Summer is the time to barbecue but at a local event this weekend, you can enjoy the food without any of the work, all while supporting a good cause.
The Mission at Kern County is hosting its seventh annual Top Sirloin BBQ on Friday evening, right on its East 21st Street campus. With tickets available at the door, it’s not too late to plan to go.
"It's a fun way to kick off the summer," said Jamie Durham, director of community development at The Mission. "There's great food, a fun and lively atmosphere, and (people) can learn more about what The Mission at Kern County does."
The event includes food prepared on the premises by The Mission’s staff and volunteers. Along with the top sirloin, guests will also get glazed carrots (donated from Grimmway Farms), rice pilaf, beans and bread.
“It’s all done here,” said Carlos Baldovinos, executive director of The Mission. “We do everything, from cooking to grilling."
There will also be live music from Tommy Hays. A raffle and auction will let guests win prizes like park hopper tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure, rock climbing at Action Sports and items from local businesses.
Guests will also get the chance to hear from two local people who have benefited from The Mission’s work. Though Baldovinos did not share the names of the two people who will be sharing their testimonies, he said each one came in with their own struggles of homelessness and addiction and that both made it through The Mission’s programs and are now back on their feet with good jobs.
“‘Homelessness is getting worse,’ you hear those headlines,” Baldovinos said.
“(Our work) is one life at a time. A person has to get to that spot and want help. It’s available to them.”
Baldovinos said guests at the barbecue will get to hear what The Mission is doing to help the local homeless population and what they can do to help.
“We’ll be talking about our program and giving an update on what’s happening at The Mission,” he said. "Primarily, we want support and for people to get behind what we do.”
The barbecue is one of five fundraisers The Mission does each year, along with a 5K run earlier in the year, and in the fall a fashion show, a golf tournament and a gala. The barbecue is one of just two events that happens at The Mission’s facility, giving guests the chance to see firsthand how their donations help.
“I feel like it gets people involved and engaged with the work that’s happening,” Baldovinos said. “It gives them an opportunity to see where their support is going."
Durham agreed, saying when people get the chance to see The Mission's campus, they are often surprised at how nice it is.
"They think it will be a very minimal soup kitchen," she said. "It's so much more than that. We love for people to come on our campus (and see for themselves)."
The Mission offers both shelter services and recovery programs. Last year it opened its women and children’s shelter, allowing it to help more people in need. It also runs the Encore Boutique on Eye Street, which helps those in the program with job training.
“We have a homelessness crisis in our community,” Baldovinos said. "The need is great. This is one of our annual fundraisers we do, and the proceeds go back to fund the programs.”
"We feel pretty blessed to be able to offer these services," Durham said. "We are 92 percent donor-funded. We're depending on these donors and fundraisers to be able to fund these services."
Between $20,000 and $25,000 is typically raised at the annual barbecue, Baldovinos said, with about 300 to 400 people coming out each year.
Baldovinos encouraged people to come out for the barbecue, especially if they see the homeless population in town and don’t know how to help.
“Often people want to see, ‘How can I be part of the solution? How can I help?’ Come out to the fundraiser, learn more about what’s happening in your backyard. Come and become more informed and see what’s happening.”