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 history of San Diego Rescue Mission since 1955.
When I took the microphone on Saturday, August 8 at the magnificent San Diego Yacht Club, among longtime friends, staff and supporters, I had a speech prepared, and decided not to read it. Instead, I spoke from the heart, about something that has deeply troubled me for years…the Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Overnight Shelter for Women and Children. And that’s when the blessing happened. Supporters walked up to me and handed me a few checks. Others verbally pledged the funds necessary to help fund the furniture needs of the shelter. In about 12 minutes, we had raised more than $135,000 for Nueva Vida Haven. I was moved.
But I realize this incredible support didn’t happen simply because of me, standing in front of a crowd, sharing a vision and hope. This was an outpouring of generosity by caring individuals with a desire to see change. In fact, the whole conversation about NVH that evening was started by Nastaran Ghomi.
I met Nastaran about a year ago when she and a group of talented individuals we like to call the “Rooftop Ladies” threw a fundraiser on our behalf. Afterwards, Nastaran said, “ I would like to help.” That’s when I invited her to tour the San Diego Rescue Mission. During her tour she was immediately drawn to the Emergency Overnight Shelter.
In the months following, Nastaran, an award winning Architectural Designer, decided to prepare a design to renovate the shelter, and asked to come back and see NVH once again. This time, she decided to spend the entire evening so she could experience what a night in the shelter was like first-hand.
Seeing the 65-70 women and children, babies and teenagers, women with mental health issues and alcoholism, all together trying to get washed up, eat dinner and go to sleep brought her to tears. The entire night was intensely emotional. The following morning, Nastaran tore up her original design plan, and started a new one.
“I understand what I have to do now,” she said. That’s when she involved her architecture firm, the Community. A Design Collective (http://www.com-collective.com) to design a better space for the women and children. The new design will not only get the women and children up off the ground (many currently sleep on mattresses on the floor) but will also allow for more privacy and segregation of groups. Moms with babies and teens trying to do their homework will have more privacy. And children will be more separated from the single women that many have mental health issues or problems with alcoholism. The new design will not only be functional, but include more of what these women and children need– dignity and love.
Nastaran shared her experience and vision for change during our 60th Anniversary Event. I simply supported her discussion with some visuals and further explanation of needs. From there, the compassionate support came in….. more than $135,000 worth of support! And because of the incredible blessing that night, I have given my staff the green light to proceed with the work. We are officially moving forward with the redesign of the Nueva Vida Haven Women + Children’s Shelter!
Thank you to all who attended the magnificent night at San Diego Yacht Club. It was truly a convergence of an incredible group of people, sharing compassion, generosity and faith.