Mission and History
The San Diego Rescue Mission believes in the inherent worth of every homeless man, woman, and child.
Our mission is to spread the good news of salvation through Christ by serving the needs of the poor, addicted, abused, and homeless, thus improving the quality of their lives.
Our programs provide the rehabilitation and discipleship that allow us to achieve this mission, leading to positive, lasting change – and creating better lives for those we serve, their families, and the community as a whole.
Throughout its history, the San Diego Rescue Mission’s programs have adapted to meet the changing needs of San Diego’s homeless and needy populations.
The organization’s story began in 1954, when a group of San Diego church and business leaders met to address the growing plight of the community’s homeless and hungry.
Based on this vision, the City Rescue Mission was founded in 1955 and immediately began providing food, clothing and spiritual guidance to the region’s homeless. In 1958, this soup kitchen expanded its services to include short-term shelter and services for up to 85 men. Two years later the Mission made history by opening the first shelter for women and children in San Diego County.
As city redevelopment efforts intensified in the mid-1980s, the number of homeless grew to a crisis level. Once again, the Mission (now known as the San Diego Rescue Mission) responded by opening a new and much larger facility for men at 1150 J Street in 1985. Around this time the organization also took a new, innovative approach in seeking long-term solutions to homelessness. This was illustrated in 1988, with the creation of a new program providing education and vocational training to residents in its programs.
- By 1990, 8,000 nights of shelter were provided to the homeless each month; 27,000 meals were served; 3,500 articles of clothing distributed; and nearly 14,500 showers and other personal care items were provided to homeless men.
- In 1993, the purchase and renovation of buildings on South 16th Street allowed the San Diego Rescue Mission to open a new Women and Children’s Center.
- By 1996 the organization built on its tradition of providing the practical help of meals and shelter with an even stronger emphasis on long-term care to the homeless, abused, addicted and poor.
- In 2000, the San Diego Rescue Mission created a new overnight emergency shelter for women and children, Nueva Vida Haven.
- In 2001 the organization’s commitment to excellence was acknowledged by the state of California when its Men’s Center became only the second licensed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for the homeless in San Diego County.
- That same year the San Diego Rescue Mission also went through a comprehensive evaluation of its programs by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and was awarded the status of “Certified Excellent,” an honor that has been earned by only 5% of the 290 Rescue Missions nation-wide.
Today the San Diego Rescue Mission has consolidated all of its rehabilitation programs into the former Harbor View Medical Center at 120 Elm Street and is poised to help more people than ever.
These statistics do not count the tens of thousands of other meals, nights of shelter, or hours of counseling the San Diego Rescue Mission provides through our emergency services, or through partnerships with other agencies.
The San Diego Rescue Mission is proud of our many accomplishments, but we know that we have not achieved them alone. It is only through the generosity of the thousands of individuals, corporations and organizations who have supported our work that we have achieved such outstanding success.
We thank every single one of those supporters, who continue to partner with us to create a better San Diego for those we serve – and a stronger community for us all.