Meet Michelle Smith, our Vice President of Development. Native to Southern California, she has called San Diego home for over a decade, serving at the San Diego Mission for three years. Starting as the Community Relations and Event Manager, she was quickly promoted to Director of Marketing, and then again in February to her current VP role. Known for her contagious smile and love for people, Michelle is a popular friend to all around the Mission!
Michelle studied political science at Point Loma Nazarene University and went on to get her master’s degree in Human Services. “It’s been my heart’s desire for many years to serve the poor and vulnerable.” Working with an issue like homelessness was not initially on her radar. Fueled with a passion to help those in dire circumstances, Michelle devoted her life to reaching those in crisis: at-risk youth, refugees and immigrants, and survivors of sex trafficking. However, when God led her to join the Rescue Mission, Michelle encountered a new depth of His character. “It wasn’t until coming to the Mission that I truly learned the love of Christ, despite being a follower of Jesus for many years.” The challenges facing the Mission are complex but being a part of radical life change every day keeps her going. “I’ve had clients say to me ‘you’re so passionate about the Rescue Mission’ and I tell them it’s not just because I’ve seen it change their lives, its changed mine too. Whether you’re a client, a staff member or a volunteer, if you come to the Rescue Mission, your life is going to be changed by what you witness here.”
How does Michelle’s role directly serve people experiencing homelessness? “I serve our clients by helping provide the resources they need to heal and restore their lives.” The clients served at the Rescue Mission have a wide variety of needs: physical, emotional, and spiritual. From food to beds, staffing to counseling, clothing to job training, Michelle seeks to bless the clients through connecting donors and supporters to each necessity. “Homelessness is an issue that will take all of us to solve so the role of development is to create space for each of you to make a difference – to use whatever God has gifted you with TODAY to love people in great need.”
Ending homelessness in San Diego is no easy feat. Addressing matters of the heart, physical needs, all while working with limited tools and resources makes for hard, emotional work. “There are months that we’re on our knees praying for the resources to come in. God is always faithful to provide, and I dream of a day when our clients and staff truly have everything they need.” Michelle’s faith in Jesus marks her life and is a consistent source in the times of struggle.
When Michelle is not changing the world, she enjoys cooking, eating great food, and live music. You might run into her at the next local Sofar Sounds show, as she helps to organize these concerts. “It allows me to support great musicians and meet new people who share my love of community!”
Michelle’s message to you: “You matter. Your voice matters, your giving matters, your love matters. The need here at the Rescue Mission is great so everything that you do and everything that you give, it’s BIG to us. I personally invite you to come be a part of what’s happening here! It wouldn’t happen without you and so we want you to come, tour the Mission, meet our team, spend time with our clients. Come witness what’s happening here – I promise you don’t want to miss it! “