September 4, 2019

By Gary Warth

SAN DIEGO — About 500 people are expected to spend the night sleeping under the stars near San Diego Bay on Saturday, but this will not be an ordinary camping trip.
The annual Sleepless San Diego at Liberty Station helps raise awareness of the conditions experienced by homeless people on a daily basis, said Donnie Dee, CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission, organizer of the event.

“A lot of people know we have a homeless problem, but I don’t think they have the right perspective of it,” Dee said. “We believe that by participating in this event, they’ll walk away better equipped to address the issue in the city.”

Participants will hear talks from people who overcame homelessness, have opportunities to worship together and hear live music, among other activities.

The event is a fundraiser for the Rescue Mission. The cost is $25 for adults and $15 for students. Additional registration information is available online at sleeplesssandiego.org.

This will be the 12th annual Sleepless San Diego, but only the second one for Dee, who took over as the Rescue Mission’s CEO two years ago.

“I think in my two years in this role, the one major thing I learned was that the biggest obstacle faced by people living on the streets isn’t drugs or alcohol or even the lack of a house, but shame,” he said.

“The majority of (homeless) people are dealing with so much shame, they don’t think anyone can relate to their story,” Dee said.

This year’s event will feature music and a worship service led by America’s Got Talent finalist Michael Ketterer, who has adopted five children, including four who were homeless. Music also will be performed by Social Beingz, Jon Keith and Ruslan.

The evening also includes a community service projects, with opportunities for building to create hygiene kits, tie-blankets and pet packs for people on the streets.

People can participate in a silent disco, where dancers move to music they hear through headphones. Participants do not have to spend the night, but can come for the music and other events, Dee said.

In-N-Out Burger is providing meals for each ticket-holder.

Speakers will include Pastor J.V., who spent much of his life homeless, Crystal Hernandez, a Rescue Mission employee and former client, and All Peoples Church pastor Sarah Bianchi.

To read the full article, visit https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/homelessness/story/2019-09-04/sleepless-san-diego-gives-new-look-at-h