Cooking Up Hope: Thank You Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment!

Ten years ago, the Village of Hope opened and everything was bright, shiny and new, especially the kitchen!  Over the years, the state-of-the-art equipment did its best and served us well, but understandably suffered wear and tear from providing thousands of meals each day, especially as we have taken on providing meals for our Chili Van outreach ministry and other shelters in Orange County.

Our friends at Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment stepped up to graciously help us meet this need!  I am so thankful to CEO Peter Spenuzza and the Imperial team for the generous donation of 11 items of commercial kitchen equipment!  Items donated include griddles, charbroilers, double convection ovens, open burners, fryers, stands, casters, and hoses, all totaling to a donation of over $70,000 worth of equipment.

This is an amazing blessing to the Rescue Mission, and perfectly timed – with our expansion to include more beds at the Village of Hope, we are cooking for more people now than ever before!

Thank you again to Peter and the team at Imperial Commercial Cooking Equipment!  We appreciate your support of the Rescue Mission and your heart to care for the Least, the Last, and the Lost!

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


Wannida’s Chance for a New Life

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you Wannida’s story, a mother who was trapped in a desperate situation…

Wannida flashed back to her childhood, to what she knew was happening behind closed doors in her family.

Just like her mom, she married a man who had begun to violently take his anger out on her. And she didn’t know how far her husband would go.

But there was only one thought running across Wannida’s mind right now:

I can’t breathe.

Her husband’s hands around her neck were squeezing tighter. In a moment, Wannida thought she might black out. The empty bottle of booze should have clued her in. Her husband was not taking the news of his father’s terminal cancer diagnosis well.

Just when the darkness threatened to overtake her, Wannida became aware of someone pounding on the front door.  It was her mother. Wannida could hear her crying and demanding to be let in. Her husband released his stranglehold on her neck, but refused to open the door.

Soon enough, Wannida saw red and blue lights reflected in the window. Her mom had called the police, and they were now taking Wannida’s husband into custody, giving her a short time to make a decision before he came back.

Would she stay or would she leave?

In telling her story, Wannida shares her realization: “The only way to break the cycle is if I do it. This is not how God wants me to live.”

So, Wannida called Orange County Rescue Mission.

“By coming here, I wanted something totally different than what the past 10 years have been like,” she says about putting closure on the abuse and drinking to cope. “We get an opportunity to change what we were living like.”

Today, Wannida is searching for a job and well on her way to self-sufficiency — because you cared enough to give her a new start. Will you help more people find the hope they need to start their own journey to new life this Easter season?


Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.

The Potential to Be Someone Great

Today, I have yet another story to share with you about an incredible young woman from our Laurel House program, Lorena, and the impact she is making on her community!

Lorena’s Story

At age 13, Lorena was kidnapped and raped.  The trauma sent her into an unending struggle with alcohol, truancy, and rebellious friends.  Depression crept into her brother’s and father’s lives as they watched her pain.  Her mother sought counseling for Lorena, trying to restore the health of their family.

Lorena also recognized the need for change.  “My school referred me to a therapist who told me about Laurel House.”  Lorena says she entered Laurel House because her actions were hurting the people who loved her most.  “I left my friends and family, basically everything, to change myself and get better.”  Now 17, Lorena knows that her brutal experiences weren’t her fault.  She confronted the man who terrorized her at his sentencing.  “It was a healing moment.  It put a close to that chapter,” Lorena remembers.

Lorena attributes her success to her faith in Jesus Christ and the support of the Laurel House community.  “I decided to live the life God wants me to.” At Laurel House, she lives in a family environment of support, prayer, and quiet time for reflection and academic study.

Her studies have also improved.  She maintains a 4.0 GPA while taking honors classes.  “I’m always studying,” she says.  “I went from not caring about school to believing that it is my life.”  Before coming to Laurel House, Lorena didn’t think she could go to college or “even become someone great.” Now in her senior year, Lorena has been accepted to her first choice university and plans to study nursing.  She now believes in her potential for greatness.

Lorena and the Laurel House girls are required to participate in a Christian youth group and to volunteer.  Lorena volunteers as a mentor younger students through the Boys & Girls Club of Tustin.

The Boys & Girls Club of Tustin has awarded Lorena as Youth of the Year for 2018! As Youth of the Year, Lorena has been entrusted by the Club to be their representative in the community.  This is an amazing honor, and we are incredibly proud of Lorena!

Lorena is a beautiful example of the redemption of Jesus Christ, which has completely transformed her life.  Keep striving for greatness, Lorena!

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


Preparing Rescue Mission Meals is Second Vocation for Former Pilot

I would like to shine the spotlight on another one of our incredible volunteers: Chef James!

James has been volunteering in the kitchen at the Orange County Rescue Mission since 2012.  Every Monday night, he plans menus, orders food, provides recipes, and cooks delicious meals for the more than 200 residents that call the Rescue Mission home.

After retiring from the airlines as a captain, James went to culinary school at Orange Coast College for a year.  It was around that time that he learned that the Rescue Mission needed volunteers to cook, so he decided to put his new skills to work in the kitchen at the Village of Hope!

The Rescue Mission kitchen is a busy place, where something is always going on.  Volunteers like James are crucial to providing more than 600 meals daily to the homeless.  And it makes such a difference to have people that truly have a heart for serving the Rescue Mission and all who rely on it for a warm meal.

James typically arrives 4 hours before dinner time, to prepare and look after the kitchen.  He organizes the spice rack, checks the supplies of vegetables and dry goods, and makes notes to reorder.  These seemingly small details keep the kitchen in order and running smoothly day after day.

“I really like volunteering here, and I like teaching the residents the skills I have,” James shares.  “When I am in the kitchen there are residents working alongside me, helping get the meal ready and learning new skills as they work.  Several residents have gone on to get jobs in restaurants.  I enjoy helping them overcome the obstacles they have in their lives.”

We are so grateful for your service and dedication to the Rescue Mission, Chef James!

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


Your Support Goes 3x As Far With AmazonSmile

Amazon makes my life so much simpler.  If you’re anything like me, you enjoy how easy and convenient it is to make everyday purchases through Amazon.  Did you know that your Amazon shopping can be not only an easy way to shop, but also a way to give back?

All you have to do is use a slightly different link:  When you choose Orange County Rescue Mission as the beneficiary, a proceed of all purchases made through AmazonSmile will be given to the Rescue Mission!

Beginning Monday, March 12th through the end of the March, AmazonSmile is launching a new promotion that will triple the donation amount when you make your first eligible purchase!  This is an easy way to join our support team, while simply doing your regular shopping.

So head over to and shop ‘til you drop because every dollar makes a difference!

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


Answers to the Hard Questions: How Do We Know God Exists?

I invite you to listen to Natasha answer such an important question about God’s existence.  But don’t be daunted by the subject matter! Natasha has an amazing ability to communicate with clarity, insight and passion on how we can be confident in knowing that God does exist.

Everyone is welcome to join us for the event at Village of Hope on Monday, March 12 at 6:30 pm.  For questions about the event please contact Taylor at

This is a great opportunity to learn and be inspired. Invite your friends and family to join you!

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


The Breaking Point; a Rescue Mission Story



I have always had a compassion for widows, the women unexpectedly facing a sometimes insurmountable loss. And yet, even more overwhelmed and broken are the women who choose to leave in order to save themselves and their children, because they are victims of domestic violence. These women, like Wannida, have become the faces of homelessness.

Here is Wannida’s story. 

Wannida could only ask herself, why?

Wannida covered her ears, but she couldn’t block out the sounds.

Her dad’s voice, slurred and hostile. Her mom’s, timid and pleading. Then the sound of skin making hard contact with skin. Her mom’s sobs and shrieks.

Inside her head, Wannida was silently screaming, stop! Stop hurting my mother!

Behind the closed door, the sound of smacks and thuds continued until Wannida couldn’t hear anything more. She could only hope her mom had lost consciousness…

The only question Wannida could ask herself was, why?

Why was her dad so violent?

Why didn’t her mom stand up for herself?

Why couldn’t her dad control his drinking?

Why didn’t her mom just leave?

Wannida never did get any answers.

Then, years later, Wannida found herself married to a man with violent tendencies of his own. And just like her mom, she stayed. She forgave him. She hoped he would change.

But that was before that fateful night…

Those living in darkness, like Wannida, are longing for a new life this Easter season. Your gift of meals for $1.48 can be their first spark of hope. Will you give generously today?


Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.

Finishing the Race: The Spartan Race & Double R Ranch

A few weeks ago, 14 men from our Double R Ranch campus in Warner Springs participated in the Spartan Race, an intense obstacle course race about 10 miles in length, with 24-29 obstacles along the way.

What once started as a creative way to stay in shape and have some fun has now evolved into a part of the Double R Ranch program. It is instrumental in the journey to self-sufficiency for many of the men that live at the Ranch.  I was able to speak with two of the men that participated in the Race, Cameron and Jason, and hear what the Spartan Race means to them.

They have passion for the Spartan Race. “Just like the Double R Ranch, [the Spartan Race] is a way of working hard and is a matter of endurance.” And they learned to endure together, gaining a new appreciation and passion for the power of team work.

Cameron shares that for many of the men that compete, their spirit is changed after.  “It’s something they thought they couldn’t do, but then realized they could,” he says. “For guys that don’t have much, that is huge.”

This type of achievement is a major morale boost for the men at the Double R Ranch.  As Jason says, “If you’re here, you’re broken.”  These men have been through homelessness, pain, trauma, abuse, addiction and much more.  Pushing themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually through this Race shows them that they have the endurance and ability to complete an incredibly difficult task.  It is an also an opportunity to set goals and achieve them, again something many of these men have never successfully done.

“It is an accomplishment much like the program itself.  It’s not fun, it’s not easy, it’s not convenient.  But it pays off,” Cameron says.

Jason sums it up so well, “Much like the Orange County Rescue Mission philosophy and like faith, it is an ‘all in’ thing.  The same principles apply to the Race.”  Walking with God and transforming your life are not half-hearted processes, and neither is the Spartan Race.

“It is a blessing from the donors,” Jason says.  Thanks to your support, men like Jason and Cameron are able to participate in a life-changing experience and accomplish something they never thought they could.  

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


Facing Forward Means Leaving Failure Behind: Lacey’s Story

As a father to two girls, one who is still a teenager, the stories from Laurel House tug on my heart in a very personal way.  It  is heartbreaking to see young lives affected by such pain and turmoil, but it makes the joy of their restoration that much greater.  The girls that come through our Laurel House program are some of the strongest individuals I have ever met and have already overcome so much at such a young age.  One such example is Lacey.

Lacey’s Story

Lacey was totally out of control and her mother was desperate to find help for her.  Lacey hated authority and couldn’t deal with criticism.  She had begun to reject her family and instead turned to drugs and alcohol.  She fell in with a bad crowd of people.  “I ran away from conflict.  I couldn’t face failure…I couldn’t see any other way to live,” Lacey remembers about that time in her life.

Lacey’s mom knew Lacey needed to live apart from the rest of the family, at least for a little while.  It was a heartbreaking thought, but she knew it was the best thing for her daughter.

When Lacey’s mom discovered Laurel House, it was an answer to prayer.  She liked the staff, the facilities, and the program, and she hoped they would be able to help Lacey.

At the beginning, Lacey hated Laurel House.  She didn’t want to participate because she was embarrassed to admit she had failed.  But with the support and encouragement of the Laurel House staff, she began to be able to step back and evaluate her life.    The house parents and counselor gave her the guidance and accountability she needed, along with a lot of love.

And within a few months of living at Laurel House, as Lacey began to really look at her life and her choices, she began to see the deeper roots of her pain and brokenness.  With these realizations, she was able to confront that pain and instead make decisions to better her life, rather than sabotage it out of anger and hurt.

“These days I speak my mind when things get uncomfortable.” Lacey says. “I know not to run away from things when they’re getting bad.  [And] being away from the crowd that abused drugs and alcohol has helped a lot.”

And the Lord began working in her heart as well.  “Laurel House is based on Christian beliefs and that has helped me develop strong values,” says Lacey.  “Having God in my life has made a huge difference.”

Within a year of living at Laurel House, Lacey and her family learned and changed, and were reunited, this time as a stronger unit.  Lacey moved back home and has since graduated from Orange County Rescue Mission’s Laurel House program.  “Our family relationships have never been better and we are thankful,” Lacey says of her family.

As for school, Lacey had always been smart but she had not applied herself.  But today, she completed her last school year with a 3.8 GPA and has aspirations of going to college when she graduates high school.  She plans to study psychology so that she can help other teens like her.

Stories like Lacey’s bring such joy to my heart, and we are all so proud of all that Lacey has accomplished!  Thank you for your support which gives young girls like Lacey hope for a brighter future!

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.


Warren Cole Smith: “Orange County Rescue Mission is ‘Restoring All Things'”

I had the pleasure of meeting with Warren Cole Smith last week when he came to visit the Village of Hope.  Warren is, among many other things, an incredible and very successful journalist and he wrote the following piece about his time here at the Village.  I am honored by Warren’s interest Orange County Rescue Mission, and so thankful for his help in sharing what we do here and how lives are being transformed through God’s work through the Rescue Mission!

Please take a look at Warren Cole Smith’s article here.

Restoring All Things

This is not a normal homeless shelter.The first sign of that is the front gate. It’s massive and beautiful and was fashioned from steel by artist Albert Paley. It’s part of a collection of more than $4-million in donated fountains, sculptures, stained glass and paintings that adorn Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope in the Los Angeles suburb of Tustin, Calif.“We want people who come here to experience beauty,” said executive director Jim Palmer. “We think that’s an important part of what we offer to our students.”That’s another difference. The residents of the Village of Hope, a campus that houses nearly 300 formerly homeless people, are not “patients.” They are students. The name tags they wear are color-coded to denote freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. “Everyone here is learning and working,” Palmer said. That’s one reason that two years after the students graduate from the 18-month to two-year program, 85 percent of the graduates are still living independently. That success rate is much higher than other similar programs.Palmer believes another reason for the success is the OCRM’s commitment to emphasize spiritual matters. “Physical and material brokenness is often symptom of spiritual brokenness,” he said. “We want to deal with root causes, not just symptoms.”That commitment has a price. Palmer said OCRM does not take government funds. During my recent tour of the facility, we stopped in a beautiful chapel, complete with a cross and artfully designed and executed stained-glass windows. The building is clearly used for Christian worship and, in fact, a local church uses the building on weekends. Palmer told me that he could have gotten more than a million dollars to help with the construction of this building if he was willing to call it a “multi-purpose room” or an “auditorium.” He refused, and the government money went elsewhere. But the building retained its beauty and integrity as a worship space, and the decision sent a powerful message to students, staff, and donors.The Village of Hope also has a dental clinic on-site, as well as a daycare facility staffed in part with students from nearby Concordia University. A garden grows herbs and spices used in the Village of Hope’s dining facility. In huge letters along the back wall of that facility is the expression: “Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.”And The Village of Hope is just one of nearly a dozen facilities OCRM has in Orange County, facilities that range from Restoration Roasters, a coffee shop, to the Double R Ranch, a working horse ranch where men, women and children who have been abused or abandoned, have – according to the Double R Ranch website — a “unique opportunity to work with animals. There are goats to be fed, eggs to be retrieved, pigs to be slopped and horses to be brushed. This amazing facility helps build self-esteem and gives its residents a safe place to learn how to care for others.”

Of course, OCRM hasn’t always had the robust facilities it has today. When Palmer became executive director 27 years ago, the Rescue Mission was $90,000 in debt. “That was more money that I could even conceive of then,” he said. “I promised God that if he would get us out of debt, I would not make any decisions that would put us back in debt.” Soon after, the debt was paid off, and all the facilities that make up Orange County Rescue Mission – now worth tens of millions of dollars – were all acquired or built debt-free.

(Palmer and OCRM are also committed to financial transparency. For a close look at the organization’s financial statements, click here.)

Jim Palmer says one of the most gratifying parts of his job is seeing the alumni of the OCRM’s various programs, who come back for special events. He says that when the students first come to the Village of Hope, they are often in crisis, with all kinds of physical, spiritual, and emotional problems. But seeing many of the former students years later, knowing that the crisis is behind them and they are leading transformed, productive lives, is what keeps him going.

In fact, outside Palmer’s office is a photo of the first “class” of students to go through the Village of Hope’s program. Palmer points to one of the men and says, “See that guy. He’s now on our staff.”

Giving online is easy, safe, and quick. Your donation will make an immediate impact to provide meals, shelter and services for a homeless family in desperate need of a hand up to self-sufficiency.



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