Rescuing the Mission

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The Downtown Improvement Board Survey shows 87 percent of business owners feel the rescue mission is the reason homeless people are downtown.

"Everything that's been going on downtown with the perception of who we're serving made us want to question who are we serving and what are their needs, and what can we do better to help the community and help this homeless population."

Amanda Harris is the development coordinator for the mission and she says they learned about 70 percent of the clients served are ages 36 to 65, and primarily male.

"More than half actually have a high school diploma or some college education, yet 50 percent are unemployed."

The mission is using this information to make changes inside and out. They just hired the Reverend Michael Martin as the director of operations.

The executive director, Thurman Chambers, says making the changes is important for the future of the mission.

"It's going to be good for everybody, good for the mission, good for the city. I'm really pleased with the progress we've made."

Joe Whitesell works at the mission and recently graduated from the men's recovery program. He will now focus more time on individuals, helping them make choices on their own.

"For one thing, it shows them society does care about them. They're not just stuck out here in the street and nobody cares. It's giving them a chance to take a step up to help themselves."

And with that step, the mission hopes to become a place of hope and a place to change direction more than soup and a shelter.