A renewed Mission, a renewed Vision
After completing my second full fiscal year of executive leadership here at the Mission, I am now more convinced than ever that the Rescue Mission is God’s endeavor and remains God’s endeavor. I’m not just referring to the fact that we talk freely about Christ’s love in this place, that we pray regularly and break open scripture together at the Mission.
What I mean is this: It is in the very nature of God to care for the broken and the lost. Rulers rise and fall; God’s love for the hopeless and hurting never fades. Thus, standing for redemption and restoration in this crazy world is to stand on the most solid ground there is.
Here are some of the signs of that solid footing from this past year:
• We have come through a tough financial period in the organization’s history, have focused on our fiscal health, and have now replenished a healthy and appropriate level of cash reserves.
• We have expanded our reach in Pierce County, particularly in our family shelter capacity, increasing by sixty percent the number of families we can shelter each night.
• Most importantly, we have grown in our reputation as a go-to partner in the Pierce County community to engage and bring about real change amongst our homeless neighbors. We have expanded our volunteer department and deepened our relationships with churches and community organizations.
All of this has led us to a place today where, having laid the groundwork for a strong future, we are now together asking what God might have in the next stage of life of the Tacoma Rescue Mission.
In the past fiscal year, our Board of Trustees has adopted a new driving vision statement, that:
“every homeless person in Pierce County would have access to a complete and permanent pathway out of poverty as they pursue God’s plan for their lives.”
Today, we are solidifying this vision into a strategic plan, particularly in how we cover the map of needed service throughout all of Pierce County and fill the wide gaps that currently exist in this pathway.
One such gap that you’ll read about in this report is our new Enterprise Initiative, providing real jobs to our homeless clients, thanks to the diligence of local business leaders.
But we continue to have confidence that this plan is something initiated by God, one that we simply have the privilege to come alongside and be a part of. As you read through our 2016-17 annual report, I would ask you to prayerfully consider the work that God has already begun within you, and how it might align with the Tacoma Rescue Mission.
In His Grace,
Mike Johnson, Executive Director
From Violent Gang Member to World’s Greatest Mom!
If you met Stacey two years ago, you would have been scared to death of her. And she would have wanted you to be afraid. Stacey was affiliated with the notorious Original Loco Boyz gang on Tacoma’s East Side. Angry, violent and drug addicted, she was a danger to anyone around her. But then, something miraculous happened . . .
It began early for Stacey. She lived in a gang-infested neighborhood in the Salishan housing projects. Her older brother was already involved in gangs when she was born. By the time she was nine, Stacey was already drinking and getting into trouble. Dropping out of school at twelve, addicted to meth by the time she was fifteen . . . arrested, she landed in and out of juvenile detention multiple times for violence . . . this was Stacey’s life.
I've seen my friends murdered, and just horrible things. I was on meth for 14 years. I was very dark; I was bitter, sad, and angry at the world. Either somebody was going to kill me or I was going to kill myself.
If ever there was someone who had no hope left in life, it was Stacey.
Two years ago she was arrested again and put into jail. This time she lost everything: her car, her house and her two little boys. In jail, she realized she couldn’t continue living that way anymore. It wasn’t the life she wanted for herself – or her boys.
When Stacey was released, she came to the Mission, hungry, desperate and looking for a change. At first, she thought she’d just play the game until she got back on her feet. But that didn’t last long. She tells us,
“I remember one day, I was thinking about leaving the program; it was like my first three months in, and it was five o’clock in the morning. I was outside and looking up, I was like, “God, if you want me to stay here, just give me a sign.” Then what they said in devotions was exactly what I needed to hear. I just started bawling, and I was like, “Oh, my goodness. He’s real.” Yes, it’s powerful.”
Stacey crossed the bridge
Last fall, Stacey graduated from our addiction recovery program. She’s regained custody of her young boys and has been sober and drug free for two years. She’s already enrolled in Pierce College and is a doting mother to her sons.
Stacey has gone from hopeless to having a bright future, full of promise. In her own words:
“I was hopeless. I never thought I could come this far. This is the only program that’s ever worked for me after a 14-year addiction. I’m clean; I’m living a Christian life. I’m in school right now, working to get my Associate’s Degree in Science. This place is life changing. They call it the New Life Program, and I’m proof that it actually, really gives you a new life!”
When a single catastrophe triggers ten years of being homeless . . .
Kenneth didn’t become homeless by choice. When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans over ten years ago, Kenneth’s life was devastated. Not only was his home destroyed, he lost his mother, a sister and his only brother – three of the 1,833 people who were killed during that tragedy. Forced to stay in a makeshift shelter, Kenneth struggled with the overwhelming loss of his family.
That one single catastrophic event changed his life instantly!
Depressed, homeless, jobless and lonely, a “friend” told him to come to Tacoma where he would help him. Kenneth saved up enough bus fare to come north. That’s when things got worse!
A Thanksgiving meal brings healing
When Kenneth arrived in Tacoma, he found his friend had no place for him to stay, he had no leads for jobs . . . he wouldn’t even help Kenneth with food!
Alone and in a strange city with no friends or resources, Kenneth ended up on the streets, his depression growing daily.
Eventually he lost all hope . . . wandering the streets for almost ten years and losing his ability to think or act clearly. He spent nights sleeping in a dumpster until he “graduated” to an abandoned car. He became malnourished and confused.
Then came that fateful night — Thanksgiving night — when he found the Mission.
His stomach growling with hunger, Kenneth came into our dinning hall looking barely alive. Our staff and volunteers immediately welcomed him in and served him a big plate of food. But that wasn’t all. Today,
“What a relief. I see I can take a shower. I can get clean clothes. I can have food, good, hot food. I can have a place to stay. I thank God. The Rescue Mission took care of me.”
A fresh start
After ten years of living on the streets, that Thanksgiving meal was the start of a whole new life for Kenneth!
He came back and joined our program. He got the counseling he needed. We provided job training, we even helped him get his driver’s license.
Today Kenneth is working full time, and he is saving his money so he can soon move into his own apartment.
A warm, nutritious meal that someone like you provided opened up a world of opportunity and change to Kenneth. That’s the power of a Rescue Mission meal!
Provided over 311,000 hot, nutritious meals to the homeless and impoverished
Provided over 49,000 nights of warm, safe shelter to over 1,200 homeless men. 142 reentered the workforce, and over 52% increased their income while staying with us.
Through our intensive 12-month, faith-based residential addiction-recovery program, 46 men and 37 women became clean and sober.
While recovery is a long and arduous journey, 54% have maintained their sobriety after 2 years. That is over 4x the national average!
- Provided over 32,000 nights of safe and secure shelter to vulnerable families. 7% of those families successfully secured housing prior to their exit and 65% obtained employment
Provided 56 units of permanent housing through our Tyler Street location and Jefferson Apartments
Tutored 84 adult students, with 71% enrolling in a college or vocational program
Provided 6,273 hours of tutoring, in-school support, mentoring, and experiential learning to over 300 homeless, traumatized children. 87% exhibited an increase in positive social and interpersonal behaviors
Community members gave over Community members gave over 34,000 articles of clothing, hygiene, and household items to the Rescue Mission.
Last year, we ministered to over 3,700 homeless individuals on the street, distributing over 3,400 meals. Further, we brought back 76 individuals to our shelters.
9,805 dedicated volunteers contributed over 55,000 hours to the Rescue Mission this past year.