Rockford Rescue Mission steps out on faith, adds staff and budget, to take over Red Cross Shelter

Rockford Rescue Mission has reached an agreement with the local Rock River Chapter of the American Red Cross to take over its homeless shelter Monday, Aug. 3.

The Mission plans to operate the facility as an emergency shelter for homeless women and children, which will increase by 48 the number of single women and mothers with children the Mission can house and assist on a short-term basis.

Rockford Rescue Mission Executive Director Sherry Pitney explained that women and families can remain in the facility on a temporary basis while Mission staff and counselors provide them with nutritious food, clothing and laundry services, job and life-skills training, medical care, case management and referrals to community resources. 
Within 30 days, the daily hours of operation will increase from 12 hours to 24, doubling the accessibility. Of course, another critical piece of the program is the opportunity for our guests to hear and learn of God’s love and compassion for them,

Pitney said.

Rockford’s human services officials agree the Mission’s move to embrace the former Red Cross shelter will benefit the Rockford community, which is experiencing an increase in the number of homeless families needing services.

Pitney recalled that last year, Rockford Rescue Mission was forced to refer more than 400 women to other agencies including the Red Cross because the Mission couldn’t provide emergency care. 
So when we learned the Red Cross Shelter needed an organization to stand in the gap, we just couldn’t walk away realizing the need in our community,

Pitney stated.

Pitney admits, however, the step will be a giant leap of faith for the Mission, not only because of the short time frame it has in which to hire nine new staff members and ensure a smooth transition with no interruption in service, but also because of the financial obligations the Mission will incur.

Services for men formerly staying at Red Cross will be provided at the Mission, 715 W. State St., where additional beds have been added,

explained Pitney. “With the addition of the women’s emergency shelter and the increased services for men, the annual operating budget is projected to increase by nearly $250,000, and the Mission needs to invest approximately $35,000 up front for good, sturdy bed frames, mattresses, linens, pillows and other necessary items. We’re immediately seeking a corporation, church or other organization to partner with us in this venture and provide the initial financial funds and extra manpower needed for the start-up costs.

It has always been the Mission’s intention to reinstate the emergency services to women and children it had been forced to suspend in 2007,

Pitney went on to say. 
This is a God-given opportunity to do so, and I know He’ll bless us with the resources we need through generous friends in the community.

The Mission will continue to provide its current curriculum of programs and services to rescue, recover and restore lives for Christ.

from the July 22-28, 2009, issue

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