Priscilla Tapia, lead teacher at San Diego Rescue Mission’s Children’s Center.

Staff Spotlight: Priscilla Tapia

Priscilla Tapia, lead teacher at San Diego Rescue Mission’s Children’s Center.

“I realized there were so many ways I could make an impact in my community. Most importantly, I could apply my skills, experience and knowledge to be a light of support and a tool to help families understand, accept and overcome obstacles and hardships.” — Priscilla Tapia, lead teacher at San Diego Rescue Mission’s Children’s Center.

Meet Priscilla Tapia, a lead teacher at San Diego Rescue Mission’s Haven of Hope, a licensed Preschool for 2-5-year-olds experiencing homelessness. Her work here began in March 2016, when a dear friend and former Rescue Mission staff member recommended her for a job opening.

Priscilla discovered her passion for working with children while studying Child and Family Development at San Diego State University. “I had an opportunity to work in different classroom settings and programs with a wide range of ages and populations. I knew I wanted to work with children in some capacity.”

Prior to the Rescue Mission, she held an internship at a Recovery Center that provided resources, support and services to children and families experiencing domestic violence, child abuse, homelessness and drug + alcohol abuse. That was the first time she saw behavioral challenges in a therapeutic setting and realized the effects of environmental stimuli on children’s development. It was an “aha” moment in her career.

“I realized there were so many ways I could make an impact in my community. Most importantly, I could apply my skills, experience and knowledge to be a light of support and a tool to help families understand, accept and overcome obstacles and hardships. This experience led me to apply, and see where God could lead me, here at the Mission.”

Her preschool classroom is a play-based and child-centered environment where the focus is on providing a safe and nurturing space for children to play, explore, learn, and connect with each other and themselves. Their social-emotional development is a top priority because many have experienced trauma. Among the ways that staff support students are mentoring, role playing, mediation, guiding words and behavior, problem solving, as well as encouraging healthy and safe emotional expression. In many cases, the preschool is the first-time children enjoy the space to rest and sleep in a peaceful environment and have the nutrition their bodies require.

“Our entire center and mission is based on our faith, admiration and love for Jesus. Seeing children praise God through songs as they sing how much Jesus loves them gives them empowerment and a sense of belonging, peace and purpose. He is the centerpiece.”

As someone who’s service-oriented and generous of spirit, Priscilla loves much about her work. Among the highlights, she reflects that the most fulfilling experience is when she can see a child smile, how far they’ve come with others and witness their overall growth.

San Diego Rescue Mission Preschool

In many cases, the preschool is the first-time children enjoy the space to rest and sleep in a peaceful environment and have the nutrition their bodies require.

“Just giving the children a safe space, and the notion that they can make decisions and discover the world with what they have to offer during this beautiful stage in their life, is an impact we’re all making every day.”

Priscilla says she is also thankful for the opportunity to grow in her faith and apply it in ways she hadn’t before—or could even imagine. “I work with the most supportive, goal-oriented, intelligent, wise, loving and professional staff and it makes coming here every day even more fun and fulfilling. I feel ready for what the day may bring. I’m being challenged daily but I’m also gaining skills and adapting to situations and responding to them.”

“These children are our future and it’s during this time that we can make the most impact while providing positive experiences, facilitating learning opportunities, forming strong and genuine relationships with them and aiding them in their attainment of significant life skills. We’re constantly posting the children’s artwork in the hallways for staff, parents and the many tours during the week—so please visit and see what the preschool’s been working on! I only hope that I’m giving as much as I’m gaining from working here at the SDRM Children’s Center. I’m proud of where I work and who I work with every day.”

 

Sleepless San Diego

Let’s Work Together to Teach the Next Generation about Community Issues

Sleepless San DiegoAlthough San Diego Rescue Mission has been hosting Sleepless San Diego for years, this will be my first experience. I am excited to see this year’s turn-out, as the concept of an event like this really resonates with me. It’s a reminder to teach our youth about community issues and show how they can make an impact in a cause they care about.

During this year’s Sleepless, we’re not only teaching about our cause, but encouraging action through service. In fact, in addition to setting up personal fundraising pages,  hundreds of kids have already signed up for one of our nine service sites around San Diego to clean, paint and fix up our community.

At the end of the service day, participants are invited to sleep out at Liberty Station for an evening of inspirational performances including our headlining speaker Tonier “Neen” Cain. Tonier spent 20 years living on the streets, homeless. Her life was filled with brutality, incarceration, hunger and substance abuse until she learned how to turn her life around. I first met Tonier at our national AGRM conference and I look forward to seeing her again as she shares her inspiring journey of hope with everyone attending this year’s Sleepless San Diego.

Sleepless San DiegoMany of our current clients will also be attending this year’s Sleepless serving as volunteers and helping to set up and break down the event. This is a great opportunity for our clients to see first-hand that there is a community who truly cares about them and is willing to help those who are ready to make positive life changes.

Our staff, volunteers, clients, performers and participants are all working hard to make sure this year’s Sleepless is a huge success. And I am equally grateful for our generous corporate sponsors for helping cover all of our operational costs associated with throwing an event of this size.

If you can’t attend this year’s Sleepless San Diego, I encourage you to support one of the individuals or youth groups who have created fundraising pages for the event at https://www.classy.org/event/sleepless-san-diego-2018/e181526

Together, we can encourage our community’s youth to have a passion, find a cause, take action and to make the world a better place.

 

God Bless,

Donnie Dee

Donnie Dee

 

Donnie Dee

One Year Later… 3 Things I Know for Sure

Donnie DeeSince I took on the role of President and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission there have been a lot of changes, including my own perception of what homelessness looks like.  I used to think a homeless person was defined as someone walking the streets alone, looking a little crazy with one shoe on and one shoe off…  I know now that they’re just like you and me, but a series of events happened in their lives that caused them to be without a place to live.  And a series of unfortunate events can happen to anyone.  It could happen to you.  It could happen to me.  The more I’ve gotten to know our clients in this first year, the more I know for sure that no one chooses this path.  It’s no one’s choice to become homeless.

Here are 3 more things I know for sure after my first year with San Diego Rescue Mission.

 1. The greatest obstacle to overcoming homelessness is not addiction, job loss or housing. It’s shame.

Every Thursday afternoon I meet with the men and women who came to us off the streets in hope of finding help here at the San Diego Rescue Mission.   At this stage of their journey they can’t even look me in the eye.  They show up crying, heads down, broken…  A few weeks ago, one of the men asked me, “Do you know what my first thought is every single morning when I wake up?”  I asked him to tell me.  He said, “Look at what you have done with your life!”

There’s a tremendous amount of guilt and shame among our population experiencing homelessness.   The shame feeds on loneliness.  When you feel ashamed and lonely, you think everyone’s judging you and you don’t want to ask for help.  I’ve discovered that helping our clients overcome the shame of bad decisions, and negative thoughts over what happened in the past, is the biggest obstacle we face when helping to put a life back together again.

2. People want to help those who help themselves.

Volunteers and donors are the primary drivers of San Diego Rescue Mission.  And I’ve learned over this past year that our community really does want to help the lost, homeless and hungry—as long as they’re willing to help themselves, too.

We’re reminded of this powerful principle with the crippled man and the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:5).  In the story, there’s a man who was sick for thirty-eight years.  For thirty-eight years he lay next to a pool hoping to be healed.  But before Jesus healed him, he asked the man, “Do you want to get well?”

So, I ask the men and women who first walk through our doors here at the Mission, “Do you really want to be made well?  Are you ready for the responsibility, questions, rules and structure that come with being well?  Because if you truly want to get better, there’s a whole community of people and resources available to help you.”

3. Rescue Missions should lead the way in reducing the number of people living on the streets.

After spending a year as President and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission, I know for sure that it’s our job as a rescue mission to lead the way in solving the homeless crisis here in San Diego. Here’s why: We don’t take government funding and we’re faith based.

I know there are a lot of other agencies and nonprofits providing critical services to San Diego’s homeless.  And I’m thankful for all of them.  We need them.  These other entities are doing a great job of helping to clothe, feed and shelter our homeless population.

But because we aren’t government funded, we can do things a bit differently.  We have more freedom to do what needs to be done.  And, most importantly, we can talk about Jesus—the One who can truly change a man’s life.

Because of these factors, we have the opportunity to create a treatment model that gets people off the streets long term.  This is the difference between meeting the symptomatic needs of the homeless and addressing the causes of their homelessness.  We’ll continue to meet the needs by providing clothing, food and shelter.  But we take it a step further by helping those who want to get well, through drug and alcohol recovery, spiritual training, job training and client advocacy.  This combination puts the San Diego Rescue Mission in a unique position to lead the way in the rehabilitation of our homeless population.

We’ve already accomplished so much together in this first year and I look forward to continuing our important work.  Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for your continued support of the San Diego Rescue Mission and our critical programs helping San Diego’s homeless.  Together, we can help those who want to be made well, rebuild their lives and become contributing members of our great community.

 

God Bless,

Donnie Dee

 

 

Donnie Dee

James Pope

Staff Spotlight: James Pope

James Pope

“I witness the light bulb go off and people understand their need for the Lord and they yield to Him and then their life takes off in an awesome way! Just knowing I’m one player in the midst of a team that God uses to bring about transformation is very humbling.” – James Pope, Vice President of Evangelism & Discipleship

Meet James Pope, Vice President of Evangelism & Discipleship at San Diego Rescue Mission.

Originally hired as a part-time residential manager over a decade ago, he then rose to director of the Men’s Center. Doing God’s work of helping homeless and addicted men complete the 12-Month Residential Recovery Program was one of his driving passions while in that position.

James has worked in and around drug and alcohol rehabs for twenty years. “I know family members, friends, people in church and at various job assignments who’ve been affected negatively by various addictions to substances, and mental illness because of substance abuse,” he explains. James experienced the negative effects of drugs first-hand in 7th grade when a friend asked him to smoke a joint. James refused because he was on his way to his favorite class (Television Production).

“If it weren’t for the grace of God in my life, I would have died in my classroom. I chose not to smoke a joint this one day with my friend. He chose to smoke. His brain was erased that day because whomever he purchased his marijuana from had laced it with powerful PCP (it almost took his life). I never saw my old Pop-Warner football buddy and classmate again.”

This story has become one of many in James’s life in which he felt the interventions of God. Interventions like those, and later spiritual and physical transformations he witnessed, have become among his favorite aspects of working for San Diego Rescue Mission.

After his time at the Men’s Center, he moved into his current position as VP of Evangelism & Discipleship. CEO Donnie Dee created the position to help ensure the Spiritual Training of clients and staff at the Rescue Mission. “If we’re a Christian Ministry, then our culture should reflect that,” James says. Central to his role is helping clients reach several life-affirming goals. For example, to “Encounter God”—whether through discipleship, classes, visiting Churches or any number of multiple intentional paths at the Mission. “Everyone has an opportunity to encounter God at some point in his or her time here,” he says. Another goal is to Experience Recovery. “God is in the restoration, rehabilitation and recovery business,” James adds. “God can use many tools to achieve those goals, whether Church Partnerships, Volunteers, Job Training, Christian Therapy or many others,” to heal challenges ranging from addictions to mental illness to trauma and psychological abuse.

While much is new in his job as VP of Evangelism & Discipleship, like focusing more on people than processes, much has stayed the same. “For some reason, I’ve always had residents and staff at my door asking for assistance on some level,” he says. “I’ve tried my best to take the time to love and minister to whatever the need or opportunity that comes.”

James’s especially loves two aspects of his job. The first is that, every day, he gets to see God transform the lives of those experiencing homelessness. “I witness the light bulb go off and people understand their need for the Lord and they yield to Him and then their life takes off in an awesome way.” The second is that, “just knowing I’m one player in the midst of a team that God uses to bring about transformation is very humbling.” As a result, he gets to see “the invisible hand of God moving in all of these areas and through people.”

Asked to reflect on how his new position has helped Rescue Mission clients, he shared two areas that stand out: Client and Staff Devotions, and Discipleship. He recalls one gentleman who became free because a staff member shared their struggle with childhood trauma and how they had worked it out with God. “This gentleman was then able to share and receive counsel and left the past behind to move and walk forward in Christ.” Clients realize the staff members are real people who come from experience, care and empathy and who have issues (and who work them out with God). This gives them a tangible goal toward which they can work. “Some think it’s not wise for us to be transparent and vulnerable but given the right context, it’s liberating for all involved.”

Discipleship has also played a major role in helping Rescue Mission clients. With over 60 residents in the Discipleship program, the retention rate is a high 85%. “As a result of Discipleship, they’re willingly and lovingly participating and serving in Church activities and opportunities.” Many clients have built support groups and joined retreats, which offer new relationships where they can experience healthy interactions instead of being treated as a label (like addict or homeless person). Those relationships help them stay out of the destructive behaviors that brought them to SDRM, “because bad company corrupts good morals.”

James adds that the Churches helping with Discipleship are doing a marvelous job; however, “we need more Churches because more people are signing up to be disciples! My prayer is that if you’ve taken the time to read to this point, you’ll join us by working as a mentor or prayer partner. See for yourself how God transforms the lives of those experiencing homelessness, impacting San Diego one life at a time. I promise you’ll never be the same as a result!”

In reflection, James says, “My life and career is testimony of God’s greatness—not my own. I would like to think that Spiritual Training has had a huge impact in all of this—but again, it’s the combined holistic efforts of the entire San Diego Rescue Mission team under the guidance and leadership of Almighty God. That, in my humble opinion, makes it all work!”

Alan Kennedy

Staff Spotlight: Alan Kennedy

Alan Kennedy

“In hindsight, I feel God was strategically placing me here; all I did was answer the call.” – Alan Kennedy, Director of Food Services at San Diego Rescue Mission

Meet Alan Kennedy, Director of Food Services at San Diego Rescue Mission for the past three years. “I’m the poster child for this job,” Alan says. “I love people. I love food.”

Alan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. A chef from the start, he attended the American Culinary Institute, where he studied Hotel and Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts. Upon graduation, he began his career “cheffing” with illustrious clients such as the San Diego Symphony, Solar Turbines Corporate Yacht, Intuit Corporation, and exclusive country clubs. In 2010, he launched Alan Kennedy Catering, and then in 2015 he started a part-time business called Alpine Coffee Roasters where he continues to work as Head Roaster. Other culinary adventures have included starting a culinary program and cooking camp for kids at a private Christian school as well as opening the Fir Coat Coffee House, an outreach to “the homeless, confused, and ‘throw-away’ kids in downtown San Diego.”

Alan joined the Rescue Mission, as many have, through his friendships. Chaplain James Pope and Intake Manager Mike Castaneda asked Alan to come on board (he had helped Mike go through the Mission as a client 15 years ago, and was his chef at a Christian school). “In hindsight, I feel God was strategically placing me here; all I did was answer the call,” he says.

Alan Kennedy, Director of Food Services

“I’m the poster child for this job,” Alan says. “I love people. I love food.”

Alan maintains a full plate in his culinary career. As Director of Food Services, his responsibilities are extensive, including multiple programs such as Mission Food Service, Partners for Hunger Relief, Catering for a Cause, and food donation programs with companies like Starbucks, Amazon, the Padres, Pepsi, and Sam’s Club. “What a privilege to partner and help this industry. We’re the largest food recovery program that I know of nationwide.” As you might expect, his daily tasks range from overseeing food distribution to 20 agencies (from orphanages and community groups to community diners and soup kitchens) and managing hundreds of volunteers to supplying the Rescue Mission with 60% of goods, supervising full-time drivers, receiving over 2 million pounds of food per year, generating reports for Feeding San Diego and the Rescue Mission, and catering for multiple churches and other organizations every month. “Being in the nonprofit industry, I get to work with large corporations and repurpose and redistribute food waste. We were the first pilot program to work with Starbucks to pick up all the leftover grab’n’go meals and now it’s a nationwide program that we started.”

While he loves his work at the Mission, a few aspects in particular stand out. “I love the fact I get to help people. When I leave to go home every night and see the women and children lining up to stay at our shelter I know they’ll get a nutritious meal and all their needs will be met!”

Alan KennedyAlan’s extensive background and dedication to service mean he’s a go-to person for inspiring opportunities that help people in need. “I started a Culinary Program at the Mission, where we train clients in culinary arts, food prep, safety and sanitation, and catering. After the clients finish their program, they’re fully trained in a culinary kitchen and we’ll help them find employment and pay for their Food Handler’s card,” he explains. “I also run a warehouse where we certify clients on forklifts and train them in warehouse and logistical management for our Partners in Hunger Relief program—so when they leave they’re certified to work in the warehousing industry.”

Alan’s favorite saying in life, and personal motto, is, “You have achieved success when you have lived well, laughed often, and LOVED much.”

 

Ashley Brown

Staff Spotlight: Ashley Brown

Ashley Brown

“We are able to work through barriers by being consistent in our interactions, humble, patient, and mindful of each individual’s journey.” – Ashley Brown, Director of Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Shelter at San Diego Rescue Mission.

Meet Ashley Brown, Director of Nueva Vida Haven Emergency Shelter for Women and Children (NVH).

Ashley joined San Diego Rescue Mission’s team in Transitional Housing as an On-Call RA in 2014. While obtaining her Masters in Social Work with a Certificate in Human Service Management, she was promoted from RA to Program Manager and then to Associate Director before being named NVH Director in 2017. Spanning almost a decade in the nonprofit/social service sector, she has had the opportunity to work with a broad array of culturally diverse populations. They’ve included those incarcerated, experiencing homelessness, women in recovery and their children, low-income families, delinquent youth, and those with severe mental illness.

“In working with these populations, I quickly became equally passionate about advocating for, and assisting with, organizational development,” she says. “Being able to be part of improving, and expanding services delivery means that, ultimately, I contribute to increasing the amount of individuals and families who are served, while also improving the quality of services. To me that is everything!”

As the NVH Director, Ashley’s driven by the challenges of her position and the opportunity to sustain and improve community relationships. For example, in addition to the logistical challenges her clients face, including the shelter’s 30-day time limit, financial and health constraints can make assisting people with achieving self-sufficiency particularly difficult. But, as Ashley says, “We are able to work through these barriers by being consistent in our interactions, humble, patient, and mindful of each individual’s journey, as well as their stage of change by taking a trauma-informed approach.” That philosophy, enhanced by experience and education, is a blessed resource to the women and children passing through the doors of NVH.

As with so many devoted people here at San Diego Rescue Mission, Ashley’s an inspiring example of rising, with an open heart and clear mind, to meet the challenge of helping our brothers and sisters in need successfully. The shared values of Rescue Mission staff, and teamwork, create a power for good greater than the sum of its parts. Through their efforts and achievements, they not only help clients but inspire each other as well. “Working at SDRM has been very rewarding. During my time here, I have been able to watch not only clients grow and transition into achieving self-sufficiency, but I have had the opportunity of watching staff grow personally and professionally as well—myself included.”

Ashley points to the shared values of faith, integrity, compassion and excellence as central to the staff’s ability to meet challenges and grow individually and as a group. “These are displayed through our interactions with clients, each other, and through our decision-making processes. At times we all can be stretched thin; however, we support each other and collaborate to navigate various challenges… the ultimate reward being walking alongside our clients as God works through us and them.”

 

 

 

San Diego Rescue Mission Gradution

This is the Biggest Thing We Do…

San Diego Rescue Mission Gradution

Our next graduation ceremony is scheduled for Friday, April 13, 2018 and then our Fall Graduation is Friday, October 19, 2018. We hope you will join us for this very special celebration!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Be Sober.
    After 12 months in our recovery classes, I am confident our graduates will accomplish this.
  3. Have a job.
    We’ve put in place the tools and resources to help our clients get the training they need to secure jobs.
  4. Have a place to live.
    Through our case management, we work with our clients to make sure they find housing and can live independently.
  5. Establish a support group.
    All of our graduates need to be reconnected with their family or connected to a church.
Donnie Dee at San Diego Rescue Mission Graduation

It was such an honor to introduce the Graduates during our last ceremony. I love the celebration! I was inspired by the men and women who walked across stage and delighted to see so many staff, volunteers + donors attend—because after all, they are part of the journey.

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.

God Bless!

Donnie Dee

Donnie Dee

San Diego Rescue Mission

Renewed and Refocused…for the Future of San Diego

San Diego Rescue Mission

Each week, as part of the in-take process, I talk to the men who want to join our program. One of the things I keep hearing is “We need jobs”.

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 clients before they officially graduate from our 12-month residential rehabilitation program.

These objectives include: sobriety, experiencing God, getting a job, finding a place to live, and getting connected to a local church. We know these are big objectives and that’s the primary reason we’ve changed our graduation celebrations to twice a year. We need more time to provide or clients with the treatment, training and tools to succeed long term.

As we set a new direction for 2018 we are excited about our Spiritual Training and Job Training Programs.

Through the Spiritual Training Program, led by James Pope our VP of Evangelism and Discipleship, we are providing an experience closer to real life – in other words, a routine closer to what our clients can expect after they graduate. For example, in the past bible study occurred every morning and chapel every night. Now we offer Chapel service on Wednesday and Sunday nights and each morning, we have a 30-minute devotion. During these staff-led morning devotions, we combine the men and women together for the first time in the history of the Mission – again, so the experience is closer to real life.

It’s only been a few weeks since we started the morning devotions and I am already seeing the tremendous impact. Not only for the clients, but for our staff. It’s a powerful sense of spiritual direction to lead one of these devotions.  In addition to helping our staff get to know the clients better, they are realizing that it’s part of their responsibly to communicate spirituality to our clients.

Our new Job Training Program is something I’m also really excited about.

job trainingEach week, as part of the in-take process, I talk to the homeless men who want to join our program. One of the things I keep hearing is “We need jobs” or “I lost my job because of my addiction problem”.

At San Diego Rescue Mission, we’ve always offered a recovery program as well as life skill classes.  It was clear that preparing our clients for employment opportunities needed to be more strategic.

That’s why we developed a new 12 month Job Training Program.

This starts with the “Discipline of Work” where our clients work on-site here in San Diego Rescue Mission’s kitchen, warehouse, or in our Thrift Stores. They need to show us that they have the commitment, drive and want to work.

Once they have shown their desire to work they can move onto Stage 2 “Development of Skill”. Thanks to our new partnership with San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) we launched a pilot program offering certifications in several job skills: Plumbing, Welding, Auto Tech, Office Manager, and HVAC.

Job Training at SDRMBut the preparation doesn’t stop with the classroom. Once they acquire the trade skills, they move into Stage 3 “Demonstration of Ability”. This is when they get internships with local businesses and build first-hand experience using their new skills.

And the Final stage? “Deployment to Employment”. This is the time they prepare for graduation and begin the transition to a self-sustaining life. During this stage, we help them with resume building, the job search and securing housing.

We spent a lot of time lining up the partnerships and resources to build this new Job Training Program and now, I am proud to say, it’s officially in motion! In fact, 24 men have already started their trade skill training on site at SDCE this month!

I am so thankful for the selfless dedication and support of my team, partners, and donors who helped kick off this renewed and refocused future for San Diego. Together, we are helping more of San Diego’s homeless men and women truly rebuild their lives and develop the life skills they need to no longer feel hopeless, or helpless.

 

God Bless

Donnie Dee

 

 

 

Donnie Dee

 

Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson

Staff Spotlight: Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson

Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson

“San Diego Rescue Mission exists because of the people in the community who need our help. We want to improve our ability to serve them — with excellence, compassion, creativity, and love.” – Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson, Vice President of Programs for San Diego Rescue Mission

Meet Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson, Vice President of Programs for San Diego Rescue Mission.

Jeremy was looking for a new challenge when he joined our team in December 2016 with high hopes for the organization and our clients. ”I am passionate about developing healthy organizational cultures, and working with teams to grow toward increasing health, capacity, and efficiency,” he said. As the Vice President of Programs, Jeremy loves knowing that the work his team does has meaningful impact on the lives of Rescue Mission clients, “We get to operate in a sacred space where we get to humanize people who are often overlooked and discarded by our society at-large and help them, reminding them that we love them and God loves them.”

Jeremy draws on his years of experience helping to cultivate successful non-profit teams, and a master’s degree in Transformational Leadership, in his new role overseeing the Rescue Mission Programs. “This job gives me the opportunity to support and empower our Directors, and make sure that our Programs are offering clinically sound, evidence-based practices, that are infused with the love of God in Christ.”

“The verse that I’m using as foundational to our Programs’ motivation (and that will soon be painted on our 6th-floor conference room wall) is, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40).”

Jeremy shared an inspiring story from his time with the Rescue Mission’s Recuperative Care Unit (RCU), of collaborating with another service agency, the Alpha Project, to help place a male client who had custody of his teenage daughter. Since housing is notoriously difficult to find for men with children, teamwork was essential to work through the challenge. Thanks to hard work by the client, and partnership between the organizations’ teams, the father was able to move into rapid re-housing within two months. “We have great hope that this will give the client the stability he needs to continue to recover and care for his child,” said Jeremy. “In every story, there is a team of people who have helped clients get to a point of recovery — establishing income, getting into stable housing, etc. This was truly a team effort.”

Another client story close to his heart involved securing housing for a veteran. “Though this client had physically recovered, we were coming up against a lot of obstacles in moving the client into stable housing.” After 6 months in the RCU, and thanks to a stellar social work team, they succeeded. “For the previous 6 months, this client had displayed a very flat affect and was disengaged and downtrodden. The day this client moved into their housing, they were alive and energetic, almost exuberant.” He admitted, “My wife will confirm that I am not a crier … but in my office that day I shed happy tears for our client because I knew that the change we were seeing was what someone who was experiencing hope for the first time in many years looked like.”

“San Diego Rescue Mission exists because of the people in the community who need our help. We want to improve our ability to serve them — with excellence, compassion, creativity, and love.”

Same Kind of Different As Me

We See You

Same Kind of Different As Me

When you give a homeless man a plate of food, you are telling him, “I see you”.

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 movie about the relationship between a homeless man and the volunteers at a Rescue Mission. It was so inspiring to watch how the process of giving, I mean really giving, impacted the lives of the volunteers – sometimes even more so than the homeless people they helped.

In one of the scenes, a homeless man named Denver (played by Djimon Housou) asks Ron, a wealthy volunteer played by Greg Kinnear, “What do you think a homeless person thinks when you give them a plate of food?” Ron, not sure how to answer the question says, “I’m helping?” No, Denver says, “You are saying ‘You See Me’”.

And this is what we do every day at San Diego Rescue Mission. Our volunteers, case workers, staff – we SEE the people who are struggling on our streets. They are San Diegans with stories. Stories that have led them to lose their way, and many times their voice.

Just last week we honored the 116 men and women who died alone on the streets of San Diego. During this important event, we carry the shoes of the deceased, and we tell their stories  – because they can no longer tell it.

Donnie Dee at Candlelight Vigil

Here I am at our annual Candlelight Vigil helping to tell the stories of the 116 homeless individuals who died alone on the streets in San Diego this year. We will remember you.

Their stories are not always related to drug addiction, crime or alcohol abuse. In fact, many San Diegans are just a job loss, injury or eviction away from ending up on the streets.  Homeless individuals are not all the same. They do not all have the same story. But they all need help turning their story around.

Every 3 months, we celebrate those clients who are changing their story through our special Graduation Ceremonies. Each graduation at the Mission represents the effort and important role every single person on this team plays to help a homeless individual turn their story around. Volunteers, Case Mangers, Donors, Board members, Staff everyone plays a role.  My hope is get more people on this team, so we can help more San Diegans get off the streets and turn their story around. Let’s turn these graduation ceremonies into BIG events in San Diego!

Homeless Lives MatterBefore I close, I’d like to share one more powerful line from the movie I mentioned earlier. It happens in one of the last scenes of the movie when Denver says, “We are all homeless. We are all just trying to get home.”

And this is so true. Whether you live in Ranch Santa Fe or on the streets of downtown, we are all trying to find our way to God. We are all trying to find our way home. We can all benefit from more love, compassion and connection.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them”. – Hebrew 6:10

So let’s do this together. Let’s find our way home together.

Lets work together to let San Diego’s lost, least and lonely know that “We See You”. We want to be a part of your story. And let’s commit to making our next Graduation Ceremony an even bigger success.

God Bless

Donnie Dee

 

 

 

Donnie Dee