Don Clark, Director of Philanthropy for The Bakersfield Rescue Mission, says the Mission has provided countless miracles for the people it serves. "The Mission has literally changed their lives," Don says. "I could make a career out of writing about all of their personal stories and miracles."

With a distinguished career in broadcasting and journalism, Don says his job at the mission is a chance for him to tell good news. "I got to tell the bad news for 35 years in journalism, and now I get to tell the good news of God's salvation," Don says. "Any circumstance can be turned around with faith. I have seen these people accept these messages and turn their lives around."

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the Mission serves more than 21,000 meals each month. As a positive environment for men and women in crisis, the Mission provides beds, laundry, showers, and a physical address for those looking for work. Their motto states, "Where Love is in Action."

The Mission also helps transition these people toward productive, independent living with outstanding educational programs. In fact, the Mission has one of the highest success rates for GED graduations of any mission in the nation. Don says that volunteers are always appreciated. They can help with everything from serving meals to teaching classes to organizing a toiletry drive for hygiene kits.

Don has had a fascinating and varied career with many awards and accolades. He has worked in all kinds of jobs: publisher, news anchor, reporter, bill collector, construction worker, lumber mill worker, ghost writer, and more. When talking about his current position, he says, "This has been one of the most enjoyable, challenging things I have ever done."

A self-described "timber kid," Don grew up in a little lumber town outside of Eugene, Oregon at the base of the Cascade Mountains. He says he enjoys living in Bakersfield, because it reminds him of his hometown. "One thing I found was that the people here are so much like the people I grew up with in Oregon hard working, ethical, God-fearing, close to the earth, unpretentious," he says. "It's the wonderful people that keep me here."

In fact, he recently produced and hosted an educational series for the classroom entitled, "Great Biographies of Bakersfield." In these 45-minute segments, he talks to various community leaders such as Harvey Hall and Larry Reider and finds out about their lives and what experiences shaped their character.

A natural in front of the camera, Don is also the media spokesperson for the law firm of Young and Nichols. "I am privileged to step forward and represent them in the public," he says.

Don originally came to Bakersfield in 1987 to work as a news anchor for KBAK, Channel 29. He stayed with the station until 2004 and then became the president and publisher of "The Antelope Valley Magazine" in Lancaster until 2007. At this point, he decided he wanted to take a more altruistic approach to his life, and he accepted the job at the Mission. "I didn't want the only thing people had to say about me at my funeral was, 'He sure knew how to put out a great press release,'" he says. "I didn't want to be remembered just for that."

In addition to his philanthropic position at the Mission, Don volunteers his time at Yosemite Ridge Camp of California, a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. He is a member of the Bakersfield Downtown Rotary and a past board member of the Boy Scouts of America, the Fox Theatre Foundation, Junior Achievement, as well as many other organizations.

He met his wife, Bettie, 30 years ago in a scenario right out a romance novel: a chance meeting on a picturesque beach in Hawaii. He says the moment he saw her, he knew that she was his perfect "silhouette" and introduced himself.

"I saw this women sitting on the beach in a white bikini gazing out on the sea," he says. "There's a saying that every man carries the ideal silhouette of his wife in his mind, and she fulfilled mine."

They currently live on a ranch south of Arvin at the fence line of the great Tejon Ranch with an assortment of wildlife guests. Their 22-year-old son, Josh, is a junior at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and an "All Star" West Coast Swing dancer and instructor.

For more information about The Bakersfield Rescue Mission, visit www.thebrm.org or call 325-0863.

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