Monday, April 6, 2015

Moving at the speed of "Rescue"...

When I was a teenager, there were two phrases I disliked hearing from my parents or any older person: "That's life in America," (usually following the typical teenage complaint, "That's not fair!") and "The older you get the faster time flies." Looking back, it's amazing how time seemed to crawl. Now, I have to admit that phrase is particularly accurate. To my horror, I've even caught myself using it on more than one occasion.

The phrase seems especially accurate at the City Rescue Mission, as the Mission has continued to grow to keep pace with the increasing needs for food, shelter, and hope in Michigan's capital area. It is a blessing to be able to meet the physical and spiritual needs of women, children, and men. However, the increase of services and resulting expansion has caused a great deal of changes to how the Mission operates.

Our shelter services have continued  a path of growth and change that really began in the early 90s (with the creation of our women and children's shelter), continued with renovations to the Michigan Avenue men's shelter in 2006, expanded by moving the women and children's shelter to our current facility in 2010, and onto our most recent men's shelter expansion this year. In 2000, we were providing shelter to 33 people a night. In 2014, we sheltered 151 people a night.

Food services also increased with each of these shelter expansions, until the need for major kitchen renovation led to the purchase of a former restaurant. The building is currently being transformed into our future off-site kitchen. This location will have updated, commercial equipment. Staff will prepare meals to be transported to our public dining room, which also serves guests at our men's shelter, and our women and children's shelter. In 2000, we served nearly 45,000 meals for the year. In 2014, we served nearly 110,000 meals.

As I'm sure you can imagine, with all this growth and change, the Mission, operating 24/7, does not usually experience much "downtime." Whenever people ask me how "work" is going, I always respond, "Busy." It's a simple but true response for the multitude of people and myriad opportunities we have to help.

In spite of the external changes, one thing does remain constant: the Mission's dedication to sharing the hope found in Christ's love to our guests. Our "mission" is the foundation for our determination to provide not only quantity but quality. The cleanliness, safety, and quality are all reflections of the fact that we are a ministry not a business.

None of this, growth or quality, would be possible without the continued support of our fellow rescuers. Together, we make up a community of compassion, devoted to making a difference to those who are hungry, homeless, and hurting. Thank you for enabling us to continue meeting so many needs and keeping "busy" doing the work of rescue in the heart of Michigan's capital city. Thank you for being a rescuer by helping us help others.