Second Chance Orange CountyGives OC Homeless Job Skills, Mentoring and Job Placement – April 2019

Orange County has a homeless population of more than 3,500. Los Angles County has more than 52,000 homeless individuals. California has about 134,000–roughly 24 percent of the nation’s total homeless population.

While these numbers can seem daunting and have caused debate on how to resolve the problem, one Orange County non-profit has turned frustration into action and lasting change. Since 2015, Second Chance Orange County has helped 140 homeless and/or recovering alcoholics/addicts gain life skills and jobs. It did this last year with only four paid staff, two interns, and more than 50 volunteers from various industries and backgrounds. These individuals give their time to teach interviewing, computer, job and personal budgeting skills, as well as help in many other areas.

“Many of our clients don’t necessarily always present well,” said Deb Johnson, Founder and Executive Director. “They are anxious and nervous. Many don’t have a full set of teeth, but they all need a second chance.” Several Orange County employers have committed to hiring the organizations’ clients, because they believe in giving back and know that Second Chance Orange County has invested time with these individuals, and continually monitors and case manages them.

Johnson started the organization four years ago after becoming aware of the devastating effect that drug addiction and homelessness were having in her Orange County community. She found that no one was hand-holding and providing the individualized support these clients needed. She was frustrated that others were merely sending this client base on endless interviews that only exacerbated the problem by causing low self-esteem, depression and relapse.

The former Fortune 100 Executive and bank consultant takes an individualized approach to her work and customizes the best plan to ensure a client’s success. She considers several factors including her clients’ life experiences. Second Chance is also with clients for the long haul. They help clients for one year and are always looking to get them better jobs within that year.

“I learned more in three weeks from my mentor, Deb, at Second Chance Orange County than I learned in a year in rehab,” said one client. “Thank you for getting me the perfect job. I am so happy and so blessed!”

Changing lives of some of the most “difficult-to-serve” populations often means late nights, occasionally babysitting her clients’ children during a class, and tracking down a client who has gone MIA. However, the rewards come in teaching an interviewing skills class or seeing a client find the perfect job. “I never would have thought I would be where I am today, over one year sober.” said another participant. “Second Chance Orange County provided me an opportunity to make something of the life I thought I had destroyed. My case manager believed in my ability to stay clean and saw something in me when I was unsure what was to come in the days/months ahead.”

The organization earned a 2018 Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar USA. In February 2019, Second Chance Orange County moved into a new home, renting space from the Costa Mesa Sanitary District. The organization depends in large part on grants from surrounding cities, including Newport Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, and Santa Ana but Johnson says these grants don’t cover all costs. Johnson says she wants to do more in the community as there is so much more to do.

“A good amount of my time is spent relationship building with employers to hire our clients,” Johnson said. “My vision from this point on is that employers call us and say, ‘I will commit to hiring a certain number of homeless individuals’.”

To Donate or to Volunteer at Second Chance Orange County, visit or contact Melissa Rhinehart,

Angelita Moraga
Copyright © 2019

Costa Mesa Chili Cook-off – August 2017

Our Executive Director volunteering in the community to judge the local chili cook-off in the Halecrest Neighborhood, Costa Mesa.

Judges Steve Staveley, Deborah Johnson, Ed Lee and John Park compare notes at the annual chili cook-off in Halecrest Park in Costa Mesa on Saturday.

Spencer Grant
Copyright © 2018, Daily Pilot


Jewish Life– December 2017


Newport Beach Independent – September 2, 2017


Second Chance Orange County Announces a Fundraising event “More Second Chances” – August 28, 2017

“Newport Beach, Ca,  August 28, 2017- Second Chance Orange County announces a fun and exciting fundraising event on Tuesday, September 12th called, “More Second Chances.” Major Underwriting support from PAIN LE QUOTIDIEN AND FARMERS & MERCHANT BANK ensures 100% of the evening’s proceeds will go directly to programs to help low-income youth and adults recovering from addiction get the individualized help required to re-enter society and have a greater chance of success.

Deb Johnson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated,  “Everyone deserves a second chance! I started this non-profit because I saw a huge gap in services, and instead of complaining about it, I decided to fix it. Families were wasting their money on rehab, and their kids, and family members were not staying sober. Second Chance Orange County picks up a necessary piece of the pie that was severely missing in the community.”

This all-volunteer grassroots organization has garnered approximately 2,600 volunteer hours and helped over 20 recovering addicts.

Tickets can be purchased online at:

  • Date: Tuesday, September 12th from 5:00 to 8 :00 pm
  • Venue: Lincoln Experience Center-139 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach (Fashion Island, between Macys and Starbucks),
  • Ticket Pricing: $72 includes appetizers, drinks, dinner, dessert and coffee
  • Silent and Live Auction Items: Approximately 50 items
  • Donations of any size are accepted online or by check. 2618 San Miguel #284 Newport Beach, CA 92660″


Second Chance Orange County Appoints Two New Board of Directors – September 26, 2017

“Second Chance Orange County, a local non-profit charity, announced that its board of directors has appointed 2 new members, effective immediately: Kat Thomas, Tustin Police department’s civilian commander, and Heidi Cohen, Rabbi of Santa Ana’s Temple Beth Sholom. These appointments increase the number of Second Chance Orange County directors from three to five.
“Both our newest Board members embody the spirit of community and bring great talent, compassion, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to grow our organization to be the world-class provider of services for those recovering from addiction that need a second chance. I’m delighted that our new directors recognize our potential and that they’re eager to play an important role in helping us as we grow our young non-profit into a strong brand.” Deb Johnson, Executive Director.

Heidi Cohen– has served as a Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since 1998. She is a graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Denver. Heidi is the Immediate Past-President of the Orange County Board of Rabbis and serves on numerous community associations, and several other boards.

Kat Thomas- is currently the Tustin Police Department Police Civilian Commander, where she oversees 53 employees. She is a retired police officer from Los Angeles where over 21 years, she moved her way up from a Patrol Officer in South L.A. to a Lieutenant II. In addition, she has a BA in Behavioral Science from California State Polytechnic, Pomona; a Masters of Science degree from California State University, Fullerton and a Doctorate of Philosophy and Clinical Psychology from San Diego University for Integrative Studies.”


Second Chance Orange County Has Successful Fundraising event “More Second Chances” – September 20, 2017

“Second Chance Orange County had a well-attended fundraising event at the Lincoln Experience Center, Fashion Island, September 12th called, “More Second Chances.” The beautiful event venue was decorated with blue, green and purple balloons and colorful decorations. The event was perfect, where 86 people enjoyed dinner, drinks, a program that included a successful client speaking on how Second Chance helped him, and a silent auction with over 40 items. Pain Du Quotidien sponsored dinner and OC Kosher donated kosher wine and desserts.

Second Chance Orange County exceeded its fundraising goal, and a lot of money was donated that will will go directly to programs to help low-income youth and adults recovering from addiction get the individualized help required to re-enter society and have a greater chance of success.

Deb Johnson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated,  “I am so very humbled and thankful to have a full room of people who follow my passion that everyone deserves a second chance! As my daughter says, I don’t complain about something that is wrong, I go out and fix it.

Donations of any size are still being accepted online or by check. 2618 San Miguel #284 Newport Beach, CA 92660.”