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.
Each 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.
But 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.