By Evan Casey
The Milwaukee Rescue Mission recently won the 2017 BizTimes Milwaukee best Nonprofit Organization of the Year for their work in the community. They will be celebrating 125 years of service to the City of Milwaukee this May. They will also be hosting an international conference of gospel rescue missions this summer.
Charles Thompson still remembers the first night he arrived at The Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
Unemployed and sleeping on his mom’s couch, he arrived at the four-story homeless shelter late on a warm July evening, eyes watering and exhausted from a nearly two-hour walk.
“When I got there, I couldn’t believe this is where I was,” said Thompson.
It’s now five years later, and Johnson is working 40 hours a week, engaged to be married and volunteering with the Rescue Mission, the same place he went when he was in dire need of a home and direction. However, many people don’t know that The Milwaukee Rescue Mission, 830 N. 19th St., does so much more than just shelter men, women and children for a night. The Mission have made it their goal to serve the homeless by providing them with long term services and programs.
The Mission began in 1893 by a group of Christian businessman in Milwaukee to help homeless and alcoholic men on the streets. They began to expand their services throughout the 1900s, by opening up a women’s shelter and offering job training. Daniel Brown, the Vice President of Programs at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, says that throughout the years their main mission has never changed.
“The homeless have always been who we minister to,” says Brown. “We try to deal with every individual with the idea that God created everyone with dignity.”
Not only does the Mission provide food and shelter for approximately 300 men, women and children per night, but they also provide education, counseling and job training. In a city where the number of homeless is estimated to be around 8,000, the Mission believes this service is necessary.
“I keep it to remind me of how far God has brought me,” said Thompson.
When Thompson first arrived in 2012, he took advantage of a program called Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor helps men set up bank accounts, restore their credit, get a GED and driver’s license, all while holding weekly bible studies. Thompson still keeps the original bed card he received on his first night of staying at the mission.
“Even if they are filled to the brim, they will not turn anyone away,” said Thompson. “There were times when guys would be knocking at the door at 11 at night. It’s not just a place for someone to sleep at overnight. They help restore families.”