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  • Writer's pictureIrene Park

Volunteering at the Orange County Rescue Mission

The Orange County Rescue Mission is a transitional home for the homeless population located in Orange County. Unlike most other shelters for the homeless, this facility does not offer walk-in service to stay the night. There are strict rules and guidelines that manage which applicants are accepted into the program. The most important part of the admittance process is the will of the person wishing to enter, because once admitted, they are placed into a fast paced program. The rehabilitation program helps with job placement with resumes and other resources. On February 16th, students from JP Academy had an opportunity to volunteer at the Orange County Rescue Mission.

The program that is offered is set up like a highschool with freshman, sophomore, junior, then lastly, the graduating senior class. Education includes skills that will help residents adjust to society as they graduate and leave the facility, such as knowledge for a specific job or area, preparing a resume, etc. The graduation usually takes place within a year and they are often ensured a job before they leave the facility to maintain stability.

The Orange County Rescue Mission serves meals, provides shelter, and provide for religious needs and mental health of the residents. The founders of the facility are of Christian faith and after a lucky incident with one of the former presidents of the United States, a church was permitted to be built in the grounds of the Orange County Rescue Mission.

During the volunteering session, JP Academy students were given an opportunity to interact with residents of the facility. During their stay at the shelter, the Orange County Rescue Mission requires all residents to participate in a facility chore, such as helping out in the kitchen, organizing material, cleaning, and more. The residents with kitchen duty helped us our volunteering experience. While working in the facility, it was easy to tell that the facility had a well organized system, all ingredients that were needed were available and extra batches of food were made to donate to other people in the area, especially for those who had recently lost their homes in a fire in the Tustin area.

We walked in expecting a facility that was in need of donations and outside funding because this was the common image of homeless shelters that we had been exposed to. Against everyone’s expectations, the facility was well stocked with everything that they needed, which we discovered as we were given a tour by one of the residents after making and serving a meal was done. The supplies had all been given by generous donors in the community that helped keep the shelter running with donations of money, toys, food, electronic devices, and more. The same donors also help run the facility by volunteering their time.

As well as providing the usual services, the shelter was also helping to rescue sexually exploited women who needed help to escape from their traffickers. The Orange County Rescue Mission assists the FBI, CIA, and the police to help rescue these women in dangerous situations and to provide them with a safe place to stay, eat, and learn.

Overall, it was a very enlightening experience as we learned about the realities of homelessness. It was shocking to discover that even though a chance to redeem themselves would be given, sometimes people were not willing to put in the efforts to go through rehabilitation and education. It was also inspiring that the people who were working in the kitchens with us had gone through a lot of difficult times and they were now making big efforts to change their lives for the better. The selflessness of the employees were also inspiring as the guide told us about his experience working in the facility. He would go into rescue missions of various women and he would face life and death situations to help these women live the lives that they finally deserved. The lesson that I gathered from this volunteering trip was that I have a duty and to help those who are struggling in our community and to advocate for resources that could be turned to for help just like the OC County Rescue Mission.

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