SBRM: “We Can Do It”

By Lynda Millner   |   June 14, 2018
Gerd Jordano, Janet Garufis (Rosie the Riviter), and Penny Jenkins at the “We Can Do It” luncheon for the Rescue Mission

Rosie the Riveter a la World War II has nothing on the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (SBRM). They recently sent out invitations titled “We Can Do It”, hoping women would band together to fund the women’s homeless shelter at the SBRM. They have learned that the average age of homeless women is 59, and they want to provide 32 emergency shelter beds instead of the 13 they had. They only had one bathroom/shower, which had to be used at different times by both men and women. The new facility has facilities for both.

The five women who worked on this unique and charming event were: Priscilla Forsek, Mary Given, Jeanne Heckman, board chair Joyce McCullough, and Julie Willig. Tables were set in an unfinished room with studs showing, done up in red polka dot cloths just like Rosie’s scarf, flowers were in Mason jars, and there were plenty of box lunches for the 100+ ladies. A player piano provided background music. This was part of the $10-million renovation the Rescue Mission is undergoing as we speak. And they have raised more than $8 million so far.

As president Rolf Geyling said, “If you’d served 3,000,000 meals and 1,700,000 safe nights of shelter, you’d need some refurbishing too.” It’s the only walk-in facility between Ventura and Santa Maria. The project will be completed in February 2019.

Director of homeless guest services Stacy Ralston spoke to the group, telling us their mission “was to preserve human dignity.” One way they do it is in the life development center, where the women learn about computers; another is the medical gap program. 

Rescue Mission president Rolf Geyling and donor Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree
Rescue Mission worker bees Mary Given, Priscilla Fossek, Joyce McCullough, ladies auxiliary president Julie Willig, and Jeanne Heckman helping to raise funds for the major overhaul

A recent graduate from SBRM’s Bethel House, Karla, told us, “I was an addict for many years. I used to dig a hole near here to hide in at night so I wouldn’t be attacked. Now, I’m a productive member of society. I am a grandma. I have my family back. My grandchildren won’t ever have to visit me in jail. I’ve been given a chance to heal – and I have never been offered that in my life.”

The honorary committee was: Pam Beebe, Sue Birch, Patty Bryant, Renee Curtis, Janet Garufis, Anna Grotenhuis, Penny Jenkins, Gerd Jordano, Kay Schofield, Helene Winter, and Beth Wood.

Montecito Bank & Trust president/CEO Janet Garufis came looking exactly like Rosie in blue overalls and a polka-dot head scarf, ready to do the paddle raise. Many paddles were raised and many thousands of dollars. If you’d like to add to the coffers, call (805) 966-1316.


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