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.
- 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.
- Be Sober.
After 12 months in our recovery classes, I am confident our graduates will accomplish this.
- Have a job.
We’ve put in place the tools and resources to help our clients get the training they need to secure jobs.
- Have a place to live.
Through our case management, we work with our clients to make sure they find housing and can live independently.
- Establish a support group.
All of our graduates need to be reconnected with their family or connected to a church.
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 www.sdrescue.org/graduation/. And if you can’t attend in person, I invite you to follow our Facebook Page and watch live videos from the event.
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 […]
We are seeing it more and more. Outside our local stores, in our neighborhoods, along the streets of downtown – more and more of our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness. We recently invited our Home Team Monthly Giving Partners to a pre-screening of the film “The Same Kind of Different as Me” – a powerful […]
By Donnie Dee 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]