Skip to content

About

SHARE

About The Rescue Mission

The men, women and children who enter the gates of the Orange County Rescue Mission come from many walks of life and are all wounded in different ways. Some are highly educated, many are survivors of abuse, addiction and abandonment. None of these people ever imagined they’d be homeless and they all need our help.
To minister the love of Jesus Christ to the Least, the Last, and the Lost of our Community through the provision of assistance in the areas of guidance, counseling, education, job training, shelter, food, clothing, health care and independent living communities.
To operate in a dynamic, entrepreneurial manner, expecting to grow and expand numerically, programmatically, and geographically. We seek to be constantly challenged with fresh vision and well-prepared strategies that originate with the President and the senior professional staff, and that are refined, confirmed, and approved by the Board of Directors.

Inspiration of Hope in those we serve. Excellence in everything we do. Leadership centered on servanthood. Respect for each person as an individual. Integrity and accountability. Moving our clients toward self-sufficiency. Commitment to spiritual, emotional, social and vocational growth. Maintaining an environment that fosters teamwork, success and trust.

The people who come to us could be your neighbor, your coworker or perhaps a member of your own family. Our goal is to treat each person with respect and dignity. We prayerfully consider how we will implement an Individual Treatment Plan for those who come to us for help.

2024 Annual Report

We welcome adults and children regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or pregnancy, to our campuses and programs.

Executive Team

Bryan Crain

President

Bryan’s passion for serving the homeless began when he started volunteering with a small ministry that served a hot chili dinner, once per week, to the homeless community in downtown Santa Ana. Over time, that ministry grew into the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Chili Van, which now serves hundreds of people each month in multiple locations.

In 2015, Bryan was hired as the Chief Operating Officer, managing operations and student residential programs at all Orange County Rescue Mission sites and properties. He was promoted to President and CEO in 2023. His passion for equipping people to overcome challenges that lead to homelessness is rooted in the truth of God's word and the hope that comes from trusting in the Lord. 
He enjoys hiking, camping, reading, traveling, and spending time with his wife, Natasha, and their three kids. 

I'm Done! Keep Reading

Larry Gwilt

Chief Financial Officer

Larry is a CPA who joined Orange County Rescue Mission in 2016. Larry’s deep compassion for the poor and homeless began more than 20 years ago, serving in an outreach ministry that provided meals and clothing to the poor and homeless at a neighborhood park in Brea.

 

He and his wife also led a monthly family benevolence night at the food warehouse within their church when their children were young, packing groceries to be distributed to the homeless in Orange County. Larry and his wife, Kathy, live in Foothill Ranch. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren. Larry enjoys spending time with family, playing golf, and reading.

I'm Done! Keep Reading

Jodie Saunderson

Chief HR/Compliance Officer

Jodie was immediately drawn into the work of Orange County Rescue Mission when she first began as an HR consultant in 2012. In her current role as Chief Human Resources and Compliance Officer, Jodie manages Human Resources, Payroll, and Global Compliance.

 

She is thankful for the ability she now has to openly integrate her faith into her work and is strongly motivated by the incredible ministry that is taking place daily at the Rescue Mission. Jodie and her husband, Jack, live in San Clemente. They have two daughters and one grown son who is married with two children of their own. Jodie and her family attend The Shoreline Church in San Clemente. In her free time, Jodie enjoys walking her dog, cooking, camping, and spending time at the beach with her family.

I'm Done! Keep Reading

Derrick Burton

Chief Ministry Officer

Derrick discovered his passion for empowering people to grow into who God created them to be in 2000 while a member of a ministry that served the homeless. Believing God called him to Orange County Rescue Mission, he accepted an entry-level position and 14 years later was promoted to Chief Ministry Officer.

 

Derrick directs all programs, supervises staff, and maintains an environment within all of the campuses that instill the Gospel, the Rescue Mission’s Statement of Faith, and its Ministry Values. He is a leader, teacher, and pastor who actively imparts a philosophy of ministry that advances those we serve and compels them towards dependency on Jesus Christ and financial self-sufficiency. Derrick and his wife, Yolanda, reside in Placentia. He is the father of two, stepfather of three, and grandpa of five. Derrick enjoys football, theatrical productions, family gatherings, and playing with his grandkids.

I'm Done! Keep Reading

Anna Song

Chief Development Officer

After reading a tragic story about a young girl being abused by her mother, Anna made a commitment to help those who were hurting and broken when she was just 12 years old.   When Orange County Rescue Mission acquired a local teen girls transitional home in 2015 called Hope Harbor, they acquired Anna as the grant writer with it. 

 

Now the Chief Development Officer of the Rescue Mission, she leads a dynamic team that oversees donor relations, grants, planned giving, marketing and communications, volunteer engagement, events, and public relations.  When Anna has received exceptionally great news in the office, you might catch her doing a little happy dance… quick enough that can be easily missed with the blink of an eye.  Anna and her husband, Dave, live in Fullerton with their family.

I'm Done! Keep Reading

Joey Gonzalez

Chief Operating Officer

Joey initially joined Orange County Rescue Mission in 2011 as the Career Center Manager. Then in 2017 he was promoted to the role of Village of Hope Manager, where he demonstrated his ability to orchestrate transformative programs at the Village of Hope. After thoughtful consideration and prayer, Joey transitioned to Hurtt Family Health Clinic in January 2022 where he became the COO and Interim Executive Director.

 

January 2024 marked an exciting return to the Rescue Mission, this time as the Chief Operating Officer. Having a background in Pastoral and Church Leadership, Joey also holds a degree in Business Management from Ohio Christian University. Beyond his professional pursuits, he enjoys Christian apologetics, serving at his church, and staying active, but especially enjoys a fulfilling family life with his wife Yanet and their three children.

I'm Done! Keep Reading

Board of Directors

Dr. Steve Callahan

Mr. Mark Conzelman

Mr. Christopher Ferebee

Dr. William Guard

Mr. Bart Hansen

Mrs. Jackie Nowlin

Mr. Joe Oltmans

Financial Accountability

Orange County Rescue Mission is committed to helping you assist the poor in the most cost-effective way possible. That’s why we take extra care to use every penny efficiently. As part of that effort, we are governed by an independent Board of Directors.

At Orange County Rescue Mission, a full 84 cents of every dollar given goes directly to help the homeless. If gifts received are above a specific need, they will be used for Mission programs where the need is greatest. Your support is greatly appreciated. With your help, Orange County Rescue Mission works to make our community a better place for everyone to live.

Our Use Of Donations

The Power of $1.00

81¢ 15¢
  • Direct Assistance to the Homeless 81¢
  • Communications & Fundraising 15¢
  • Administrative

Our Story

During the year of President Kennedy’s assassination, fearful Americans anxiously awaited nuclear destruction from the sky, drugs began their invasion of the middle-class and a place called Vietnam loomed dangerously on the horizon. It was the year “Camelot” died tragically in its infancy.

 

In that turbulent setting, it is hardly surprising that local passers-by didn’t concern themselves with the disturbance under a bridge in an “undesirable” part of town. But a husky African American soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps, acting on impulse, did stop his car to investigate. This spur-of-the-moment decision by Tech Sergeant Lewis Whitehead was to give birth to Orange County’s largest and most effective Christian-based private human service organization.

 

What he faced under that bridge in 1963 changed his life forever. The altercation was minor (his dominating presence quelled the dispute quickly), but the sight of filthy men, women and children living under the bridge changed his vision of this community. They suffered under conditions that Sergeant Whitehead thought only existed in the poorest of nations and made a mockery of Hollywood’s representation of the homeless as happy-go-lucky “hobos”.

 

Images of those wretched people haunted his thoughts as he returned to his duty directing the mess hall at the Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin. That day, as he watched good food being thrown away, a combination of sorrow and determination overcame him.

 

He packed up some of this “waste” food and returned to the bridge to feed the hungry. The next day he returned again, and the next. Sergeant Whitehead held vigil with these dirty, undesirable people, gathering food and clothing for the children and encouraging the adults to resist drowning their despondency in alcohol. As he grew to know them, he found that these people were not wantonly homeless. He found that they were victims of deep emotional and spiritual wounds; that their capacity to cope with social responsibility had been slowly whittled away by unresolved childhood crises, and often relentless alcohol abuse which helped deaden their pain.

 

Once Sergeant Whitehead’s eyes were opened to the plight of the homeless, he began to see others in the same circumstance.

 

They were everywhere in “idyllic and affluent” Orange County, but the community seemed ignorant of them — as he so recently was. He began to stand up in church, speaking softly at first, then loudly, chastising his fellow neighbors for failing to comfort these hurting people. As a handful of churchgoers responded to his impassioned pleas, the Marine used his formidable leadership skills to unite the volunteers and build the framework for the county’s first Rescue Mission, which opened in a run-down office above a downtown Santa Ana shoe store.

 

From those humble beginnings, a rising tide of community support enlarged the Orange County Rescue Mission through several temporary buildings and residential homes. Soon, the Orange County Rescue Mission became the county’s largest privately funded human service agency for the poor and homeless. This was achieved without one penny of the taxpayers’ money.

 

Throughout the ensuing decades since that epochal day in 1963, as people saw the needs which the Rescue Mission was able to meet through their help, that support has grown. Providentially (and ironically), OCRM’s flagship transitional living facility, the Village of Hope, was built on the former Tustin Marine Base, a mere “stone’s throw” from the mess hall from which Sergeant Whitehead fed his first homeless families.

 

The Orange County Rescue Mission continues to implement innovative programs designed to offer the greatest long-term benefit to those who take advantage of them. Thank you for being a part of our growing vision. We hope you will continue to see the value in what we are doing and join us in this great work!

I'm Done! Keep Reading