Innovative Solutions to Complex Problems

By Giving List Staff   |   October 29, 2021
Executive Director Kristine Schwarz (center) with Board President Jacqueline Kurta and Supporter Harry Weisbart

When it comes to the rampant issue of homelessness in California, there are no miracle cures or easy fixes. New Beginnings’ Executive Director Kristine Schwarz, a former entertainment industry executive turned psychotherapist and clinician, understands this reality very well. New Beginnings, which provides psychological counseling, veteran services, and housing assistance to homeless people in Santa Barbara County, applies the necessary grit, patience, and resourcefulness to tackle such a multifaceted problem.

Safe Parking client Patricia bringing home holiday gifts to her children

“Finding housing for everyone is a singular undertaking, but keeping people housed is a very complex issue,” Schwarz says. “You have to look at homelessness as a systemic issue that has a lot of complexity and components that need to be addressed.”

Even as homelessness continues to spread statewide, New Beginnings has been innovative and effective in creating solutions that bring comfort to thousands of families. Safe Parking, an innovative program that provides safe overnight parking to people living in their vehicles, was established in 2004 with the key insight that half of unsheltered individuals and their families live in their cars. The program manages and monitors 154 spaces in 26 parking lots through Santa Barbara, Goleta, and other parts of the county, but its influence is nationwide, inspiring similar programs in dozens of other communities.

The Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, which has helped more than 1,500 military veterans find shelter, was just as perceptive. Many veterans struggle with mental health issues, substance abuse, and maintaining a stable income long after they have completed their service to their country.

That person-centered philosophy of providing services based on individual needs, preferences, and values has been a calling card for New Beginnings since it began more than 50 years ago. The organization is now trying to expand the Safe Parking to other parts of the Central Coast like Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Carpinteria. It recently increased its presence at Vandenberg Village with the understanding that it takes proximity to homeless populations to have a truly effective person-centered approach.

“Sometimes just having boots on the ground is the best way to help the vulnerable populations that we are working with,” says Development Director Michael Berton. “It’s really just a matter of showing up and meeting people where they are.” 


New Beginnings

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(805) 963-7777 ext. 144
Executive Director: Kristine Schwarz


We provide mental health counseling to low-income community members and end homelessness for individuals, families, and veterans throughout Santa Barbara County. Through four core programs, we serve approximately 2,000 people each year.

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New Beginnings is a shiny gem among nonprofits in our community. Their cost effective counseling programs have stood the test of time for more than fifty years. The Safe Parking Program for the homeless was the first of its kind and now widely replicated elsewhere. More recently, they are closing in on the elimination of veteran homelessness, a long elusive goal. No matter the program, they are remarkably effective in helping its many low-income and needy clients lead healthy and productive lives.
Glenn Bacheller, Advocate

Your Donations Help Veterans Stay Safe and Housed

New Beginnings is grateful for the grants and community donations to open its new, more efficient collaborative center last summer. But as the agency expands its services and takes on more staff, funding is still needed to support the growth of its work for all of its far ranging and desperately needed programs, including administrative and management staffing, equipment, training – all of which isn’t covered by government grants.

Key Supporters

Jacqueline Kurta,
MFT, Psy.D, President
Dan Engel, Vice President
Mark Cardona, J.D., Secretary
Ziad Elkurjie, Treasurer
Steve Baird, Member
Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT,
Stasia Huiner, M.B.A. Member
Kathryn Keene, Member
Karen Kelly, Member
Diane Pannkuk, M.B.A., Member
Warren B. Ritter II, Member
Scott Sanford, Member