The newly-built home provides 15 additional beds to serve men with physical disabilities at the Long Beach Rescue Mission
By John Grossi
Photo by Monique Kuhlman
“So Coach,” I said, “Why do you think this new house will be a happy place for the people it serves?”
Darnell (Coach) Robinson was giving me his full attention for this interview, and I have to say... it was one of the most calming sensations I’ve ever felt. When I heard his nickname was “Coach,” it was so apt, such a natural fit. I had just met this guy but already I had an overwhelming sense that he was going to help me as much as he could, speak nothing but truth, and that, well... for no reason at all... he had my back.
Coach looked me in the eye after pausing for a moment to think on the question. “They have nowhere to go. And no place to be. And nothing to eat.” He went on.
“No comfort anywhere. The elements have stripped them of any hope. The common thread between all of them is exhaustion. They’re exhausted when they come through those doors. But they’ve never experienced anything like the Long Beach Rescue Mission. We welcome them with open arms. We say ‘Until you get tired of us, we are going to always help you. Let’s get you organized, let’s get you focused, and let’s try to get you where you want to be and where you should be.’”
Coach is not only a graduate of the Long Beach Rescue Mission, he works there on the in-take team. He interviews anyone who comes in; gets them cleaned-up, dressed-up, and fed; teaches them how the Mission operates; and prepares them for their meeting with the case management specialist.
“I will share with you a story that says just about all you need to know about Coach (Darnell),” Shawn Purdy advised me. Shawn also serves at the Long Beach Rescue Mission and supervises Coach.
“One day a man came into our mission, and he was covered head to toe with lice. He was a mess, had not showered for quite a long time. Most people were afraid to help the man because of the lice, and it caused quite the stir. The first thing Coach did was calm everyone down and prayed for the man. Coach then went to the store and bought medicated shampoo out of his own pocket. He got into the shower with the man and helped him wash himself from head to toe. After that, Coach washed all his clothes and helped him get a haircut.
“Coach followed up with this man every day until the lice were gone and the man was comfortable. Coach was not asked to do any of these things. He did it because he was compelled to do it.”
Coach shares, “Through the grace of God and this mission I was able to fight my way through my problems. I’m still a work in progress, but it helps me to help people.”
So just imagine... a guy like Coach... a man whose life was transformed and saved by the New Life Program at Long Beach Rescue Mission. A man so filled with compassion that he has dedicated his life to helping others find their purpose at the mission. Imagine the pain in his heart when a wretched, lost, and starving soul would wheel up to the in-take door at the mission, and Coach knew he couldn’t truly help. Other than providing a warm meal, he would have to turn this man away, this man with no home and no hope, turned away once again.
No More Turning Away Men With Disabilities
“37% of those experiencing homelessness in the city are identified as having a physical disability,” explains Executive Director Jeff Levine.
“This is a need for our community. Our shelter was built in the late 80s and didn’t have the ADA requirements that exist today. Everyday, we have had to turn away men with disabilities because we cannot accommodate their accessibility needs. The Apostle House changes this. It has allowed us to create a place of healing and hope for those experiencing homelessness who have disabilities. It is a place where they will receive compassionate care and experience the love of God in Christ.”
Helping to ensure a Happy New Year 2024, the John and Helen Apostle House has opened up 15 new beds to help men with disabilities who are also experiencing homelessness. Best of all, living in the house with the residents and serving as full-time caretaker will be Darnell “Coach” Robinson. A loving, calming, compassionate force... dedicated to helping this new population succeed in winning back their life.
“I’m proud of it, I’m a graduate of the New Life program and it helped me considerably,” says Coach. “I tell the people that come through the door, I had to come through that same door you did... and like me, most of them just need to get focused up. I’m here to help them calm down, find a focus point, and know they’re loved.
“Many of them have never been treated this way. Some of them have been to missions and had a bed. But the Long Beach Rescue Mission is different. We truly care about them. Most of them haven’t felt love like that in a really long time. It feels so good to watch them get focused, and eventually get a job. They come back and say ‘Coach.. you told me!’ and I say ‘I know I told you. You didn’t believe me!’”
Since 1972, Long Beach Rescue Mission has opened its doors to thousands of men, women and children. The Mission provides food, clothing, shelter and spiritual guidance to the homeless and less fortunate of our community.
We stand dedicated to helping individuals overcome the cycle of homelessness, achieve long term goals and make meaningful contributions to our society.
The mission provides over 700 meals a day and are unable to provide these services without the partnership of our community. There are opportunities to serve every day and we invite you to join us in meeting the needs of these precious souls. To learn more about how you can help, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Lala Derico at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 562-591-1292.
1335 Pacific Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813 | lbrm.org