2018 “Friend-raiser” Banquet 

This year the annual Visalia Rescue Mission Banquet will be held October 11, 2018 at the Visalia Convention Center. Yes, you read that correctly, it is a “Friend-raiser!” We want to make as many new friends for VRM as possible!

Last year, Bob Lupton brought tremendous insight into the sociology of homelessness, how well intentioned “helping” can sometimes become counter-productive if we remove self-respect and incentives for self-improvement.

With the evident nationwide increase of homelessness, everyone is asking the question, why, with so many available resources, are so many more people becoming homeless? We’ve been asking the same question for the past two years and have found some surprising answers! Most of the homeless individuals we encounter at VRM, have in the past, endured high levels of chronic childhood trauma, the majority involving physical and/or sexual abuse. Some of the stories we hear from our guests and residents are just soul shattering. With the training we’ve been receiving this year, we are starting to be able to trace the clear connections between their current behavior and past traumatic events and relationships. Traumatized people isolate themselves often using anger as a self-protective mechanism to prevent them from experiencing further pain. Traumatized people anesthetize themselves with addictive behaviors to push back painful and unpleasant memories along with self-recrimination and guilt. Traumatized people create personal alternative realities, “false belief systems,” which help them cope with everyday life. These false belief systems nearly always involve some sort of self- destructive, reality-denying, addictive behavior. 

The most difficult hurdle to overcome is the fact that most addictive people have been traumatized in relationships with other people, but it is only in relationships with other people that they will be able to find healing. In other words, the thing they fear the most, is the very thing they need the most. Most homeless people have simply run out of relationships. Family, employment, church, friends, have all been used up and pushed away. This is the reason that supplying physical resources, such as food, or shelter, or money or housing or anything else, does not fix what is actually broken. To be sure, physical resources are important and necessary, but are only part of the solution.

This year we are asking our community partners to engage their circle of friends and who perhaps only have a peripheral awareness of Visalia Rescue Mission and to invite them to our annual banquet on October 11, 2018 and possibly enter into a partnership relationship with VRM so we can reach out and create relationships with those who need it the most.

There will be two opportunities for you to attend with your friends. The first is a noon luncheon at the Visalia Convention Center. The program will be one hour long, so anyone needing to return to work can do so. The second opportunity will be a dinner that begins at 6:00PM and will end at 7:30PM.

Our speaker for both the luncheon and the dinner will be Mr. Cash Lowe from Shepherds House Mission in Bend, Oregon, and one of the founding members of Grace Networks International, which provides specific training toward understanding the connection between trauma and addiction. Cash has spent more than 20 years researching and studying the direct connection between trauma and homelessness. Cash is engaging, interesting and has a great sense of humor. His stories will both break your heart and lift your spirits when you hear the stories of grace and redemption he shares. I hope you will mark this evening on your calendar and bring some friends!

Al Oliver
Executive Director