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.


• 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


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