Ali Azarvan volunteered for 25 local non profits in May and shares his chronicles:
I reached out to my good friend, Kaitlyn Turner at the Dream Foundation to see if there were any other local nonprofits that she was excited about – and there were! She quickly introduced me to Rebecca Weber, Director of Communications and Constituent Relations, at The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.
Rebecca literally pulled the quickest turnaround of a call I’ve ever witnessed and was very open to allowing me to see what they do – she’s a great voice for this amazing charity and I owe her a ton for making this happen so soon.
What do they do? The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission provides help in the form of food and shelter 365 days a year to those who have no place else to go. They also provide lasting hope in the form of a 12 month residential recovery program for those looking to break free from a cycle of addiction.
I was first blown away by the amount of people standing outside of the Rescue Mission as I was pulling up – so many of our local homeless just waiting for a good meal. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last month, it’s that I need to appreciate what I have – and how relatively easy my life is. Tonight was just another reminder.
My night was spent alongside 3 great UCSB student-volunteers, Chloe, Hayley, and Rachel and the resident volunteers to feed the needy. The gentleman running the show is named Rick Robinson. He gave me a tour of the place and quickly got me up-to-speed on what was about to take place and I immediately felt comfortable with him.
As the homeless starting walking in and getting fed their (amazing) meals, I got to spend a lot of quality time with a resident also named Rick. He is a recovering alcoholic and is currently on his 9th month of the 12 month residential recovery program. He was gracious enough to share his entire story with me and he made me a believer in everything that The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission is doing. He came to the Rescue Mission in need of serious help.
He’s now totally sober and hyper-responsible. He wakes up at 4:30am 6 days / week and is on the road by 5:30am in order to pick up all of the donated food from the local Vons grocery store as well as 6 different Starbucks. It’s a homeless shelter so the food is terrible, right? WRONG. I was shocked at the high-quality food that is donated every single day to this great charity. He also attends church every Sunday and has become much more religious over the course of his treatment (note- this is a Christian-based non-profit).
He was so appreciative of the opportunity he has been given – “I get free room and board, 3 great meals a day, bible study every morning, and they sponsor my AA meetings” he told me. It was readily apparent that Rick was now a confident man. He knows he has the ability to get over his disease and make it “on the outside”. He shared with me the fact that his resume is updated and that he’s learning how to type better / quicker and that he believes that he has a job lined up at Vons as soon as he finishes his program.
And that’s exactly what it’s about, right? It’s the kind of comeback story we all love. I couldn’t have been more motivated after speaking with him and I’m so excited to see what the future holds for him.