Thursday, August 29, 2013
Any Mission staff person will tell you that it is a blessing to speak with our "Fellow Rescuers" whose gifts, prayers, and volunteer efforts support the ministry of Rescue. However, I can still be surprised by things that are said to me when I represent the Mission at various events.
Recently, as I waited by our display at an event, I was approached by an older person who is a member of an organization that has supported the Mission for many years. While I did not recognize this gentleman, I was pleased that he'd stopped by to talk while so many walked on by without a word.
He mentioned the organization of which he is a part and made further comments about the Mission, which showed he knew something of our history. I shared with him the number of those we're serving now, 142 every night, and expressed that was a definitely an increase from how many we served even a few years ago.
He nodded and said, "Well, I know most of them want to be homeless, but they still need help."
I must admit I found myself suddenly speechless, especially as he was standing in front of a display featuring the smiling face of a little girl whose mother brought her to the Mission after escaping a rather tragic, domestic situation. He seemed a sweet man, and I didn't feel it was the time or place to argue with him. Nor was I able, in my semi-shocked state, to come up with words that would educate with kindness.
The truth is the man was looking at homelessness and our work among the homeless with a "stereotypical" viewpoint that may have been somewhat accurate seventy or eighty years ago, but not many people "want" to be homeless. The opposite is often true: we have many guests who long to be independent. Who want employment that enables them to support themselves. While they are grateful for the Mission and for those who give, they are willing and wanting to be self reliant.
Truthfully, there are those who fit the "stereotypical view." I've met one man (one person in nearly nine years working at the Mission) who enjoyed being homeless and living "in every state in the US." And we help men and women who are homeless due to addictions or other problems. However, there are "homeless," unseen and unknown who are working all throughout this city. People waiting in line at the bus stop. Children going to school. Young people attending college. Just regular people...who are homeless.
I am grateful to this gentleman for his support of the Mission and even for speaking with me. His words are a reminder that we still need to communicate what we as an organization do and whom we serve. Just by telling our story and the stories of our guests, we are making a difference. We are transforming a "number" into a person. And a "person's a person," if you will allow me to paraphrase, no matter where they live, a house, an apartment, or a shelter.
-post by CRM Communications Manager
Friday, August 16, 2013
This article recently ran in the August 15 issue of "Street Smart," the online newsletter of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Many Missions, like the City Rescue Mission, have some kind of ministry dedicated to meeting the needs of those who are alcoholics and/or addicts. It is no surprise to read of the devastation caused by alcoholism, as in the case of this article, or addiction. We see issues resulting from this lifestyle on an individual basis every day, in the lives of the men and women we serve. However, the cost of drinking is a cost paid by everyone, as described in this article:
A CBS News report notes that the health woes related to heavy alcohol use costs the U.S. more than $223 billion a year in health costs. Heavy drinking carries major health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including increased chances of long-term ailments such as liver disease, heart problems, fertility issues, some cancers, and neurological issues such as stroke or dementia. Shorter term, alcohol poisoning, traffic accidents, falls, violence, and risky sexual behaviors are also associated with large amounts of alcohol consumption. Binge drinking—defined as when men drink more than five drinks and women drink more than four drinks in two hours—is responsible for more than 70 percent of the excessive alcohol costs, a total of $171 billion annually. The report estimated state-by-state economic costs of drinking, including those from binge drinking and underage drinking. The median state cost associated with excessive drinking was $2.9 billion, with about $2 out of every $5 of these costs being paid for by the government. The state that absorbed the least alcohol costs was North Dakota, coming in at $420 million. The most costs were found in California, totaling nearly $32 billion. Researchers broke down the numbers even further and found based on population, the District of Columbia has the highest per-person cost associated with excessive drinking ($1,662 per person) while Iowa had the lowest ($622). Across all states, excessive drinking costs due to productivity losses (such as missed work) ranged from 61 percent in Wyoming to 82 percent in the District of Columbia. The share of costs due to added health care expenses ranged from 8 percent in Texas to 16 percent in Vermont.
To read the original CBS News report, click here.
The City Rescue Mission's Life Transformation Program, for those dealing with addictions, is available at no charge to men and women in need. This is a one-year, in-house, Bible-based addictions program. Visit our website, http://www.bearescuer.com/GetHelpNow.htm, to review the information; then call the Mission at 517.485.0145 if you have further questions.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
In 1917, Congress created the charitable tax deduction in an effort to provide support to the many non-profits and charitable organizations bearing the burden of "social welfare." The Mission, founded in 1911 and registered as a non-profit in the late 1940s, is one of the qualifying charities that benefits from this provision. With current economic woes still sending shock waves through our economy and recent revelations regarding the Internal Revenue Service, a current congressional committee is toying with the idea of rewriting the tax code by "starting with a clean slate," one that could possibly wipe out the charitable tax deduction.
In a recent response to an op Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, several non-profit association leaders reiterated the importance of independent non-profit organizations for providing much needed services. John Ashman, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Mission, joined his voice to this group and highlighted very important information about the role of non-profits in America.
Per his words, "For every $1 a donor deducts, $3 are returned to communities in the form of services and support." This means that for every $1 of revenue that the government returns to the tax payer (not a credit but a deduction toward what they "owe"), $3 are used to meet needs within that community. A $10 deduction, for example, is a return investment of $30 to women, children, and men in need.
In contrast to the "clean slate" approach, another recent report, published by USA Today, found that "Americans by more than 2-1 say the best way to make positive changes in society is through volunteer organizations and charities, not by being active in government." (Susan Page, USA TODAY).
To read the whole Wall Street Journal article, click here.