A Fresh Beginning for Orange County

Name: Bill Nelson

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: 2013

Bill Nelson was first called to the ministry in 1974, working with youth groups in camps and serving churches in youth ministry. In 1975, he worked alongside his mother, Bobbie, in Long Beach, California with veteran families, as well as individuals experiencing homelessness. After marrying in 1980, Bill and his wife, Cathy, served for 22 years in worship and music ministries for churches in California and Nevada. During graduate school, Bill fulfilled his internship requirement as a pastoral care counselor, where he witnessed firsthand the inherent needs of families, particularly those who are homeless, within the Orange County area.

They returned to California and founded Fresh Beginnings Ministries (FBM) in Costa Mesa, California. FBM is a non-profit organization that carries out its mission through the efforts of 225 volunteers. The ministry serves six different denominations and 14 ministry organizations, assisting with food service for 450 to 800 people per week and providing clothing to 12 family ministries. Resources for homeless individuals also include medical assistance. FBM offers a multitude of fellowship opportunities for volunteers, such as the Fresh Beginnings Golf League, Fresh Beginnings Bowling Fellowship, and the “Senior Sidekicks” ministry that serves senior citizens throughout Orange County. FBM and its volunteers also host donation drives throughout the year and partners with a number of community companies and organizations, such as the City of Costa Mesa, the City of Huntington Beach, Hurley International, and Fountain Bowl.

Bill published the Life Support Team Manual in 2014, which he uses to train volunteer Life Support Mentors (LSM) who work with various individuals, including those experiencing homelessness, and those facing addiction and recovery. The LSMs also work with families who receive housing, and coach them in self-sufficiency for their new journey.

Bill holds a B.S. in Ministry Leadership, along with an M.A. in Pastoral Care from Hope International University. He is an ordained pastor and continues to occasionally lead worship and preach for churches within Orange County. Bill and Cathy have three daughters, and three grandchildren.