Staff Spotlight: Oscar Torres

Oscar Torres

“I want to thank San Diego Rescue Mission for saving my life”- Oscar Torres, Men’s Center Program Director.

Meet Oscar Torres, Men’s Center Program Director here at San Diego Rescue Mission.

Oscar first walked through our doors 13 years ago, not looking for employment, but rather as a homeless man with a 10 year drug addiction in need of desperate help.

Committed to rebuilding his life, Oscar successfully completed the 12-month residential rehabilitation program. But after graduation, his work didn’t stop there.

“As an Alumni, I would stop by the Rescue Mission every morning and pray with the guys in intake before heading out to start my day, “ he explained. “After about nine months, I was approached by the Associate Director who asked if I was interested in working as a First Step Residential Advisor.”

As the new First Step Residential Advisor in the Men Center, Oscar’s duties  included making sure clients followed guidelines, getting them to chapel and meal times, and being available to bring anyone into the program who showed up for help. There was always more work to be done at San Diego Rescue Mission, and Oscar continued to make himself available for the task. He quickly moved from First Step Manager to Transition Manger to Lead Residential Manager to Program Coordinator. (Just to name a few of the positions he took on!) He even went on to become certified as an Addictions Treatment Counselor.

Today, Oscar proudly oversees the entire Men’s Center Program. This critical program incorporates a holistic approach to recovery, addressing the needs of the mind, body, and soul which help clients confront and overcome the problems that led to homelessness in the first place. His job includes ensuring our staff and clients continue to uphold our statement of faith, standard operating procedures, state licensing requirements and most of all, ensure our clients receive the proper treatment they need.

“I stand alongside these men and walk them through the process of becoming a productive citizen in our community and become free from any alcohol and drug addiction,” says Oscar.

“What I like best about working at San Diego Rescue Mission is being able to be front and center when these men come in from the streets with no hope, no self-esteem, and watch the Holy Spirit work through them. We have many talented men who come through this program and to see them walk across the stage on graduation day and move on to becoming all they can be is an incredible feeling. To know that I had a part in that… WOW who wouldn’t want to work here!,” he says.

Recently, Oscar had a client come back to see him 2 years after graduating. He explained that because of the help he received, he was able to re-connect with his family. His mother got her son back.  His siblings got their brother back. And his wife, who filed for divorce, took him back. They are now remarried and he is a father to his kids again. “He is back to where is supposed to be. And it was all because we kept planting God’s word in him, and never gave up on him.”

“San Diego Rescue Mission feels like a family to me. I want to thank the Mission for saving my life.”

 

Staff Spotlight: Larry Perry

Larry Perry, Lead Janitor at San Diego Rescue Mission

“There are so many miracles that come through the Mission, and I am one of them. I’m a living miracle, all thanks to God and the San Diego Rescue Mission,” says Larry.

Meet Larry Perry, Lead Janitor at San Diego Rescue Mission, and a very special member of our team. His story is an inspiration and his positivity and joy for life is infectious!

Larry first came to the Mission in September of 2009 after living on the streets where he faced a number of life changing struggles, including, sadly, his wife being murdered. He was at a point in life where his family wanted nothing to do with him because of the poor choices he had made, and he decided he couldn’t continue down that path any longer. He was determined to make a change. That’s when he joined San Diego Rescue Mission’s 12 Month Residential Recovery Program, where he received the tools and support needed to strengthen his relationship with God and transform his life. After a year of hard work and determination, he graduated and was offered an internship here at San Diego Rescue Mission. In 2011 he completed the internship, and his journey with the Mission continued as he was hired on as staff. Larry has been here ever since.

As the Lead Janitor, Larry supervises house keeping and is responsible for overseeing nine clients. He works hard each day training his team of clients with cleaning techniques so they’ll have skills necessary to contribute to the community on their own after they leave the Mission. “I’ve come a long way,” Larry says, “I was just a lonely housekeeper before, and God decided he wanted me to do more!” One of Larry’s favorite parts about working at the Mission is the opportunity to talk with others and share his story to instill hope. “I can relate to most of these people that come through the Mission from the streets. I know what life is like on the streets; I went through it all. But, I made it and look at me now! I’m clean, living on my own and paying my own bills. I give God all the credit and glory and all I can do is thank him.” Larry enjoys sharing his story with those struggling because its proof to others that they can get through anything, and the Rescue Mission is their opportunity to take the leap of faith and to trust God.

One of Larry’s main janitorial responsibilities has always been the Recuperative Care Unit, which has become a sentimental aspect of his job. There he enjoys playing his morning gospel music for clients while getting to know them and their stories, encourages them to keep fighting, and witnesses them overcome their battles. He’s influenced a handful of residents who have joined the Men’s Center upon their release from the RCU. Recently, Larry was even acknowledged in a graduation speech where the graduate whole-heartedly thanked him and gave him credit to his success.

The piece of advice Larry always carries with himself is to always trust and keep faith in God; He will not let you down. “God is able, no matter what we do in life. If we turn our life over to God, He’s able to change it around. The hope is there, just waiting for someone to grab it,” Larry explains. Utilizing his own inspirational story as proof, he encourages others to trust God and follow Him back on the right path. “I tell them ‘look at me – it’s real.’ There are so many miracles that come through the Mission, and I am one of them. I’m a living miracle, all thanks to God and the San Diego Rescue Mission.”

Larry is now 7 years clean and sober living on his own, making his own decisions, and has completely transformed his life for the better. “My life has turned around and I have my family, kids, and grand-kids back in my life! I’m finally wanted by them and it’s the best feeling in the world!” Larry is truly a success story and an inspiration to anyone out there going through hard times. His story is a reminder that there is always a silver lining through the hardships.

Staff Spotlight: Angela Ford

Angela Ford, Aftercare Coordinator here at San Diego Rescue Mission

“I love working with our clients and instilling hope. Being able to serve God’s people is something that I’ve been destined to do,” says Angela.

Meet Angela Ford, Aftercare Coordinator here at San Diego Rescue Mission.

The Alumni Aftercare program was created for clients who are re-integrating with society after successfully completing and graduating from our 12 month Residential Recovery Program. The purpose and goal of the program is to provide resources, encouragement, and support while promoting self-sufficiency. That’s where Angela comes in!

Angela is our newest Aftercare Coordinator. She was previously employed at Jane Westin Center where she worked closely with the mental health community, and several clients who were formerly and currently clients at San Diego Rescue Mission.

On a daily basis, Angela provides supportive services to graduates of the Residential programs as well as to those who are nearing graduation. Some of these services and tasks include checking in with clients on job readiness and aiding with resumes, applications, job searching, mock interviewing, and providing overall emotional support as clients work to transition back into society. “I always do my best to help our clients with an open heart and integrity,” says Angela.

The hope of the Aftercare program is that through Christ, and the tools each client has been given in our programs, they will have a full understanding of how to maintain sustainability while living independently, and overcoming any of life’s challenges that may arise.

Angela shared a story about a client she met in late January who right off the bat declared he didn’t like people and didn’t trust anyone.  She explained that was an issue he would have to overcome and suggested that he find someone to be accountable to. He continued to insist that he didn’t trust anyone.

“Finally, I got him to commit to having an accountability partner. He called me about three weeks later and asked if I would be that accountability partner,” explained Angela. “He said he felt comfortable around me and thought I would keep him on his toes!”

A few months later, the client received some difficult news concerning his health and went to visit Angela to talk it over.

“I encouraged him and spoke life to him and shared testimonies of what I have seen God do with my own eyes. He then told me that when he received the news, the first thing he thought of was to call me, not even to drink, which is what he would have normally done. This was huge for me. It blessed me tremendously and after he left, I cried. God is good and I just kept thinking about his goodness,” she recalled.

Those enriching experiences with clients are what motivates and inspires Angela to work for San Diego Rescue Mission. “I love working with our clients and instilling hope. Being able to serve God’s people is something that I’ve been destined to do.”

Staff Spotlight: Donna Rose

“I’ve learned that the Mission is not just about providing shelter and food, but it is a place that offers people a second chance at life,” says Donna Rose.

“I’ve learned that the Mission is not just about providing shelter and food, but it is a place that offers people a second chance at life,” says Donna Rose.

Meet Donna Rose, Case Manager at our Women and Children’s Center.

She first came to San Diego Rescue Mission as a therapist intern in May 2006. During her orientation period, a member of the executive staff made a statement she would never forget.

“He told us our lives will never be the same after this experience.  He was right,” says Donna.

“Prior to coming to San Diego Rescue Mission, I thought I had a grasp as to what homeless people deal with every day and the reasons why they have become homeless.  I did not have a clue.”

“During that year my perception about the homeless population changed.  I learned about the issues homeless people face and I learned about myself and my perceptions.  Most of all I learned that the Mission is not just about providing shelter and food, but it is a place that offers people a second chance at life,” she said.

In addition to meeting basic needs such as food and shelter, the Women and Children’s Center includes specialized classes, parenting and life skills training and skills-building geared toward helping residents avoid abusive relationships.

Therapy also plays a big part in helping to address the needs of the whole individual and provide the tools needed to overcome the challenges that led to homelessness in the first place. Treatment is provided by licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, or by interns and trainees under their supervision, working together to give our clients the best chance at living as a healthy, contributing member of our community.

Following Donna’s graduation in 2008, she worked with San Diego Hospice and volunteered at her church. During that time, she missed working at San Diego Rescue Mission.  In December 2013 she welcomed the opportunity to return as a Case Manager at the Women and Children’s Center.  Through her role as a Case Manager, she is able to counsel, teach, and guide her clients toward their individual goals which include a healthy lifestyle, obtaining employment, skills for better parenting, and a renewed hope for a better life ahead.

“There is an old saying that if you do what you love to do, you will never work a day in your life.  I love what I do.  The work is challenging, but purposeful.  Most important of all God has blessed me to be able to work with some of the most caring, amazing, God-loving people,” says Donna.