Carlos Baldovinos realized his life’s mission while out on the ocean in the Philippines.
After completing his first year of college in Minneapolis, he spent a few weeks that summer traveling with his basketball team, and it was then that he realized the direction he wanted to move in.
“We took a boat ride to another island, (and) it (became) very real to me that I was going to be part of helping people in whatever stage of life they were in. I had basically signed up to go on this missions trip not really knowing what that was going to look like – it was a significant change for me,” said Baldovinos, who had originally planned to pursue international business.
After graduating from North Central University with a degree in pastoral studies, he worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for eight years. During that time he traveled throughout the United States and Latin America, setting up outreaches for them.
“It’s completely different from what I started out doing,” Baldovinos said of his role as executive director of The Mission at Kern County, “but I feel that being a part of that organization helped me get to where I am today. They gave me opportunities in leadership, vision, forward thinking, team building and strategy.”
The program director for the Visalia Rescue Mission for two years, he was familiar with the work of The Mission in Bakersfield and made the move in November 2015 with his wife, Amy, and their two sons. Married 20 years, she is a big part of his ministry, volunteering for their women’s and children’s programs, as well as working at Encore Boutique, which provides job training for women going through The Mission’s one-year discipleship program.
“I felt called to work with the homeless and addicted,” said Baldovinos. “I’ve always had a heart to help people – the underserved, the down and out, struggling through life, I’ve always been drawn to that. I just think (it’s the) way I was raised, having compassion and a heart for people; people always came first. (And) the desire to do something above myself.”
The oldest of four kids, his parents instilled those values in him. Immigrating to the U.S. from Honduras in the early ’70s, they initially settled in New York City, where Carlos was born a few years later. They later moved to Minneapolis where he and his siblings grew up.
“We always had people over. I never quite understood that growing up, but now in the vocation I’ve chosen, I see why,” said Baldovinos.
For him, the greatest reward is seeing people’s lives changed for the better.
“I think of how I can better help somebody – create programs to help (them) get out of hopeless lifestyles, creating avenues for change through new programs and (by) evolving existing programs.”
Last May, The Mission started an 18-month program for mothers battling addiction to help them and their dependent children. Kids who grow up in these situations often become drug users themselves, according to Baldovinos. He knew there needed to be a way to intervene and break the cycle before it repeated.
“They’ve been broken and rejected, (but when they) get their life together and you start seeing a glimmer of light in their eyes and their smile, and their outlook on life shifts. That’s what keeps me going,” said Baldovinos. “Having hope is half the battle.” ￼