What: Santa Barbara Rescue Mission Surf’s Up at the Bayou event
Where: Rancho Dos Pueblos, Goleta
When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013
Rows of eucalyptus trees shaded dinner tables for more than 325 supporters who were there to help the nonprofit organization that benefits homeless guest services and certified drug- and alcohol-treatment programs.
The organizing force behind the event is the 60-member strong Women’s Auxiliary. This year’s Bayou event chairs were Susan Hughes and Suzi Ryan, and Gerd Jordano was the capable Mistress of Ceremonies for the 12th year (since the event’s inception).
Also contributing to the event were silent auction coordinators Rose Hodge and Terry Foil and decorations chair Dianne Davis.
With a surfing theme for this year’s annual fundraiser, guests strolled the estate’s grounds dressed in Hawaiian attire (the Women’s Auxiliary members were dressed in bright red lifeguard T-shirts) and enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Lorraine Lim Catering. There was even a "burger shack" that doled out miniature burgers and chips.
Strumming ukuleles and singing in unison, about 20 members of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara’s Ukulele Lulus entertained guests with authentic Hawaiian songs.
Funds raised at this event enable the Rescue Mission to offer a 12-month residential recovery program, as well as provide for homeless guests. This year’s organizers announced that $300,000 was raised at the Bayou event.
“While only 21 percent of those completing treatment programs nationally maintain their sobriety beyond five years, we are proud that 57 percent of our graduates remain in recovery over this same time period,” President Rolf Geyling said, adding that the Rescue Mission receives no government funding.
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley was presented the Leni Fe Bland Award by Sheriff Bill Brown for her committed partnership in the work of recovery through her service as a leader of the Fighting Back Steering Committee and Criminal Justice Advisory Council. During her career, she has increased the District Attorney Office’s involvement in drug courts and created the Misdemeanor Diversion Program for first-time offenders of low-level misdemeanors. Last year, Dudley reinstated a Truancy Program and is a regular speaker at educational institutions regarding the legal ramifications of consuming alcohol and illegal drugs.
The highlight of the program every year is the personal statement from one of the Rescue Mission’s clients. This year, Alex Bowling told his story of coming back from the brink of substance abuse to recovery, thanks to the Rescue Mission’s programs.
“Growing up in Santa Barbara, I had everything and more a kid could ask for — a loving family, clothes on my back and a roof over my head," he said. "I never realized down the road that drug addiction would take that away from me and more.
"When I started junior high school, I started experimenting with marijuana and alcohol. I was curious and bored. I wound up in juvenile hall. By the time I was 17, I had already done a few years in institutions and had a full-blown heroin habit. My parents were tired of the lying, thieving and drug use. I was no longer welcome at home.
"The next few years were spent high or in jail. I was totally isolated from the outside world. The turning point came when I found out that my brother had died of a heroin overdose in the County Jail on my mother’s birthday. I was granted the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission program from jail.
"When I got there I was scared, sad and depressed, but I had reached desperation and wanted to continue on the path to recovery. The staff and the brotherhood there embraced me. I asked God for his guidance. I earned by GED through the learning center and started to believe in myself. Then I got a job in construction. I can remember feeling like a productive member of society for the first time. Today my boss counts on me. I have accountability and trust with the people I work with. I visit the Mission often and work with the newcomers in the program.
"My time in recovery has been the best years of my life, and it all started by being given the gift to go to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.”
Supporters spotted in the crowd were Betty Rosness, Larry Crandell, Jim Whilt, Bob Bryant, Peter MacDougall, board president Karl Willig, the Rev. Eric Wiebe, Peter Jordano, Dr. Gil Ashor, Lyn and Sean Essig, Carl Lindros, Sarah Miller McCune, Geri and Bert Willoughby, Dianne Dodds, Kent Englert, Ron and Mary Werft, Tom and Marcia Reed, and Chris Haskell.
For more information about the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, click here or call 805.966.1316.