Santa Barbara Rescue Mission focuses on rebuilding lives. Here are just a few stories.

It’s amazing what Bethel House has done for me

On a Friday in 2018, Monique’s life changed for good. “It was a Friday, and I walked up the driveway and into Bethel to change my life,” she remembers. Monique was living in a shack. At the time, she thought it was a good option. Because at least then, she could still use drugs. Her addiction started when she was only 11 or 12, in the 6th grade.

“I got jumped into a gang, and then I started hanging out with older people and older crowds,” she says. “Then I started selling drugs. . . I met the father of my kids when I was 17, and he was from LA, and he sold drugs, and it just escalated to an even bigger situation.” “Eventually, it all started to fall apart. Every time something bad would happen, it would just get worse and worse and worse until I ended up in that horrible little shack with nothing.” When she says nothing, she means it. Even the most precious realities in her life were stolen.

“The kids stopped talking to me, and that only made me spin out more and worse into my addiction,” she says. “I would have to go to the hospital, and they would fill me with liquids because I wasn’t eating, and I used to do meth, so I wouldn’t eat for like weeks at a time.” The doctors told her that her addiction was going to kill her. She says she was at the point where she didn’t even care. But then, a relationship changed her life. Someone she knew went through the 12-month Residential Recovery Program at the Mission, and she saw how it changed their life. Her best friend’s mom, who had gone through the program and has been sober for 18 years, encouraged her to fill out an application. Her Last Chance “It was like they always say, Bethel House is your last resort,” Monique says.

“I was scared; I was so nervous. I wanted to get better, but I didn’t know if I could because I was already so far gone.” She went through the program and graduated. As of the beginning of this year, she celebrated 5 years sober. She now works at a local high-end grocery store, has reconnected with her mom, is living in a home – not a shack – and has a relationship with God. She also has restored relationships with all her kids – including her 22-year-old daughter, who had refused to talk to her for years. “I’m a totally changed person now. I don’t even recognize the person I used to be. It’s amazing what Bethel House has done me and my family.”

Dan has been sober for five and a half years.

After earning a master’s degree in English literature, Dan joined the Peace Corps and moved to Uzbekistan, where every social gathering and celebration included vodka. After his service was up, Dan moved back to California, got a job, and decided to be “grown-up” and live by himself. Isolation, loneliness, and depression led him to drink even more until his addiction was out of control. Dan’s brother talked him into rehab, and he got sober. It lasted a year.

“I was doing everything that was asked of me in sobriety to the best of my ability, but for some reason, I couldn’t stay sober. I would drink again, and that would lead to drugs.” Dan went through the cycle of getting sober and relapsing five times until he ended up homeless, sleeping on his elderly parents’ couch. His last option was to come to the Rescue Mission, where we were able to make space for him in our 12-Month Residential Recovery Program. Here he cried out to God and bravely faced his pain and the consequences of his choices. “It changed the whole dynamic of my recovery,” he says.

As of today, Dan has been sober for five and a half years. He has a relationship with Jesus, is honest about his faults, and has the tools he needs to stay sober for the rest of his life. He currently is the manager of our men’s sober living house, Cornerstone.

Dan expressed his gratitude to donors by sharing, “Thank God for you. You are the lifeblood of this whole place, and you are the reason we’re able to do this work. And you’re the reason we’re able to do it in such a unique way, and not have to suffer from being regulated by some outside source, but rather be guided by the spiritual principles under which we all operate.”

I had tried everything I could to get myself fixed.

“I didn’t think that I was destined for anything other than a meaningless 9:00 to 5:00 job with a 12 pack after work every night,” David says. In Lompoc, where he grew up, he says the only place to meet or hang out with people was the bar. So that’s where David went. Every night. But he quickly discovered that while other people could put the bottle down and walk away, he couldn’t. “I just had accepted the fact that this was going to be life, nothingness.”

“I had tried to quit on my own, and I had tried everything I could to try to get myself fixed.” David lost his job and his house. He moved back in with his parents, and that’s when God opened up his eyes to another possibility – the possibility of a new life. “I found out through a neighbor about the Rescue Mission,” David says. “I watched him go into the Rescue Mission broken and come out better than he was before . . . I knew that it worked.” Two days later, David was in the recovery program.

“While I was in the program, I lost five or six of my close friends that I was hanging out with on a regular basis, some to drug overdoses, some to suicide,” David says. “I’m fortunate that I was able to get out when I did because it was almost destined to happen that I would have been in their position.”

Today David is alive, healthy, and sober. He completed our recovery program several months ago, and the next day he became our Kitchen Supervisor. He’s doing an incredible job! “I’m content with where I’m at today, which is something that I was always chasing; was that feeling of contentment, being happy, and I was never happy,” he says. “This place changes lives. We are examples of what can happen when lives are repaired. We are examples of what lives are like once God restores them to sanity.”

It was November 2020 that Rob almost died.

Like most who come to the Mission, Rob has deep trauma in his past. Sadly, his trauma was born out of his desire to serve others and make a difference in this world. “I spent a long time in the Marine Corps, and I was a combat veteran,” he says. After Rob got out, he built a good life for himself — he found a job, got married, and had a daughter. But there was this hurt inside from all he had experienced that he couldn’t shake. “I didn’t realize that I was suffering from PTSD at that time.”

Rob began drinking, then turned to drugs to try to silence the pain and emptiness he felt. “I was trying to fill that God-sized hole with something,” he says. Nothing but God can truly heal that kind of trauma, that kind of pain. He lost everything. His house. His family. His job. Very quickly, things escalated, and he ended up on the streets with nothing but a backpack.

“I basically became homeless, and very quickly,” Rob says. “On about the fifth day, I just had to get something to eat. I was basically dying out there, and so I came to the Rescue Mission. I stayed on the line for two nights. I got some good sleep. I got to eat good food. I heard about the program.” Rob quickly regained his strength. When he was given the opportunity to join our 12-month Residential Recovery Program, he jumped at the chance. “It has given me a shot at life again, without the use of drugs and alcohol,” he says. “This is the happiest I’ve been in 30 years. It’s really ironic, isn’t it? It takes a rescue mission to rescue me.”

This was the last house on the block for me.

Heroin addiction had torn Mike’s entire life apart. He had lost his job. His home. His family.
Custody of his son. Everything. Relationships were so shattered he had no one to turn to for help.

“This was the last house on the block for me,” he says. “If it wasn’t for the Rescue Mission, I do not know where I’d be right now.”

Mike is living a new life—and it’s better than he imagined. He graduated from our 12-month Residential Recovery Program last summer and now works here at the Mission with our homeless guests and finds a great deal of joy and purpose in giving back and serving others.

“You guys helped me get my life back.”

It was the best year of my life!

Addie was raped for the first time when she was only 12 years old. To cope with that immense pain, she turned to alcohol. By the time she got to high school, she was partying every chance she got.

Then she got into a bad snowboarding accident. “I was prescribed narcotic painkillers which was my first taste of being completely numb, and I loved it,” Addie says. “I’m not quite sure how but I managed to graduate from high school. I continued to party and continued to get arrested.” Her parents tried over and over to help her get off drugs, but she was still missing the biggest piece—a relationship with Jesus.

Addie bounced between abusive boyfriends, the streets, and jail. The years went on and her life got messier and darker. She became a young mom and things got so bad that her parents adopted her children just to keep them in the family. “I didn’t care about anything but getting high to numb the pain of my life. I hated who I was. I didn’t want to live anymore,” Addie remembers.

The last time Addie was arrested, she spent a year in jail. When she was released, she came straight to the Mission. “That was a year ago. The best year of my life. I participated in weekly Bible studies, attended church, and began a relationship with the Lord. I learned to turn my will over to Him. I learned anger management skills and tools to communicate in a healthy manner,” she says.

Today, Addie is clean and sober, healthy, happy, and has a restored relationship with her parents and children. She has a bright future ahead. “All of these blessings wouldn’t be possible without this program, and this program wouldn’t be possible without all of you donors out there,” Addie says.

Chris was running out of time.

At first look, Chris didn’t seem like he was running out of time. He wasn’t on the verge of death like some of our guests are, but it was clear that he was headed that way. He couldn’t go through a day without using drugs or drinking.

“Alcohol or the drugs were ruling my emotions. How I felt every day brought me to a point of desperation,” he says.

He was about to lose custody of his daughter. “I knew that I was going off the edge and if I didn’t do something soon that I was going to lose the ability to see my daughter.” He also realized if he didn’t do something soon, he’d end up homeless. “I love my dad a lot. He lives in his van and he’s been homeless for a really long time. But he’s still a good person. And I just saw myself if I was going to continue on that road, I was going to end up exactly like him.” He was constantly searching but never felt whole. “There was an emptiness inside of me that I needed to work on

2020 has been the year that Chris has his life turned around! He entered our program. He has a growing faith, he’s clean and sober, he shares joint custody, and has a wonderful relationship with his daughter. He’s no longer running out of time.

Kevin Walz

The SBRM family was saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Walz on October 14, 2020 in Grand Junction, CO. Kevin was a walking miracle. Through God’s grace, he overcame substantial challenges and unthinkable circumstances which made him an empathetic and skilled guide coming alongside others facing homelessness and addiction.

In 12 years as a member of our treatment staff, Kevin welcomed people with no place else to turn and invited them into the recovery process that changed his life; celebrating their progress and challenging them toward continued growth. He was dedicated, passionate, intelligent, quick-witted and always eager to share a good laugh. We are grateful for him, his life, the thousands of lives he touched, but most of all, for the friend and brother Kevin was to us.

“I’m here to tell you all that what you are doing saves lives.” Josh

Josh’s childhood was chaotic. His parents divorced when he was three, and he bounced between their homes, longing for stability. As he got older, he thought he found the answer: alcohol and marijuana. “It made it easier to feel good since regular life was not living up to its potential,” he says. But soon the alcohol and marijuana weren’t enough.

“By the time I was 25, I had nurtured a full-blown painkiller addiction without even realizing it. When the pills ran out, I began to go through withdrawal for the first time. There was only one thing for me to do. I picked up my first gram of heroin with the little money I had and began to smoke it constantly. It was sweet relief like never before.” Josh didn’t admit his heroin addiction until he ended up sleeping in his car, surrounded by all his belongings. He decided he’d kick heroin. . .with meth. You can imagine how that went. “I became suicidal and spent my 27th birthday in a psych ward,” he remembers.

Finally, someone suggested Josh come to the Rescue Mission. Thanks to our generous donors, he was able to join our 12-month recovery program, get sober, get healthy, and begin a whole new life. “Today, not even a year after being remanded in court for being under the influence, I am midway through my first semester in school since I was 17. I am pursuing a degree in psychology while working at the same time . . . it blows my mind on a daily basis.”

“The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission saves lives. They saved mine!” Travis says.

Travis grew up with drugs, alcohol, and violence. He was only nine the first time he started using. “My dad was physically and verbally abusive,” he says. “My early childhood was full of violence and drugs, and I developed PTSD that still affects me today.”

He was able to get clean for a while, until he found his mother dead from a heroin overdose. “The shock of discovering her body caused a mental breakdown which brought me right back to drugs and alcohol,” he remembers. Travis says that after his mother’s death, his life became a tornado of destruction. “I was dying inside, cycling between homelessness and incarceration.”

Desperate for help, Travis came straight to the Mission from jail. He had nothing but the clothes on his back, but he knew in the depths of his soul that he had to be here. He was so determined and even ready to sleep on our doorstep until we let him in. Of course, we were glad to help. It was here that Travis says he learned what a changed life actually looks like. He thought he’d had a relationship with God before, but at the Mission he discovered he was missing who God really is. “I thought that because I had a conception of God that it was the same as a connection,” Travis says. “I was in the same room as God, following God around, and within arm’s length, but I still wasn’t connected.”

Travis has a full-time job, has moved into a sober living home, is making amends with his family, and rebuilding relationships with the daughters he thought he’d lost. “The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission saves lives. They saved mine!” Travis says.

This is Transformation

You would never guess that Bryce was a heavy drug user. In high school, he began going to parties with his friends, where he would end up drinking and smoking marijuana. “Then one thing led to another and I was introduced to painkillers,” Bryce says. From there Bryce tried cocaine, acid—pretty much every drug out there. But then, as time went on, the drugs stopped affecting him as they once did. “I started taking so many painkillers, ten plus pills at a time wasn’t doing the trick for me.” So he moved on to heroin. “I just kept digging the hole deeper and deeper,” he says.

Bryce remembers one Christmas where his family pretended they didn’t know about his problem. He sat in his bedroom, waiting for the drugs to kick in before joining in with everyone else. “I was high on Christmas. Opening gifts with family, eating Christmas dinner, thinking only of myself, and when I would get my next high.” But of course, Bryce didn’t realize that he was acting selfish until later. Not until he came to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.

“I saw my roommate reading his Bible, so I started reading mine,” Bryce says. As he read and looked around the Mission, Bryce discovered that the only thing that would truly heal him was Jesus, so he gave his life to Jesus. “I felt His Spirit fall upon me and just say, ‘I have you, you’re mine. Just give it up and come follow me with everything you have. I will protect you and have my hand upon you,’” remembers Bryce. “I felt His peace that surpasses all understanding. And I’ve been following the Lord ever since.”

Bryce graduated from our recovery program in 2016. He met his wife at church, and they welcomed a baby girl earlier this year. He has a steady job and spends his free time volunteering at church or coming back to the Mission to encourage the men in the program now. “My life today following Jesus in all my ways and giving him everything is much, much better than the life I used to live full of drugs, partying, and alcohol . . . there’s nothing like it.” One day Bryce hopes to become a pastor, but until then, he’s happy to let God use him in as many ways

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.

10 Years Later

Stan graduated from Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s recovery program nearly 10 years ago. Growing up, Stan spent his afternoons near his father’s house in the projects here in our County with his sister, nieces, and nephews. He joined a gang, which he says was “a family affair.” From there his life took a downward spiral that looked like it might never stop. “I started to use marijuana and alcohol at 11 years old. I slowly started doing things adults do at a very young age. Living the street life took a very important role in my life, and I followed the example of the things I saw.

I tried cocaine for the very first time at the age of 13, and it progressed more and more. By the time I was 18, I had dropped out of high school and was completely addicted,” he says. “I started going to jail at the age of 20, and my life of incarceration began,” he says. “Gangs and drugs had robbed me from living a good and decent and meaningful life that could have been successful in so many ways, especially being a parent to my children.”

“On October 8, 2008, I said a quiet little prayer to myself, because the pain was too unbearable. God heard my prayer and I was rescued by the Santa Maria Police Department. I wasn’t sent to prison again, but given the opportunity to go to the Rescue Mission and change my life. I arrived with a gift. The gift of desperation.” That desperation gave Stan the courage to face his pain and walk into a new life. On November 14, 2009, he graduated from the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and was awarded custody of his three children. He went on to college, and today he works in his field.

Stan has little doubt where he would be. “People like me don’t stay in residential programs. People like me don’t stay clean and sober for years. People like me don’t get custody of their kids. People like me don’t check in with parole or probation. People like me don’t reach out and ask for help. People like me die in their alcoholism, die in their addiction, die in prison.” Now he’s an active father and grandfather, a follower of Christ, a great employee, and an inspiring example that anyone can change – no matter what.

Mike the Bag Man

One day, while in his car, Mike saw his reflection in the rear view mirror clearly for the first time in years. “I knew my life was out of control,” he says. “I was the only one in the car, but I said out loud, ‘God help me. Help me get out of this madness.’ A day and a half later, I was arrested. But as I say, I was rescued.” Mike knew that without help, he’d never escape addiction. From jail, he contacted the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and was offered a spot after he was released.

That was 12 years ago, and it was the turning point in his life. “The Mission is a great, wonderful program. You learn about beginning a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, which is instrumental. The Mission is by far the best drug and alcohol rehabilitation program there is in California.” Mike has been clean and sober since he graduated from our program over a decade ago. But it wasn’t only the foundation of Jesus or the recovery aspect that changed Mike’s life, he also learned the skills necessary to live life and have a successful business in the Learning Center. After leaving, he started a business that is thriving.

In fact, you may have heard of Mike or seen him around town – everyone calls him “Mike the Bag Man” because that’s the name of his company which distributes restaurant supplies and paper products – including paper and plastic bags of all kinds. “The one thing that helped me in my business was learning about the computer, learning Excel at the Mission.” Mike knows that he is where he is today thanks to God’s grace.

Sarah’s Story

Sometimes the issues that drive us to despair aren’t the ones people see.

Sarah didn’t grow up poor.
She didn’t grow up in a bad part of town.
She didn’t grow up surrounded by addicts.

“Nothing in my childhood foreshadowed who I eventually became.”

In spite of appearances, Sarah felt empty. As a teenager, she cut and burned herself trying to find relief. Her parents put her in counseling, but the relief was only superficial—and temporary. She turned to drugs, but that only left her jobless and homeless.

Sarah was arrested numerous times. The last time, she connected to Bethel House, our women’s recovery program. “I arrived three months clean and sober, scared out of my mind, and literally, without anything, even shoes,” says Sarah. “I met my Lord and Savior during the year I spent at the Bethel House,” she says. “I grew up in my year there. I became the adult my parents always tried so hard to let me be. I finally healed.”

Today, Sarah has a great relationship with her family, a steady job, a relationship with Jesus, and tools that she knows will help carry her the rest of her life. “My chains of addiction are forever gone.”



Change is Possible

Stephanie struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for decades. Her family dissolved and she ended up in and out of jail. Her life had become so destructive she was ready to go to prison for the long haul. But then, while she was in jail, her daughter sent her a small black and white photo. The details were fuzzy, but the image was unmistakable. Her daughter was pregnant. Stephanie was going to be a grandma! “That’s what made me decide, ‘Okay, I need to do everything that I need to do and be a grandma,’” she says. “So I went back to court and asked them if I could do a program and they allowed me to come here.”

Stephanie had heard about a higher power before, even in other programs that she had tried, but it wasn’t until she was here that it finally made sense. “I remember sitting in devotions and the light bulb coming on. I was like, ‘I get this now.’ I still read my Bible every morning.” Not only does Stephanie spend time in God’s Word every day, she spends time helping others who are working through their addictions, too. We hired her eight years ago, and she now works as the House Manager at Bethel House, where our Women’s Recovery Program is. Her favorite part about her job is seeing other women experience God’s grace for the first time. “I like to see it when they come here and all of a sudden their light bulb goes on,” she says.

Now Stephanie is the grandma she dreamed of being when she first saw that ultrasound picture. Her two grandkids don’t know her as an addict. They know her as “Grandma Stephanie.”

Finally Free: Richard’s Story

Some people would have looked at Richard a year ago and said there was no chance he’d ever be sober.

Those people would be wrong. That’s because God worked through people like you to give him a whole new life.

Growing up, the one thing he remembers having in common with the kids in his neighborhood was the fact that all their parents were hit by the heroin epidemic of the 1970s.

“As we played outside together at the ages of 7 or 8 years old, heroin had taken control of our parents in the house,” he says.

It wasn’t long before addiction was attacking the children too.

“There I was, this kid who should be learning in school, playing sports and learning to be social. But instead I was at the very start of my failures in life,” says Richard.

“I went from playing in the sandbox and swinging on the swings, to putting a needle in my arm at the age of 13. The disease of addiction hit me at such a young age I didn’t even finish learning how to be a kid, much less a man. Looking back today, I realize heroin took my childhood.”

Not only did heroin take Richard’s childhood, it took his freedom. He was first arrested when he was 14 and would go on to spend the next 21 years of his life in and out of prison.

“The disease of addiction didn’t stop at the prison gates for me,” he says. “After getting released, my addiction ended up being worse than it had ever been.”

It wasn’t until he ended up homeless on the streets of Santa Barbara that he got to a place of total desperation and realized he needed help. He came to the Mission, joined our recovery program, and now has been clean and sober for over a year!

Richard has a relationship with God and plans to go to school so that he can be a drug and alcohol counselor. He and 40 others graduated from our recovery program at the end of 2018. His life couldn’t be more changed, and it’s all thanks to God’s goodness and the support of ministry partners like you.

“When I reflect back on all the years of being caught up in addiction and locked in prison, I remember often thinking how much I wish I could start my life over. Being here the last year has given me that,” Richard says.

Viola’s Victory

Viola beat the odds and claims her victory as the spokeswoman for her graduating class of November 2018.

Diego’s Graduation Day

Another shining example of what a year in our residential recovery program can achieve for those who are willing to do the hard work of recovery.

Diego’s Graduation Day from Santa Barbara Rescue Mission on Vimeo.

Amanda’s Story

Amanda’s Story from Santa Barbara Rescue Mission on Vimeo.

“…then, one day God directed my steps to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.…” TJ

“When I finally made it to the Mission, I was off the chart with anger. I also thought it would be like prison. That was my mindset. I soon realized it was not a prison at all; it was an opportunity to get my life together. When I learned about the program, I knew it was something I wanted to do — and finish. But I didn’t realize it would be so tough. But I slugged it out, worked through the pain of self-disclosure and being honest with myself for the first time in my life. When I graduated last year, it was one of the best things I had ever done.”

“I was probably the bitterest person at the Mission, bitter about life, bitter about my present, and bitter that there was no hope for the future. But then I began to look around at others in the program. They had boarded that ship of hope while I was stranded on the shore. I saw the joy on their faces, but I had isolated myself, refusing to be part of that joy. That is, until I admitted I needed help.”

Today, TJ is employed at the wastewater treatment plant across the street from the Mission. Every day he says he’s reminded that just as the plant treats wastewater, so God continues to treat and transform the waste in his own life as day by day he’s transformed into the person God designed him to be. He shares, “Now when my children look into my eyes they see someone who knows how to love. If that’s not transformation, I don’t know what transformation looks like.”


Bianca’s Broken Life Transformed

“Ever since I can remember, my life was about being severely abused. Six months after being born, Child Protective Services took me away from my mom. After that, my life was a downhill spiral.

“Over the years, I tried every drug possible. Before long I was 150+ pounds overweight. I started living in my car, and I was drinking to the point of blacking out every day, never knowing what I had done the night before.”

“I started getting arrested frequently, and that’s when I broke down and cried out to God — if He was really there. I asked for Him to help me get clean and stay clean, no matter what it took. It was only then I admitted I needed help… and that’s when I waited for an interview at the Mission’s Bethel House.”

Little by little, Bianca no longer felt like she was a bad person for being a drug addict…

“Slowly, the guilt from my childhood started to subside. The pain lessened. I started to see things for what they really were, not what was ingrained in me as a child. And now a dream has come true: I was offered a job working with animals, and today I am employed as a grooming apprentice and loving what I do.

“My unsure belief in something out there bigger than I has transformed into a strong faith in the God I have come to know and love. Thank you for doing your part to help me know what real life is like – a life God intended for me to live.”


“Without the Rescue Mission, I would either be dead or in prison today.” Robert

“I came to the Mission at the end of 2016…after traveling a long, torturous journey. I’ve been in and out of jails and prisons most of my adult life. I spent three of the last four Christmases before coming here locked up. Christmas in prison was just another day of playing cards, gambling. My holiday dinner was a plate of Top Ramen.

“I’ve struggled with alcohol and drugs since high school. I would lie to my family about needing money for something useful – and then I would use the money to buy drugs. I’d break into stores through ventilation systems to steal things – all because of my addiction to drugs.

“I might have given up on God, but He never gave up on me. I know that’s true, because I believe He led me to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission directly from jail. When I got to the front door, I was nervous and scared. I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised when I was received with open arms. I came to the Mission with only the clothes on my back – my pants were too long, my shoes were torn up, and I was wearing a sweater given to me by a friend. Within minutes, I received nice boots, socks and a hygiene kit. Suddenly I realized this is where God wanted me to be. Now, I’ve graduated from the Mission’s intense rehabilitation program, and I’m ready to get on with a life that’s worth living.”

Elisa mends her relationships

“For years, my mom tried to get help for me. But because I kept going back to the old ways, she finally gave up on me. Before long, I found myself in jail. I knew I was in big trouble, but I wanted to change. The Sheriff ’s Treatment Program in Santa Barbara recommended Bethel House here at the Mission. I’d heard good things about the program, and I had a feeling it’s what I needed more than anything else.

“This is an amazing program. It is so special. I have now mended relationships with my family. I trust in God. I am motivated to change. I’m learning so much about myself, all because people here believe in me. I am encouraged to grow. The other women here at the program are also an inspiration to me. We build each other up. This is a healing place. Thank you for supporting the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission… for reaching out to me… and for helping me to believe in myself.”