About 370 supporters of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (SBRM) gathered on the picturesque grounds of Rancho Dos Pueblos in western Goleta for the organization’s 16th annual fundraiser, with a “Bonjour Bayou! A Tour de France” theme this year.
Guests mingled on the lush, scenic grounds, sampled crêpes and other French appetizers, checked out the huge silent auction, and listened to lively tunes from The Idiomatiques. This event always has such positive energy, with guests celebrating and supporting their beloved nonprofit and its dedicated staff.
Emcee Catherine Remak invited guests to be seated for the three-course meal featuring beef bourguignon. Hal Conklin introduced the event’s honoree, Denny Wayman, praising him in so many regards, and concluding by thanking him for “being so transformative in all of our lives.” Wayman was the pastor of the Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara for the past 40 years and cofounder of Cliff Drive Christian Counseling Center, which has provided specialized care for Rescue Mission clients and their families.
President Rolf Geyling noted that the work of the SBRM is more critical today than ever before, with the SBRM being the only location between Ventura and Santa Maria that provides emergency food and shelter 365 days per year with no questions asked. Last year, it provided 143,051 meals and 51,627 safe nights.
Geyling explained how by providing these basic emergency services, it also then becomes possible to transform lives through case management and through its drug and alcohol treatment program. SBRM concentrates 80 percent of its resources on this program because of the prevalence of addiction among the homeless, with more than 50 percent of the homeless self reporting substance abuse. According to the County Sheriff’s Office, 75-80 percent of inmates in county jails are there for drug-related crimes and 75 percent of them will be rearrested within the next two years for similar offenses.
Geyling shared the astonishing success of the Rescue Mission’s program. Nationwide, only 21 percent of those who complete addiction recovery programs remain dependency free after five years, whereas the figure for the SBRM’s graduates is a whopping 53 percent. Last year, 44 people graduated from the program and all of them were employed at the time of graduation. Geyling stressed the importance of the job component to enable graduates to lead productive lives and remain dependency free.
The Rescue Mission’s comprehensive program includes family support, addiction education, relapse prevention, transitional housing, career development and placement. In the past 20 years, 723 people have graduated from SBRM’s treatment program.
Geyling was followed by a SBRM graduate who shared the story of his journey that landed him at the Rescue Mission and the truly transformative effect the treatment program has had, enabling him to now have a dependency-free, happy, successful life.
In appealing for donations, Geyling shared that the SBRM has embarked on a $10 million renovation of its aging facilities, and still needs to raise $2.6 million for this project, in addition to funds for its ongoing operating expenses.
Bonjour Bayou was put on by the 65-member Women’s Auxiliary, which does other fundraising work and provides many services to Rescue Mission clients.
For more information about the Rescue Mission, go to sbrm.org.
By Gail Arnold