Rescue Mission helps keep those in need cool, sees increase in visitors during heat wave
Online Staff Report
Recent record temperatures created even more burdens for people already suffering the effects of homelessness and poverty, and Rockford Rescue Mission was ready to help. Both its men’s and women’s air-conditioned crisis centers were opened to the homeless and anyone who needed relief from the heat, and bottled water was distributed to help them avoid dehydration and other heat-related health issues.
Executive Director Sherry Pitney reports the Mission has also experienced an increase in the number of people coming to the Mission for meals.
“Our lunch attendance has been up by nearly 40 percent and we believe at the peak of the heat wave we were seeing people who were not only hungry, but also were living in homes with no air conditioning or fans to keep them cool,” Pitney said. “We were glad we could fulfill both of those needs.”
The unemployment rate in Rockford is still staggering, despite job growth in some industries. The Mission staff is geared up to welcome those who, as a result, may need assistance with shelter and other life essentials.
“At 10.4 percent, the unemployment rate here in the Rockford area is the highest in the Midwest and among the highest in the nation, and we have the highest child-poverty rate among the 10 largest cities in Illinois,” Pitney said. “It’s critical that we do everything we can — not only this summer, but all through the year — to help break the cycle of destitution and homelessness.”
Each year, the Mission serves more than 155,000 nourishing meals to shelter guests, residents of their Life Recovery programs and hungry members of the community, and they provide more than 60,000 nights of safe shelter. Their Community Outreach Programs touch the lives of thousands of individuals and families with clothing, household goods, medical care, domestic violence awareness and education and spiritual guidance.
Members of the Life Recovery Program receive vocational training, which empowers them to re-enter the workforce as responsible and productive employees.
The Mission relies on community support to fund these programs and services, and right now contributions are running critically low.
“Our donations typically drop off in the summer, but the need is greater than ever,” Pitney explained. “We’re urging anyone who can to make a gift to the Mission to help our neighbors who face hardships of all kinds.”
Donations to the Mission can be made online, 24 hours a day, at www.rockfordrescuemission.org.
Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since 1964, Rockford Rescue Mission provides nutritious meals and safe shelter for thousands of hungry and homeless men, women and children every year, along with recovery programs and outreach services to rescue, recover and restore the lives of those who are struggling in the Rockford community.
Posted July 19, 2012
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