Home of Guiding Hands is a local organization that provides direct services and support to more than 4,000 individuals diagnosed with an intellectual disability such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or autism within San Diego and Imperial Counties. The inception of Home of Guiding Hands traces back to the early 1960s when family members banded together to strategize on how to fill an unmet need for their loved ones with developmental disabilities. This group of dedicated parents lobbied the legislature to ensure that core services would be provided for their family members, and they succeeded.
The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, known as the “Lanterman Act,” was passed in 1969. This California law states that people with developmental disabilities and their families have a right to get the services and support they need to live like people without disabilities. This right is known as an entitlement. In preparing for the passage of the Lanterman Act, families across the state began designing community-based programs for their loved ones.
On August 4, 1967, an impressive 14-acre, state-of-the-art campus in Lakeside opened its doors. From that single campus, Home of Guiding Hands has evolved into a provider of a full spectrum of services. Home of Guiding Hands is one of the largest employers in east county, with over 800 employees and an annual payroll exceeding 18 million dollars — an impressive record for a homegrown non-profit. In addition, Home of Guiding Hands now owns and operates 30 community-based specialized group homes. In the group homes, clients receive 24-hour care from trained, licensed, direct support professionals.
Of the 30 group homes Home of Guiding Hands owns and operates, three are designated children’s homes. Because all children learn at different rates, it may be hard to determine if a child has a developmental delay. Developmental delays are possible when a child continually shows skills behind the skills expected for that child’s age range. Some of these delays are short-term; however, any delay can be a sign of intellectual disability. Home of Guiding Hands specializes in home visitation services through its early intervention programming. Training and licensed therapists provide early intervention services such as speech and language therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive support services in the home setting. When a child’s intellectual disability advances to the stage of needing 24-hour care, the child can access placement at one of Home of Guiding Hands’ specialized group homes.
Home of Guiding Hands also provides respite care, door-to-door transportation services, and tailored day services that the client and their families designed to help meet their specific individual needs. Home of Guiding Hands fully embraces the philosophy of the whole person and the unique characteristics and individual skills they embody. They believe that all individuals should have access to programs that will enable them to achieve optimal success.
Yvonne and Jeffrey Bloom are both San Diego natives, born and raised in San Diego. They met in 1973, when they were teenagers, at a mutual friend’s house. Yvonne was 17- years old, and Jeffrey was 19 years old. They began dating and have been together ever since. Today, Jeffrey and Yvonne are the proud parents of four children and nine grandchildren. Yvonne and Jeffrey Bloom have owned and operated Fischer Auction for over 30 years. Jeffrey was once an employee of the famous auction house (now located in Santee) until he had the opportunity to buy the now 70-year-old business, which is considered an east county icon. Mr. Bloom has been a licensed auctioneer since 1975 and has conducted auctions in San Diego for over 45 years. His industry experience is unparalleled, and his reputation for work ethic and professional integrity is second to none. Both Yvonne and Jeffrey were raised to help others.
“It’s been an honor to be able to support Home of Guiding Hands and the residents through the years and to be able to watch Home of Guiding Hands expand their services to all in need,” Yvonne said.
Their business successes have allowed the Bloom family to continue a legacy of philanthropy, where their giving spirit has become intergenerational. Their children and grandchildren support many causes in our beloved community. One of their favorites is Home of Guiding Hands.
Ralleen Ratzlaff, also a San Diego native, has known Yvonne since the two were in seventh grade together at Lewis Junior High.
Both women now serve on the Gala committee for Home of Guiding Hands. They began their service to the special needs populations, and the organization over twenty years ago. When they were teenagers, they went to school with a sibling of a special needs student whose name was Terri Carne. (Terri’s parents, Bob and Dottie Carne were also featured in L’Chaim Magazine in 2021 for their substantial contributions to the special needs community.) Terri was born with cerebral palsy. Because the world is a small place, Ratzlaff and Yvonne are still in touch with the Carne family, and the children and grandchildren of the three families recently attended a Padres baseball game together, facilitated by Home of Guiding Hands. The Blooms, the Ratzlaffs, and the Carnes have been supporters of Home of Guiding Hands over the years.
This year, Home of Guiding Hands will host its 49th annual Gala at the US Grant. Dubbed the “Bootleggers Ball,” the event will feature lie entertainment, food and cocktails, and a costume contest; with prizes awarded to the best individual and couples costumes.
Ratzlaff is the 2023 Gala Chair, and the Bloom family will be honored at the event.
“No one is more deserving of being named Honoree for 2023,” says Edward Hershey, the President of Home of Guiding Hands. “The Blooms have been such stalwart supporters of Home of Guiding Hands that we have named one of our residential group homes after the family.”
If you have a loved one who is in need of care, please call Home of Guiding Hands at 619-938-2850 or visit their website at www.guidinghands.org. To purchase tickets to the Bootleggers Ball on June 10, visit www.hghgala.org