Every holiday season with the help of hundreds of volunteers, the Central Coast Rescue Mission spreads hope and cheer to those in need. But when the new year begins, the volunteers go away, even though the need continues.
To celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, the faith-based organization hosts two free community banquets for hundreds who may not be able to have a happy holiday.
Volunteers from FedEx, Starbucks, area churches and organizations, along with local individuals, come together to prepare and serve meals and distribute gifts and items to those in need during the events.
“A lot of individuals like to come out and help around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our phones light up; we are thankful to give them that opportunity. But we are open 365 days a year,” said Jon Bronkowski, Rescue Mission director.
The holiday banquets are only a fraction of the services the Rescue Mission offers.
“It is more than just serving meals,” Bronkowski said. The organization can use help in all facets of its work.
In 2016, the Rescue Mission provided nights of shelter for more than 4,000 men as part of its Life Recovery Program. It served more than 19,000 meals to the homeless and provided more than 3,000 articles of clothing to those in need.
The Santa Maria-based group also provides grocery assistance, access to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and operates a thrift store.
The Life Recovery Program, which serves men who have issues relating to drug and alcohol abuse and may have been previously incarcerated, needs volunteers, Bronkowski said.
The program is more than a refuge, he added.
“Refuge isn’t the last step for us. We want to see restoration. We want to see individuals who were outcasts from the community be re-entered into the community with a sense of purpose and a sense of hope.”
Volunteers are being sought who can assist the men in achieving those goals by providing tools to help them find jobs after graduating from the program, such as writing resumes and how to do interviews.
People who can provide access to information and training on computers and other important life skills are needed, too, Bronkowski said.
For more information on how to help, call 357-1208 or visit ccrescuemission.org.
The Central Coast Rescue Mission is located at 1207 N. McClelland St. in Santa Maria.