Matthew Dildine will be the new CEO of the Fresno Rescue Mission effective Oct. 1. Image via Dowling Aaron website
Written by Gabriel Dillard
The Fresno Rescue Mission will soon have a new CEO.
Matthew Dildine, formerly a partner at Fresno law firm Dowling Aaron, will take the helm of the nonprofit effective Oct. 1. He replaces the outgoing CEO Don Eskes, who will continue on helping to guide a campus relocation made necessary by high-speed rail construction, according to a news release.
Dildine, 37, is a Fresno native who has served on the Fresno Rescue Mission’s board of directors for three years. A graduate of Pepperdine University, he ran the student ministry program while a student there and earned a degree in biblical studies with the intent of becoming a preacher.
He decided he’d rather pursue ministry working in the private sector and went on to earn a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy, according to the release.
At Dowling Aaron, he specializes in business law and litigation, nonprofits, construction law and agri-business.
Dildine said in his new job, he is interested in creating systemic change to combat poverty.
“There was a time when the Rescue Mission was just about giving you a bowl of soup and a bed,” Dildine said. “But we decided in order to create true change both in individuals and in our community, we needed to be about something more. Now the focus of our organization is about being the first hand reaching out to the most vulnerable in our community and giving them a pathway to a better life.”
“Our goal is to provide life change,” he added.
A member of The Well Community Church in Fresno, Dildine’s wife Kym serves as the chief administrative officer at the Central California Food Bank, and their five children have been active in serving communities of poverty for years. Dildine also co-founded Martin Park, Inc., a nonprofit that offers children and families in the Lowell Neighborhood in Downtown Fresno a safe place to play, educational resources, life skills, friendship and food, according to a news release.
“Matt has a vision for the future and he has wonderful relationships with churches, government officials and people who live in our communities who are dedicated to a higher calling that involves helping others,” said Steve Ocheltree, board president of the Fresno Rescue Mission.
After decades as a manager and executive in the filtration industry, and owning his own filtration technology company, Eskes began his nonprofit work in 2004. He also travelled around the world on humanitarian and ministry organizations. He started volunteering at the Fresno Rescue Mission in 2010, joining the staff a year later in donor development. He became CEO in June 2016.
Eskes will remain involved in the organization, working on behalf of the board of directors to shepherd the relocation of the facility. Last year, Fresno Rescue Mission moved into a temporary facility across from its G Street location just south of Ventura Street. A portion of G Street will be relocated to allow for the construction of a new permanent facility — a process that could take up to five years, Eskes said.
Eskes added the mission has yet to reach a settlement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority on how much the authority will pay for the property it is using for its alignment.
“It’s very difficult to determine what building costs will be in three, four or five years,” Eskes said about their two-phase plan for a new mission campus.
In addition to heading up the relocation effort, Eskes will also serve as a mentor to Dildine as he adjusts to the new job.
“This has been in the planning to give us an opportunity to make a smooth transition,” Eskes said of Dildine’s new position. “This is a very positive move on the part of the mission to allow it to continue to meet the needs of the community as community needs change.”
Founded in 1949, the Fresno Rescue Mission in 2017 helped nearly 3,400 individuals — about half of them women and children — through its programs. The mission served 174,339 meals and volunteer donated 25,528 hours of service.