RSVP

Everyone deserves to be part of the Thanksgiving celebration.

Through your generous gift today, hungry and homeless people in San Diego County can enjoy a real Thanksgiving dinner. Delicious turkey… mashed potatoes and gravy… pumpkin pie… all the trimmings!

We expect to serve 115,800 meals at the Rescue Mission this Thanksgiving season!

At just $2.05 per meal, you have the power to touch many lives. And not just with food, but with opportunities to experience a brand new life filled with the hope of God’s love. Please be as generous as possible… and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

RSVP

Our Share Your Sunshine Summer Campaign is in its final weeks.

But the challenge of caring for homeless and hungry folks in San Diego County is never done.

A hot meal and care for just $2.05 will make all the difference in their lives!

Give generously now to feed people who are hungry, shelter people who are homeless and share your sunshine – the goodness in your heart and your compassion – with people rebuilding their lives through job training, classes and most of all, God’s love.

Please accept our invitation and open your heart by sharing a gift below. Thank you!

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Tonya Davis

Tonya Davis

“I’m tough, but with a lot of LOVE. I expect more from our clients than they do of themselves. Day-by-day, with God’s help and guidance, they begin to transform from being hopeless, in tears full of fear and anger, to becoming hopeful with smiles of joy and able to trust again.” – Tonya Davis, Associate Director of the Men’s Center

Meet Tonya Davis, Associate Director of the Men’s Center. Tonya recently advanced to this position after serving as Admin. Assistant the Men’s Center and previously Residential Advisor of the Rescue Mission’s Transitional Housing Program.

Tonya’s commitment to the Rescue Mission’s goals, and contributions to its clients’ lives, are no surprise. “When able to, I have always given back my time and money to the domestic violence prevention community after my own personal experience with my children while living in Chicago.”

Tonya joined the Rescue Mission team 6 years ago. During 3 of those years, she worked as an On-Call Residential Advisor for the Women & Children Center (WCC) and Recuperative Care Unit (RCU) programs. “I was then offered a full-time position with the new transitional housing program that opened in spring of 2014, and I welcomed the opportunity and change,” she recalls.

At the Transitional Housing Program, she helped single adults and families work toward self-sufficiency—from finding employment to finding opportunities for clients with disabilities to engage with the community. Her role as Residential Advisor gave her the opportunity to provide direction, assistance, and support of day-to-day activities to both men and women at the Mission. Reflecting on the role, Tonya says, “I’m tough, but with a lot of LOVE. I expect more from them than they do of themselves. They have no idea that they are actually helping me more than I am helping them.”

That tough love led to a lot of changed lives in the Transitional Housing Program. “Day-by-day, with God’s work, they begin to transform from being hopeless, in tears full of fear and anger, to becoming hopeful with smiles of joy and trust again,” she says. While there, she also helped start a cooking class that introduced participating clients to healthier lifestyle choices, most of whom had not cooked a meal in a very long time due to homelessness.

Tonya’s journey to Associate Director of the Men’s Center expanded her interaction with Rescue Mission staff, clients, and external advocates. First, as Administrative Assistant, she supported work with Homeless Court, Badges, Lion’s Vision Eyewear, supplies, and outside government agencies to help clients. As Associate Director, she still interacts with clients but will search, obtain and implement resources for them that support their long-term goals of education, careers, and housing. “My responsibilities impact each man so I am accountable to God and our clients to ensure that I stay the course to a fruitful and productive end.”

While she loves a lot about her new role, she’s especially excited to have the opportunity to serve. “Nothing is too big or small,” she says. “It’s all about the clients and their needs. It doesn’t matter what your role. It’s the willingness to let the Lord use you for His glory, for the population we serve.”

Tonya’s been able to help and inspire many clients in her new role but one stands out in her memory. “I’ve been hosting Basketball Tournaments for a little over a year between our clients and outside organizations and churches with the help of our Volunteer Coordinator, Debbie Krakauer. We have a tournament for all major holidays. It is so wonderful to see guys who, upon coming into our program, were down and out, without any hope for a future, transform before your eyes and are laughing and smiling, and there’s camaraderie, even the guys that are sitting on the sidelines are enjoying the games and not complaining or worried about anything just for this moment. It’s rewarding to see them be normal and enjoy life as men should.”

From Residential Advisor to Associate Director, Tonya is committed to serving others and serving the Lord. “I love my work because I don’t work for the Mission. I work for the Lord at the Mission. So I am always striving to be better and lead by the example that Christ gave.”

One Year Later… 3 Things I Know for Sure

Donnie DeeSince I took on the role of President and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission there have been a lot of changes, including my own perception of what homelessness looks like.  I used to think a homeless person was defined as someone walking the streets alone, looking a little crazy with one shoe on and one shoe off…  I know now that they’re just like you and me, but a series of events happened in their lives that caused them to be without a place to live.  And a series of unfortunate events can happen to anyone.  It could happen to you.  It could happen to me.  The more I’ve gotten to know our clients in this first year, the more I know for sure that no one chooses this path.  It’s no one’s choice to become homeless.

Here are 3 more things I know for sure after my first year with San Diego Rescue Mission.

 1. The greatest obstacle to overcoming homelessness is not addiction, job loss or housing. It’s shame.

Every Thursday afternoon I meet with the men and women who came to us off the streets in hope of finding help here at the San Diego Rescue Mission.   At this stage of their journey they can’t even look me in the eye.  They show up crying, heads down, broken…  A few weeks ago, one of the men asked me, “Do you know what my first thought is every single morning when I wake up?”  I asked him to tell me.  He said, “Look at what you have done with your life!”

There’s a tremendous amount of guilt and shame among our population experiencing homelessness.   The shame feeds on loneliness.  When you feel ashamed and lonely, you think everyone’s judging you and you don’t want to ask for help.  I’ve discovered that helping our clients overcome the shame of bad decisions, and negative thoughts over what happened in the past, is the biggest obstacle we face when helping to put a life back together again.

2. People want to help those who help themselves.

Volunteers and donors are the primary drivers of San Diego Rescue Mission.  And I’ve learned over this past year that our community really does want to help the lost, homeless and hungry—as long as they’re willing to help themselves, too.

We’re reminded of this powerful principle with the crippled man and the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:5).  In the story, there’s a man who was sick for thirty-eight years.  For thirty-eight years he lay next to a pool hoping to be healed.  But before Jesus healed him, he asked the man, “Do you want to get well?”

So, I ask the men and women who first walk through our doors here at the Mission, “Do you really want to be made well?  Are you ready for the responsibility, questions, rules and structure that come with being well?  Because if you truly want to get better, there’s a whole community of people and resources available to help you.”

3. Rescue Missions should lead the way in reducing the number of people living on the streets.

After spending a year as President and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission, I know for sure that it’s our job as a rescue mission to lead the way in solving the homeless crisis here in San Diego. Here’s why: We don’t take government funding and we’re faith based.

I know there are a lot of other agencies and nonprofits providing critical services to San Diego’s homeless.  And I’m thankful for all of them.  We need them.  These other entities are doing a great job of helping to clothe, feed and shelter our homeless population.

But because we aren’t government funded, we can do things a bit differently.  We have more freedom to do what needs to be done.  And, most importantly, we can talk about Jesus—the One who can truly change a man’s life.

Because of these factors, we have the opportunity to create a treatment model that gets people off the streets long term.  This is the difference between meeting the symptomatic needs of the homeless and addressing the causes of their homelessness.  We’ll continue to meet the needs by providing clothing, food and shelter.  But we take it a step further by helping those who want to get well, through drug and alcohol recovery, spiritual training, job training and client advocacy.  This combination puts the San Diego Rescue Mission in a unique position to lead the way in the rehabilitation of our homeless population.

We’ve already accomplished so much together in this first year and I look forward to continuing our important work.  Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for your continued support of the San Diego Rescue Mission and our critical programs helping San Diego’s homeless.  Together, we can help those who want to be made well, rebuild their lives and become contributing members of our great community.

 

God Bless,

Donnie Dee

 

 

Donnie Dee

Summer Needs

Homelessness. Hunger. Struggling to make ends meet. The urgent need for food, shelter and critical care continues during summer.

But donations to San Diego Rescue Mission slow down… and make it more challenging to help local people in need.

PLEASE HELP TODAY! Just $2.05 provides a nourishing meal and care that will be the first step to a new life for hurting people right here in San Diego County this summer.

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Ashley Frez

Ashley Frez

“Having concern for the well-being of others was not enough. I am consistently seeking ways to alleviate suffering by actively being part of the solution.” – Ashley Frez, Director of Transitional Housing

Meet Ashley Frez, Director of Transitional Housing at San Diego Rescue Mission (SDRM).  Ashley began working at SDRM three years ago in the Women and Children’s Center (WCC) as On-Call Residential Advisor (RA) and shortly thereafter as Interim Case Manager.

Ashley, a native of Michigan, identifies as a humanitarian. A pivotal moment in setting her life course was during a medical mission to a remote village of Nicaragua. It was there, where she witnessed the desperation of the people for basic needs to sustain themselves and their families. The impact of the scarcity of resources, limited access to health, and systemic challenges only motivated her. “Having concern for the well-being of others was not enough. I am consistently seeking ways to alleviate suffering by actively being part of the solution.” she says.

For over 15 years, Ashley has immersed herself in diverse populations to include those living with HIV/AIDS, underserved children in grades K-12, refugees, service members/their families, and natural disaster survivors. She consistently pursues every chance to engage and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow. It is through these experiences, that Ashley has grown into her calling of servant leadership.  Ashley has been influential in organizational transformations, team development, and strategic planning locally and nationally with non-profit and governmental agencies. She was instrumental in leading teams to serve others impacted by disasters while serving as the Director of Emergency Services with the American Red Cross (7 years). She continued her dedication to helping others as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for County Public Health (2 years).

Ashley earned her degrees in Cultural Anthropology, Psychology, Latin American & Caribbean Studies from Michigan State University. Her post graduate degree focus is Public Health and Emergency Management. Ashley prides herself in her hunger to learn and encourages everyone around her to continuously pursue education. She utilizes a combination of her education, experience, compassion, and God’s guidance, to lead the 2nd Avenue Transitional Housing program.

2nd Avenue Transitional Housing is an intermediate, long-term step between an emergency shelter and permanent housing. “Leading a program guided by trauma informed approaches, allowing for opportunity to encourage and motivate clients to create positive change within themselves is meaningful and purposeful”, Ashley says. It is a safe, supportive environment where clients can overcome trauma, address the causes of their homelessness, and rebuild their support network. Ashley is passionate about being able to lead and mentor a diverse staffing group, develop community partnerships, and being strategic in translating high-level objectives into intentional steps to accomplish goals.

Ashley is quick to acknowledge that “we work together as a team to meet clients where they are at while being equipped to encourage, guide, and support while respecting the process.” There are differing barriers each client is working to overcome.  When clients achieve successes throughout the program, they typically reach a level of vulnerability that takes incredible strength and trust. It is this transformative process that is awe inspiring.

Ashley stays grounded by reflection and practice of the principles of faith, hope, and love; and is inspired by the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Staff Spotlight: James Pope

James Pope

“I witness the light bulb go off and people understand their need for the Lord and they yield to Him and then their life takes off in an awesome way! Just knowing I’m one player in the midst of a team that God uses to bring about transformation is very humbling.” – James Pope, Vice President of Evangelism & Discipleship

Meet James Pope, Vice President of Evangelism & Discipleship at San Diego Rescue Mission.

Originally hired as a part-time residential manager over a decade ago, he then rose to director of the Men’s Center. Doing God’s work of helping homeless and addicted men complete the 12-Month Residential Recovery Program was one of his driving passions while in that position.

James has worked in and around drug and alcohol rehabs for twenty years. “I know family members, friends, people in church and at various job assignments who’ve been affected negatively by various addictions to substances, and mental illness because of substance abuse,” he explains. James experienced the negative effects of drugs first-hand in 7th grade when a friend asked him to smoke a joint. James refused because he was on his way to his favorite class (Television Production).

“If it weren’t for the grace of God in my life, I would have died in my classroom. I chose not to smoke a joint this one day with my friend. He chose to smoke. His brain was erased that day because whomever he purchased his marijuana from had laced it with powerful PCP (it almost took his life). I never saw my old Pop-Warner football buddy and classmate again.”

This story has become one of many in James’s life in which he felt the interventions of God. Interventions like those, and later spiritual and physical transformations he witnessed, have become among his favorite aspects of working for San Diego Rescue Mission.

After his time at the Men’s Center, he moved into his current position as VP of Evangelism & Discipleship. CEO Donnie Dee created the position to help ensure the Spiritual Training of clients and staff at the Rescue Mission. “If we’re a Christian Ministry, then our culture should reflect that,” James says. Central to his role is helping clients reach several life-affirming goals. For example, to “Encounter God”—whether through discipleship, classes, visiting Churches or any number of multiple intentional paths at the Mission. “Everyone has an opportunity to encounter God at some point in his or her time here,” he says. Another goal is to Experience Recovery. “God is in the restoration, rehabilitation and recovery business,” James adds. “God can use many tools to achieve those goals, whether Church Partnerships, Volunteers, Job Training, Christian Therapy or many others,” to heal challenges ranging from addictions to mental illness to trauma and psychological abuse.

While much is new in his job as VP of Evangelism & Discipleship, like focusing more on people than processes, much has stayed the same. “For some reason, I’ve always had residents and staff at my door asking for assistance on some level,” he says. “I’ve tried my best to take the time to love and minister to whatever the need or opportunity that comes.”

James’s especially loves two aspects of his job. The first is that, every day, he gets to see God transform the lives of those experiencing homelessness. “I witness the light bulb go off and people understand their need for the Lord and they yield to Him and then their life takes off in an awesome way.” The second is that, “just knowing I’m one player in the midst of a team that God uses to bring about transformation is very humbling.” As a result, he gets to see “the invisible hand of God moving in all of these areas and through people.”

Asked to reflect on how his new position has helped Rescue Mission clients, he shared two areas that stand out: Client and Staff Devotions, and Discipleship. He recalls one gentleman who became free because a staff member shared their struggle with childhood trauma and how they had worked it out with God. “This gentleman was then able to share and receive counsel and left the past behind to move and walk forward in Christ.” Clients realize the staff members are real people who come from experience, care and empathy and who have issues (and who work them out with God). This gives them a tangible goal toward which they can work. “Some think it’s not wise for us to be transparent and vulnerable but given the right context, it’s liberating for all involved.”

Discipleship has also played a major role in helping Rescue Mission clients. With over 60 residents in the Discipleship program, the retention rate is a high 85%. “As a result of Discipleship, they’re willingly and lovingly participating and serving in Church activities and opportunities.” Many clients have built support groups and joined retreats, which offer new relationships where they can experience healthy interactions instead of being treated as a label (like addict or homeless person). Those relationships help them stay out of the destructive behaviors that brought them to SDRM, “because bad company corrupts good morals.”

James adds that the Churches helping with Discipleship are doing a marvelous job; however, “we need more Churches because more people are signing up to be disciples! My prayer is that if you’ve taken the time to read to this point, you’ll join us by working as a mentor or prayer partner. See for yourself how God transforms the lives of those experiencing homelessness, impacting San Diego one life at a time. I promise you’ll never be the same as a result!”

In reflection, James says, “My life and career is testimony of God’s greatness—not my own. I would like to think that Spiritual Training has had a huge impact in all of this—but again, it’s the combined holistic efforts of the entire San Diego Rescue Mission team under the guidance and leadership of Almighty God. That, in my humble opinion, makes it all work!”

Share Your Sunshine

Share your sunshine with those who are homeless and hungry by giving a gift… all 3 months of summer!

I’m asking you to make a special gift of $80 each month for June, July and August – or $240 today. It’s also easy to set up a recurring monthly donation so that your automatic gift helps people in need ALL YEAR LONG.

Please give generously! A meal is only $2.05 – now just imagine the meals and care your gift will provide when you give all 3 months of summer.

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Alan Kennedy

Alan Kennedy

“In hindsight, I feel God was strategically placing me here; all I did was answer the call.” – Alan Kennedy, Director of Food Services at San Diego Rescue Mission

Meet Alan Kennedy, Director of Food Services at San Diego Rescue Mission for the past three years. “I’m the poster child for this job,” Alan says. “I love people. I love food.”

Alan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. A chef from the start, he attended the American Culinary Institute, where he studied Hotel and Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts. Upon graduation, he began his career “cheffing” with illustrious clients such as the San Diego Symphony, Solar Turbines Corporate Yacht, Intuit Corporation, and exclusive country clubs. In 2010, he launched Alan Kennedy Catering, and then in 2015 he started a part-time business called Alpine Coffee Roasters where he continues to work as Head Roaster. Other culinary adventures have included starting a culinary program and cooking camp for kids at a private Christian school as well as opening the Fir Coat Coffee House, an outreach to “the homeless, confused, and ‘throw-away’ kids in downtown San Diego.”

Alan joined the Rescue Mission, as many have, through his friendships. Chaplain James Pope and Intake Manager Mike Castaneda asked Alan to come on board (he had helped Mike go through the Mission as a client 15 years ago, and was his chef at a Christian school). “In hindsight, I feel God was strategically placing me here; all I did was answer the call,” he says.

Alan Kennedy, Director of Food Services

“I’m the poster child for this job,” Alan says. “I love people. I love food.”

Alan maintains a full plate in his culinary career. As Director of Food Services, his responsibilities are extensive, including multiple programs such as Mission Food Service, Partners for Hunger Relief, Catering for a Cause, and food donation programs with companies like Starbucks, Amazon, the Padres, Pepsi, and Sam’s Club. “What a privilege to partner and help this industry. We’re the largest food recovery program that I know of nationwide.” As you might expect, his daily tasks range from overseeing food distribution to 20 agencies (from orphanages and community groups to community diners and soup kitchens) and managing hundreds of volunteers to supplying the Rescue Mission with 60% of goods, supervising full-time drivers, receiving over 2 million pounds of food per year, generating reports for Feeding San Diego and the Rescue Mission, and catering for multiple churches and other organizations every month. “Being in the nonprofit industry, I get to work with large corporations and repurpose and redistribute food waste. We were the first pilot program to work with Starbucks to pick up all the leftover grab’n’go meals and now it’s a nationwide program that we started.”

While he loves his work at the Mission, a few aspects in particular stand out. “I love the fact I get to help people. When I leave to go home every night and see the women and children lining up to stay at our shelter I know they’ll get a nutritious meal and all their needs will be met!”

Alan KennedyAlan’s extensive background and dedication to service mean he’s a go-to person for inspiring opportunities that help people in need. “I started a Culinary Program at the Mission, where we train clients in culinary arts, food prep, safety and sanitation, and catering. After the clients finish their program, they’re fully trained in a culinary kitchen and we’ll help them find employment and pay for their Food Handler’s card,” he explains. “I also run a warehouse where we certify clients on forklifts and train them in warehouse and logistical management for our Partners in Hunger Relief program—so when they leave they’re certified to work in the warehousing industry.”

Alan’s favorite saying in life, and personal motto, is, “You have achieved success when you have lived well, laughed often, and LOVED much.”

 

Staff Spotlight: Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown

“We are able to work through barriers by being consistent in our interactions, humble, patient, and mindful of each individual’s journey.” – Ashley Brown, Director of Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Shelter at San Diego Rescue Mission.

Meet Ashley Brown, Director of Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Shelter for Women and Children (NVH).

Ashley joined San Diego Rescue Mission’s team in Transitional Housing as an On-Call RA in 2014. While obtaining her Masters in Social Work with a Certificate in Human Service Management, she was promoted from RA to Program Manager and then to Associate Director before being named NVH Director in 2017. Spanning almost a decade in the nonprofit/social service sector, she has had the opportunity to work with a broad array of culturally diverse populations. They’ve included those incarcerated, experiencing homelessness, women in recovery and their children, low-income families, delinquent youth, and those with severe mental illness.

“In working with these populations, I quickly became equally passionate about advocating for, and assisting with, organizational development,” she says. “Being able to be part of improving, and expanding services delivery means that, ultimately, I contribute to increasing the amount of individuals and families who are served, while also improving the quality of services. To me that is everything!”

As the NVH Director, Ashley’s driven by the challenges of her position and the opportunity to sustain and improve community relationships. For example, in addition to the logistical challenges her clients face, including the shelter’s 30-day time limit, financial and health constraints can make assisting people with achieving self-sufficiency particularly difficult. But, as Ashley says, “We are able to work through these barriers by being consistent in our interactions, humble, patient, and mindful of each individual’s journey, as well as their stage of change by taking a trauma-informed approach.” That philosophy, enhanced by experience and education, is a blessed resource to the women and children passing through the doors of NVH.

As with so many devoted people here at San Diego Rescue Mission, Ashley’s an inspiring example of rising, with an open heart and clear mind, to meet the challenge of helping our brothers and sisters in need successfully. The shared values of Rescue Mission staff, and teamwork, create a power for good greater than the sum of its parts. Through their efforts and achievements, they not only help clients but inspire each other as well. “Working at SDRM has been very rewarding. During my time here, I have been able to watch not only clients grow and transition into achieving self-sufficiency, but I have had the opportunity of watching staff grow personally and professionally as well—myself included.”

Ashley points to the shared values of faith, integrity, compassion and excellence as central to the staff’s ability to meet challenges and grow individually and as a group. “These are displayed through our interactions with clients, each other, and through our decision-making processes. At times we all can be stretched thin; however, we support each other and collaborate to navigate various challenges… the ultimate reward being walking alongside our clients as God works through us and them.”