Pixel Tracker

Monday, February 18 , 2019, 11:11 am | Fair 55º


Homeless Get Respite, Holiday Cheer at Carnival

More than 250 turn out for sixth annual July 4th event at Santa Barbara Rescue Mission

Anna Marie Olson enjoyed the day, and won a purse, at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s Fourth of July Carnival on Thursday. (Linda Sturesson / Noozhawk photo)

A homeless woman proudly showed off her new purse Thursday after her raffle-ticket number was called out on the stage at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s Fourth of July Carnival.

“I really needed it,” said Anna Marie Olson, a former heroin addict.

The sixth annual July 4th Carnival and barbeque was held from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Rescue Mission’s parking lot at 535 E. Yanonali St.

Some 250 homeless people attended the event for free hamburgers, games and a raffle offering some much-needed prizes.

“Homelessness is tough any day of the year, but it’s especially difficult on a holiday when you have no place to go,” said Rolf Geyling, president of the Rescue Mission. “So we’ve just made this a place where they can come and celebrate with us.”

Shoes, sleeping bags, backpacks and gift cards were given out to thankful winners.

Olson, who said she has stayed clean for four months, was one of them.

After her husband went to prison, she found herself without a place to stay. She wandered the streets of Santa Barbara in the middle of the night, cold, sick and alone, before she was taken into her new home – the Rescue Mission.

“That was the day when I decided to throw everything away and clean up,” Olson said. “I think this is wonderful. We’re like a big family, and it’s great that they put this together for us homeless people.”

The Rescue Mission was established in 1965, and became the only organization in the county to provide meals and accommodation to homeless guests 365 days a year.

Attendees at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s Fourth of July Carnival were treated to a barbecue lunch. (Linda Sturesson / Noozhawk photo)

The Rescue Mission’s 12-month residential treatment program is the largest and longest drug and alcohol treatment program on California’s Central Coast, with 27 courses offered.

At the moment, 45 men and 24 women are enrolled. According to the Rescue Mission’s “Flash Facts,” more than 80 percent of its residents are employed when they graduate.

“Most of our staff are all graduates from our treatment programs,” said Geyling. “Hopefully, what we’ve done is we’ve returned them into the community.”

The program has won regional and national recognition “for its extraordinary effectiveness,” said Rebecca Weber, director of communications.

American rock-n-roll classics boomed from the speakers as people ate and laughed, played games and threw pies in staffers’ faces.

As for 46-year-old Olsen, she recently enrolled in Santa Barbara City College’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, and hopes to become a nurse.

“The door is already open for me, so I just need to keep [it] open and keep moving on,” she said. “I go to church now, and as soon as I stepped foot in there, I took His right hand and started following His footsteps.”

Noozhawk intern Linda Sturesson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >