Our History

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1965 Chuck and Mary Pope opened the first Mission at 405 State Street, offering the Gospel and hot meals to 35 of Santa Barbara’s destitute homeless. The tiny storefront Mission included bunks for six and a small apartment upstairs for the Popes. Two hundred people from area churches dedicated the Mission on New Year’s Day.By the spring of 1965, the Mission was “bursting at the seams,” providing as many as 225 meals a day. Many responded to Chuck’s invitation to “start a brand new life in Christ.”

1966 The two story El Nito Hotel at 202 State Street was purchased, enabling the Popes to seat 125 individuals in the chapel, 40 individuals around the dinner table and up to 40 individuals in the bunkroom. This purchase also created room for 12 program residents men who served the homeless while recovering from their own drug and/or alcohol addictions.It was at this time that the recovery model took form. Service to the homeless became fundamental to personal healing and recovery, while daily house chores (such as cooking, maintenance, cleaning, etc.) helped to establish needed discipline and structure.

1985 City building inspectors enforced new fire codes and cut authorized occupancy levels in half, just as demands for rescue services were doubling. After much prayer, Herb Jauchen, architect Brian Nelson, and planner Jim Staples launched a building campaign in the face of fierce opposition.

1986 Miracle on Yanonali Street. One acre was purchased from the city during an era of severe “no growth” politics. However, as the new facility would have five times more capacity, and would offer a much-needed women’s and children’s shelter, and an employment training center, the city finally approved the project. The over two million dollar capital project was financed exclusively by private, non-government donations.

1987 The men’s three-story facility opened in March of 1987.

1988 The men’s three-story facility was completed and dedicated. Chuck Pope supervised the training of 150 homeless men during construction of the Mission. Carpentry, plumbing, roofing, painting, floor covering, and many other valuable trade skills were taught in a Christian, sober environment. Although work remained, the building was ready for occupancy. Matt and Mary Magill replaced retiring Chuck and Mary Pope as Directors of the Mission.

1990 Bethel House Women and Children’s facility opened offering 30-day transitional shelter services concurrently with a long-term drug and/or alcohol recovery program.

1992 The Learning Center began offering professionally supervised tutoring and mentoring. Using computer-enhanced educational software, residents began to decrease often severe literacy deficits while learning employable computer skills. State examiners reported that Mission GED candidates “are exceptionally well prepared.” Both program retention and graduation rates DOUBLED.

1994 Professional Christian counseling was added as a therapeutic treatment feature of the Recovery Program. MFCC and CADAC credentialed counselors were made available to supervise staff and recovering residents alike. Architect Brian Nelson was retained as Interim Administrator.

1995 Joe Gosset was hired as President of the Mission.

1997 The newly expanded Women’s Recovery Program facility opened in December, providing a 32-bed recovery residence. The kitchen, dining room, expanded Learning Center and counseling center also were completed at this time.

1998 In June, the State of California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs issued a license to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission to operate a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility the first licensed Rescue Mission in state history.  This license certifies that the Mission meets or exceeds state health and safety requirements.  This license, however, does not hinder the Mission from continuing its faith-based, Bible-centered curriculum.  The Career Development Office opened, offering professional assessment, counseling, employment search, skill training, and placement services for clients in the fourth phase of the recovery program.

1999 Joyce Karl was named Interim President, following the resignation of Joe Gosset in September.

2001 Steen Hudson was hired as President of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.

2004 The Mission received national recognition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) for its outstanding drug and alcohol treatment program. After touring the Mission, Dr. Westley Clark, Director of SAMSHA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in Washington, D.C., stated that the Mission’s recovery program was one of the finest in the nation.

2005 The Women’s Recovery Program moved to a new facility located at 24 West Arrellaga Street. In a ceremony on May 20, attended by Mayor Marty Blum and Councilmember Das Williams, the new facility was dedicated as the Léni Fé Bland Bethel House. The Mission also expanded its work to address the growing need for outpatient treatment. Individuals in the community now have the opportunity to access a day treatment at a level specifically designed to accommodate their work and family schedules. Confidential Outpatient Services are now offered at the Yanonali site.

2006 The Mission opens the Sober Living Club providing safe, secure transitional housing in a supportive environment for men in recovery.

2007 Rolf Geyling is named the new President of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. The State of CA Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs certified the 12-month Residential Treatment Program.

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