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, 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.
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.
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 […]
The incredible generosity of our San Diego partners during our 60th year of saving lives helped pave the way for some exciting changes in the years ahead. You may have heard me say that San Diego Rescue Mission is much more than “3 hots and a cot”. And now, we are in a position to […]
The 3,000 miles between my 5 children and 12 grandchildren (who live in Boston) feels extra distant around the holidays. We try our best to connect through Facebook photos of the grandkids dressed up in their holiday best and my wife Carol and I will Skype with our grown, married children. We all know family […]
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 […]
Here at the Mission, we are seeing an increase in San Diego families needing our help. And according to a recent survey, children represent 60% of people sheltered as a family. This latest stat was no surprise to me as I’ve seen our emergency overnight shelter at or near full capacity each night, with waiting […]
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 […]
I had planned to read the following story at our Spring Graduation Ceremony. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, so I promised I would post it here: Just $1.67 feeds one hungry San Diegan. Please help us meet the challenges ahead in 2013. Your gift will keep bellies full and spirits high. Your support encourages […]
We are “a nation of givers.” More than 70% of all Americans make donations to non-profit organizations – the highest percentage of any country in the world! Amazingly, the average amount given per family is more than $1,000 per year. This generosity certainly benefits the Mission, where more than 93% of our support comes from […]
Springtime at the Mission not only marks a time to prepare for one of our biggest holiday meals, Easter, but a time to celebrate new beginnings- and in this month’s case, a brand new life! Meet our newest resident here at the Mission. Because of the continued support of our donors, this little girl has […]
My heart goes out to the people of Boston, my home for over fifty years, and home to twelve of my Grandchildren! Immediately after the events unfolded, I reached out to the President of the Boston Rescue Mission, letting him know that they are on our Prayer List. As he described the horrific acts of […]