CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley has been around for 127 years, mainly serving the homeless. At a benefit dinner Friday night, how the organization has helped struggling men and women was on display.
Kevin Mick was a guest at the annual fundraiser for the Rescue Mission.
“They helped me turn my life around and I wanted to be able to help others. I want to be an example to people, that you can turn your life around, you can get back on your feet,” he said.
Mick was once someone who needed the Mission’s help.
“I had fell into real bad alcoholism and I lost my job because of it,” he said. “I kind of lost everything and I ended up staying at the Rescue Mission.”
Now Mick is a chef at the Mission, helping people who are walking the path he’s walked.
“Be an example that the Mission can help people along,” he said. “Just give back as much as I can.”
According to the organization’s website, when someone comes to the Rescue Mission, those who work there provide them with education, counseling, compassion and prayer — all to point them to the love of Jesus Christ.
“The Mission’s primary focus is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s the role that we fill here in the Valley,” said John Muckridge, Rescue Mission CEO.
They’re also held accountable.
“We have to be shown how to go, where to go and then we have to have friends and loved ones around us to hold us accountable, to engage in us the things we need to help grow out of homelessness,” Muckridge said.
He said if you come to the Mission, they’re ready to help — but you have to meet them halfway.
“You can’t lay around all day. You can’t sleep in all day. If you’re working, if you’re capable and able to work, we’re going to hold you accountable to go out and look for work.”
To stay at the Mission, you have to be drug- and alcohol-free.
Muckridge said one of the major problems they face is the drug activity in our area and, sometimes, there isn’t a positive outcome.
“This heroin epidemic and some of the overdoses. We’ve ministered to guys over the years and we catch word after they’ve moved out that they OD’d and died.”
Muckridge said he welcomes community support, but asks people to do their research first.
“We want people to come down and take a tour to see what’s going on at the Mission, and then engage from a volunteer perspective and then, if led by the Lord, to give. Then, of course, to give financially to the Mission.”
Mick seems to think the energy there is contagious.
“I think that you can’t help but feel connected to that place because the people there are so caring and genuine,” he said. “Having been a part of it, it just becomes a part of you.”
For him, it’s been a complete turnaround.
“It’s night and day from where it was before,” Mick said. “My friends and family have grown. I’m involved in church now and things of that nature, so I have a church family that I never had before. It’s a beautiful thing.”
The Rescue Mission is about a year away from opening its new building on Oakland Avenue.