As a former NFL Football player, I know I’m only as strong as the team. And in my first 45 days here as CEO and President, I’ve become in awe of the team here at San Diego Rescue Mission. This staff, the volunteers, the Board… they are all here for the right reasons. And I’m confident that God positioned us together strategically to be a solution for our homeless neighbors.
During these first weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the staff through “All Staff” meetings, one-on-ones and a survey – which by the way, revealed that 74% of our staff said they feel a sense of “calling” to the Rescue Mission. Through these interactions, I’ve learned just how committed the team is. Here are just a few examples:
We have staff members who drive 1.5 hours every day from Temecula/Murrieta, and another who drives 2 hours from El Centro.
We have a program director who worked a 16 hour day (more than once!) because a Residential Advisor (RA) was ill.
Our Children’s Center director has taken our clients’ clothes home with her and washed them in her own washer and dryer.
We had an RA perform chest compressions on a client who was unresponsive until paramedics could get there and give her a diabetes shot.
We had 10 of our Board Members attend the first board meeting with me as president – and 7 attended our clients’ graduation in July.
Just recently, I had a program director show up in my office in tears. She was distraught over a client who had to be discharged from the program due to a code of conduct violation. The director knew that if this individual went back to the streets, it would be the worst case scenario. We sat down, and worked together to see how we could get her back on track – back into the program.
Those are just a handful of examples showing the commitment of this staff. They aren’t doing it for the hours, the pay, or a stress free work environment. They do it for the homeless, hungry and hurting people we serve every day. I’m inspired by the work they do. It makes me want to strive to serve them even better.
Part of my mission in my first weeks here, was to assist in the decision and hiring process for two key positions.
As many of you know, our VP of Programs stepped down a month before I got here. As we conducted interviews to find the perfect replacement, we realized that our strongest candidates were those who already worked here.
We ended up promoting two long time staff members for the roles. I’m so pleased to announce that Jeremy Dawsey- Richardson, formerly Program Director of the Recuperative Care Unit is our new VP of Programs. And James Pope, formerly Men’s Center Director, will be filling the newly created position of VP of Evangelism and Discipleship. This new position is designed to create a greater awareness around the spiritual development aspect of what we do. You’ll be hearing more about Jeremy and James, and their new roles, in the upcoming months.
As discussed in my last blog post “A New Calling Revealed,” I knew God had a plan for me. And what I’ve experienced and seen here in my first 45 days has helped to confirm that I made the right choice. In my 27+ years of ministry, I don’t believe there is a more worthy cause that I’ve ever been associated with.
Not just because we feed and house homeless men, women and children, but more importantly, (and unlike other Government-funded nonprofits) we have the freedom and blessing to talk about faith and God. Together, we work to address issues of the heart and spirit.
Jesus changes lives and that’s the game changer!!
By Donnie Dee I 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, […]
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. It wasn’t until San Diego Rescue Mission moved to a new building in Bankers Hill that the community took real notice. Shortly after […]
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 […]
It’s that time of year again – back to school. For most San Diego kids, it marks a time for new school clothes, shoes, backpacks, a fresh set of school supplies and a chance to reconnect with old buddies and meet some new ones. But for homeless kids, starting school comes with a whole set […]
This weekend, five formerly homeless men will be participating in the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. They are working hard to overcome difficult life circumstances, from addiction to abuse to extreme poverty. Not long ago, these men were so close to giving up all hope, when they found their way to San Diego […]
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It’s truly a work of God when you see the convergence of people with the right skills, resources, desires and needs all come together for a common goal. The purpose of our recent Casino Royal 60th Anniversary Event was to embrace our beginning, which started in a poker hall, and to share the stories and […]
You’ve heard me talk about the importance of breaking the cycle of homelessness from the start. Homeless children tend to have delays in development and they suffer from anxiety, emotional distress, and toxic stress. Their unstable, under nourished and often abusive environments put them at a disadvantage right from the start, and perpetuate the cycle […]
Thank you to everyone who joined us at Le Dimora last month to kick off our 60th Anniversary year of saving lives! In case you missed it, below is a transcription of Herb Johnson’s presentation sharing news of expansion projects and how you can help further fund these critical programs. “First, I’d like to talk […]
It is a challenge to find enough time to get things done. And often, when we hurry through our days, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and forget to look at the big picture. The big picture of why we are here, and doing what we do. This has been a year […]
I love the holiday season. Just ask any of my 13 grandkids, 5 adult kids, friends and neighbors. In fact, my house is the one that closely resembles the family home in Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation movie – almost 2,000 light bulbs, synced up and flashing to music! And in front of my home, I’ve […]
Depending on whom you talk to and which reports you read, stats about mental health among the homeless range from about 40 – 68%. That means 40 – 68% of the homeless people living on the street have some sort of untreated psychiatric illnesses, from Bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to major depression to a whole […]
I’m thrilled to announce the official opening of our new Children’s Center this Tuesday, September 2, 2014! Up until now, our Women and Children’s Center has been run like a co-op. That means, while one mom is getting therapy or attending educational classes, the other is babysitting children in a shared play area. Now, thanks […]
My brother is a two-tour Vietnam Vet. He was not drafted, he enlisted. He spent much of his deployment on the border or in Cambodia as a Helicopter Crew Chief and a Door Gunner. During his deployment, he was shot down five times. The 5th time, they sent him home. After arriving home, he proudly […]
When I see the homeless and hungry men who come through the doors of the Rescue Mission each night, their bodies and souls ravaged by the effects of alcohol, neglect and abuse, I can’t help but think of my own father. I think about how different life could have been if a 12-month recovery program […]
Another San Diego Summer is officially upon us, and I’m feeling so blessed for all the community support we’ve recently received. May was a busy month. As most of you know, we officially opened our 4th thrift store in San Diego. San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister and former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders […]
An Easter Meal, a Preschool for Homeless Children, and a Brand New Thrift Shop- Just a few of the ways we’re reviving hope to San Diego’s homeless this Spring! As we move out of last week’s dark, rainy San Diego weather, and sun begins to shine brightly down upon us again, it’s a welcomed reminder […]
Wow, what a year it’s been! Because of your generous support in 2013, 1,522 women and 690 children were safe in our emergency shelter instead of being out on the cold, dangerous streets last year. We served over 448,000 hot, nutritious meals and I watched 87 men and 9 women graduate from our year- long […]
I read the following story during Friday’s Winter Graduation Ceremony. Since then, several people have requested that I post it to my blog. Here it is… Pastor Jeremiah Steepek The New Pastor Pastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured right) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to his newly assigned church where he was to be […]
I love looking at old photos. The ones I’ve included in this blog post are some of our best memories from our annual holiday meals. These are truly wonderful reminders of all the great work you’ve made possible here at San Diego Rescue Mission during the past year. If you volunteer, you may find yourself […]
As we plan for our annual Candlelight Vigil, my thoughts turn to the homeless men, women and even children, who die alone on the streets each year here in San Diego. The lonely souls who, for whatever reason, lost touch with friends and family, and were not able to find a way to make a […]
When I think about sharing blessings, my mother and grandchildren come to mind. (I visited both on a recent trip to Boston to see our five children and their families.) As I cleaned the moss from my mother’s headstone and left some of her favorite flowers, I thought of her tremendous care and concern for […]
“Is my gift really important?” “Will it really matter if I don’t make a gift to the Mission today?” Yes! It most certainly will. It will make a difference to a mother and her children who would otherwise be living in their car on a dangerous street. It will make a difference to a homeless […]
Last year, 280 boys and girls whose only home is the Women & Children Center Nueva Vida Haven here at the Mission received backpacks full of school supplies, thanks to the generosity of donors like you. Sometimes, students think we’ve made a mistake because these backpacks are brand new and full of unused supplies. When […]
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My mother was always looking out for other people. She had a wicker basket in the trunk of her car that she would fill with clothing she would buy at the local thrift shop and then donate. She would embarrass her children by asking for dented cans and outdated baked goods at the local grocery […]
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