Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Home Opener

As a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, we are careful to maintain a strict non-partisan position - except when it comes to sports! Though we have many fans of various teams represented among our staff and guests, we do love our Indians.

The Cleveland Indians Home Opener is April 11. To honor the Indians and encourage them to another World Series run - and to raise funds to help minister to the needy in our valley - the Mission is asking companies, large and small, to sponsor a Cleveland Indians Dress Down Day. This involves wearing your favorite Indians gear in exchange for a donation to the Rescue Mission. For details, visit our Facebook page or our web page. Cheer on the Tribe and support a worthy cause in your community.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Heroin and Homelessness

It is all over the newspaper and the TV news. Heroin use in the Mahoning Valley is at epidemic proportions. This can be seen by the rash of overdoses that have been reported. Just this week, the Youngstown Vindicator keyed in on one of a series of panel discussions being held in Warren, OH. Warren (in Trumbull County) is just to the north of Youngstown and makes up part of what is considered the Mahoning (River) Valley.
According to the Trumbull County Coroner's office, five people died of drug overdoses between March 1 and 7... Sixteen people are believed to have died from drug overdoses so far in March. The county had a record high 104 overdose deaths in 2016 after a record number of 87 in 2015.
The numbers for Mahoning County are similar. The clear implication is that we are in an epidemic situation. These numbers reflect overdose fatalities, they do not reflect non-fatal overdoses, nor do they begin to address the total picture of heroin use, most of which does not result in overdose.

One of the questions most frequently asked of us concerns this crisis. People wonder how this serious problem impacts what we do at the Mission. This is a good question, but it shows that there is some confusion about the homeless population and about what we do at the Mission.

In the first place, heroin use is not the primary contributing factor in those who experience homelessness, at least as far as national surveys indicate. Granted, homelessness is often secondary to substance abuse, but it is one of many contributors. It is inaccurate to think that a spike in local heroin use translates into an unusual increase in the Mission's population.

Secondly, the Rescue Mission is not a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center. We are not equipped to medically treat individuals with chronic substance abuse issues. Certain kinds of detox require medical monitoring. The Mission is an emergency overnight shelter, not a medical facility.

Here is the bottom line: for the past 4 years, our overnight population has been at 120+, well before the current heroin issue. The reasons for this increase are many and varied. Yes - we do minister to people who are fighting addictions, but we also provide services for children, families, and single individuals - those who may be considered the "working poor" - those who need an opportunity to recover from an unexpected, life-altering event.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Winter Weather

We were supposed to get up to a half of a foot of snow in the Valley. Forecasters painted a picture that caused many schools to close in anticipation of a major snowfall. The reality, however, was not exactly as predicted. This reminds us that weather forecasting includes a lot of variables and often the reality is different than the forecast.

The anticipation of this predicted snow event caused me once again to consider the condition of those who are truly homeless. By "truly homeless" I mean people who are not currently sheltered, either in a homeless shelter, hospital, rescue mission, transitional housing, or who may be staying with a friend or relative because they have no fixed address. There are people who actually live on the streets - staying wherever they can find shelter from the weather: at the bus station, in abandon buildings, in doorways, or under bridges.

By all estimates, the Mahoning Valley has relatively few unsheltered individuals - but there are some. When the wind chill falls to the single digits - as it is now - some of these people will find shelter in the Rescue Mission. Even a few people who may be unsheltered in these conditions are too many.

The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley is a warm, safe place for anyone who wants to escape exposure to the harsh weather. Help us spread the word.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Move Our Mission

This is the year that we have launched the project to "Move Our Mission." Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary that speaks to the need for a new facility:

The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley is a Christian organization, founded upon and grounded in biblical principles. The Mission serves as an instrument of God delivering the Gospel message. It is a Christ-centered outreach of love and compassion that sustains its long practice of service to the community since its 1893 founding in Mahoning County.
 Throughout the shelter's history, the work of the staff, the board and thousands of volunteers is framed by Christian principles tirelessly applied, relentlessly facing head-on the challenges presented by the homeless and hopeless individuals delivered to its doors. By the grace of God and within the Mission's safe environment, many are equipped with the tools necessary to escape their circumstances and move from the margins of society into the main stream. The Mission helps the underserved to meet these challenges every day. At the same time, the Mission faces institutional challenges that must also be met.
Concurrently, the Mission must maintain the aging, deteriorating shelter building while overseeing the construction of a new purpose-built facility. Designed not only for transformation of the homeless, but also to create a community resource center that will expand opportunities for others in the margins of the community - the near homeless and other struggling residents.
The Mission manages its more than $2.0 million cash budget on private contributions including a board-controlled fund of over $650,000. A
s such, Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley relies completely upon the generosity of businesses, foundations, and residents of the Mahoning Valley. Due to the untenable restrictions of government funding, no direct government support is sought or accepted.
As a result, the Board of Directors has authorized a major capital fundraising campaign to fund the new construction that will provide the proper infrastructure in which to more efficiently execute its ground breaking model. A service that will provide a lasting social, moral, and economic benefit to the homeless, near-homeless, and entire community.
You can learn more about this project by visiting "Move Our Mission."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Wisdom From A Wise Theologian

I recently ran across this from J.I Packer in Knowing God. Wise words indeed!
We talk glibly of the “Christmas spirit,” rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But . . . it ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.
It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians–I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians–go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians–alas, they are many–whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the submiddle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.
The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor–spending and being spent–to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others–and not just their own friends–in whatever way there seems need.
There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, than though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32 KJV)


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What Causes Homelessness - Part 3

HomeAid America lists these factors as contributing causes of homelessness:
  • Tragic life occurrences like the loss of loved ones, job loss, domestic violence, divorce and family disputes.
  • Life impacting impairments such as depression, untreated mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and physical disabilities.
  • Financial challenges resulting from unexpected expenses due to divorce, unexpected illness, sudden job loss, foreclosure, and even natural disaster.
One major contributor to homelessness is substance abuse. Although the recent epidemic of heroin use and overdose has captured the headlines, those who work with homeless individuals have long understood that homelessness is quite often secondary to substance abuse. A person's family may have no other recourse than to disassociate themselves from their loved one's self-destructive behavior.

Since 1893, the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley has provided a safety net for people who experience homelessness. The causes vary but the end result is often the same; life altering circumstances bring people to our door. With your help, we will continue to provide hope, help, and a home to those who, at least for a season, have no other place to call home.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Causes Homelessness - Part 2

Why do people experience homelessness? There is no quick and easy answer. It is easy and common to blame a stagnant or failing economy. The fallacy with that argument is that, when the economy turns around, homelessness should decrease. Most studies have shown that there has been no significant decrease in the number of those who experience homelessness in the last decade. If anything, the number is rising with little regard to the health or decline in the national economy. This rise in the homeless population is cause for concern.

Establishing a number of those who experience homelessness is difficult to do. A 2007 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness states the “Every year, 600,000 families with 1.3 million children experience homelessness in the United States, making up about 50 percent of the homeless population over the course of the year.” ( The National Center on Family Homelessness places that number now at 2.5 million children. “This “historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States” (

Every year in January, agencies involved in addressing homelessness conduct a “point-in-time” count to gauge the national situation on a given night. This past January,

·         There were 564,708 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.

·         Sixty-nine percent of those who were homeless were in sheltered locations and 31 percent were found in unsheltered locations (streets, abandoned buildings, cars, etc.).

·         Nearly one-quarter (23 percent or 127,787) of all homeless people were children, under the age of 18. 

·         Ten percent (or 52,973) were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 66 percent (or 383,948) were 25 years or older. (

So the question remains, why? Unless we understand the causes of homelessness we will be ineffective in our attempts to address the issue. We will continue this topic with a look at some of the issues that contribute to homelessness.