Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mortality

We recently received word that one of our former residents passed away. This man was part of our long term resident program about 5 years ago. He is the 3rd former client who has died in as many months. One died from kidney failure, another from accidental insulin overdose, and the most recent from liver cancer. Here are some observations as we consider these deaths:
  • Each of these men was exposed to the gospel. This gives us confidence and hope; confidence in knowing that we are fulfilling our mission and Christ’s Great Commission; hope in knowing that the Spirit of God can take the Word of God and do amazing things.
  • Life on the streets is hard. At one time or another, each of these men dealt with substance abuse problems that in some way compromised their health. Life expectancy on the streets is not encouraging.
  • The Bible is true: it is appointed to men to die. Life is a terminal condition.
The Rescue Mission played a part in each of these men’s lives. We were there when shelter and safety were nowhere to be found; when all other doors were closed, ours were open.  It saddens our Mission family to hear these reports, but we know they will not be the last. Help us help others who have no other resources.

Monday, May 2, 2011

One Big Happy Family

Imagine that a family moved into your neighborhood and this family had 21 children! As good neighbors we would all welcome this family and we would do what we could to lend a hand to help. Maybe some would offer to help with the laundry; some might help with meals, others with child care.


Twenty-one children are staying at the Rescue Mission! Thanks to all of those good neighbors who help with donations, volunteer hours, and food items, and, of course, prayer. Please keep them all coming.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alarming Realities About Homelessness

Read the rest of this article here:

Over 7% of persons living in the United States have been homeless (defined as sleeping in shelters, the street, abandoned buildings, cars, or bus and train stations) at some point in their lives. Homelessness rates have increased over each of the past 2 decades. An estimated 2.5 to 3.5 million people now experience homelessness each year. Approximately half are families with children, the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population. In 1 study, youth had a 1-year rate of homelessness of at least 1 night of 7.6%.


Although 20% of homeless persons maintain full- or part-time jobs, only 5% are privately insured, often through COBRA. The majority of homeless adults are not eligible for Medicaid in most States, and are also not eligible for Medicare. Approximately 23% of homeless persons (and from 3.1 % to 4.4 % of homeless women) are veterans of the armed services, yet only 57% have received healthcare services through the VA system, where long waits for care exist.

Because they usually lack health insurance, homeless persons tend not to get adequate preventive care and appropriate routine management of such chronic illnesses as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and emphysema. They tend to visit emergency rooms for acute illnesses. Besides lack of health insurance, other barriers to care include denial of health problems; the pressure to fulfill competing nonfinancial needs, such as those for food, clothing, and temporary shelter; and misconceptions, prejudices, and frustrations on the part of health professionals. When hospitalized, the average length of stay of a homeless individual, in 1 study, was 4.1 days, or 36% longer than that of low-income, non-homeless individuals, even after adjustment for differences in the rates of substance abuse and mental illness and other clinical and demographic characteristics. The cost of the additional hospital days per discharge ranged from $2414 to $4094 (1992-1993 dollars).

Homeless adults have an age-adjusted mortality rate nearly 4 times that of the general population; their average life span is shorter than 45 years. Homeless women 18 to 44 years of age are between 5 and 31 times more likely to die than women in the general population. Homeless women older than age 44 are only 1 to 2 times as likely to die, and are healthier than their male counterparts. However, homeless women in their mid-fifties are as physiologically aged as housed women in their seventies and are afflicted to a similar degree with chronic diseases, yet they do not qualify for elderly housing assistance.

Homeless women are more likely than homeless men to have experienced childhood sexual abuse and/or foster care and adult partner abuse. More than 50% of all homeless women and children become homeless as a direct result of fleeing domestic violence. The availability of domestic violence shelter beds in the United States is poor; up to 70% to 80% of women, and 80% of children, are turned away on any given night in major cities. Shelters are woefully underfunded; some do not allow children. Average length of stay at a US shelter is 14 days; most allow a 30-day maximum stay. Ironically, women fleeing domestic violence are often not counted in studies of homelessness, since they are considered to have a home (albeit unlivable) or are staying temporarily in shelters.

Friday, April 8, 2011

4 Ways to Help the Homeless

I came across this article written by Mary Fairchild;

Matthew 25:35 : For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in ... (NIV)

In 2007, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimated that 3.5 million people in America (1.35 million of them children), were likely to experience homelessness in a given year. While difficult to measure, the increase in the demand for shelter beds each year is a strong indicator that homelessness is on the rise, and not only in America. According to the United Nations, there are at least 100 million homeless in the world today.

While on a short-term mission trip to Brazil, the plight of the street children captured my heart. I soon returned to Brazil as a full-time missionary with my focus on the inner city gangs of children. For four years I lived and worked with a team from my local church in Rio de Janeiro, volunteering in established ministries. Although our mission was geared toward children, we learned a lot about helping the homeless, no matter the age.

If your heart has been gripped by the needs of the hungry, thirsty, strangers on the streets, here are four effective ways to help the homeless in your community.

1) Volunteer

The most productive way to get started helping the homeless is to join forces with a well-established operation. As a volunteer you will learn from those who are already making a difference, rather than repeating the mistakes of well-meaning but misguided novices. By receiving "on the job" training, our team in Brazil was able to experience the rewards of accomplishment right away.

A good place to start volunteering is at your local church. If your congregation doesn't have a homeless ministry, find a reputable organization in your city and invite church members to join you and your family in serving.

2) Respect

One of the best ways to help a homeless person is to show them respect. As you look into their eyes, talk to them with genuine interest, and recognize their value as an individual, you will give them a sense of dignity that they rarely experience.

While it's wise to exercise caution and take measures to ensure your personal safety when ministering to the homeless, by identifying with the real person behind the face on the streets, your ministry will be much more effective and rewarding. Learn additional ways to help the homeless:

3) Give

Giving is another great way to help, however, unless the Lord directs you, don't give money directly to the homeless. Cash gifts are often used to buy drugs and alcohol. Instead, make your donations to a well-known, reputable organization in your community. Many shelters and soup kitchens also welcome contributions of food, clothing and other supplies.

4) Pray

Lastly, prayer is one of the easiest and most positive ways you can help the homeless.

Because of the harshness of their lives, many homeless people are crushed in spirit. But Psalm 34:17-18 says, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV) God can use your prayers to bring deliverance and healing to broken lives.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Just One Away...

Just to put things in perspective:


In the state of Ohio on any given night, more than 12,000 people are homeless with more than 1,500 of those persons going unsheltered.
Source: COHHIO’s 2009 Ohio Homelessness Report

In Ohio, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $683. To afford this level of rent and utilities––without paying more than 30% of income on housing––a household must earn $27,326 annually, or $13.14 per hour (assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year.) Ohio minimum wage is $7.30. To afford FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 72 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.
Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach 2009 Report
If these figures are accurate, then there are many people in Ohio – and in the Mahoning Valley – who are but one paycheck away from being homeless.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Census Surprise

The Youngstown Vindicator has released the 2010 census numbers for the city of Youngstown and Mahoning County. The size of the population decrease has caught city officials by surprise with Mayor Jay Williams remarking that “It would almost cause me to question the actual count.”


What has been interesting is how this seems to impact the homeless population. The Rescue Mission has experienced no decrease in the number of homeless people needing shelter. In fact, a modest increase has been observed.

I think that the take-away in this is that homelessness pays little regard to demographic trends and population numbers. Perhaps Jesus was right when he said, “the poor will be with you always.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Childhood Memories

If you are like me, you have a store of memories from your childhood that you often revisit. For me, these include my 1st dog, my first day of school, family trips, playing with friends in the neighborhood, my 1st car, my graduation from high school, and more too many to mention. Homelessness is not part of my experience.


I think of this nearly every day when I see the children in the lobby of the Resident Building waiting for their busses to take them to school. Imagine going to school from the Mission and returning to the Mission at the end of the school day. Imagine attending junior high school hoping that none of your friends discover that you live at the Mission. Imagine that you are the 18 year old high school senior who lives here, who will graduate this year, and has no family support for things like senior pictures, graduation fees, and even the hope of a graduation open house.

If the Mission was not here, these kids and their parents would be on the streets. The high school senior would stay with anyone who would allow him to crash for a few nights. We work hard to make the Mission a safe, clean, and inviting place for the kids who stay with us. Our hope is that the memories of their time here will be pleasant.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Full House

Well, not exactly full, but for the first time in recent memory, our transient men’s dormitory is full. This dorm sleeps 54 men. For overflow, we have cots to use; we’ve used 4.

Observations:

• Many local people do not see Youngstown as having a homeless problem. Perhaps this is because very few “street people” are ever seen wandering the downtown district.

• Homelessness in not exclusively an inner city problem. More and more people are coming from the suburbs looking for drugs or finding themselves in the Mission because of a drug problem.

• Economic factors may be involved. With unemployment in the Valley at 14% and minimum wage earners finding difficulty maintaining housing and feeding the family, the Mission often becomes a temporary respite between better paying jobs and affordable housing.

• As we get further into 2011, our guest count continues to remain high. During the same period last year, our average overnight count was 70. This year, it has risen to 88.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

That's a Lotta Food!

As the New Year begins, we like to take stock of how we are doing at the Rescue Mission. According to the latest figures, on an average day, we serve 245 meals at the Resident Center on MLK Blvd. That means we must prepare and serve an average of 1,715 meals each week, 52 weeks a year. That’s a lotta food!


To put this in perspective, if you are part of a family of 5 and if 3 meals are prepared daily in your home, you will prepare 15 meals each day, 105 each week (of course, with our busy lives, it is rare that a family will have 3 full meals daily). However, unlike the Mission, you will normally serve to the same 5 people each day, with the exception of the occasional friend or relative stopping by for dinner. At the Mission, we serve our in-house guests and then we open the doors to the public. We never know for sure how many guests we will have for each meal.

The meal program at the Mission is an important part of the ministry. We are motivated by the love of Christ and desire to display him in our service. The Bible teaches us: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace. Be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that” (James 2:15-16)? “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1 Jn. 3:17)?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Point-in-time

Recently, the Rescue Mission participated in the statewide “point-in-time” count. The purpose of the count is twofold; first, to assess the occupancy rates of shelters across Ohio and, secondly, to find and count the unsheltered people with a view to obtaining shelter for them. Generally, no unsheltered people are found in our area – at least in the winter. However, a significant increase was seen in the shelters in the Mahoning Valley. For the Rescue Mission, the same day last year saw 70 people spending the night; this year there were 88.


The specific reason for this increase eludes explanation. It may be the result of a number of factors – the economy, foreclosures, addiction, mental health issues, or any combination. It is obvious that the need exists in the Mahoning Valley for an emergency shelter. Many Valley residents are unaware of the homeless problem in our community. It is a secret that is making itself known

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

There is a warm place to sleep tonight.

The first month of the Cold Weather Emergency Program is in the books. December overnight stays were 1164, 308 of those were women and children. The purpose of this program remains the same as it has for 21 years: to make sure that no one freezes to death during the coldest time of the year. The Cold Weather Emergency Program is a collaborative effort with the Rescue Mission, Help Hotline, and partner agencies within the Mahoning County Homeless Continuum of Care.

The Cold Weather Emergency Program will continue until the last day of March. Those in need of emergency shelter need to call 211 for information and transportation to the a shelter. “There is a warm place to sleep tonight.”