LAS CRUCES – The Gospel Rescue Mission is taking a new direction in its work with the homeless to “address everything they could need in life to get started again,” said Chaplain and GRM Executive Director Henry Young.
The biggest changes, Young said, focus on job training, more rigorous drug testing and shorter stays at the mission, 1050 W. Amador Ave. The new policies will do more to help mission clients overcome chronic poverty and unemployment, self-destructive behaviors and “barriers to independent living,” Young said in a memorandum Young prepared for GRM supporters.
GRM, a nonprofit, will acquire a second city business license (it already has one for its thrift store at 1416 S. Solano Drive) and train clients to provide janitorial services, Young said. Some of these new workers will continue as GRM staff while others will be ready to work elsewhere or even become self-employed, Young said. For their work, all will receive salaries, some of which will be held back in personal savings accounts to help pay deposits on their own apartments, buy a car or invest in equipment to start their own business, he said.
As they develop a solid employment record, clients will also receive training on how to write a resume and complete a successful job interview as well as preparing and following a personal budget.
A new emphasis will be placed on moving clients out of the shelter more quickly than in the past, Young said. Some residents had been staying at GRM for years at a time, with no plans to get back on their feet. Ending “open-ended” free housing will “help people create a transition plan beyond the mission,” he said.
Changes also include a stricter enforcement of the mission’s alcohol- and drug-free campus, he said. That will include a check-in procedure each night, including random drug testing and breathalyzer tests.
GRM offers emergency food, shelter and clothing for up to 120 homeless people. It currently has about 55 residents and guests, Young said.
The GRM shelter is open 24 hours a day and typically provides more than 25,000 bed nights per year. Its commercial kitchen is open 365 days a year, serving three hot mails a day totaling more than 61,000 plates a year. The mission’s clothing room provides free clothes for the poor and has a special back-to-school program for children in need.
GRM was founded in 1972 by Rev. Darrel E. Bean “to offer Christian counseling, coffee and doughnuts to transients at the corner of Picacho and Valley Drive,” according to www.lcgrm.org. It moved to 334 W. Griggs Ave. in 1977 and to its permanent home on West Amador Avenue in 1988. GRM purchased its thrift shop and clothing store in 1990.
For more information, call 575-523-7727 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.lcgrm.org.
Mail cash donations to Gospel Rescue Mission, P.O. Box 386, Las Cruces, N.M. 88004. You can also donate online.
Mike Cook may be contacted at email@example.com.