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.”




Summer Challenge

Here’s our HUGE challenge this summer!

– Serving 15,762 meals in the next 90 days
– Providing 40,150 overnight stays for people seeking safe shelter

Right now, your gift will help feed and shelter even more local homeless and hungry women and children in San Diego County!

This summer challenge ends May 31. Don’t wait – join in today! Give as generously as you can to make it a summer of blessings for those in need. Thank you!




This is the Biggest Thing We Do…

San Diego Rescue Mission Gradution

Our next graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, April 13, 2018 and then our Fall Graduation is Friday, October 19, 2018. We hope you will join us for this very special celebration!

Graduation! It’s one of our most beloved and important events. It’s what we’ve been working for all year long. To move people from living on the streets to being able to live a life on their own.

In my nine months as President and CEO of San Diego Rescue Mission, I have come to realize the difference between meeting the needs of the homeless and addressing the needs of the homeless. When people experiencing homelessness come through our doors, we are going to house, feed and clothe them. But we also need to do the complicated work of figuring out what’s going on in their hearts and what led them to become homeless in the first place.  Our hope is for all of our clients to leave the Mission with the desire and a plan to live a self-sustaining life.

This is the reason graduations are now only bi-annual. We needed more time to accomplish that work. Having graduations four times per year was too rushed. Too fast a process.   We realized that we needed to take a step back and set new graduation objectives to make sure our clients succeed long term.

Here’s a quick look at our five key objectives for each graduate of our 12 Month Residential Recovery Program.

  1. Encounter God.
    We have developed a spiritual training program with morning devotions and evening Chapels. In addition, this program currently has 60 clients participating in one-on-one discipleship training with volunteers.
  2. Be Sober.
    After 12 months in our recovery classes, I am confident our graduates will accomplish this.
  3. Have a job.
    We’ve put in place the tools and resources to help our clients get the training they need to secure jobs.
  4. Have a place to live.
    Through our case management, we work with our clients to make sure they find housing and can live independently.
  5. Establish a support group.
    All of our graduates need to be reconnected with their family or connected to a church.
Donnie Dee at San Diego Rescue Mission Graduation

It was such an honor to introduce the Graduates during our last ceremony. I love the celebration! I was inspired by the men and women who walked across stage and delighted to see so many staff, volunteers + donors attend—because after all, they are part of the journey.

It’s a lot of work to make sure every one of our graduates meets all these objectives. That’s why we needed more time between our graduation ceremonies.

Our graduates on April 13, 2018 will be the first of our bi-annual ceremony and I expect it to be the biggest celebration yet! We’ve sent out over 400 invites—as well as opened the ceremony to the public. We have a special “congratulations” video prepared with some of San Diego’s biggest leaders and supporters including Mayor Faulconer, Jerry Sanders, Dan Shea, and Pete Seidler.  After all, this is our Super Bowl. It’s what we have worked toward all year long.

During the April Graduation Ceremony, you can also expect to see Rev. Dr. Jack Baca of The Village Church speak, and all of our front-line workers on stage to support the graduates as well. This includes the RAs, case managers, therapists, program directors and everyone else who works directly with clients. Just like a university graduation where the professors and key faculty are on stage, we are highlighting those staff members who made the biggest impact in supporting and helping our clients reach this point.

But I also know that none of this could happen without the help of our donors, volunteers and community. On behalf of everyone here at San Diego Rescue Mission, I thank you for your continued support of the important work we do. And I encourage you to attend our upcoming graduation. Details can be found at And if you can’t attend in person, I invite you to follow our Facebook Page and watch live videos from the event.

God Bless!

Donnie Dee

Donnie Dee

A Meal & A Miracle

For a hungry, homeless person in San Diego County, a hot meal can feel like a miracle.

Your gift today provides that nourishing meal – and all the care that comes with it – for just $2.05.

Give those in need a meal at the Rescue Mission… and a chance for a miracle in their lives!

Please, don’t wait! Your gift today will provide the meals and care local people need to rise above poverty, homelessness and hunger – and to experience a miraculous transformation in their lives.




Staff Spotlight: Mary Langford

Mary Langford

“I am blessed to be here and be a part of something bigger than any of us.” — Mary Langford, Vice President of Human Resources

Meet Mary Langford, Vice President of Human Resources with San Diego Rescue Mission.

Mary came to the Rescue Mission 4 years ago when a former boss, who was filling in as the Human Resources Director, said her talent and expertise made her a perfect candidate and encouraged her to apply. She joined the Rescue Mission with more than 30 years experience working in human resources.

As Vice President of Human Resources, and a member of the Executive Team, Mary’s responsibilities are extensive — and she carries them out with grace and humility. “I spend my day collaborating with the management teams on employment issues, training, safety, policies, and providing resources for staff. I also lead the HR department and mentor the HR Staff to excellence, oversee recruiting, and collaborate with vendors to obtain affordable benefits that staff can and will use.” She believes in embracing challenges and finding ways to help Rescue Mission staff carry out their jobs even better. Part of that means navigating the separation of church and state. “I spend time daily with God and government — who said church and state can’t get along? I make sure we stay current with the federal and state laws to help keep staff compliant while representing our Mission, Vision and Values.”

Mary is a tireless supporter of Rescue Mission staff and clients.  “My heart goes out to those who are here.” She takes time to truly listen to challenges, and help find the ideas, resources — and prayers – to help solve them. Every story of helping is close to her heart. “Just caring is huge, I don’t keep a scorecard, I don’t have a portfolio of success stories, everyone I come in contact with is a success in some way. I’m just glad and humbled to be a part.”

Central to Mary’s sense of purpose at the Rescue Mission is the belief that we’re here to do more than make money. Rather, we’re here to be “God’s servant leaders,” and always to help those in need. As we do that, we can also make the greater community aware of all the good work the Rescue Mission does.

“I am blessed to be here and be a part of something bigger than any of us,” Mary added. “As said in 1 Peter 4:8-10, And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.


Hunger Ends & Hope Begins

Thousands of neighbors in San Diego County will go to bed hungry tonight… including growing numbers of women with young children.

Your gift this Easter provides a nourishing meal to end their hunger – and give them new hope.

Because you care for hungry, hurting neighbors, the Rescue Mission is where hunger ends and hope begins, this Easter and all year long!

One meal is just $2.05, but the hope it gives someone who’s hurting is priceless. Please help today!




Renewed and Refocused…for the Future of San Diego

San Diego Rescue Mission

Each week, as part of the in-take process, I talk to the men who want to join our program. One of the things I keep hearing is “We need jobs”.

Not hopeless and not helpless, just experiencing homelessness. That’s the message we have for our clients as we move into 2018. To make this happen, we are taking steps to narrow our focus and pursue more measurable, longer term results to get people off the streets.  We are focused on five critical objectives for our clients before they officially graduate from our 12-month residential rehabilitation program.

These objectives include: sobriety, experiencing God, getting a job, finding a place to live, and getting connected to a local church. We know these are big objectives and that’s the primary reason we’ve changed our graduation celebrations to twice a year. We need more time to provide or clients with the treatment, training and tools to succeed long term.

As we set a new direction for 2018 we are excited about our Spiritual Training and Job Training Programs.

Through the Spiritual Training Program, led by James Pope our VP of Evangelism and Discipleship, we are providing an experience closer to real life – in other words, a routine closer to what our clients can expect after they graduate. For example, in the past bible study occurred every morning and chapel every night. Now we offer Chapel service on Wednesday and Sunday nights and each morning, we have a 30-minute devotion. During these staff-led morning devotions, we combine the men and women together for the first time in the history of the Mission – again, so the experience is closer to real life.

It’s only been a few weeks since we started the morning devotions and I am already seeing the tremendous impact. Not only for the clients, but for our staff. It’s a powerful sense of spiritual direction to lead one of these devotions.  In addition to helping our staff get to know the clients better, they are realizing that it’s part of their responsibly to communicate spirituality to our clients.

Our new Job Training Program is something I’m also really excited about.

job trainingEach week, as part of the in-take process, I talk to the homeless men who want to join our program. One of the things I keep hearing is “We need jobs” or “I lost my job because of my addiction problem”.

At San Diego Rescue Mission, we’ve always offered a recovery program as well as life skill classes.  It was clear that preparing our clients for employment opportunities needed to be more strategic.

That’s why we developed a new 12 month Job Training Program.

This starts with the “Discipline of Work” where our clients work on-site here in San Diego Rescue Mission’s kitchen, warehouse, or in our Thrift Stores. They need to show us that they have the commitment, drive and want to work.

Once they have shown their desire to work they can move onto Stage 2 “Development of Skill”. Thanks to our new partnership with San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) we launched a pilot program offering certifications in several job skills: Plumbing, Welding, Auto Tech, Office Manager, and HVAC.

Job Training at SDRMBut the preparation doesn’t stop with the classroom. Once they acquire the trade skills, they move into Stage 3 “Demonstration of Ability”. This is when they get internships with local businesses and build first-hand experience using their new skills.

And the Final stage? “Deployment to Employment”. This is the time they prepare for graduation and begin the transition to a self-sustaining life. During this stage, we help them with resume building, the job search and securing housing.

We spent a lot of time lining up the partnerships and resources to build this new Job Training Program and now, I am proud to say, it’s officially in motion! In fact, 24 men have already started their trade skill training on site at SDCE this month!

I am so thankful for the selfless dedication and support of my team, partners, and donors who helped kick off this renewed and refocused future for San Diego. Together, we are helping more of San Diego’s homeless men and women truly rebuild their lives and develop the life skills they need to no longer feel hopeless, or helpless.


God Bless

Donnie Dee




Donnie Dee


Fill the pantry

38,590 meals this month alone… it seems impossible to shop for that many people, right?

It IS possible – but there’s no rescue without you!

Your gift today will provide a hot, nutritious meal for just $2.05 to welcome every man, woman and child who comes through our doors during these colder coastal nights in San Diego County.

Please donate now! Fill our pantry to help fill hungry stomachs with food and weary hearts with new hope. Thank you!




Staff Spotlight: Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson

Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson

“San Diego Rescue Mission exists because of the people in the community who need our help. We want to improve our ability to serve them — with excellence, compassion, creativity, and love.” – Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson, Vice President of Programs for San Diego Rescue Mission

Meet Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson, Vice President of Programs for San Diego Rescue Mission.

Jeremy was looking for a new challenge when he joined our team in December 2016 with high hopes for the organization and our clients. ”I am passionate about developing healthy organizational cultures, and working with teams to grow toward increasing health, capacity, and efficiency,” he said. As the Vice President of Programs, Jeremy loves knowing that the work his team does has meaningful impact on the lives of Rescue Mission clients, “We get to operate in a sacred space where we get to humanize people who are often overlooked and discarded by our society at-large and help them, reminding them that we love them and God loves them.”

Jeremy draws on his years of experience helping to cultivate successful non-profit teams, and a master’s degree in Transformational Leadership, in his new role overseeing the Rescue Mission Programs. “This job gives me the opportunity to support and empower our Directors, and make sure that our Programs are offering clinically sound, evidence-based practices, that are infused with the love of God in Christ.”

“The verse that I’m using as foundational to our Programs’ motivation (and that will soon be painted on our 6th-floor conference room wall) is, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40).”

Jeremy shared an inspiring story from his time with the Rescue Mission’s Recuperative Care Unit (RCU), of collaborating with another service agency, the Alpha Project, to help place a male client who had custody of his teenage daughter. Since housing is notoriously difficult to find for men with children, teamwork was essential to work through the challenge. Thanks to hard work by the client, and partnership between the organizations’ teams, the father was able to move into rapid re-housing within two months. “We have great hope that this will give the client the stability he needs to continue to recover and care for his child,” said Jeremy. “In every story, there is a team of people who have helped clients get to a point of recovery — establishing income, getting into stable housing, etc. This was truly a team effort.”

Another client story close to his heart involved securing housing for a veteran. “Though this client had physically recovered, we were coming up against a lot of obstacles in moving the client into stable housing.” After 6 months in the RCU, and thanks to a stellar social work team, they succeeded. “For the previous 6 months, this client had displayed a very flat affect and was disengaged and downtrodden. The day this client moved into their housing, they were alive and energetic, almost exuberant.” He admitted, “My wife will confirm that I am not a crier … but in my office that day I shed happy tears for our client because I knew that the change we were seeing was what someone who was experiencing hope for the first time in many years looked like.”

“San Diego Rescue Mission exists because of the people in the community who need our help. We want to improve our ability to serve them — with excellence, compassion, creativity, and love.”