Rescue Mission Holds Bayou 500

Race Car-Themed Event Raises $350,000 for Residential Treatment Program and Homeless Services

Honoree Janet Garufis, President Rolf Geyling, and Board Chair Joyce McCullough | Credit: Gail Arnold

On October 5, about 335 enthusiastic supporters of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (SBRM) gathered on the picturesque grounds of Rancho Dos Pueblos in western Goleta for its annual Bayou fundraiser, this year a race car-themed Bayou 500. 

During the reception, guests in black-and-white checkered attire mingled, perused some of the 140 silent auction items, tried model car racing around the large swimming pool, checked out the fancy real cars lining the entrance, and enjoyed music by the Idiomatiques. The event netted about $350,000 for the SBRM’s Residential Treatment Program and its homeless services.

Guests were seated for dinner on the expansive lawn of the estate, which is reminiscent of a Southern plantation, hence the Bayou name. From a stage framed with black-and-white checkered flags, President Rolf Geyling welcomed guests. He stressed how the homeless are human beings who are suffering and that 65 to 70 percent of clients at a shelter have a mental illness. Over the past two years, the average age of clients at the SBRM’s shelter was 59 years old. Last summer, the Rescue Mission sheltered 13 clients in their seventies and a few weeks ago, it had three women in their eighties.  

According to Geyling, the Rescue Mission  provides compassion for those who are suffering. It is a place where people of passion and faith “extend grace simply by providing food and shelter to those who would otherwise go without.” Geyling explained that  by meeting the basic needs of the homeless, they “find some kind of stability and then can take steps of self responsibility toward the more focused and specialized help they may need.”

Geyling continued, “And extending grace in this way does create opportunities for incredible transformation.” Because of the prevalence of substance abuse and addiction among the homeless, the Rescue Mission focuses the majority of its resources on its 12-month Residential Recovery Program. Geyling observed that more than 50 percent of federal and state prison inmates are battling addiction and that the criminal justice system is a very expensive way of addressing the problem.  

The Rescue Mission’s program costs only $25,000 for each individual in the state-certified, 69-bed program, a fraction of the cost of many other programs and the criminal justice system.

Geyling cited remarkable statistics: Nationally only one in five people who start a treatment program complete it and only one of five who complete the program maintain recovery for five years. Currently, the Rescue Mission’s completion rate is 43 percent and 52 percent maintain recovery five years out.  Amazing.

A Rescue Mission graduate eloquently shared his powerful story of how thanks to the SBRM, he went from a life of severe addiction, crime, and prison to becoming a clean, sober, law-abiding, gainfully employed, happily married, and well-adjusted person. Guests responded with a standing ovation, broad smiles, and some tears.

The Léni Fé Bland Award this year went to Montecito Bank & Trust Chair Janet Garufis for her pivotal role in the Rescue Mission’s recently completed, $12 million renovation of it 40,000 square foot facility.  According to Geyling, “Our community will now have a place for the homeless and addicted to turn for decades to come in large part because of Janet.” He praised Garufis for the “heart and thoughtfulness she brings to her work.” Maryan Schall gave a long and touching tribute, ending with calling her dear friend a ”remarkable community treasure.”

Many past award recipients were present, including Sheriff Bill Brown, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Bob Bryant, Penny Jenkins, and Bill Cirone.

Last year, 41 individuals graduated from the Residential Treatment Program, which reflected a lower enrollment because of the renovation.  The program includes academic instruction and job training and nearly all graduates were employed at the time of graduation. The emergency shelter program currently has 100 beds and recently has been operating at near capacity. Soon another 20 beds will be added.

In addition to its emergency shelter and 12-month Residential Treatment Program, the Rescue Mission also offers family support, relapse prevention services, and men’s sober living. The Mission receives no government funding. The event was put on by the 70-member Women’s Auxiliary, which assists the Rescue Mission throughout the year.

Donations are being sought for the $100,000 remaining in the capital campaign and are always welcomed for ongoing operations. For more info go to

For coverage of other events, go to Send invites to

Event Co-chair Susan Hughes, Women’s Auxiliary President Kim Schuck, Event Co-chair Kim Mullen, and Event Co-chair Joan Wimberly
Decorations Chair Dianne Davis, Auxiliary Member Lorette Harnsberger, and Silent Auction Coordinator Rose Hodge
Director of Communications & Constituent Relations and Women’s Auxiliary Member Rebecca Weber, past Women’s Auxiliary president Julie Willig, and Women’s Auxiliary Member Pamela Dillman Haskell
Kirsten Walters and Judy Sturgeon
Donna Brown and past honoree Sheriff Bill Brown
Entrance to the Bayou 500 auto race-themed event
Entrance to the Bayou 500 auto race-themed event
2018 Residential Treatment Program graduates
Guests enjoy dinner and the program.
Guests enjoy dinner and the program.
Honoree Janet Garufis, President Rolf Geyling, and Board Chair Joyce McCullough


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