This Saturday, the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission returns with their 18th annual Back to the Bayou fundraiser. Located at Rancho Dos Pueblos, The Bayou 500 will honor Janet Garufis, chairwoman and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, with the Léni Fé Bland Award.
Coordinated by the Rescue Mission’s own Women’s Auxiliary, this event is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The Rescue Mission operates without government funding, making events like this one important for sustaining their $2.5 million annual budget.
“Our services are sustained through individuals, foundations, local businesses, and churches,” said Rebecca Weber, Rescue Mission’s director of communications and constituent relations. “It’s through the generosity of our community that we’re able to provide these programs throughout the year.”
For more than 50 years, the Rescue Mission has provided emergency services and long-term recovery for the homeless and addicted of Santa Barbara. As the only homeless center open 365 nights a year from Santa Maria to Ventura, Rescue Mission is an entity unto itself.
“Our doors are always open,” said Ms. Weber. “We require no application. So long as they aren’t a danger to themselves or others, people are always welcome.”
In addition to providing emergency services, the Rescue Mission offers a 12-month men’s and women’s residential program, where individuals affected by sustained substance abuse or homelessness are rehabilitated and brought back into the community.
“Our goal is to see as many men and women finish the 12-month residential program as we can,” said Ms. Weber. Since 1997, over 800 individuals have completed this program. After graduation, the Rescue Mission tracks graduates over a five-year period to ensure participants maintain sobriety and adjust to their new lifestyle.
“While only 21 percent of those completing programs nationally maintain their sobriety beyond five years, we are proud that 52 percent of our graduates remain in recovery over the same period,” said Rolf Geyling, Rescue Mission president.
To ensure these rates of rehabilitation continue, all proceeds from the Bayou fundraiser will go towards the 12-month residential program.
In addition to fundraising, this event also serves to honor someone that helped Rescue Mission make a big difference in the community – Ms. Garufis.
Ms. Garufis will receive the Léni Fé Bland Award for her instrumental role in Rescue Mission’s 40,000 square foot remodel of their Yanonali facility, which was completed last year.
“Janet’s leadership has been vital in that she is committed to our community and sees the unique role a financial institution can play in meeting vital needs,” said Mr. Geyling. “Thanks to her, there will be a place where those struggling with homelessness and addiction in Santa Barbara can turn for the next 40 years.”
Known as the Capital Campaign, the renovation broke ground in 2017, after three years of planning, permitting and fundraising. The new facility was created to provide better long-term services for Santa Barbara’s homeless and addicted, with a doubled shelter capacity, as well as gender specific bathrooms and showers for guests.
While programs continued through the remodel, services were greatly reduced, highlighting Rescue Mission’s role within Santa Barbara.
“We always said we would know what kind of impact we had if we weren’t there, and with the remodel, we did,” said Ms. Weber. “We were not able to accommodate the amount of people we usually could, and there was a greater presence of homeless people in the community.”
The remodeled facility and ongoing fundraising efforts will help the Rescue Mission continue their impact on the Santa Barbara community.For more information on The Bayou 500, please call 805-966-1316 ext. 105, or visit the Rescue Mission’s website at http://www.sbrm.org/.