Jerry and Maria McAuley founded America's first rescue mission in 1872. Their work blossomed into New York City Rescue Mission (NYCRM), which has been serving the city without interruption since then.
McAuley, a self-described "rogue and river thief," was transformed while reading the Bible during his imprisonment at Sing Sing in the 1860s. After his release he married Maria, who shared a similar life experience, and they began a shelter for poor New Yorkers. They were the first to open the doors of a religious institution every night of the year to the outcasts of society.
In the shaky post civil war economy of the 1870s, New York City experienced a wave of European immigration which placed a great strain on the city's resources. There was more hardship and poverty than the city had yet witnessed, and there was no place for the poor to find shelter.
Alfrederick Smith (A.S.) Hatch, a president of the Consolidated Stock Exchange, donated the first Mission building to the McAuleys and helped incorporate it as the McAuley Water Street Mission. A God-fearing man, Hatch developed a love for what he called "the roughest, dirtiest, swearingest, drinkingest men alive" while voyaging on the Atlantic as a merchant sailor in 1849 and 1850. His love for what were termed "the undeserving or unworthy poor" allowed the McAuleys to realize their vision.This Mission still exists as the New York City Rescue Mission.