By Brittany Hays and Bree Cahey
On any given day, nearly 5,000 adults and children are homeless and living on the streets of Long Beach. Ridden by unemployment, hunger, sickness or addiction, these individuals often find themselves with nowhere else to turn. The Long Beach Rescue Mission off of Anaheim and Pacific Coast Highway has become one of most recognized facilities for the homeless in the area, with great opportunities for these individuals to help turn their lives around.
Founded in 1972, the Long Beach Rescue Mission started as one of California’s few shelters for women and children. It now consists of two facilities – one for women and children, which currently holds about 25 women and 11 kids, and a men’s facility which holds about 120 guests with 60 members in the year-long New Life Program.
Men are welcome to stay at the center for up to seven days with no commitment in order to fulfill everyday needs such as eating, showering, and sleeping. If they choose to seek further assistance, however, each house offers a 90-day Case management Program and year-long New Life Program.
The Case Management Program is designed to help individuals get back on their feet and acclimated to working in society. Each participant is assigned a case manager, who sets goals specific to the client’s background, education and abilities.
The New Life Program is a year-long program that consists of intensive counseling, Bible study, work therapy and education, to address the deeper issues each person may have. Each participant meets with a chaplain and/or case manager to progress through various phases of the program, which are designed to transform the “whole person.”
The Long Beach Rescue Mission is a 501©3 faith-based non-profit organization, which does not receive any government funding. It instead relies on donors for financial and gift support, which come mostly from individuals, churches, foundations, businesses and other community groups. Some of these donors are Starbucks, Pavilions, Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
Along with its programs, the shelter is open to any and all individuals who wish to grab a bite to eat, take a shower, or have a place to sleep for the night.
“We never run out of food, which is an amazing thing,” says Volunteer Program Supervisor, Denise Carrillo.
Denise has worked at the mission for two years and has been amazed at the progress she has seen from the individuals.
Guests can come and go as they please, but if they request a bed they need to talk to a case manager beforehand.
The case manager talks with the guest and either implements a 90-Day Program or the New Life Program, which is a year-long commitment. This allows the case manager to work with the guest’s one on one, to help guide them in finding work and eventually housing. “We are not enablers or babysitters here, we hold everyone accountable,” says Carrillo.
Alvin Doctrove, a graduate of the year-long program, says that the program and chaplain helped save his life.
“The next step was killing myself – I had lost everything,” Doctrove said. “I have the chaplain to thank for helping me get out of that bad place.”
Many at the shelter feel that the Chaplain speaks from a place of true understanding and encouragement, because he too came from a hard place.
“I can only say so much to the guests, such as how bad addiction is – but I have never been there,” says Carrillo. “The guests look to Chaplain as a role model, because he proved that it is possible to hit rock bottom and turn things around.”
“Our success rate with the guests isn’t as high as we would like it to be,” says Carillo, “but 99% of the time guests always come back – and that’s all we can hope for.”
Alvin, who now works as an apprentice for Denise and is a security guard at the facility, is living proof of the effectiveness of this program and how it has helped to turn his life around.
“We want to end the cycle of homelessness,” says Carrillo.
The Long Beach Rescue Mission has proven that it is possible to make significant changes in the community and provide multiple services and opportunities to those in need.For more information about the mission you can visit their website at http://www.lbrm.org/ or call (562) 591-1292.