On October 2, supporters of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (SBRM) were thrilled to gather back at Dos Pueblos Ranch for the annual Bayou event. With a Camp Out at the Bayou theme, the event raised $530,000 for the 12-month Residential Treatment Programs and Homeless Guest Services Program and honored Gerd Jordano.
About 250 guests, many in stylish camping attire, were warmly greeted at the scenic ranch by Ranger Kim (Women’s Auxiliary past president Kim Schuck) and mingled on the grounds. Many perused a 124-item silent auction and enjoyed music by the Idiomatiques before the service of the early al fresco dinner. Another 32 guests opted to be cyber campers, with home delivery of dinner and the program via YouTube.
President Rolf Geyling shared with guests how during the pandemic, along with other essential workers, the Rescue Mission staff continued its essential services — as the only provider between Ventura and Santa Maria of emergency food and shelter 365 nights of the year.
Geyling explained that as Christians, Rescue Mission staff extends care to the homeless guests as a means of bringing about hope and change in their lives, and staff connects them to the Rescue Mission’s Residential Treatment Programs to address substance abuse.
Geyling related how under normal circumstances, the Rescue Mission’s work is challenging, but the pandemic has put unimaginable challenges on top of the normal ones. In an interview, Geyling shared how the Rescue Mission has had to deal with COVID outbreaks, despite abiding by testing, masking, and social-distancing requirements as they are dealing with homeless guests in dormitory-style housing.
A large proportion of the homeless guests served suffer from mental-health issues that require regular treatment — treatment that with the pandemic has become even more difficult for them to obtain. Geyling shared that he is shocked and very concerned about this troubling situation. This lack of treatment, in turn, creates more challenges for the Rescue Mission.
Despite the difficulties, SBRM has operated throughout the pandemic, providing shelter this year to an average of 26 women and 67 men per night. These numbers are down significantly from capacity because of social distancing and segregation needs of COVID as well as the refusal by some to get tested.
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District Attorney Joyce Dudley presented the annual Léni Fé Bland Award to Gerd Jordano for her service to the Rescue Mission, including as longtime Bayou emcee and as a member of the $14 million capital campaign, which funded the SBRM’s extensive remodel completed in 2019.
Geyling noted that the Rescue Mission receives no government funding and that its Residential Treatment Programs have incredible success: 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 42 percent and 53 percent maintain recovery five years out — truly remarkable success.
Geyling shared that while each person’s story is one of heartbreak and suffering, there is also the staggering, collective cost of untreated addiction in terms of law enforcement, social services, incarceration, and emergency medical services.
Board Chair Joyce McCullough pointed to the cost effectiveness of the Rescue Mission’s programs: Nationally, the average monthly cost for rehab is $19,000, which translates to $228,000 for a year, while the efficient, nonprofit Rescue Mission’s cost is only $25,000 for a year. A full year, McCullough noted, is necessary to deal with substance abuse.
The program also included an emotional and heartwarming story by Residential Treatment Program participant John Gallagher about his path to recovery.
The 71-member Women’s Auxiliary puts on the Bayou each year, with the über-dedicated Susan Hughes co-chairing every single one — 20 in all. The Auxiliary assists the Rescue Mission in multiple capacities throughout the year.
Along with Homeless Guest Services, the Men’s and Women’s Residential Treatment Programs also have continued through COVID, operating at about two-thirds capacity. Much of the intake is typically from the criminal justice system, and with the COVID-induced tapering of arrests, fewer individuals are coming through the court system into the treatment programs. Still, there were 94 individuals who participated in the program last year.
For more info about the Rescue Mission or to make a donation, go to http://sbrm.org.
For coverage of other events, go to http://independent.com/society.