Bringing Hope to Raleigh’s Homeless Population
Robert came to the Raleigh Rescue Mission with a long list of medical problems: prostate cancer, lupus, a knee injury, and a hernia. At the time, he had been living on the streets of downtown Raleigh for five years, destitute and alone.
“It was cold nights. It was rainy days,” Robert said when describing his homeless life. “I couldn’t do anything but go between the soup kitchen and the shelter. I couldn’t find a job.”
Without the Raleigh Rescue Mission, Robert admits that he would be dead today.
“I am really grateful for being here,” he said. “I really am. The Mission has given me a second chance at life, and I really need it.”
Another client, Melissa, says that the Mission saved her life. Her drug addiction had taken control of her, but after she got help, she’s been back in school to become job ready.
“All of my needs were met at the Mission,” she said. “I have food. I have shelter. I have clothes. I have love. It’s really awesome.”
A force for good
Robert and Melissa’s stories are two of many tales of hope from the Raleigh Rescue Mission, a nonprofit serving the homeless in North Carolina’s capital city.
The need is significant: On a given night in Wake County, 1,100 men, women, and children are without shelter. The Mission serves them, providing 2,646 meals each week to individuals who otherwise might be forced to eat out of garbage cans.
Since 2004, the John William Pope Foundation has remained committed to Raleigh Rescue Mission’s purpose, investing $42,500 in the ministry over that period.
Most people associate homeless shelters with a hot meal, warm place to sleep, and pair of clean clothes. The Mission provides these essentials and much more, including recovery and rehabilitation services, spiritual direction through Bible study and prayer, mental health services, an adult learning center, children’s services, emergency overnight services, and a medical clinic.
“We want to see transformed lives. We also want to see a transformed community. We want better citizens because of the work we’re doing,” said Lynn Daniell, who has served as Raleigh Rescue Mission’s executive director for the past 20 years. (Read Lynn’s story of service here.)
Since it was founded in 1961, the Mission has helped put over 700,000 individuals on the path to a new life. The ministry challenges clients to deal with the underlying issues that have led to their current situation. Part of that goal includes providing training and vocational opportunities to help the less fortunate establish a sustainable lifestyle.
The Mission also addresses more immediate needs through its overnight shelter for homeless women and children. Often, these individuals are fleeing abusive homes or unsafe living arrangements.
A director, nurses, and a mental health counselor and psychiatrist help clients through the Mission’s medical clinic, which includes dental and eye-care services.
An added bonus is that the Mission provides services that would otherwise fall under the purview of government, creating a free-market alternative to solve homelessness.
Goals for everyone
Daniell’s goals for everyone who comes through the Mission are the same: Have a relationship with Jesus, become connected to a local church, stay clean and sober, find employment and a safe place to live, and have goals for their future.
“We work with the whole person — the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual,” he said.
The biggest hurdle that they face, Daniell said, is the increasing incidence of mental illness.
“We’re trying to determine how to provide for those individuals and minister to them, and then also provide a program or avenue to learn how to live with what they’re dealing with,” he said.
How to help
What’s the best way to help the Mission? Daniell points to his four “P” theory: Prayer, participate, provide in-kind gifts, and partner financially.
The Mission always is looking for volunteers, and opportunities extend far beyond simply serving a meal. For donations, Daniell recommends anything that someone would use in a household on a daily basis.
“We’ve got some great people who have dedicated their lives to this. They’re passionate about it,” Daniell said.