We’ve endured the unexepected. Now on to 2021!
In January 2020, in one of the first devotions of the year, I talked with the participants in our Life Recovery Program about being grateful. My New Year’s resolution was to be more grateful, and I knew our participants would benefit from that mindset as well. “So much of recovery is about having an attitude of gratitude! The more grateful we are for what we have, the more we are able to endure the unexpected!” Famous last words.
It’s surreal to think about 2020 without coupling the word “COVID” but we did have some activities that had nothing to do with the pandemic! In that first month of the year, we celebrated four graduates of our Life Recovery Program and three men who completed the Transitional Living Program. This year we’ve kept in touch with all 23 men who have graduated from the Life Recovery Program since 2018. Nineteen of those men have confirmed employment and 17 are actively engaged in a healthy community, which usually means they are active in their church community. In addition, 17 men say they are staying sober from their addictive behavior.
Like the rest of the world, March hit us hard. Our thrift store was closed from March through May. For over a month we suspended our shower outreach to men and women experiencing homelessness as well as our farmer’s market outreach to low-income families. But as He so-often does, God made a way for us to serve our community’s most vulnerable in other ways.
Through a collaboration with United Way and Salvation Army, we began driving around the area meeting the homeless where they were at. We gave them a hot meal, and made sure they were aware of the services available to them to stay safe from the novel coronavirus. When the world was falling apart, we assured them we were still there when they were ready to make a change.
In the holiday months, thanks to COVID, we faced an unprecedented challenge: feed the masses! Many advised us to cancel our annual holiday banquets. While prioritizing public health and the well-being of our clients, volunteers and staff, we found a way to care for those who needed to be fed. Using a to-go-style format and a new, drive-up option, we kept everyone safe and still fed the community. We’re so grateful to our partners, Santa Maria Foursquare Church, Grace Baptist and Starbucks, without whom we would not have been able to make these events possible.
Michael, Peter and Tommy all graduated in the middle of the pandemic. Tommy is now living in stable and sustainable housing. He had the opportunity to spend time with his family over the holidays—something his homelessness and addiction had prevented in the past.
Peter is working full time for a software company. After graduating from the Life Recovery Program he completed the terms for his probation. He’s also back in touch with his estranged family.
Michael has been working for a local company since June. As has been the case in the past, he’s entrusted with lots of responsibility in his department and he loves it. I’m so incredibly grateful for our partners who stepped up this year. From the overwhelming financial support, to the selfless volunteers and the other organizations and community leaders who collaborated with us. The Central Coast has no shortage of vulnerable people in desperate need of help. We also have no shortage of citizens who are ready to face the challenge.
We are looking forward to 2021 where we will continue to embrace new opportunities to be creative, new opportunities to serve the most vulnerable in our community, and new opportunities to live for something greater than ourselves!