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Redemption and restoration are the purposes of one nonprofit in Orange County

With joyful jubilance, kids outside the Orange County Rescue Mission’s House of Hope thrive within this program the nonprofit operates, open to individuals, families, and children. Courtesy photos provided by Orange County Rescue Mission.


December 14, 2021

By Laurie Hanson

Some would call them lost souls, but for the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin, there is no such thing.

The Christian-based nonprofit successfully saves individuals and families otherwise discarded and forgotten, something paramount during COVID-19. Their vital programs and outreach include Village of Hope, House of Hope, Tustin Veteran’s Outpost, and the Double R Ranch.

“We have been 100 percent operational during the pandemic, so we have continued to meet needs without any interruption in services with our regular programs,” said Senior Marketing Manager Kristi Nichols. “Outreach services resumed during the summer.” 

Two success stories at the Orange County Rescue Mission include “Stephanie,” a mother of two fleeing an abusive relationship, and another of “Sam,” a veteran who found himself caught up in drug addiction.

“I grew up in abuse, and it turned into a vicious cycle,” Stephanie said. “No matter how hard I tried in life, something was missing. I just wanted to be loved.”

She thought she met someone who would provide that love, only to find herself in a physically abusive marriage where her husband’s drinking and drugs spiraled out of control.

“I was depressed and suicidal,” she explained. “I felt afraid to leave and afraid to stay. My daughters were my priority. I wanted them to be safe, so I finally left our home with nothing but what we could carry.”

With nowhere to go, Stephanie and her daughters survived in hotels, but eventually became homeless. Then, they found the Orange County Rescue Mission, which would forever change their lives.

In Village of Hope, they received transitional and emergency housing and access to comprehensive services, including counseling, job training, medical and dental care, and more. The program, which serves up to 262 homeless men, women, and children, supports and guides individuals towards health and self-sufficiency. 


Pictured is an overview of the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope. This program offers emergency and transitional housing for up to 262 homeless men, women, and children. 


 Operating within the Village of Hope is the Parent and Child Center, a 6,000 square foot site offering parent-led care for newborns and toddlers, age-appropriate activities for preschool-age children, and on-site after-school tutoring. It is here that parents receive firsthand coaching and attend classes for parenting skills.

Through in-depth spiritual and personal support offered at the Village of Hope, Stephanie and her daughters bonded with a Christian family, and their lives went from one of fear to joyfulness in Christ.

After graduating from Village of Hope, Stephanie and her girls transitioned to the Orange County Rescue Mission’s House of Hope to live in an affordable, supportive, and Christian community of women.

“I appreciate this family of women,” she said. “We are families helping families, women supporting women. We have remained stronger together, even through the uncertainty of COVID-19.”

Stephanie now works full-time as a dental assistant, supporting her daughters and bringing them up in the Christian faith. “God did something in our lives that is just a miracle,” she said. “I have learned to be a better person and a loving mom. Most importantly, I finally found love in Christ.”

Likewise, “Sam’s” life turned around through the Orange County Rescue Mission. In the Tustin Veterans Outpost, he found a better way to live. His story begins with being a teenager whose life was devastated by losing his drug-addicted mother to suicide.

Though he saw her live through addiction, Sam found himself drawn to becoming one himself. While serving time behind bars, he realized he wanted to change. He remembers seeing commercials encouraging young people to join the U.S. Army, and upon release he signed up. In the Army he became a combat medic, but his service was short due to an injury, pain pills and the resurgence of his drug addiction.

Upon returning home, “Sam” struggled to keep a job and maintain stability, becoming homeless.

“I lost hope,” he said. “Everything good in my life was destroyed.”

 “I was homeless, my back in the dirt,” Sam said. “I heard a powerful voice in my soul. In this unique experience, I asked God to change me forever.”

After seeking out a church to attend, one member brought him to the Orange County Rescue Mission, where Sam became a student at their Tustin Veterans Outpost.

 The Tustin Veterans Outpost reaches out to all veterans and families needing housing and assistance. Here they receive services and support which help them become self-sufficient in civilian life. Their apartments offer transitional housing for up to 71 individuals. Veterans here receive case management, health and mental health services, legal services, educational assistance, food and nutritional assistance, job training and employment placement.

 “The Outpost was the perfect place to mature and let go of all of the bad that had a hold on me,” explained Sam. “Now God has a hold of my heart, and I am safe and protected in His loving hands. All that I lost is now restored.”

 At the Tustin Veterans Outpost, veterans are known to thrive on its camaraderie and structure, something once experienced in their military service. Eventually, Sam’s leadership skills emerged, and he became a peer leader. He is now taking courses towards a bachelor’s degree in Theology, desiring a career in service to God.

 “My life’s purpose is to serve God and use my experiences to help others.,” he said.

 Another unique program within the Orange County Rescue Mission is the Double R Ranch. It is a horse and livestock ranch where men, women, and children have a unique opportunity to experience healing through time spent outdoors. 

“This amazing facility gives its residents a safe place to learn how to care for others,” Nichols said. “It also serves as a weekend retreat for Village of Hope families.”

Its recent relocation from San Diego County to Orange County will more greatly serve others within the Orange County Rescue Mission programs. It will be opening in 2022. 

“This will provide greater access for women, children, and families to this very effective program, as well as increase transitional/affordable housing opportunities for the program graduates,” added Nichols. 

In the year to come, the Orange County Rescue Mission will continue its COVID-19 safety measures and procedures. They offer weekly testing, contact tracing and quarantining, plus vaccines for everyone who chooses them. One of their biggest challenges has been maintaining their hybrid education, which required staffing/support for homeschooling students at any given time or day, according to Nichols. 

“Our priority was for the kids to not fall behind or miss out on any education, but not pull parents out of their program,” she added.

Though volunteer opportunities are almost full through the end of this year, the Orange County Rescue Mission could use help with their Chili Van Outreach. They are also in need of cash donations. For more information about them, to volunteer or donate, please visit online at www.rescuemission.org.




  • Ann Harmer says:

    What a well-written and researchedc article. Uplifting, at a time when we ALL need something to smile and nod at in approval. I really appreciate Laurie Hanson’s writing. Her stories make me smile.