Up to 300 people are expected to attend the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s annual Easter Feast, which provides meals to men, women, teens, and children.
The event involves more than 30 volunteers along with the Rescue Mission staff. The Santa Barbara community, through its charitable donations and gifts, will provide the food for the feast, including ham, string beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie.
More often than not, the homeless attending the feast suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. Many of the attendees have been estranged from their families due to their addictions, and thus the feast provides a welcoming alternative to spending the holiday alone or in the streets or both. According to Rebecca M. Wilson, director of communications for the Rescue Mission, the purpose of the feast is to “give to homeless a place that is their own for the holiday; a place where they are welcome and accepted. They can come as they are among friends.”
The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission claims to operate the longest-running and largest drug and alcohol rehabilitation on the Central Coast. Many formerly homeless people who have successfully completed the one-year rehab program return at the Easter Feast to help serve. This feast serves as an opportune time for these old friends to reconnect in a familial fashion, and these formerly homeless people are living proof that it is possible for the currently homeless to be successfully restored to society.
The Easter Feast meets the immediate need of hunger while also welcoming those suffering from substance abuse into the program, and offering a communal setting in which homeless participants can see the positive effects of the rehab program. Wilson said that she “loves being around town and seeing graduates in their new walks of life and functioning normally.”