Charlotte Rescue Mission building new shelter

Charlotte Rescue Mission
Charlotte Rescue Mission

Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 1938, nine Christian business leaders, including the father of evangelist Billy Graham, formed Charlotte Rescue Mission, an enterprise that initially fed, clothed and sheltered homeless and poor people, and provided them with chapel services.

Today, operating with an annual budget of $4 million and a staff of 65 people, the nonprofit serves 500 people a year at its 140-bed long-term residential recovery program for men who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and 23 women a year at its 12-bed shelter for homeless, addicted women, 99 percent of whom also have a history of sexual abuse.

And it has raised $9 million in an $11 million campaign to finance a new 120-bed women’s shelter that is scheduled to open in 2012.

The new shelter will include 30 beds for the children of residents, who are not permitted to bring their children to the current shelter.

The new shelter also will work in partnership with United Family Services, Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte, and Charlotte Family Housing.

United Family Services plans to build a new shelter for battered women on a campus it will share with the new shelter Charlotte Rescue Mission is building.

Because roughly three in 10 of the women at the battered women’s current shelter also have substance-abuse problems, they can be admitted to the Rescue Mission’s new shelter once they are discharged from Family Service’s shelter, says the Rev. Tony Marciano, executive director of Charlotte Rescue Mission.

The two agencies also are talking to one another about sharing maintenance and landscaping costs at the 11-acre campus, which is located on West Boulevard near Old Steele Creek Parkway, and about ways they can help one another in serving residents of their respective women’s shelters.

Marciano says his agency also is talking to Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte and Charlotte Family Housing about a partnership that would move women along a continuing path from homelessness to stability.

Under the plan, women from the Salvation Army’s shelter for homeless women and children would move with their children to the Rescue Mission’s 120-day program at its new shelter, and then to a two-year program, including supportive services, at Charlotte Family Housing.

Unlike shorter programs, Marciano says, the longer program at the Rescue Mission would give women with sexual-abuse problems time to address them.

And at Charlotte Family Housing — a new agency formed through the merger of Charlotte Emergency Housing, Family Promise of Charlotte, and Workforce Initiative for Supportive Housing, or W.I.S.H. – the women would have their own apartments and would be able “to establish the family in their permanent place to live,” Marciano says.

Because the weak economy has made it more difficult for graduates of its programs to find jobs, he says, Charlotte Rescue Mission now is working to connect its graduates with agencies that can help them find job openings, write resumes and job applications, and prepare for job interviews.

Co-chaired by state Rep. Ruth Samuelson, Lynn Erdman of the American Cancer Society, Darren Ash of Charlotte Family Housing, and Scott Gantt of Benefit Control, the campaign for Charlotte Rescue Mission’s new women’s shelter has received gifts of $1.5 million from Mary Evernham, $700,000 from Wells Fargo and $500,000 from the Leon Levine Foundation.

“The heart and passion of Charlotte Rescue Mission,” Marciano says, “is to change lives from the inside out.”

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