SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The San Diego Nice Guys aren't your typical philanthropy.
"We're just a group are a bunch of really good people that love giving back," says President David Walters.
And they've been doing that for 43 years. The Nice Guys began in 1979 when a group of friends got fed up with the red tape of national charities. They also didn't like that so little of their money went to groups and people in San Diego.
"So they all threw in $100 together and that started the germination of a charity group," says Past President Nancy Hamzey.
Since then, the group has grown to nearly 200 members. They focus primarily on helping families who have hit a financial rough patch.
In 43 years, they've helped 10s of thousands of families in San Diego, through what the Nice Guys call "micro-funding." They give families a few hundred or thousand dollars to get back on their feet.
"We pay for things like rent, car repairs, food, clothing, furniture, appliances, medical devices, past due bills, or whatever makes sense for a given case," says Walters. "It really lifts them up and gets them back on track."
In addition to the focus on micro-funding, the Nice Guys' structure as a charity makes them unique.
They have no office, no staff, and no overhead. That means every dollar donated goes towards helping others.
In addition to donating money, all of the members give their time as volunteers, working with the families they help to make sure they become self-sufficient.
"You meet the person and see if micro-funding can help them," says 2nd Vice President Robert Patterson. "Then we come back to the group and say this is truly a hand-up, and we can make a significant impact in somebody's life. And then we approve that and you see it happen in real time."
That's the most gratifying part, says Patterson - seeing the way their donation can change people's lives. Over time, the Nice Guys say they have given out $23 million worth of "hand-ups, not hand-outs" to help San Diego families stay afloat.
"It's hard to ask for help sometimes," says Past President Debbie Giaquinta. "So they really appreciate the compassion and the kindness."
ABC 10News and LEAD San Diego honored the Nice Guys with our Leadership Award for August 2022. But for these Nice Guys, knowing they've helped others is all the thanks they need.
"It helps your heart and it helps your soul and it just is the greatest feeling in the world," says Hamzey.
The Nice Guys hold two fundraisers every year. If you're interested in helping out, or if you need to apply for assistance from the group, go to their website, sdniceguys.com.