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Jul. 11 - Serving Seniors Remembers Father Joe Carroll; Praises His Legacy

July 11, 2021

Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA – Serving Seniors
619-997-2495 or

Serving Seniors Remembers Father Joe Carroll; Praises His Legacy

SAN DIEGO, Calif.- The entire Serving Seniors organization offers its condolences and praises the legacy of Father Joe Carroll upon learning of his death today at age 80.

Serving Seniors CEO Paul Downey met Father Joe Carroll three decades ago working for Mayor Maureen O’Connor. Before then, he covered Carroll’s advocacy efforts on behalf of San Diego’s homeless population.

“He was a tireless, fearless advocate with elected officials, particularly in the mid 1980s as he was building what would become the St. Vincent DePaul Center,” said Downey. “At that time, the city had no larger organized policy toward homelessness. It was seen as just a ‘downtown’ problem. Thanks to his educational efforts with us, Mayor O’Connor was very receptive.

“His concept of consolidating services into one location, bringing the healthcare aspects including mental health services into shelter facilities was unique at that time. Today, we take this for granted,” noted Downey.

“Until Father Joe took a leadership role, homelessness was an out of sight, out of mind issue for most San Diegans. Our downtown area was still in transition, The Gaslamp Quarter was still years away. Father Joe elevated the issue for elected officials and all of us, so the effort became organized.”

When Downey was hired as CEO of Serving Seniors, which focuses on low-income and homeless senior adults, he says St. Vincent DePaul provided an example of what could be achieved.

“He began the interfaith shelter network; he started the annual holiday shelter. He remained the catalyst driving momentum to develop more services by raising the issue. Because of Father Joe’s unceasing advocacy, homelessness become something people suddenly talked about and the media covered,” said Downey.

“Father Joe’s Villages have always been a wonderful collaborative partner with us at Serving Seniors. “They’ve also helped focus on the issues unique to older homeless adults. We have always appreciated the support they have given us and we value our longstanding partnership.”

Downey says Joe Carroll completely changed the landscape of services for homeless San Diegans and energized the community toward the goal of reducing homelessness.

“His passion and commitment to helping those in need is legendary,” said Downey. “He humanized the homeless. He made them real people. He made it cool to care.”

Two in five older adults in San Diego County remain unable to afford basic rent, food, transportation, or healthcare. Through ongoing fundraising and advocacy efforts inspired by Father Joe Carroll’s pioneering leadership, Serving Seniors can continue this important work and help meet these basic needs.

About Serving Seniors

Founded in 1970, Serving Seniors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Diego, California, dedicated to serving low-income adults aged 60 and over. A leader in senior advocacy and programming, Serving Seniors has created an innovative model of comprehensive services including nutrition meals, housing, health and social services and lifelong learning opportunities to hundreds of seniors in need. It is the largest provider of meals to seniors in the county, and one of the only organizations in the nation providing such a robust range of services to vulnerable, at-risk older adults.

Serving Seniors President and CEO Paul Downey has been instrumental in the organization’s growth over the past 25 years. Since being appointed the role in 1995, Downey has guided the nonprofit’s innovative efforts to provide supportive services focused on keeping low-income seniors healthy and independent. Under Downey’s leadership, Serving Seniors has grown to provide more than 640,000 nutritious meals and coordinated services to 5,000 older adults each year. Follow Serving Seniors on Facebook @ServingSeniorsSD, Instagram @servingseniorssd and Twitter @ServingSeniors.

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