Archive for November, 2019

Behind Her Smile

When Selia smiles, it’s not just her lips that curve upwards. Her eyes sparkle and her entire face radiates joy. Seeing her, you can’t help but smile yourself. Especially when you find out how far she’s come to be able to smile so brightly. As of this month, Selia will have been clean and sober for five years. She knows if it weren’t for friends like you and the Mission, she’d still be addicted…or worse.

“The Rescue Mission changed my life,” she says. Selia remembers the wind blowing on her face as tears fell down. She was on the top of a tall building, thinking about jumping. “I thought about ending my life,” she says. “I hadn’t slept for a really long time. I didn’t have a stable home, so I was homeless. Just spiritually dead inside.” On top of all that, Selia hadn’t been getting the food she needed. Everything about her — body, mind, and soul — felt unstable. In that moment, Selia felt led to go home to Santa Barbara. She called her mom whom she hadn’t spoken to in years, and told her she needed help. Her mom came and picked her up in the middle of the night.

She was accepted at the Mission shortly after arriving in town. Here she found a stability that she’d been missing for years. Today Selia has a job, an apartment, and has mended relationships with her family—including her daughter who had said unless her mom was clean she didn’t want to have anything to do with her. Selia has also grown to have a deep faith and love for Jesus. “I fully believe that God brought me here and saved my life from that ledge, to bring me specifically through this program,” she says. “It’s that foundation that I got from the Mission that carries me through to my day-to-day life. I’m a proud, productive member of society today. My way of thinking is just completely different from what it used to be.”

A Change She Didn’t Think Possible

Viola’s mom and dad met as teenagers in a group home. Viola’s mom was just 16 when Viola was born. Two months later, her mom left and never came back. Viola was left to be raised by her father, a raging alcoholic. “By the age of 5, I had taught myself how to block out my own emotions and I had to become fearless in order to survive. My dad’s temper was dangerously unpredictable, so getting hit or even knocked unconscious was something I became used to and even expected,” Viola says. “I drank my first beer and smoked marijuana for the first time when I was nine years old with my father. I remember that I didn’t really like the way it made me feel, but because it made my dad happy, I would do it. I tried meth when I was 11 years old, and shortly after that my father lost custody of me and I became a ward of the court.”

At 13, Viola had her first child. “Thus began my five-year journey through four group homes and two foster homes. My father refused to change his lifestyle, so I was stuck in the system until I was 17,” she says. At 18, she met another man and had two children with him, but that relationship was also toxic. “When I finally could not stand the abuse any longer, I did the only thing I knew how to do, which was to numb my pain by getting loaded and run away,” Viola says. “I clearly had a drug problem, but I had never been given the opportunity to go to treatment.” But as she stood in court one day, she was given that chance. The judge told her that she could either go to Bethel House or to jail. Viola chose Bethel House and changed her life forever!

“When I got to Bethel House, I was broken, lost, and full of doubt. I didn’t believe anything or anybody could help someone like me, and in the beginning I didn’t even want help or change.” But Viola did change. She took full advantage of the opportunities available to her and not only got sober for the first time since she was 11 years old, but also met Jesus in the process. “This program has opened my heart and my eyes so I can finally experience God’s love and his desire for me to finally exercise and fulfill my true potential.”

Viola has graduated from the program at Bethel House and is now working full time at a local restaurant. She is getting closer with her kids and has a three-year old grandson who she adores and is grateful to be part of his life. “I would like to thank the donors for making this life possible,” says Viola.

Christmas Feast

We will be holding our annual Christmas Feast on Friday, December 20 from 12:00 to 2 p.m. We are reserving all of our volunteer positions for the newcomers who have never served at one of our holiday feasts. These occasions are the ideal opportunity to be introduced to our homeless guests and learn about interacting and serving them. We will begin taking sign-ups on December 1. We encourage those of you who have served before and are well experienced to serve at another time during nightly dinner service throughout the holiday season. If you are interested, please email Our Women’s Auxiliary will be holding a gift distribution of new items so everyone who attends will receive a Christmas gift. We are accepting new backpacks, shoes, warm jackets, casual clothing, (jeans, sweat pants, sweatshirts) sweaters, and monetary donations. Turkeys and other items can be dropped off at 535 East Yanonali Street Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Our remodeled dining hall is now open, and it will be a wonderful experience this year for all of us, whether it’s during the feast or in the evenings during our regular meal service.

Annual Turkey Drive

We are accepting turkeys, canned food, and monetary donations in preparation for our annual Christmas Feast on Friday, December 20, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Our staff and a team of volunteers are planning to serve over 300 meals to community members in need.

The turkeys are prepared and cooked in advance. The Christmas dinner will include turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pie…and all the trimmings. Approximately 300 turkeys are needed for all of the meals that will be served throughout the holiday season.

Donations may be dropped off Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Yanonali Street office.