On October 6, about 360 supporters of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission gathered on the picturesque grounds of Rancho Dos Pueblos in western Goleta for its annual Bayou fundraiser, this year dubbed the Bayou Open. During the reception, guests, many donned in stylish golf outfits, mingled, checked out long rows of silent auction items, tried fun pitching and putting games, and enjoyed music by the Idiomatiques.
Emcee Catherine Remak invited guests to be seated for dinner and proclaimed the Rescue Mission a shining star among nonprofits. President Rolf Geyling noted the terrible crises that our community experienced last winter and the tremendous outpouring of support for those affected. He shared how the Rescue Mission deals regularly with the ongoing crises of homelessness and addiction and how grateful he is for the community’s support for the Rescue Mission’s capital campaign. Geyling explained how after providing 3 million meals and 1.7 million nights of shelter since 1986, the Rescue Mission’s facilities were in dire need of a major remodel. To date, the campaign has raised $9.1 million toward the $10 million needed.
Geyling put a face on homelessness by mentioning the restaurant worker who can’t afford mounting medical bills after a work injury and the foster child who cycles through programs and then incarceration. The most common element, he noted, is trauma, and that can only be addressed through grace and thoughtful intervention.
The Rescue Mission is the only facility between Ventura and Santa Maria where emergency food and shelter are available 365 days a year. Geyling related how last year, it provided nearly 130,000 meals and nearly 49,000 safe nights of shelter for people who likely would otherwise have gone without.
He noted how the shelter program provides a good entry point into its Residential Treatment Program, to which the Rescue Mission dedicates 80 percent of its resources because substance abuse is such a major cause of homelessness. Its state-certified 69-bed program has had off-the-charts success. Nationally, only 20 percent of those who start a treatment program complete it, and of those who complete it, only 20 percent maintain recovery for five years or longer. The Rescue Mission’s current completion rate is 38 percent, and 51 percent maintain recovery for five years or longer. In the past 21 years, there have been 769 graduates. In the past twelve months, there were 42 graduates, 41 of whom were employed at time of graduation.
This year’s Léni Fé Bland Award was presented to Dave and Anna Grotenhuis, who have generously supported the Rescue Mission for many years and made a $1 million contribution to its capital campaign. In accepting the award, Dave remarked that the real heroes are the individuals who go through the Rescue Mission’s treatment program. Anna related with fondness how her dear friend Léni Fé would comment how she, Léni Fé, “didn’t like all that religious stuff” the Rescue Mission does, “but that it was the only thing that worked!”
Many past event honorees came out to show their support, including Sheriff Bill Brown, former SBCC president Peter MacDougall, former Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools Bill Cirone, Bob Bryant, and District Attorney Joyce Dudley. Sheriff Brown shared with me that “the Rescue Mission is a wonderful organization that is helping reform and revitalize lives every day. I cannot speak highly enough about the tremendous work that they do.” His enthusiasm seemed to be shared by many in attendance.
Robyn, an alcoholic and a remarkable woman, eloquently and poignantly shared how the Rescue Mission’s treatment program enabled her to transform her life from one of substance abuse, criminal behavior, and gambling into one where she is a sober, productive, law-abiding person at peace with herself for the first time.
In addition to its emergency shelter and 12-month Residential Treatment Program, the Rescue Mission also offers family support, transitional housing, academic instruction, and job-skills training. The event was put on by the 70-member Women’s Auxiliary, which assists the Rescue Mission throughout the year.
The remodel began in October 2017; the first phase will be complete by Thanksgiving and the second phase in spring 2019. During construction, the shelter program has had to be significantly reduced but in December capacity will increase substantially.
For more info go to sbrm.org.
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