After I was tasked with the assignment of finding what makes me proud of Utica, New York, my mind immediately went to the amount of places around here that accept charitable donations in order to help people in need; one place in particular stood out the most to me. The Rescue Mission of Utica is a non-profit and faith based organization dedicated to aiding those dealing with substance abuse and addiction, those who are homeless, those with disabilities and generally anyone else in the community who may be in need.
When I initially got the idea to write about the Rescue Mission, I was under the impression that their sole purposes were to feed and house. After speaking with the Director of Development and Communications, Susan Woods, I learned what a huge understatement this was. Woods spent almost fifteen minutes detailing all of the incredible programs and services they offer the community, including an emergency shelter, addiction stabilization center, spiritual life programs, job training, hot free meals, a learning center and more, if you could believe.
It would be an injustice to the Rescue Mission to not touch on their devout Christian faith. In the words of Woods herself, “we believe completely in the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ and we don’t shy away from that.” Although I personally am not Christian, I find such a positive and kind expression of of religion to be incredibly heartwarming. People at the Rescue Mission use the strength given to them by Jesus Christ to help those around them in need. This quote from their website sums it up pretty well: “God calls us to reach out to these neighbors in need. At the Rescue Mission of Utica, our calling comes straight from Scripture: “To share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him.” (Isaiah 58:6-7)”.
The Rescue Mission has fed 147,930 people in need, provided nearly 4,000 food boxes to 6,290 struggling families and individuals, as well as housed men and women seeking aid for 30,677 nights. They provide a safe place for people with mental illnesses at the Enriched Living Center along with an emergency shelter that has helped people for 13,677 nights. None of this could have been accomplished without the amount of aid they receive from the community.
When I asked Woods to describe one or two characteristics all volunteers seem to share, she responded without hesitation. They have “huge hearts that want to give back; it’s just amazing.” To those looking to offer any aid to the Rescue Mission of Utica, they are in particular need of assistance in their Finance department. Any accountants or anyone willing to help would be greatly appreciated. You can also help out by giving food, clothing, monetary donations, or by volunteering time. Volunteer work can range from shoveling snow and mowing grass to working in the kitchens or even wrapping Christmas gifts. I greatly hope you’ll all consider looking at their website and learning more about everything you can do to help.