SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission is urgently upgrading its facilities, but that will mean fewer beds during the winter months.
It comes at a time when the nearby PATH facility is no longer offering increased winter shelter beds.
That could leave 150 people who would normally find shelter, especially during foul weather, looking for other options.
The Rescue Mission is in the first phase of its improvements. Many living areas have been gutted and those who come for a meal and a place to sleep are being rerouted to other areas of the site.
The staff even gave up their offices to create sleeping areas.
"It is so important that we can keep some services open in the community than to be comfortable as an administrative team," said Rolf Geyling, Rescue Mission President. He has been at the site since 2007.
Showing off the makeshift living area with bunk beds he said, "This is now a 22-bed women's dormitory and our entire administrative staff is working out of three transitional offices and laptops.”
The staff squeezed in down the hall in other rooms to manage the facility as it gets badly needed upgrades.
Even though winter months are coming, the need to do the work now is dire.
"To continue to do nothing could imperil us that somewhere in the coming months we would have to close the facility due to some catastrophic plumbing or building failure," said Geyling.
A crammed shower area will also be widened and improved compared to the scheduled arrangements now.
“Every night women would shower at 3:30 in the afternoon then we would turn around and clean it and men would come in and shower after dinner. But either way there were times when we would have 90 to 120 people needing a shower and we only had six shower heads," said Geyling.
With the Rescue Mission project expected to last about 16 months and other facilities nearby changing their bed allocation, there could be an estimated 50 people that would come here and possibly 100 elsewhere that will be seeking shelter this winter, especially on cold and wet nights.
The staff here says it needs some final donations to fund the estimated $11-million project and continue to show a community compassion.
“It’s very moving but we feel we are entrusted with that and we feel like we are representing the communities commitment to care for people,” said Geyling. “We carry that as an obligation."
For more information or to make a donation contact:
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission
535 E. Yanonali Street Santa Barbara, CA 93103.