|I HAVE COME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE.||
BREAD OF LIFE RESCUE MISSION
1919 Apple Street, Suite M
Oceanside, CA 92054
“My wife and I felt we were called to service in this ministry and we had a passion for the needs of people who needed help, and God was pulling on our hearts to do more,” he says.
Bassett, 69, lives with his wife, Raylene, in Oceanside and together they have five children and seven grandchildren. As director of Bread of Life, Bassett serves as pastor for the religious non-profit while also managing volunteers, conducting case management, and coordinating activities in the community. The organization serves six cities in North County (Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Escondido and Encinitas), feeding thousands of people each month and serving as a temporary sober and drug-free shelter from December through March of each year. Bassett took some time to talk about the work they do, how he’d like to see them grow and his love of the outdoors.
Q: In what capacity did you first begin working with Bread of Life?
A: I started as a volunteer for a few years and helped with cooking meals. My wife and I continued for that time and then were hired as part-time staff. We became more involved with organizing, setting people up to provide meals through a monthly calendar, and just trying to build and grow the services offered. We developed partnerships with other ministries, like North Coast Presbyterian Church in Encinitas and their food ministry. We partnered with them to get more food so we could open a food pantry, and after a couple of years, we were giving away a bunch of food from our pantry. All of this was part of our growth and growing into new areas to help people in need.
Q: Why did you want to start working with them?
A: During this time, we were seeing people change and many who weren’t doing well — either because of drug abuse or just not going in the right direction in life, generally — were making big, life-changing decisions. These were the very reasons God had called us to do this work with Bread of Life.
Q: What is your current role with the non-profit?
A: I work on the board of directors to build us into a place where people can come for help. The need is huge in the areas we serve, and we continue to try and do more in the different areas of service the mission provides. We see the need to open up shelter for more days than just December through March with our winter program. We see the need for a year-round mission that is open overnight for the homeless. This could help change our communities from having so many people on the streets.
Where I live (in a retirement community), I enjoy talking to the people in the neighborhood about how they are doing in their later years of life.
Q: What are your responsibilities in this role?
A: As my job goes, it’s very busy and multifaceted. I have pastoral duties in helping those in need, and I also have organizational duties with regard to directing volunteers and people who take on supervisory roles. With case management, we invest time in the lives of others to help them move in a direction of self-sustainability, and get them working on their assignments to help them reach the goal of having a positive, sustainable life. I also go to meetings in the community, connecting with people in our area’s Alliance for Regional Solutions — North County San Diego to meet and work together on all the needs of all the non-profits involved in helping the homeless community.
Q: What are some of the services you provide?
A: We have food boxes for people on fixed incomes and those who have no income. Our soup kitchen serves meals to those who are hungry, poor or homeless. And our winter shelter serves to help people get off the streets during the coldest months of the year.
Q: Which services seem to have the greatest need?
A: The greatest need is the winter shelter and to get into a home of their own. Although San Diego County generally has warm weather during most of the year, the outdoors can be unsafe, dangerous and unfit for anyone to be able to live a good life.
Q: What are your goals for Bread of Life?
A: We’d like to some day have a facility owned by the ministry, to become a year-round facility for housing people who need shelter while also helping them get permanent housing for themselves; to have an ongoing food program that provides meals and helps people with food, like food boxes for temporary help. We’re different than most faith-based non-profits in that we have chapel service, we have prayer and continue to be a religious organization, but we go from that to operating as an ongoing winter shelter that has no religious services, and we have an overnight program that receives federal funds. We do a great job of separating church and state.
Q: What’s involved in case management and why are people required to be sober in order to receive assistance?
A: Case management is part of what we use as a memorandum of understanding, requiring all shelter clients to follow. If they follow the instructions of their case managers, this allows them to stay in the program until we get them on track and into housing. Anyone who comes to Bread of Life for our soup kitchen meals or for our shelter program must be sober and not use drugs; if not, we refer them to a recovery program and afterward they can receive services. We do this because we want to avoid having problems in the soup kitchen or the shelter, and also because many of our clients are recovering from these kinds of addictions themselves.
Q: What do the people who come to your organization say that they find most helpful?
A: They mostly say that they feel the love we give them, a sense of being part of our family and a break away from the loneliness of living on the streets.
Q: What do you think other people misunderstand about homelessness?
A: Most people think most homeless people are on drugs or drinking alcohol, and many are, but some are also victims of losing their jobs, divorce, loss of a spouse or partner, or serious health issues that are prohibitively expensive.
Q: Has your work with the organization changed your perspective on homelessness?
A: Yes, very much so. After many years of serving in prisons and jails doing outreach work, I’ve changed a lot in terms of believing more in people and having more hope.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: To be patient and listen to what people say about their lives and what they tell me about their dreams to prosper.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to find out about you?
A: Maybe I have a little redneck blood in me because I like being outdoors camping, fishing and hunting.
Q: Describe your ideal San Diego weekend.
A: Camping out at the ocean and being with family and friends.