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History of the Bay Area Rescue Mission

Widespread homelessness, poverty, and hunger in the Bay Area compelled people of compassion to establish the Rescue Mission in 1965.

Using the ground floor of an old hotel, the Rescue Mission launched its care for the homeless by offering 12 beds for men and serving 35 meals every day.

In 1971, the Rescue Mission expanded its services. In addition to sheltering homeless men, we were able to shelter and feed homeless women and families by purchasing the entire building. By the late 1970s, the Rescue Mission had reached capacity. A new building was completed in 1980, housing a chapel, offices, a kitchen, and a dining room, as well as additional lodging for men in the Rescue Mission’s New Life Discipleship Program.

In 1984, the Rescue Mission expanded its services once again, this time building an emergency shelter for women and children. By 1987, the women and family shelter was able to provide emergency shelter for 162 family members.

On June 7, 1992, the Rescue Mission dedicated its new offices, food pantry and distribution center. From this center, the Rescue Mission stores and distributes food to needy families. The food is so generously provided by the local food chains; furniture and clothing are also donated.

On January 1, 1994, a 13,000 square-foot building was donated to the Rescue Mission, allowing the Rescue Mission to enlarge the after-school tutoring program for youth and to establish a computer learning center for people in our discipleship program. This building also houses the organization business offices.

In March 1998, the Rescue Mission started an outreach program in Fairfield ‒ Mission Solano ‒ to help the homeless and impoverished in Solano County. In January of 2003, Mission Solano became an independent Rescue Mission.

In December of 1999, an expansion and renovation project of the kitchen led to the establishment of a Culinary Arts Training Center. This program allows members in the discipleship program to receive college credit, culinary degrees, and quality training for a career in the food service industry.

Left to right: Larry Wattell (Founder), Malcolm
Lee (Director Emeritus), & John Anderson (Current Director)

On January 1, 2000, John Anderson accepted the position as the new President/CEO of the Bay Area Rescue Mission. During the previous six years, John had served the Bay Area Rescue Mission as the Chief Financial Officer, Director of Programs, and Business Manager. Prior to joining the Bay Area Rescue Mission, John served at the San Diego Rescue Mission for ten years.