At a ceremony at the offices of Transition House, the homeless services agency’s conference room was officially renamed in honor of Jay Rawlins, a past Transition House client who became a board member and a dedicated volunteer. Rawlins died of cancer in July.
“We will proudly work and meet in the Rawlins Room,” board president Jim Buckley said, “and try to carry on the work that Jay believed in so deeply. He was a wonderful guy and he’ll really be missed around here.”
Rawlins first came to Transition House in 2009, seeking support from the agency’s homelessness prevention program. He was disabled and living on Social Security. As it does with all its client families, Transition House worked with Rawlins to help him stabilize his housing and his health.
Despite his struggles, he turned the support Transition House had given him into an opportunity to give back to the community. He became a dedicated volunteer for Transition House, contributing time and talent to fundraising efforts. In 2011, he was a key speaker at the annual fundraiser hosted by the Transition House Auxiliary, telling some 250 attendees of the benefits of Transition House’s comprehensive approach to addressing poverty.
“Jay’s willingness to put his story out there and to use his success to inspire others was very brave,” Transition House Executive Director Kathleen Baushke. “For many of our clients, just asking for help that first time can be hard. Jay was an example to many of how we can help. He became more than a client for me; he became a friend.”
Later in 2011, Rawlins joined the Transition House Board of Directors and became an advocate for the agency in the community. He also volunteered on the board’s fundraising subcommittee and put in many hours supporting staff in the administration department.
One year ago, Rawlins was diagnosed with cancer, and he succumbed to the disease on July 13.
He was a veteran, an avid artist and a singer. He sang in local church choirs. He was also a member of the Fellowship Club at the Mental Wellness Center of Santa Barbara. He showed his artwork in MWC’s annual arts festivals and regularly organized karaoke sessions for members. He was a lifetime learner and enjoyed taking art classes at Santa Barbara City College. He was enrolled in a sculpture class at the time of his death.
Despite his hardships, Rawlins' dignity was expressed through his service to others and his willingness to give back. The Rawlins Room will stand as a testament to his courage and his service.
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— Jim Buckley is board president for Transition House.