On Saturday, October 1, about 320 supporters of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission gathered at Rancho Dos Pueblos in western Goleta for their 15th annual fundraiser, with a “Blues on the Bayou” theme this year.
Guests were warmly greeted at the entrance by a host of blue-attired Women’s Auxiliary members and the very sweet blues sounds of Trish Geyling, an auxiliary member and wife of the Rescue Mission’s President, Rolf Geyling. She was accompanied by her son Max Geyling and Jeremy Sinift. Guests were invited to stroll the lush, scenic grounds and peruse the extensive silent auction offerings while listening to jazz from saxophonist Ron McCarley. The Rescue Mission has a very loyal following, so many folks already knew each other, and new friends were quickly made through mingling at this relaxing, casual event.
Emcee Catherine Remak invited guests to be seated for the three-course Louisiana-themed dinner catered by Lorraine Lim. Gerd Jordano shared the many contributions to the community made by her friend, Silvio Di Loreto, who was honored with the Léni Fé Bland Award. Di Loreto was recognized for his help in securing the real estate where the Rescue Mission’s current facility is located. He ran Sunset Company Realtors for more than 40 years and developed the first Multiple Listing Service (MLS) book in the late 1960s. He has served on the boards of more than 20 nonprofits. Having seen Di Loreto receive other awards this year, I asked him what the tally was for the year so far and he responded with his sweet grin, “at least seven.”
President Rolf Geyling greeted the crowd and shared how the Rescue Mission is the only organization between Ventura and Santa Maria that provides hot meals and overnight accommodations to homeless guests 365 days of the year. To drive home the absolutely critical role of the Rescue Mission’s homeless services program, Geyling pointed out how “there is not a week that goes by that we do not take someone in in the middle of the night brought to us by the Sheriff, by Cottage Hospital, or some other agency trying to get them to safety.” Last year, more than 50,000 safe overnight accommodations were provided and nearly 150,000 meals were served.
The Rescue Mission also operates a residential drug and alcohol treatment program which Geyling noted has a remarkable success rate. Compared to a national average of only 20% of those completing addiction recovery programs remaining dependency free for five years, the figure for the Rescue Mission’s graduates is a very impressive 51%.
Geyling explained that while each person who comes to the Rescue Mission has a unique story, they have in common that “grace was extended to them when they were at a place of desperation and out of that came this incredible transformation thanks to donors like you.” He shared how the Rescue Mission’s emphasis is on transforming lives. Because substance abuse and addiction are major factors in homelessness, crime and poverty, it focuses 80% of its resources on drug and alcohol treatment
Geyling was followed by a graduate of the residential treatment program who generously shared his journey that landed him at the Rescue Mission and the truly transformative effect the treatment program has had, enabling him to now have a dependency-free, happy, successful, life.
In addition to its shelter services and residential treatment program, the Rescue Mission also offers outpatient services, family support, education, transitional housing, and career development and placement. In so many ways, the Rescue Mission offers critically important services to our community.
The event was put on by the Women’s Auxiliary and chaired by Susan Hughes and Suzi Ryan. In addition to its fundraising efforts, the 65-member Women’s Auxiliary provides many services to those at the Rescue Mission throughout the year.
For more information about the Rescue Mission or to make an online donation, go to sbrm.org
By Gail Arnold