Friday, March 26, 2010

Encouraging Words

The following is a letter recently received from a former client at the Mission:

Dear Rev. Sherrard,
Hello! This is (name withheld). I was a resident at the Mission in the late 1990s. I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I have always appreciated the opportunity (and the memories) that you gave me, through God. The time I've spent at the Mission will always be treasured as a vital turning point in my life. Even after the Mission, I had a few bumps in the road, but have recovered.
I am blessed to have a career as a 911 Critical Care Paramedic where I work for a very progressive company, XXXXXX EMS in Citrus County Florida. I am known for being able to "get along" with just about anyone from every walk of life. God made it possible for me to spend a part of my life at the Mission for many reasons, I cannot name them all, but I know that I wouldn't be as empathetic to some of the troubled brothers and sisters that I come into contact with every day if I did not experience life at the Mission. Again, thank you and God Bless.
(Name withheld) 
PS: Remember when you were going to kick me out for losing my temper and cutting my arms on the upstairs glass? I sure am glad God spoke to you that Day!!
How encouraging it is to hear from someone who came through the Mission, "made it," and is still on track.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care Reform

When it comes to the recently passed legislation on health care reform, it is hard to remain neutral. Fewer issues have so polarized the nation.

Politics and preferences aside, the concern for those who work with the homeless population naturally turns to those who are often left out of the discussion: the indigent homeless. How will health care reform impact the individual who has no income, no permanent dwelling, no public assistance, or no other resources?

Writing in the July 31st edition of the Washington Post, Alexi Mostrous quoted Michael Stoop of the National Coalition for Homelessness saying that 70% of homeless people are uninsured with only 25% eligible for Medicaid.

Commenting on the passing of the Health Care Reform Bill, The National Alliance to End Homelessness posted this on March 22, 2010:
Moreover, the legislation will also provide approximately $10 billion for community health centers for Fiscal Years (FY) 2011 through 2015. Typically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocates 8.7 percent of total community health center funding toward the Health Care for the Homeless program, which can be used to provide services to people in permanent supportive housing. The health care legislation also expands early childhood home visitation programs, which provide parent education, child development, and support services to low-income, at-risk young children and their families.
At first glance, it appears that there will be very little advantage to the indigent population in the short term. We will wait and see what develops.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It's always a great time when we hold a graduation ceremony for one of our resident clients. Earnest White Jr. graduated today from the Christian Discipleship Program at the Rescue Mission. He has devoted one year to academic and spiritual instruction, work therapy, and investment in character building. Earnest leaves the Mission clean and sober with an outstanding testimony for Christ. Congratulations and God bless, Earnest White.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


What first pops into your mind when you see the word “Rescue Mission?” Often, the image is one of a flop house where people, mostly men, are stretched out all day on cots sleeping off a drunk or a high from the night before. Mission workers are pictured as those who go from cot to cot offering a kind word, clean clothes, a bowl of soup, or a cup of coffee.

The reality is much different. For the most part, Missions are not like the stereotypical homeless shelter. Rescue Missions offer the opportunity to change one’s life, not merely to provide a bed for those who desire to continue their destructive lifestyle. Rescue Missions are about rescue. They are not content to supply the drowning person with life preservers to keep them from drowning. Ideally, they want to pull the drowning person from the water and put them on dry land.

This is hard work. It involves extending oneself into the life of a stranger, helping him or her to overcome addictive behaviors, providing opportunities to re-learn responsible behavior, and showing genuine compassion for the individual. Most importantly, it is about presenting the opportunity for inner change that comes through the power of God.

Rescue Missions are gospel rescue missions. I realize that this may offend some who might read these words, but the core of the work we do at the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley is to present the gospel of Christ while we address the external needs and life situations of those who come to us for help.

The Mission statement of the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley includes all of these functions. It reads:

The purpose of the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley is to serve and glorify God through Christ-centered outreach of love and compassion that meets the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of disadvantaged men, women, and children without regard to race, color, or creed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


On Wednesday, March 24, we will gather at the Rescue Mission's Resident Building, 962 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., for the graduation of Ernest White Jr. Ernest will complete the Mission's Christian Discipleship Program. This program involves a 1 year commitment, remedial academic study, work therapy, and intensive Bible study.

If you are a friend of the Mission and are in the area, consider this your invitation to attend this milestone in Ernest's life. The service will begin at 8:00 am in the chapel on MLK Blvd. Dr. Bill Finnigan, our longtime Director of Biblical Instruction will present the challenge.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cold Weather Program

The Cold Weather Emergency Program is drawing to a close. It ends on March. 31. As of today, there have been 3371 overnight stays at the Rescue Mission. On behalf of those who were able to escape the brutal February snows, thanks to all who make this program possible.