“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 Dear Supporters of the Rescue Mission, I never would have imagined that I’d be writing you today having just reinstated our mask mandate, social distancing policy and “meals-to-go” here at the Mission. It’s deeply frustrating to be going backwards with this whole pandemic. However, in order to protect my staff
and the men who reside here we have had to reinstate these measures. For the past 15 months, we have done such a stellar job keeping people safe with our protocols, testing and most recent vaccination campaign. So, as you can imagine, it was a HUGE blow to morale to have to put all the measures back in place – especially when we were just beginning to taste the freedom of “life as we knew it”. Currently all of our staff are vaccinated along with all the men who live here; however, that’s not the case for those who come for our free meal ministry, shopping at our Thrift Stores or accessing other services we provide. So, until we get better news with increase in vaccination rates among the unvaccinated, we will hunker down and do the best we can. With that said, we will need your help. Having to go back to half capacity, “to-go” meals, and other Covid measures – costs money. These measures are expensive. Anything you can do to support our ministries, please do.
Let me share a few updates since I last wrote in March 2021. Our ministry to homeless men continues to be at 50% due to spacing requirements during the pandemic. Normally, we can house 32 men – two men per room. Since the pandemic, we can only house sixteen men. Needless to say, we have more inquiries than we have room. All we can tell the men seeking shelter is to keep checking back – which goes against everything we believe as followers of Christ. The staff struggle with turning away men (or anyone, for that matter) since the foundation of our ministries is to see Christ standing before us in the guise of the poor and homeless. How do we say to Christ, “Sorry, no room tonight, check back tomorrow.” It’s difficult – very difficult and as a staff we spend time talking and praying for guidance and grace to do what we can to comfort and serve the “least among us.”
If there is any measure of solace, it’s in the season of summer. At least when we report we have no room, the men are not being sent out into the cold – they will have to find a place to hang out until we have a space available. Not perfect, but doable. Sometimes that place is our Mission Garden behind the Fourth Street Parking ramp. Often, during the summer, I find men sleeping on one of our picnic tables, benches, on the grass under the apple trees, or in the front of our open wood-fired pizza trailer. Currently, it’s empty and one can snug themselves back there and fall asleep. Once again, not perfect, but doable. To address some of the shortage of space we are experiencing, we are looking to
purchase an enclosed trailer that will house six additional men on three bunk beds. This will be used only for overnight sleeping. The men will have to check back the following evening. Again, not perfect, but much better than sleeping on a bench or under a tree.
Here are some other updates. Some of you may already know we have a mobile kitchen where we can now take our free meal ministry to underserved areas in the City. Currently, the mobile kitchen is parked at Crystal Lake Cave for the weekends serving food to patrons who visit the caves. The food service that happens there is used to train our men and some kitchen staff at short order cooking and customer service. Additionally, it has allowed us time to work out some of the kinks in operating the trailer, so as to better serve our customers. Our plan is to have the food trailer ready to go Spring of 2022 to serve men, women and children in the underserved areas of the City with our free meal ministry. On the weekends we will serve food for sale to people like you and me looking for a good sandwich and a great cause to support. We look forward to this new ministry getting in full swing – keep an eye out for future updates. Continuing with the trailer theme: We received a grant to purchase a mobile shower, toilet and sink trailer. It will have a men’s side and women’s side – so two full restrooms and showers. This will allow us to have showers and bathrooms available to those who otherwise can’t get to the Mission due to distance. For example, if a person is on the North End and can’t walk to the Mission for services – this unit will come to them. We currently have a shower, bathroom and laundry room on the first floor of the Mission at 4th and Main. That facility gets a tremendous amount of use from those who are homeless or staying on someone’s floor but have no access to warm water, shower or toilet. The mobile unit will serve to help folks like this to experience some dignity when it comes to personal hygiene. This trailer was made possible through a grant we received from a local family foundation. Having the flexibility to bring some of our services to those who otherwise can’t get to us has been a real blessing. For almost 90 years, the Mission has been mostly grounded at 4th and Main; now we have the ability to bring the care, compassion, nourishment and love beyond those walls to those in need.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the financial support so many of you have provided over the years. If you would like to help with the expansion of our services, here’s our website where you can donate through Paypal www.dbqrescue.org. We are so grateful for any donation. I want to close with a more personal story. There is a young man here named Michael. Due to mental health trauma, Michael sits mostly in a chair at our dining hall and looks at the floor or outside on the Mission stoop and stares at the sky. Each day when I see Michael – either coming into the Mission or passing by him on my way to find someone in the kitchen – I greet Michael with the salutation: “Michael the Archangel watching over and protecting all of us at the Mission!” And with hardly ever a word uttered in a day, he will say, “Hi, Rick” and the biggest smile comes upon his face and his eyes sparkle like stars. And I walk away thinking: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 So, there you have it. Some News from the Dubuque Rescue Mission. We can never thank all of you enough for your support. Please continue to pray for us and those we serve – these are hard times for us all, but especially hard for those on the margins.
Peace and love, Rick Mihm and the Staff at the Dubuque Rescue Mission.