History of Missoula 3:16
On any given night, a significant number of Missoula's homeless men, women, and children congregate under an overpass called the Higgins Street Bridge. In 1999, Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission began its ministry as volunteers brought food and blankets to these homeless people who desparately needed the bare essentials of life.
The Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission, which is a 501(c)(3) corporation, has the mission "to passionately pursue changed lives by offering hope to the homeless and needy by demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ." The Mission's tag line is "taking Jesus to the streets," which is accomplished by demonstrating God's love in practical ways such as providing hot meals, clothes, sleeping bags, blankets, and other comfort to cold, hungry, and hurting individuals. Outreach efforts are based on a commitment to respect each person, addressing specific needs in a personalized manner to bring hope and provide lasting solutions that result in transformed lives of people who then become productive members of the community.
The Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission is associated with the nationwide Association of Gospel Rescue Missions that serve those who are struggling with homelessness, poverty, and recovery issues. These individuals often cannot or will not seek services elsewhere due to mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, or fear. The Mission operates according to Christian charitable values, and all programs and services are offered without regard to gender, race, or faith.
Needs of the Homeless in Missoula County
The Mission serves Missoula County, comprised of a population of over 101,400 people (U.S. Census Bureau 2006 estimate). According to the 2008 Montana Homeless Survey, there were 906 homeless people in Missoula County on January 31, 2008, which is a sixty-three percent increase over the count of 553. (The full survey is available at http://www.mthomeless.org/.) Although the number of homeless people in Missoula County is probably higher than the recorded statistics, this survey provides a benchmark each year used to analyze the needs of the area. The Mission currently operates two programs that address the needs of the homeless as well as those struggling with addictive behaviors.
How Missoula 3:16 Is Responding to the Homeless
The Mission operates a Day Center located in downtown Missoula, which is open 365 days a year and provides food, clothing, blankets, Alcoholic Victorious groups, Bible studies, weekend worship services, phones, mailboxes, and referrals to other agencies. In 2011, the Mission served 38,455 meals, distributed 1,025 food boxes, and provided holiday meal events at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Two full-time and one part-time staff operate the Day Center, along with and approximately 20 volunteers, who give of their time on a weekly basis. Approximately 75 volunteers help with special events such as the meals served at Christmas and Thanksgiving.
School of Christ
A School of Christ residential men's regeneration program was launched in November 2007 for those who seriously desire to break cycles of addiction, homelessness, and other dysfunctional behaviors.
The Homeless in Montana Report of 2004 indicated that approximately 73 percent of the chronically homeless cited drug/alcohol, mental health issues, or both of these conditions as factors in their homelessness. (The full report is available at http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/homelessinmontana.pdf.) This report also listed the following services most needed by chronically homeless people:
- Emergency shelter and food
- Transitional/permanent housing
- Substance abuse treatment
- Primary health care treatment
- Case management/brokering services
- Cash assistance
- Entitlements and income supports
- Life skills
- Community living skills
- Family reunification
- Job skills / self-sufficiency
It is interesting to note that the School of Christ provides at least ten of the twelve services shown to most effectively address the needs of chronically homeless people. The School of Christ provides the following services:
- Transitional housing for up to eight men
- Nutritious meals and a focus on healthy living
- A Christian-based recovery program focused on breaking the substance abuse cycle
- Referrals for counseling and/or medication for mental illness
- Transportation to community resources such as medical and legal appointments
- Personal case management and spiritual counseling
- A peer support system providing practice in community living and life skills
- Family counseling
- On the job training through one of the Mission's social ventures
- Referrals for other vocational training and education such as GED classes
Women and Children's Emergency Motel Shelter Program
The Women and Children’s Emergency Motel Shelter Program helps homeless families overcome the isolation of transient living by meeting their most basic need of shelter, while also providing mentoring by the staff and volunteers at our Thrift Boutique to build work skills and begin a stable support network with these families, often for the first time in their lives. Initiated as short-term shelter is provided, the mentorship process is then personalized through relationship-building to focus on strengths, resolve challenges, and plug into community resources while addressing issues like parenting, budgeting, and goal-setting.
Funding Needs of Missoula 3:16
Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission is seeking increased funding based on current opportunities to build the organization's capacity to expand services to homeless men, women, and children of Missoula County and to bring transformation to many more lives.
Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission's current staff positions are as follows:
- Executive Director (full-time)
- Director of Ministry Programs (full-time)
- Administrative Assistant (part-time)
- Bookkeeper (part-time)
- Volunteer Coordinator (part-time)
Day Center Personnel
- Co-Supervisors (two full-time)
- Food Service (part-time)
- Food Inventory Coordinator (4 hrs/wk)
School of Christ Personnel
- Case Managers (two full-time)
- Resident Assistants (one full-time and one part-time, for nights and weekends)
- Co-Managers (two full-time)
Missoula 3:16 would like to find and purchase a facility to replace the current 900 square foot facility that houses the Day Center. The current site lacks a commercial kitchen and has inadequate space for serving the 50-60 people who currently depend on the Day Center for 2 meals per day. The new site would also house an emergency shelter and transitional housing program for women. An ideal facility would be comprised of approximately 8,000 square foot with commercial kitchen, large open meeting area, and lodging accomodations. The cost of a suitable building in the Missoula area is estimated to be approximately $500,000 before improvements such as a commercial kitchen.
Missoula 3:16 provides daily meals at the Day Center and the School of Christ men's program, which totaled 43,558 meals in 2011. The Mission also operates a food pantry and distributed 1,025 food boxes in 2011 to families in need. Although the Mission receives in-kind donations of food from the Missoula Food Bank, local markets, and individuals, there is a need for a reserve of cash to supplement the in-kind donations in order to create complete, nutritious meals for the various programs. Total annual cash for food items is approximately $25,000.
As mentioned under the Facilities section, the Mission would like to begin an emergency shelter and transitional housing program for women. In addition to a facility, the Mission will need funding to cover the cost of staff and program items. The total annual cost for the women's program is approximately $75,000.