Society Matters | S.B. Rescue Mission Hosts Fundraiser

Event Raises $650,000+ for Substance Abuse and Shelter Programs

Auxiliary Member and auction donor Carol-Anne Lonson (Canzelle Alpacas) | Credit: Gail Arnold

On October 1, the SB Rescue Mission (SBRM) hosted its annual fundraiser, which netted more than $650,000 for its Residential Treatment Programs and its Homeless Guest Services Program. The event honored longtime board chair and supporter, Karl Willig, who passed in September.

About 340 guests attended the Road Trip-themed event, held this year beachside at Rancho Dos Pueblos. Guests socialized, perused a 120-item silent auction, and enjoyed the tremendous natural beauty of a site rarely open to the public. 

Upon being seated for the early dinner, guests were welcomed by Board President Rolf Geyling, who noted how our community relies on the Rescue Mission to respond to men and women in crisis and how this complex problem has become more visible and more vexing and strains our limited public safety and social services resources.  

The Rescue Mission provides emergency food and shelter 365 nights a year. In extending this care and hospitality, Geyling explained, the Rescue Mission, as a Christian entity, hopes that it is the first step toward change in people’s lives, with SBRM then providing case management and referrals to services, including to its own Residential Treatment Programs.

Geyling touted, quite appropriately, the success of its 12-month Residential Treatment Programs.  Nationally, only 1 in 5 people who attempt drug and alcohol recovery programs complete them, and of those who make it, only 1 in 5 maintain recovery for 5 years or longer. SBRM’s completion rate is 42% and its five-year recovery maintenance rate is 52% — truly impressive. 

A program graduate, Eric Duncan, shared his story of healing and transformation and expressed his gratitude to the SBRM.More than 900 people have completed the treatment program.

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In paying tribute to the late Karl Willig, Geyling remarked that he “is the embodiment of something central in our ethos at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission:  people caring extravagantly for those they will likely never meet.” John Ross and Rick Fogg gave touching tributes of Willig, who was a longtime board chair, longtime supporter, and chair of the $17 million capital campaign for SBRM’s renovation.

Board Chair Joyce McCullough related how we have all experienced turbulence with COVID, but “imagine that same turbulence coupled with addiction, homelessness or mental health issues, or all three,” and lauded the SBRM staff for its service of providing shelter, treatment, grace, and support throughout the pandemic.

McCullough then turned to the Residential Treatment Programs, pointing out their cost effectiveness. 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 $34,000 for an entire year. A full year, McCullough noted, is necessary to deal with substance abuse.

Last year, the Residential Treatment Programs had 84 participants, which was in line with pre-COVID levels. During COVID, intakes were down because the criminal justice system is a major feeder into the programs and arrests were voluntarily down during this period.

For the year ending September 30, 2022, the Homeless Guest Services program provided shelter on average to 70 males and 32 females per night.  Showers, dinner, breakfast and other services are also offered. Unlike some other service providers, SBRM continued its services throughout COVID.  When it had the inevitable, occasional COVID outbreak, it temporarily limited admissions to existing guests, who stayed within their own cohort, but otherwise kept its doors open to anyone needing shelter. Space constraints have necessitated turning someone away only occasionally.

The 68-member Women’s Auxiliary puts on this fundraiser each year and assists the Rescue Mission in multiple other ways throughout the year.

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Board Chair Joyce McCullough and President Rolf Geyling | Credit: Gail Arnold
Event Co-Chair Susan Hughes and Auxiliary President Pamela Dillman Haskell | Credit: Gail Arnold
Beachside at Rancho Dos Pueblos | Credit: Gail Arnold
Silent Auction Co-Chairs Alice Birch and Terry Foil | Credit: Gail Arnold
Decorations Chair Dianne Davis and Auxiliary Member Lorette Harnsberger | Credit: Gail Arnold


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