A New Calling Revealed

By Donnie Dee

Donnie DeeI never planned on becoming the next President and CEO of San Diego Rescue Mission. I was enjoying my work as The Director of the Tom Landry Associates for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).  It had been a fun season of watching my kids play college Basketball for USD and UCI, and volunteering my time on Christian Boards such as Worship for Kids. Of course, we were donors to the San Diego Rescue Mission, but becoming the next President and CEO? That was not my plan.

But God had a different plan for me.

It started when a friend forwarded me the job description of the new position and said “This is you!” Strategic Leadership, Visionary, Operations Management, Fundraising…  all things I have much experience with and was currently doing for FCA.  In the months that followed, my new calling was revealed through the interview process.  Amos 3:7

I was deeply impressed by the Board of Directors. I have a lot of experience dealing with different types of Boards, and this Board really stood out. I saw a genuine love for the Mission in each of them.

I was inspired by the staff. Their commitment was unwavering – from helping the clients to sharing their love of Christ. This was a team I wanted to help build, support and serve.

I was moved by Herb’s leadership. I toured the Mission and saw first-hand what he helped build the past 15+ years.  I caught his vision.

Dee Family

Meet the Dee family. Known as a sports family involved in sports ministry, they are looking forward to this new journey. Johnny (USD) and Jenny (UCI) both played college basketball and Jackie ran cross country in college. Donnie was drafted by the NFL and went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks. (Photo from San Diego Union Tribune)

One afternoon, while touring the Emergency Overnight Shelter, I congratulated Herb on the incredible accomplishment of being able to shelter, feed and care for 80+ women and children each night. His response moved me further. “It’s not the 80+ individuals who stay here that I am concerned about. It’s the 200+ that I am not able to get in here that I think about most often.”

I was moved, but still found myself fighting with God. Is this what you want me to do? Why me? Why now? And that’s when I was challenged by a verse I had read many times.  Proverbs 21:13

“The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.”

That’s when concern and compassion started to become passion. God was allowing me to hear the cry in a fresh way. This was my new journey, my new assignment.

So here I am, the new CEO and President of San Diego Rescue Mission. I’ve made a commitment to serve and support those who work most directly with our clients and to make sure they have the resources, prayer support, and direction to make a greater impact.

I am looking forward to making this American’s Finest City –and it can’t be until we figure out the problem with people being homeless. In fact, San Diego has the 4th largest homeless population in the country.  We want to be part of the solution.

In addition to President and CEO, I am also the Chief Fundraiser. I believe that donors give to causes, but they invest in results. I plan to show results. I’m looking for men and women who want to invest – which is a much bigger commitment than giving. If we are going to make an impact in this community like we want, it’s going to take true ministry partners.

As I start this new calling as President and CEO, I look forward to getting to know each of you, our supporters, and continuing to build upon this great organization that has stayed so true to its original Mission for more than 60 years.

God Bless,
Donnie Dee
Donnie Dee

Help Today

Give Where You Live

 

97 days of summer… and 97 days of meals to provide. That’s $185,612 for meals alone!

Give Where You Live is your chance to make a HUGE impact right here in San Diego County this summer. Because you don’t have to go far to see people in desperate need.

Please give now! Your generous gift will provide our community’s homeless and hungry with so much: hot meals served with love… nights of rest in a safe bed… and the hope they need to build brighter futures.

 

 

 

Staff Spotlight: Robin Colberg

Robin Colberg, Development Manager

“It’s important for donors to meet the people they are helping; to hear the stories about how their gifts are making a real impact and saving real lives.” – Robin Colberg, Development Manager

Meet Robin, Development Manager at San Diego Rescue Mission for more than seven years.  Robin came from a competitive, fast-paced corporate environment in the financial services industry. When the pressure began to affect her health and marriage, she took some time to reevaluate her life priorities. That’s when she discovered San Diego Rescue Mission and a prayer was answered.

“I’d often thought I’d like to work at a non-profit –and came to realize a Christian non-profit was exactly where I wanted to be,” she said.

Robin’s role within the Development team has evolved over the years. She goes beyond managing the direct mail, outreach and marketing efforts and has made it a priority to connect donors with our clients’ stories.

“It’s important for donors to meet the people they are helping; to hear the stories about how their gifts are making a real impact and saving real lives,” she explains.

One of the most powerful donor client moments happened when Felecia, a current client, stepped into a meeting with a potential granter, and shared her personal story.

“Felicia was only eight years old the first time her mother kicked her out of her house. And when she was 10 years old, she came home from school to realize her family completely abandoned her. They moved and took everything – except her. The story, like so many others we help, was heart breaking,” Robin explained.

One of the best things about Robin’s job is that she gets to see the client donor connection come full circle.

“Many of the clients we are able to help end up working here at San Diego Rescue Mission. Felicia went on to become Resident Manager of the Women and Children’s Center, and is getting married to another staffer.”

Another former client is now helping Robin write donor “Thank You” letters and even call major donors to let them know first-hand, how their generous contribution helped save a life.  And as our donors get to know the clients they help, Robin makes sure we get to know our donors as well.

“I enjoy getting to know the donors; their stories about why they give and seeing their hearts for our clients.  One of our friends likes to create celebrations for NVH. She gets pretty elaborate with decorations, face-painting, goodie bags and such.  I think it’s awesome how she provides the children and moms the opportunity to celebrate these holidays like everyone else does.”

The funds Robin and the Development Team bring to San Diego Rescue Mission are what keep the doors open and the lights on, staff paid and clients getting the help they need in order to live victoriously in Christ.

“There are so many good stories I could tell – from the gang member who came to the RCU with a broken hand and went on to become a Sunday School teacher to the single mom escaping domestic violence who’s now pursuing her Master’s Degree.  There’s everything in between as well…the eloquent graduate who gave her testimony at graduation only to re-enter the program with her three sons two years later.  There are great victories and great loss, but at the center of it all is a dedicated program staff that teaches and displays the love of Jesus.  And it all comes down to that.  We are all human beings, and while we all come into the world the same way, our lives and opportunities vary greatly thereafter.”

 

 

This has never been a job. It’s always been my Mission.

It was 2003 when I first started volunteering at San Diego Rescue Mission. From the start, I knew this was a strong organization; but its impact was little known in the community.

Providing new shoes and hope during a Samaritan’s Feet event.

It wasn’t until San Diego Rescue Mission moved to a new building in Bankers Hill that the community took real notice. Shortly after the move, I joined the board of directors and went on to become Board Chair. I put my energy into stabilizing and growing the staff, working with neighborhood associations and working more closely with the San Diego homeless community and its providers. Today, I am proud to say, the community now realizes our impact!

When I became CEO and President, the Rescue Mission had 5 or 6 programs to help our homeless population – today we have 11! And each of these programs is continuing to grow.

One of the biggest accomplishments in my 15+ years with the Rescue Mission happened during our 60thAnniversary Celebration in 2015, when we raised funds to expand and enhance the Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter for Women and Children. This meant we could finally get the mattresses off the floor and the women and children into new bunks. We replaced floors, redid the walls, and expanded the entire space to include more beds, storage, better bathrooms and a quiet room, so kids could focus on their homework.

Getting the mattresses off the floor. Before and After photos of NVH Emergency Overnight Shelter for Women and Children.

Another important accomplishment, that I could not be more proud of, is the opening of our Licensed Children’s Preschool. Now, entering its 3rd year, we are able to see our preschoolers successfully move on to Kindergarten. And I’m so happy to share that their new schools have reported “no deficiencies”. This is critical to helping break the cycle of homelessness from the start. As many studies have shown, kids who start school behind, never catch up. And that leads to drop outs and eventually homelessness.

The 2nd Avenue Transitional Housing program is another major program we recently added. This multi phase transitional housing program is now able to accommodate a diverse group of individuals by offering two tracks; one focused on finding and maintaining employment, and the other finding alternate routes for client’s with disabilities to be active and resourceful within their greater community. This program is critical is helping formerly homeless men and women heal previous barriers to independence and work towards self-sufficiency.

I’ve also witnessed the After Care program grow into a huge success. It took us a while to figure it out – but today, we have a high-level, full-time, dedicated After Care Coordinator who is keeping in constant contact with more than 800+ alumni. We’ve learned from experience that some of our graduates are more successful, with close contact for 1-2 years after they leave the Mission. Ongoing communication and assistance with job training, housing, and support is critical to permanent change.

I started the Recuperative Care Unit (RCU) over 7 years ago and have watched it grow and change to meet the needs of clients referred to us by our partner hospitals. We were able to convert some extra space, and provide more services to homeless men and women newly released from the hospital yet still requiring medical attention. Today, the program offers up to 32 patients a safe and supportive environment, as well as meals, oversight of medical treatment, and follow-up care.

Another big change in San Diego Rescue Mission history happened just last year when we were able to move the executive team to a building across the street. This significant move not only allows for more office and living space, but more space for education and training. In fact, 35% of our new building is dedicated to classrooms. This enhanced classroom space paved the way for a relationship with San Diego Community College. Last month, instructors from SDCC started teaching 2 classes – and we are looking to increase those classes to several more. In fact, that will be one of the focuses of our upcoming June 17 celebration – raising funds for scholarships, classes, computers, and training materials to help further grow this program which not only serves homeless individuals, but any San Diegan in need.

35% of our new building is dedicated to classrooms benefiting all San Diegans in need.

Another important accomplishment happens each Fall when hundreds of young “friendraisers” and fundraisers join together to serve the community and to educate themselves and the public about ways to help homeless. In the years I’ve been at San Diego Rescue Mission, I’ve seen our signature event Sleepless San Diego become a bigger and bigger impact in our community. As a result, it has connected us with important groups such as the Military, Community Colleges, and City Government.

Working to inspire the next generation of young fundraisers and volunteers during Sleepless San Diego.

And finally, I am most proud of the executive team I’ve helped put in place. We have such strong players here, and because of this, I am confident that they (along with your help) will strive to ensure each of our programs continue to thrive and help our entire community stay healthy and whole. In fact, along with personal, direct contact with our clients, (and the amazing food we have here!) this dedicated and inspirational staff is what I will miss most when I retire.

This has never been a job for me. Having the ability to change people’s lives in a Christian environment has always been a mission, MY Mission!

God Bless,



 

Herb Johnson

Join Us for Summer Graduation, Friday July 14

Join us at GraduationOne of our most beloved events happens every three months at the San Diego Rescue Mission.

Our next graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, July 14, 2017.

That’s when the men and women who have successfully completed their 12-month residential recovery programs are recognized in a special graduation ceremony. The event celebrates the accomplishments each graduate has made, with God’s help, during their year-long journey. Current program participants also attend to honor their brothers and sisters and to be inspired by the possibilities that await them.

As part of the ceremony one male and one female graduate each shares their story of recovery. A local Christian band or church choir provides entertainment for the day and, of course, all graduates receive an official diploma.

Time and Location:
First Presbyterian Church
320 Date St. San Diego, CA 92101
6:30 PM – Graduation Ceremony
Dessert Reception Immediately Following

For more information, please contact Michael Babida at mbabida@sdrescue.org or 619-819-1851.

Can’t make it to this Graduation? You can also join us on October 13, 2017.

Interfaith Candlelight Vigil – Sunday November 5, 2017

3:00 pm – Procession begins at San Diego Rescue Mission – 120 Elm Street
3:45-4:45 pm – Candlelight Vigil:

San Diego County Administration Center
West side of Building (Closest to Harbor)
1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, 92101

Read more

Thanksgiving Congregate Meal

thanksgivingJoin us on November 18, 2017 for our special Thanksgiving holiday meal.

This is one of three times in the year when San Diego Rescue Mission opens its doors to the homeless community to celebrate the holidays. Gather to enjoy home-cooked meals, entertainment, and to celebrate in the festivities!

Christmas Congregate Meal

christmasJoin us on December 16, 2017 for our special Christmas holiday meal.

This is one of three times in the year when San Diego Rescue Mission opens its doors to the homeless community to celebrate the holidays. Gather to enjoy home-cooked meals, entertainment, and to celebrate in the festivities!

How to Inspire Giving

giving to homeless

Our children, our neighbors, our community is watching – will you inspire them to give?

I didn’t grow up in a big house. But every Thanksgiving, my mother filled it with people. And when she ran out of room at the table, she would send food to those neighbors who had a little less luck that year. She made sure nobody felt deprived, and everyone felt loved.

Although my mother has passed, I continue her tradition of including extra families at my Thanksgiving dinner table. Each year I find one or two families at my Church who need a lift, and invite them to join me for a warm holiday meal, comfort and conversation.

And of course there is also San Diego Rescue Mission’s annual community Thanksgiving meal, where we open our doors to the hundreds of homeless San Diegans who are alone and hungry this holiday.

During our holiday meals, clients from our Residential Recovery Program make themselves available to share stories about how San Diego Rescue Mission has helped turn their life around. And there is no better spokesperson to encourage the homeless to take part in the critical services we offer than the individuals who have been personally helped by our programs.

I stay at the front door for the full 3 hours of our annual Thanksgiving meal to say “hello” to each person who walks through the door. Many, I can tell, have already had a few too many adult beverages, and others are missing shoes and in need of fresh clothes. The difference between those who have been in our program for even just a month, is drastic compared to those fresh off the streets. Those in the program have sobered up and cleaned up. I feel so blessed to be able to offer these individuals a chance at a new life, new hope.

homeless on thanksgiving

The difference between those who have been in our program for even just a month, is drastic compared to those fresh off the streets.

Just as my mother influenced me, the passion and feeling to give to others is often inspired by those around us. I was reminded of this again while working with the Over the Hill Gang to collect material donations for our Thrift Stores. As I sat with the group, watching the last of the donations get dropped off, and ready to get picked up and taken to our Thrift Stores, a little girl decided to join us and sell lemonade to the neighbors. “Well that sounds like a good idea,” I thought as I got up to buy a glass. That’s when I learned that this little girl was selling lemonade to raise money for San Diego Rescue Mission. I was shocked – what are the chances!? What a remarkable coincidence.  That’s when I learned that she is the granddaughter of one of our largest donors.

As that little girl proved, it doesn’t take a huge house and a great job to give.  Anyone can do it. Just last month, during our Sunday night Chapel Service, I had the opportunity to witness another act of selflessness.

During our Men’s Center Chapel Service, which is also open to the public, a worn and weathered homeless man walked through the door, without any shoes.  Upon seeing this, one of the younger men in our program immediately got up and went to his room. A few minutes later he came back with a pair of shoes, and not just any pair of shoes, it was his best pair of shoes. He offered them to the homeless man, who was so, so grateful.

meals for homeless

It doesn’t take a huge house and a great job to give. Anyone can do it.

Our children, our neighbors, our community is watching. And our acts of giving (no matter how small) influence others. We are all so busy around the holidays, and it’s so easy for many of us to get caught up in the perfect table setting and beautiful table cloth. When really, the holidays should be a time to give thanks, include and praise others.

I feel so blessed to be able to have so many join us at the dinner table this holiday season, and doubly blessed to have the support of our donors, volunteers and the community to help make it happen.

Thank you and God Bless to you and your family,

 

herb-full-name

 

 

 

Herb Johnson