Our Story

Moving Families Out of Homelessness and Into Independence

What started as an Emergency Shelter for victims of domestic violence in 1983 has led to a permanent solution for more than 7,500.


Pajaro Valley Shelter Services provides families with a path to stable, self-sufficient futures through short- and longer-term housing and supportive services.


We envision a community where families have safe, secure, and stable housing with sufficient resources and space to plan for their futures and pursue happiness.





(“I Want to Be ‘Were’ the People Are,” PVSS’ Children’s Table Artwork at the 2017 National Night Out Celebration at 115 Brennan Street, Watsonville)


We strive to embody our values in everything we do and in all of our relationships with clients, team members, partners, and the broader community.


Our clients achieve their own success through commitment to accomplishing their goals. We support and accompany families on their path to self-sufficient futures by providing knowledge, skills, and connections to community resources. We assure the sustainability of our programs through accountability to our community.


We recognize the inherent potential of families to overcome challenges and build a better future for themselves. We believe that the primary decision-making role belongs to our clients, and we honor that role. We respect the dignity of our team members and partners, as well as our clients, as we work collaboratively to realize our shared mission.


We care deeply for families and children experiencing homelessness in our community. We are moved to action and determined to inspire and motivate our community to join us.


36 Years Ago...









February 7, 1984

Dear Friends,


Newsweek magazine gave 10 pages to a detailed description of homelessness in America in the January 2nd issue. There were plenty of stories and some telling statistics. We read it and identified with the struggles of the poor that we experience daily here at the shelter. The hard fact is that each of us can also “feel” the limits of compassion. There is something in us that doesn’t want to hear any more stories of poverty, hunger and suffering. We know clearly our own limitations and inability to reach out to all. When that happens only our network with other people who care can save us from becoming cold and unfeeling in the midst of suffering. We need to nurture the “good Samaritan” inside of ourselves and know there are others to support our efforts. This is our primary reason for sending you this newsletter. There are always needs in this house, but our most important link is to the network of “good Samaritans” who keep compassion alive through their support of the poor.


Sr. Marie Veronica Wagner and Sr. Susan Olson

Pajaro Valley Shelter Services was originally founded in 1983 by Sister Marie Veronica & Catholic Charities in response to the needs of homeless women and children in the Watsonville area. Since then, PVSS has helped the community’s  most vulnerable by building the skills and attitudes necessary to move on to stable housing and improved personal and economic self-sufficiency.

PVSS Co-Founder, Sister Susan Olson, Board members, clients, and donors talk about PVSS in 2010.

“Pajaro Valley Shelter Services” from @codeninja onVimeo

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