2216 S. Cedar St., Lansing MI 48910 ~ www.BEaRESCUER.org ~ 517.485.0145
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The Outreach

For those faithful readers of our monthly newsletter, you’ve probably noticed in the past few months the gradual unfolding of a new opportunity for the City Rescue Mission of Lansing. At the end of 2017, our executive director was approached by a number of agencies asking for various amounts of help from the Mission. One of these groups, seeking to build a shelter a few counties away, led us to begin to evaluate if the Mission could “do more” and what that might look like. Though the door never truly opened for this shelter, we were able to assist the local service agencies with advice and encouragement. Around this time, the leader of another Lansing ministry, Mark Bozzo of the City Outreach, began to meet with Mark Criss, our executive director, about how the Mission might do more for those among the homeless who struggle with addictions or mental illness. The Mission provides a safe environment to about 140 women, children, and men each night. Guidelines and structure keep our facilities safe and provide support in assisting those working to transition out of homelessness and into independence. However, this necessary structure can become a barrier to those with addictions or mental illness. Those who could not stay at the Mission or other local shelters found refuge at the City Outreach. Sadly, while still determining how the Mission could help, Mark Bozzo passed away unexpectedly. With the winter coming soon and no other agency expressing the ability to re-open this ministry, the Mission’s board of directors has taken on the responsibility of this new ministry opportunity. Our goal is to have the building functional by November 1, if at all possible. Our mission is to reach out to many who would never come to the Mission and to build relationships that will encourage them to take the first steps in leaving the streets.

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Reaching the "Least" of These

WHO will the Outreach help?

Last month, the “Message from Mark” told about “Benjamin,” a homeless alcoholic who has been living behind the closed City Outreach facility all summer. Benjamin was grateful for the kind words and human interaction received from staff when we toured the site. Like so many, his life on the streets is exacting a heavy toll on Benjamin. What happens when winter comes? Too often, we lack compassion for those struggling with addiction and mental illness. However, our own Mission founders were themselves alcoholics. Their faithful testimony stands as a witness that there is hope and Rescue for women and men, like Benjamin.

WHY create the Outreach?

The need is there. Many times, our executive director has stated to staff that the City Outreach met a difficult and vital need in our community. The location and the work of the City Outreach was critical, especially during the extreme weather (cold, heat, and flood) that we can experience in our city. As many as 40 people, maybe more, received services from the City Outreach. In addition to meeting a need no one else is meeting, we will be able to build relationships and encourage men and women to seek more permanent help.

WHAT services will the Outreach provide?

The goal is to provide a 24/7 drop-in center this winter. We hope also to offer food for those who are hungry, a safe shelter from the elements and potential violence, a place to clean themselves and their clothes, meeting space for service agencies, and a messages of hope from God’s Word.

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The Cost

This was an unplanned need. Not realizing that City Outreach would be forced to close suddenly due to the passing of Mark Bozzo, the City Rescue Mission had no budget for this project. However, the need is now, especially with cold weather approaching. This required us to quickly determine renovation costs and an operational budget for the coming year.

Total expected costs for the project are $325,000.

The Mission prayerfully reviewed the need and prioritized services. Management and the board had to trim overall operating budgets, adjust staffing throughout the Mission, and (we hope temporarily) suspend lunches beginning November 1. The Mission currently offers three meals a day. Lunch has the smallest percentage of attendance (11%) but costs are nearly the same as breakfast or dinner. There are also other agencies that offer lunches at various days of the week. This was a difficult decision, not only because of the guests we do serve but also for the faithful meal service volunteers. However, our hope is to again meet this need in some way in the future.

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How can I help?

Financial Donations: Any gift toward this project will be greatly appreciated. You can write “the Outreach” in the memo line of your check or note it when you give online through our website: BEaRESCUER.org.

Employment: this is a Christian ministry, and we are looking for those who desire to be the hands and feet of Christ in this new opportunity. Our employment application is on our website: BEaRESCUER.org/employment.html.

Volunteering: BEaRESCUER.org/volunteer.html

Prayer: please pray that we would have wisdom and speed in a successful, timely completion of the project.

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