened to a 18-year old girl share her stories about being homeless, and was blown away by the life she was forced to live. When she left, the staff remarked that those were the first words she had spoken to them in over 6 months. It was that moment he knew he needed to help develop trust much more rapidly with homeless youth so they would ask for help get off the streets months sooner.


He went home that weekend and on July 4, 2001, he created Doors of Change, launching his mission to get homeless youth off the streets.


You are part of the "intervention" giv4 homelessness category. Can you explain more what work your organization does in this area?

Our primary mission is to get homeless youth off the streets. This is the most important form of intervention: removing youth from a dangerous environment, with environmental factors that contribute to drug use and other risky behaviors with long-term consequences.


To do this, we must create trust quickly with homeless youth. Once they trust you, they ask for help. We have found that music & art instruction is the quickest way to create trust. We create a non-judgmental environment, meet to youth were they are, and they feel safe. When they trust you, they ask for help.


We have a full-time case manager dedicated to providing the services youth need to recover and get off the streets. We provide health care, mental health care, IDs, bus passes to safe family members, access to jobs, access to beds at local transitional age youth (TAY) facilities, access to shelters for persons fleeing abuse, drug abuse intervention access, and many other resources through our network of partners to ensure we break the cycle of homelessness for the youth.


Is your organization looking for volunteers? Are you looking for committee/board members with particular skill sets? Do you need in-kind donations of any sort?

We are always looking for volunteers to help with outreach, cooking meals, and teaching art and music classes. We also need volunteers for our live events such as the Bubbles and Brunch, happening in October. In addition, we are looking to grow our board and have an ideal board persona document that outlines the skills we are seeking, which is available upon request.


Please contact Joanne Newgard for volunteer work and in-kind gifts at [email protected].


Has your organization been featured in the media recently?


KUSI - Video: 20th Anniversary of Doors Of Change


SD Union Tribune: Homeless Youth Need Healing



What else would you want people to know about your organization?

We have two special projects launched in 2021.


Youth Emotional Support Team (YES Team). YES Team launched to combat the growing number of mental health issues in the youth we serve. We saw a 105% increase in mental health requests in 2020 and launched YES as a way of bridging the gap between homeless youth in need and the providers who can help. We do outreach, raise awareness of the services available, provide access via phones/computers, offer bus passes or gas vouchers, and pay for care.


Angel Team Street Team. We are looking to expand our program to a new location. As a way of collecting data about various neighborhoods in need, we are launching street teams into two targeted neighborhoods in 2021. We will do outreach and provide bus passes for homeless youths to get to our Ocean Beach location for music and art classes. We will also collect data about the youth we find to determine the best fit for a new location.


Our Bubbles & Brunch champagne brunch for the 20th Anniversary of Doors of Change is October 24th, 2021 from 12:00pm-3:30pm at Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, with entertainment by Whitney Shay, SDMA Artist of the Year 2019 and a Keynote Speech by Dr. Sheryl Recinos, a formerly homeless youth.

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