COVID-19 UPDATE

There’s no way around it, this is an uncertain time for all of us.

We know that every person has been personally impacted in some way. Below is how the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission has been impacted, as well as all the information you need to know about how we’re responding.

July 27, 2020

Service as “Usual”

If you’ve been following the news in the last few weeks, you know that all around California there has been a resurgence of COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, state officials have rolled back some of the re-openings. Here at the Mission, we were already following the strictest hygiene and social distancing protocols and haven’t resumed any services that would put any of our guests, staff members, or volunteers at greater risk. So, in spite of these rollbacks, our modified services are continuing as they have been for the last several months.

  • Hungry people are still getting the food they need.
  • Homeless men and women still have a safe place to sleep at night.
  • Individuals who have been ravaged by addiction are still working through the 12-month Residential Recovery Program.
  • Jesus is still in charge.
  • Hope is still being shared.
  • Lives are still being changed.

Special Graduation Ceremony Live Streamed

On Saturday, July 25, the Mission held a special graduation ceremony for 15 recent graduates of our 12-month Residential Recovery Program. For social distancing and health purposes, the ceremony was outdoors and attendance was limited to close family members of the graduates.

The event, which included powerful testimonies from Addie and Ricardo, and an inspiring message from Pastor Paul Nelson of Emanual Lutheran Church, was live-streamed on Facebook. If you didn’t catch the ceremony live, you can still view it by going to our Facebook page.

A big thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make our graduates feel so celebrated even in the midst of such a unique and challenging season.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” –Galatians 6:9

July 3, 2020

You Can Rest Assured

We praise God that our guests are still safe and that here at the Mission we haven’t had an outbreak of COVID-19! As we move forward with events and services, we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way.

Safety First

The safety of our staff and guests is our top priority. This has not changed, nor will it ever. If we get to a place where safety is compromised, we will make immediate changes to protect everyone.

Professional Cleaning

Cleaning has always been something we take very seriously because we understand that health is at stake. In addition to continuing to follow our own cleaning standards, we are cleaning more frequently and have hired a professional cleaning service to deep clean all of the dorms and bathrooms in our homeless guest service areas. The extra cleaning is just one more way we are doing everything we can to keep the virus out.

A Modified July 4th BBQ is Still Happening

In the midst of so much uncertainty, we decided that it was still important to offer joy and keep some sense of normalcy for our homeless guests who were already feeling so displaced in society. While we will not have the full spectrum of carnival games and activities we usually offer our guests at our annual 4th of July celebration, we will still have a BBQ Dinner and Raffle. The Women’s Auxiliary is providing raffle prizes such as backpacks and gift cards for the guests to win, and dinner will be as delicious and plentiful as always!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

April 16, 2020

We Want You to Know

As days and weeks rolled by, we knew that the pandemic would change things. But what we didn’t know exactly was how it would change our work. And while nothing during this time is set in stone, one thing is certain: we’ve seen increases all around.

Because you are one of our partners, we want to be as transparent as possible about what these increases mean.

Here are the Latest Increases

We’re serving more meals, but less people at one seating. That means we’re able to keep our guests safely distant from one another, but it means we’ve had to purchase new furniture, and it also means extended meal times, which requires more staff.

Speaking of more staff, our meal services aren’t the only place we’ve had to hire additional help. We usually have volunteers to help keep things running, but for the sake of everyone’s safety, we’ve asked our volunteers to stay home and are planning to hire a janitorial service to professionally clean everything more frequently.

In addition to having our volunteers stay home, we’ve asked our administrative staff to work from home. To continue our program individual and group counseling, we’ve purchased hardware and software subscriptions so they have the tools they need to do the important client interventions, counseling sessions, etc. that are still transforming lives.

All those changes mean a sharp and unanticipated rise in expenses. If you’re able to give an emergency gift to help, please click here.

We know that these increases aren’t over and recovery from this crisis will not be quick. In fact, job loss and layoffs from shuttered businesses are threatening to put even more people in crisis as this continues.

But with God’s grace and your support, we will do everything we can to rise to these challenges and continue to serve as many people as possible.

Thank you for caring about your homeless and hungry neighbors. Thank you for your prayers and partnership.

April 7, 2020

Now Our Mission Is Even More Important

In the midst of the pandemic, many other agencies and services have been shut down, leaving our homeless neighbors here in Santa Barbara with even fewer options. That means our work is even more important!

Our beds are already at capacity, but we’re using support and donations from friends like you to do everything we can to continue sharing God’s love with people in desperate need.

Changes and Updates Include:

    • • More meals: We’re providing 60-75 more meals every day.
    • • Safe hygiene: Our shower facilities remain available even to guests who aren’t staying with us. We’ve also added handwashing stations to give everyone the opportunity to stay as clean and healthy as possible.
    • • Added protocols for social distancing: We’ve added special tables in the chapel to help keep guests six feet apart while they eat.
    • • Special health protocols: Our staff is trained to always be listening for respiratory issues such as coughing and sneezing. Also, the CDC guidelines were updated recommending cloth face coverings. Between the Women’s Auxiliary and Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, hundreds of bandannas and scarves were donated over the weekend for our homeless guests. A few of the Auxiliary members can sew, so they are providing handmade fabric masks to be used by the cooks since Public Health now requires face masks for them, as well.
    • • Using disposable kitchenware: We’ve switched to disposable kitchen items for the time being. During this time, the serving and handling of used dishes would not be good for our residents who work in the kitchen.

All this is only possible because of the generosity of partners like you!

“We can only turn on the lights because donors give us a dollar. We are the hands and feet of our community and the compassion of our community. That’s a pretty important mission and something that we don’t take for granted,” President Rolf Geyling says.

Looking Ahead

None of us know what the future will hold a month or two from now, so for now we’re taking it week by week. And this week is Easter week, which means we’re prepping to celebrate in a big way!

The Easter Feast will have special touches thanks to colorful plastic table cloths, donated flowers from Trader Joe’s, and placemats that donors signed and colored.

All our Easter Feast meals will be served in compostable to-go boxes, but that won’t stop us from pulling out all the stops and serving ham, mac and cheese, Wes’ Famous Carrots, salad and an option of carrot or chocolate cake for dessert. If you’d like to give a gift to provide meals, click here.

Special Thanks

We want to take a moment to thank our staff, who are working tirelessly during this season. More than half of our staff are Mission graduates, so they know what our guests are walking through and how important it is to offer them support, even as they put their own health on the line.

“What’s amazing to me is that the people go so far beyond anything that their jobs would require, and that’s extremely inspirational,” Rolf says.

And a big thank you to YOU! Thank you for standing with us through your donations, support, prayers, and generosity. We will get through this. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

March 27, 2020

You may have heard that homeless people are even more vulnerable during this time of turmoil. We sat down with Kevin Carroll, the Mission’s Homeless Services Director, to find out why. We also asked him to give us a glimpse into what it’s like for our poor and needy neighbors during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Q: What would you say about the risk of the virus for the people we serve?

A: It first starts with their vulnerability. Because their health already isn’t stellar living out in the elements, they may already have compromised immune systems. My understanding is that this kind of virus preys on vulnerability. Addiction also lowers your immune system.

Q: Why is it hard for homeless people to follow the health guidelines (washing hands frequently, not touching your face, staying six feet away from other people)?

A: Hygiene is probably the first thing that people forget to do when they’re out on the streets. Imagine yourself camping. You might wash your hands, but you don’t always get super clean. And so that’s the joy of having showers and having all that stuff here that we can offer as services to people. It’s mandatory that they wash their hands when they come into the building.

Q: What would you say the climate is among the guests?

A: Because we’ve changed our operations, I think people think this is becoming more real. There’s fear and anxiety that is ramping up amongst our guests. I just had a conversation with a guest last night. It’s her first time being homeless. She’s scared. She doesn’t know what to do. She’s like a fish out of water.

Q: How are you feeling in the face of all of this?

A: I mean, you just batten down the hatches and hold on and ride it out. . .This is new territory for everyone. I kind of feel like I’m here to help manage this, but wow. Who would have foreseen this? I told someone yesterday in an email that we’re being Jesus in a whole lot of practical ways to people.

A special thanks to Kevin for his time, and a special thanks to you reading this right now. Your support is critical in continuing to serve our guests during this pandemic. You are making it possible to “be” Jesus and share His light and hope during this trying time.

March 17, 2020

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission is working within the guidelines of the local, state and federal governments and monitoring the situation very closely. In times like this, we know that our homeless guests and residents are even more at risk and need our services and prayers maybe more than ever.

Here is how we’ve changed our services:

We’ve increased the frequency at which we sanitize everything. We’ve always done this but are doing it now with more vigor.

We’ve rented hand-washing stations and have made it mandatory that homeless guests wash their hands thoroughly before entering the Mission.

For meal service, we are serving our homeless guests and men’s program residents separately. Men in our Recovery Program (who are staying at the Mission) are still being served in the dining room. Homeless Guests are being served in our chapel, in shifts, ensuring they have the required six feet of separation from one another.

We have purchased two non-touch infrared thermometers to monitor temperatures.

We have adjusted sleeping arrangements to provide as much space as possible between guests.

We have asked all our scheduled volunteers to not come to the Mission at this time.

All of our non-program staff members are working from home.

Here is what you can do:

PRAY. The Mission, our homeless guests and residents, our community, our city and our entire world need all the prayers we can get. Please pray for the virus to decline and that God would keep all of those serving so sacrificially safe and healthy.

GIVE. We are still providing meals, and our 12-month Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program is still running. If you’re able to donate, please click here.

We’re grateful to all be able to stand together during this time, and we pray for you and your family, as well as God’s grace over the entire Santa Barbara community.