Eddie Tyrrell, residential treatment specialist and Alana Chessmar, outpatient	coordinator.

Gail Arnold

Eddie Tyrrell, residential treatment specialist and Alana Chessmar, outpatient coordinator.

Rescue Mission Holds Annual Fourth of July Carnival

300 Homeless Guests are Warmly Welcomed by Staff and Volunteers

The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission held its 9th annual Fourth of July Carnival complete with a barbecue dinner for about 300 homeless guests. Its parking lot on East Yanonali Street was cleverly transformed into a festive and relaxing venue with shaded tables for dining, music, and a multitude of carnival games.

The Rescue Mission’s president, Rolf Geyling, shared how the Mission wanted “to create a warm, welcoming homelike atmosphere” on this holiday. For a lot of people, the first step in transitioning out of homelessness is “just understanding that there is a place that cares for them where they can find help.” Through events like these, the Mission “lets people know they are valued and a lot of times that it is an important part of the process that allows them to summon the confidence to seek change.”

It was quite a collaborative effort, with many Women’s Auxiliary members and men and women in the Mission’s Residential Recovery Programs staffing carnival games and serving food. There was a deep, palpable sense of caring among all of those pitching in, and many very grateful homeless guests.

Especially popular was a pie-throwing event with two exceptionally good-natured staff persons, Alana Chessmar and Eddie Tyrrell, smiling throughout hours of intermittent pie-smashings in the face. The guests were also quite pleased with the all-you-can-eat buffet featuring classic American favorites like cheeseburgers with all the fixings, macaroni and cheese, and fruit pies.

Guests were given raffle tickets upon entering and earned more at the carnival games. Items were donated by the Women’s Auxiliary itself and by many community members. Suitcases and backpacks were especially popular.

The Rescue Mission, which receives no government funding, is the only organization between Oxnard and Santa Maria that provides hot meals and accommodations to homeless guests 365 days of the year. It has space for 100 men and 24 women but is able to accommodate overflow in its chapel such that it rarely has to turn anyone away. The Mission also operates a men’s and women’s 12-month residential drug and alcohol program that has won national recognition for its extraordinary effectiveness. It takes a comprehensive approach, offering a full range of services to enable its graduates to reenter society as responsible, productive citizens.

A relatively new program at the Mission is its Drop-In Center operating from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where staff work one-on-one with the homeless. It is staffed with health-care and other professionals who tend to medical needs, deal with substance-abuse issues, and make referrals to other services. Food and the use of a phone and computer are also provided.

For more information about the Rescue Mission, click here.

By Gail Arnold

Eddie Tyrrell, residential treatment specialist and Alana Chessmar, outpatient coordinator.

By Gail Arnold

Dan Macomber, Victor Reyna, Ed Backus and Wes Jones, all in the Residential Treatment Program, serve a meal to a homeless guest.

By Gail Arnold

Gabe Gomez, George Machado, and Daniel Pulido, all in the Residential Treatment Program, serve dessert to the homeless guests.

By Gail Arnold

Homeless guests enjoy the 4th of July Carnival at the Rescue Mission’s converted parking lot on East Yanonali Street.

By Gail Arnold

Women’s Auxiliary members Katie Pointer and Kirsten Walters staff one of the carnival games.

By Gail Arnold

Homeless guest services director Jill Wallerstedt, President Rolf Geyling, and Rebecca Weber, director of communications and constituent relations.

By Gail Arnold

Olivia Goodin, operations assistant, homeless guests services with three Women’s Auxiliary members: Trish Geyling, Joy Van Wickle, and Sharon Wilson.

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