Dreams for Change helps San Diegans with personal finance and resources

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jun 02, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It's a nonprofit helping families avoid homelessness, one dollar at a time.

Behind a soft voice, Dr. Teresa Smith's impact as the CEO of Dreams for Change speaks volumes. She started the nonprofit to help families forced to live in their cars after the 2008 financial collapse.

"We started looking at this concept around safe parking," said Dr. Smith.

"Maybe we can get a place when they can come together, park safely, get a good night's sleep, while having services there on site to help them get out of that situation."

The program transformed to offer additional help with food, housing, jobs, and filing taxes. Since founding Dreams for Change in 2009, the nonprofit has helped families get more than $75 million in tax refunds.

"Knowing and hearing from them that this is going to pay my rent for the next six months, or help me pay my rent, so I'm not gonna be homeless," said Dr. Smith.

Dr. Smith's life of service started young.

"My family has multiple disabilities," said Dr. Smith. "My little brother was actually born with cerebral palsy, severe cerebral palsy. And so my mom still cares for him to this day. So there was always this sense that we have to care for each other."

So the joy of helping others is Dr. Smith's life work.

"Even as I think back, what do you want to be when you want to grow up type of thing. The only thing that came to mind was to be of service in some way shape or form," said Dr. Smith.

For Dr. Teresa Smith's work with Dreams for Change, she was nominated and selected as ABC 10 News' leadership award winner. To nominate someone for our leadership award, click here.

Dreams for Change serves individuals and families living in their vehicles, or struggling to make ends meet. To learn more or ask about their services, you can visit their website.