Ventura County Rescue Mission holds annual holiday feast
With almost military precision, more than 260 volunteers served 1,100 Thanksgiving meals at the Ventura County Rescue Mission’s annual holiday feast Wednesday in less than half an hour. But there were more people.
So Rescue Mission Executive Director John Saltee, who vowed to feed everyone who showed up, started directing some of the residents of the men’s program at the Oxnard site, where the meal was served, to set up more tables.
“We do this because we want to share Thanksgiving and because we want to share our Lord Jesus. We invited you because you are our neighbors,” Saltee said as he stood among dozens of rectangular tables with cloth coverings and fall-themed centerpieces in the alley behind the mission.
Jessica Turcott, of Oxnard, who was having dinner with daughter Aura Jones, 2, said she enjoys coming to the mission. “We’re here every year, three years in a row,” said Turcott, who had no plans for the Thanksgiving holiday. “The turkey here is the best, and they have a live band.”
In addition to the Kirkpatrick Family, performing music with a spiritual flavor, the Mission Angels, a group of about 23 children, sang under the direction of administrative assistant Cady Johnson.
After getting directions about serving sizes from chef Mike Lodi, Capt. Larry Vasquez, commanding officer of Naval Base Ventura County, said he and a group of fellow sailors have been enjoying serving holiday meals on the base and at the mission.
Experiencing God’s Unconditional Love!
When I came to the Lighthouse for Women and Children, I was a mess. I had just gotten out of Hillmont Mental Hospital and just got my two boys back. I had nowhere to go with my children. We were sleeping on my friend’s couch and had all our things in my car. We had no money and no family that wanted to deal with me because of my nasty attitude and how empty my heart was.
I got to the Lighthouse in February of 2010 and was given a bed for my boys and myself at the emergency shelter.
I was so happy and had hope for once in my life. Little did I know I needed much more help than I would have ever imagined. My first night I was in the shelter, I didn’t even know how to handle my own children. I was in tears and a staff member had to come over and help me. This staff member never judged me for my behavior, she just opened up her heart to me and showed me love - the type of love I had never gotten before, not even from my own family, it was unconditional.
The very next day I got into the program and had a big room to myself. I had never had a room to myself before. When I got to the program, I got so much help with life skills that I needed that helped me better raise my two boys. I also really needed and took a lot from the parenting and anger management classes.
I graduated Parent and Children Interaction Therapy, known as PCIT, which gave me even more of the parenting skills I needed. I would have never been able to do these things if it wasn’t for the Lighthouse. I also went back to school and got my GED. I was a High School dropout - I didn’t even know how to read. I went and got tutoring Monday through Thursday to learn how to read so I could pass my GED test. All this was made possible to me through the help of the Lighthouse.
I’m now in Oxnard College and have a grade point average of 3.75. I’m living in the Lighthouse’s Transitional Living Program. I still have my two beautiful boys and that means the world to me. My sons and I have a much healthier relationship then we ever could have imagined. The Lighthouse saved not only my life but my two sons as well. We now have a future and know the love of Christ through the Lighthouse; the love we have gotten from all the staff members, my church, and the many true friends I have made over the years. While here, I have been truly blessed.
I would have never done any of this without the Lighthouse on my side to thrive. Thank you, Lighthouse, with all my heart! ~ Jessica C.
In Psalm 40 it says, “I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” This verse is my story in a nutshell.
I was raised in the 60’s and 70’s in the midst of the ever present drug culture. The effects on my life began its terrible toll at an early age when I began to experiment with illegal substances, and very soon it turned into a lifestyle.
For many years I lived as a functioning addict, changing costumes and masks to manage situations while desperately trying to stay ahead of my addictions.
I was a hard worker and I advanced in the construction industry. But, no matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t stop using. Before I knew it, darkness overtook all aspects of my life throwing me headlong into prison, unemployment, near death experiences, and homelessness. I never imagined I would be without a home.
I was in a desperate place and plead for a way out, and I eventually found myself on the doormat of the Ventura County Rescue Mission.
During my time at the mission I have had good counseling, wonderful meals, learned how to help and serve others, and I grew to love God and I learned He loved me first.
I arrived as a homeless, broken man and I began to heal and I began to grow. I now know and understand that God has a plan for my life. I am looking forward to the days ahead so I can rebuild the broken bridges with roads of love with my family and friends. I am looking forward to living my life as the man God created me to be. ~ John
Free From 10 Years of Addiction
I entered the Lighthouse’s Recovery Program December 1, 2011. I feel amazingly blessed being in recovery at the Lighthouse. One thing many people are not aware of is it’s not your ordinary sober living home. I’ve been in my addiction for about 10 ½ years, trying to fix myself, trying to escape from my addiction. I’ve come to realize that life isn’t a toy or a game that I can just get rid of and just throw away. But, being an addict, I was treating my children, my family, my future, and myself as if it had no value. As a recovering addict, the best step I took was building a relationship with God and learning to depend on him. My relationship with the Lord is amazing and unexplainable all at the same time. I’ve gained many life skills and tools that will protect me from the temptations that are out there in the world.
When I first got here to the recovery program, I was broken deep down inside. I didn’t think that I would still be here today. The last person I wanted to build a relationship with was Christ, and the last thing I wanted to do was follow rules. I knew I needed help and I wanted recovery. I knew this was a safest place for my son and me. I had nothing going for me, I didn’t have a plan for myself, and I didn’t have any family support. I was lost, alone, full of addiction, and a single mother. I was broken and confused. I was confused because I still didn’t know or understand why I let my addiction take control of my life. But I’ve come to realize that God will help me and keep me secure from all the people, places, and things that can harm me.
I’ve been blessed to have my youngest son here with me in recovery. I took a parenting class that the program provides and learned how to show and teach my son healthy discipline. I’ve become a better parent and much more understanding of my children’s needs because of the Lighthouse Recovery Program. The closer I get to graduation, the more amazing this experience is for me. I’m extremely proud of myself for sticking it out and learning to depend on and trust in God. There is only one person who I can thank for rescuing me from the life I was living, and there is only one person who I know can save me from my own-self, and that is my God! He is blessing me with an amazing recovery. ~ Vivian