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