Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press
Times Photos by Jonathan Whitaker

Rescue Mission fundraiser filled with stories of hope


Supporters of the Merced County Rescue Mission heard stories of hope and opportunity at the annual Oasis Dinner fundraiser on May 12 at Gateway Community Church in Merced.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Mission’s faith-based Hope for Men and Women programs, as well as the goal to expand the faith-based side of the Mission’s growing Village of Hope campus on the southside of Merced.

The Rescue Mission — which supports the county’s mission to end homelessness in the region and offers life-transformation programs for troubled individuals — has come a long way over the last six years.

It has expanded from two locations to what amounts to a sprawling new campus, along with operation of the county’s Navigation Center, and more than 20 residential units located across the county. It has gone from 30 beds to a projected 400 beds by the end of 2023. It has gone from six employees up to 80. And they are currently serving 900 meals a day.

The mission budget has increased tenfold, with the organization separated now between the faith-based programs, and a nonprofit arm aligned with local governments and powered by large grant funding.

Nevertheless, the Oasis Dinner was focused on those Mission programs — funded solely by donations — that transforms lives through the power of Jesus Christ.

“What is really important are the lives that are being changed,” said Bruce Metcalf, the Mission’s executive director.

Donn Hansler, a Hope for Men participant, gave a powerful video testimony about his decades long fight to overcome drug addiction and regain control of his life.

“God was with me through this whole thing, and I didn’t even realize it,” he told the audience.

Hansler completed the Mission program and eventually was given the opportunity to work at the Village of Hope campus, helping others. The Mission is also helping Hansler gain further career education.

Likewise, Teresa Bryner gave a deeply moving video testimony about losing everything — including custody and visitation of her precious young children. An alcoholic for 23 years, she had gone through a divorce and drug addiction, and basically lost hope multiple times, even attempting suicide.

“My life really fell apart,” she said. “I lost custody of my kids, I started sleeping in my car, and I started going to rehabs, but the rehabs weren’t working. … The Rescue Mission is what I needed.”

At the end of the presentation, both Hansler and Bryner took the stage to a round of applause. Bryner was accompanied by her two children. It was truly a tear-inducing, emotional moment for all who attended.


You might also like