We need your help urgently!

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you today with a heavy heart and an urgent request for help. I know that you generously support our ministry and I would not be asking for more help if the need was not critical. The fact is that our current income is not meeting our expenses due to increased demand for our services.

For 58 years, we have made every effort to be cost-efficient and wise with what God gives us, but we are currently serving more homeless men, women and children than we did last year. Every day, we have over 400 homeless men, women and children depending on us for safe shelter, meals and assistance. Additionally, we have 30 veterans staying in the Veterans Ministry Program, more than 40 men and women in our New Life Recovery Program and over 50 children in our Kids Program.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

A future and a hope. I believe that God can bring the reality of Jeremiah 29:11 to our guests and I believe that He wants to use us to do it. If all we did was provide meals and shelter, our income might be adequate. However, as you know, our goal is to see people free from homelessness and addiction, not to simply sustain them in misery. With that end in mind, we offer mental health care, job search assistance, counseling and addiction rehabilitation – all with the love and life-changing message of Christ.

This coordinated effort is seeing real results in the lives of our guests and, last year, over 400 men and women
moved from our shelters into independent living. But, with a current budget shortfall of $350,000, I need the help of EVERYONE reading this to assist us to continue to serve homeless and needy men, women and children in our community. Please consider donating to your Rescue Mission today.

Thank you and God bless you!

In His Service,

Rev. Bill Roscoe
President/CEO

P.S. Please send help as soon as possible! It’s as easy as returning your check or credit card information in the enclosed envelope or visiting our website, BoiseRM.org/UrgentNeed. And, by the way, if you are a prayer partner of BRMM – a DOUBLE thank you to you!

Brandon’s Story: Choosing to Change Course

“I hadn’t gotten in trouble – arrested or anything like that – yet, but that was just luck. There were plenty of times that I should have. I could just see clearly that I was at the crossroads, I had to make the choice to change course or destroy the rest of my life.”

A choice of two directions. The course Brandon was on when he came to the Mission for help was a certain descent into alcoholism and all of the misery that addiction brings with it.

The other direction required him to make a choice, an intentional course change, that would lead to him freedom from the control alcohol had over him, and would eventually lead him to his new life in Christ.

There was a moment when Brandon could clearly see the choices before him. He chose freedom, and, because of you, the New Life Program at River of Life Rescue Mission was here with the help he needed to get there.

Brandon’s father passed away when he was a baby, and his mother, who was young when he was born, was not able to take care of him, so he was raised by his grandparents on a Navajo Indian Reservation. The thing is, Brandon doesn’t blame any of that for his addiction. He says he had a good childhood rooted in Navajo culture.

All through high school, Brandon participated in the Native American Youth Coalition and learned to be an advocate for his community. His focus was on school, grades and success, and, by the time he graduated, he knew that he wanted to study law.

He says, “I didn’t drink at all when I was in high school. My grandparents were very traditional Navajo, so I grew up learning the importance of keeping my body healthy; no drinking, no smoking, nothing like that. But, when I went to college, it was such a norm. You are in a fraternity and suddenly, it’s not only acceptable, it’s expected. Once I started, my drinking just skyrocketed. You are in a fraternity and suddenly, it’s not only socially acceptable, it’s expected.”

Brandon says it  got to the place where he was drinking all day, every day. “I would fill up my CamelBak from the bar in the frat house in the morning and walk around campus with alcohol in it all day long.” He tells me, “I don’t know how, but in spite of that, I did graduate.” He has a bachelor’s degree in Law with an emphasis in Native American Law, but, he says, he left school an alcoholic. “Alcohol has followed me everywhere.”

He continues, “It was getting to the point in my life where I knew, for a fact, if I continued down this road, my life would be horrible. I hadn’t gotten in trouble – arrested or anything like that – yet, but that was just luck. There were plenty of times that I should have. I could just see clearly that I was at the crossroads, I had to make the choice to change course or destroy the rest of my life. I chose to get help, and a family member told me  about the Rescue Mission’s New Life Recovery Program and encouraged me to look into it.”

Brandon says he has grown a lot since he came in to the New Life Program. He is learning tools he can use for the rest of his life to fight his addiction to alcohol, and he says he has learned a lot about himself, including compassion and care for others.  “The people here have taught me that my heart can be a lot bigger than I actually thought it could. I’ve met so many people here who are hurting, and their pain hurts something in my own heart. I want to help them!”

Possibly most important of all,  he says, is that, while he has always known that there was a Creator, it was here at the Mission that he learned that God’s Son, Jesus, died for him, and loves him.

Thanks to you, our donors, and so many others who daily demonstrate Christ’s love to those who are hurting in our shelters and programs, Brandon was given the opportunity to change course, and he chose to take it.

We are celebrating today!

Lisa SpeakingFor many months I have had a list of names taped to my computer.  Its my list of people who have come into our shelter – in and out – for years but haven’t ever seemed to get traction on the issues that have caused them trouble.   I pray for them and others pray for them.

Today I took that list down and made a new one.  The first name on the list was our New Life Program graduation speaker this year!  I switched her name over to the praise list!  The second name on the list is doing wonderfully well.

I moved them off and added a name on the bottom of the list.

I wondered if our graduation speaker, who is doing so well, had any idea that she was on my list and being prayed for?  Do the people who come to our doors and sleep in our beds at the Mission know how much we care?   Prayer works.  We aren’t giving up.  The list goes on and we are celebrating today two great turn-arounds!!

Jean Lockhart
Chief Operating Officer

An Invitation to High School Graduation

As time goes on and our Mission children grow up, it is wonderful to cheer on their successes. Today I received a card in the mail – an invitation to a high school graduation. This child is so precious to all of us and he’s not had the easiest time.

We’ve had other children graduate from high school and it is always a thrill to watch their success. We have had them go on to college and to technical schools and they have worked so hard.  I’ve watched their families grow stronger and work harder, and I’ve watched them succeed.

It wasn’t easy, but they did it. And our new graduate – he did it. He worked hard and he will soon be walking across the stage in a cap and gown. And I will be the one with happy tears streaming down my face, embarrassing him with my loud cheering and enthusiasm. I don’t care – watching our Mission families succeed is too much happiness to hold in.

I praise God that I get to watch when He restores faith, hope and FAMILY.

Jean Lockhart
Chief Operations Officer

Would You Pick Me Up, Dust Me Off, and Walk with Me?

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Our society gives a lot of respect to people who are successful and self-made, especially if they have accomplished something we hope to do in the future. They’ve arrived. For instance, I have a lot of respect for people who are well-known, talented writers. My initial thought is to idolize their success and drive, thinking of them as independent. That’s the American dream, right? There’s been a contrary truth tugging at the back of my mind. They didn’t get there on their own. Young or old, rich or poor, we all have someone who helped us get where we are, whether they helped physically, or through prayer and encouragement.

Why then is it so easy to look down on people when they need help?

I wouldn’t dream of making this statement, except that my gut reaction at times has been to feel this way towards a person or situation. It’s easy to respect someone once they’ve been picked up and dusted off and are standing on their own; it isn’t so easy when someone is sitting in the dirt without the heart to rise again by themselves.

Who picked you up?

Remember the most difficult time in your life? I hope you had someone there to help you, to pick you up. I know I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without the unconditional love and help my friends and family offer, every time. Did I even deserve their help?

What if they weren’t there?

As you think back, on that challenging time, what if you had been without a home, and without those people who love you unconditionally? What if those people who were supposed to love you… didn’t? I was told by a homeless woman recently that she feels uncomfortable walking across the street outside of shelters. “People always look at me funny, like I’m an alien,” she explained, sounding embarrassed. The same woman feels afraid to tell her small and scattered family where she is for fear or the shame and stigma associated with homelessness. This woman is hurting; she needs someone to pick her up, help her dust herself off and walk with her.

Does everyone deserve your help?

Another thought that I admit, has often crossed my mind is “does this person deserve my help?” It is easy to think to ourselves, “I could help this homeless man, but he honestly shouldn’t need my help. He should be self-sufficient, he should be independent.” Then that same thought creeps in of whether or not they deserve help, I mean, what if they’re dishonest? Based on the world’s standards of deserving people, maybe they don’t deserve your help. The world says people aren’t deserving unless they’re responsible, talented, promising, and they don’t make mistakes. Who does that even describe? Surely not me.

Open hands to our brothers and sisters

Deuteronomy 15:11 says “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'”Help Each Other

We don’t open wide our hands to the worthy, to those who have earned it, or to those who seem to deserve our respect. We open wide our hands to our brothers and sisters, worthy and “unworthy,” our brothers and sisters include every homeless individual you pass on your way to work, the person who made your coffee this morning, and your boss. I wanted to share with you an incredibly important quote from one of our recovery program graduates:

“I remember at the Mission, they didn’t look at me in my unworthiness, they looked at me, and they loved me. And that made me want to do better, and made me want to continue to love Jesus and build my life for him.”

The next time someone needs help, don’t be afraid of whether or not they deserve it, just help. It could be the first time that person has received so much kindness, and it might help them stand back up and turn their life around.

Fear of the Unknown – Why Homeless People Avoid Shelters

Help the Homeless

So often, I am asked the question, “Why do homeless people stay on the streets instead of going to a shelter?” I thought I had a quick answer, “they don’t like the rules at shelters!” But I think there’s more to it than that.

What if they’re more afraid of shelters than the elements?

After all, you can know what to expect from the weather. It’s going to get hot, it’s going to rain, it will be windy, and it will get freezing. A statistic published by the National Coalition for the Homeless stated that “Each year, about 700 homeless people die from hypothermia,” and tons more are suffering from frostbite. If people on the streets are aware of this risk, why are they still sleeping in the cold?

Because they can live with the fear of not waking up, but can’t handle the fear of the unknown.

We’re all that way. We stay in jobs we don’t like, live in towns just because that’s where we live. Sometimes, like this example of staying in the freezing cold, we allow ourselves to stay in a dangerous situation because in some strange way, it’s more comfortable than the unknown. You know you have made decisions based on this paradigm.

When you add substance abuse, mental illness and the heavy emotional strife that comes with homelessness, the likelihood of making a comfortable decision instead of a good one shoots up. Previous experience can also inhibit good decisions. We all have fears built from past experiences. PTSD can cause a person to be easily overwhelmed, easily frightened and in this case, afraid of living in an enclosed place with people they don’t know. In an interview conducted by Boise State Public Radio, a gentleman shared his story of being homeless.

In his words, “All I can say is that my fear of the unknown, of what might be waiting for me at that shelter, was worse than my fear of the known risk, you know, of staying out on the street. That was where I was comfortable. And I think people, we’re creatures of habit. We get comfortable in the most uncomfortable positions, and that just becomes home.”

So many have heard horror stories about shelters being unsafe, bug infested and filled with drugs. If they can stay on the streets, at least they are in control, right?

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I would never have come here on my own, but it’s changed my life. I’m not afraid anymore.

I want to challenge you by first repeating myself.

700 homeless people died here in America, just from the cold weather. Imagine the lives claimed by heat and exposure, too! There is something you can do about it. Become truly educated on the shelters in your area. Visit City Light shelter for women and children, visit Lighthouse Men’s Shelter, and when you do invite someone in from the streets to go to a shelter, you can tell them with confidence that it’s a safe, welcoming place to stay. I recently visited City Light, and I can’t tell you how safe and welcome I felt. From the moment I walked in the door, there was peace, joy, and comfort, whether I was in the warm sitting area, or the sunny study room upstairs.

For some homeless individuals, they truly have chosen their lifestyle and don’t desire change. But for others, it is a matter of fear. Fear of the unknown, and that’s a fear we can all empathize with.

As you see homeless people on the street, avoid assuming they’re there because of laziness or because they simply won’t follow rules. Remember your compassion, and remember that everyone has a unique story.

This winter, this summer, any day of the year, please kindly invite homeless men, women, and children into the local shelters, and give them the encouragement they need to feel safe doing so. This isn’t an easy transition for anyone, so if you have the opportunity to build a friendship with a homeless person, go with them to the shelter, further alleviating the apprehension they hold. It is individuals like you who bring about individual change, and that person’s transformation could go on to change Boise for the better.

7 Common Misconceptions about the Homeless

Help the Homeless

When you spend any amount of time working or volunteering at the Rescue Mission, you start to see that some common myths about the homeless men, women, and children in our community are quickly debunked. I’d like to share these with you, and hopefully shed some light on 7 of these common misconceptions.

  1. “These people eat better than I do!

Your generosity allows the Mission to provide meals for homeless individuals. Our cooks may get a donation of 30 cans of green beans, spaghetti sauce, and some onions. You bet they’re up for the challenge of making a meal from what they have – just like you do at home when you want to use up what’s left from your last trip to the grocery store.

  1. They Are Unemployed

So many of the guests and programmers at our shelters are employed, and they are striving to save money in pursuit of their own apartment and other personal goals. Staying in a shelter allows them to sleep well and have a good meal in preparation for the next workday.

  1. They are Lazy

Laziness: the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy; idleness.

Homeless individuals are a lot of things, but lazy is not one of them. Whether they have fallen on hard times or choose to be homeless, they are on their feet all day, sleeping is nearly impossible due to weather, disturbances and the fear of having their belongings stolen at any moment, and nothing is ‘easy.’

  1. They are Uneducated

Once I walked into one of our Nampa shelters, and there was one homeless gentleman eating lunch. I began talking to one of the staff, and suddenly I heard someone playing jazz piano. After talking with him, I found that the gentleman, who was homeless, not only had a beautiful talent on the piano, but also had a Masters degree in Marketing.

  1. There Aren’t Homeless Children in America

It is heartbreaking to tell you, but this simply isn’t true. Mothers and fathers become homeless, and along with them, their children. These children are of all ages, and some parents make the decision to live on the streets or in areas like Tent City, rather than stay in a shelter and recover from homelessness.

  1. There is No Room for Them

I was talking to a friend yesterday, and she told me she always drives past places like Tent City and wonders, “is there really no room in shelters for those individuals?” “Surely there’s room somewhere in Boise!” There is room! Quite a bit, in fact. The disconnect is that some homeless individuals do choose to stay out in the weather, often due to a disliking of rules that accompany staying in a shelter.

  1. They are Not Valuable Members of Our Community

This is a tough one. If someone lives on the street and only has the ability to take, not give, how do they contribute to the community? They don’t. Not yet. But they have so much potential to do so. They might even have more potential than most. Should they overcome homelessness, maybe at the same time overcoming a life-controlling issue, they have experience and a testimony that can change lives.

Hopefully, you learned as much from reading this blog as I did from writing it, and I hope it has inspired a new way of thinking about the homeless individuals in our community.

Tent City – Is There no Room?

Tent City Boise ID
“This is third world right here, there’s no reason why an American child should have to live like this.”

Dozens of people driving to work, walking downtown, or riding a bike are passing Americana Boulevard, and in the same moment, passing Tent City. This makeshift city is comprised of tarps, lean-to shelters, tents, and trash mixed with an unpleasant smell created by a lack of bathrooms.

Who lives there? Anywhere from 50-110 men, woman and children. One gentleman, a resident, said, “This is third world right here, there’s no reason why an American child should have to live like this.”

This statement was made in September, and we’re now watching snow fall and make itself at home in the valley. With conditions worsening, do these individuals and families really have nowhere to go? Is there no room for homeless men, women and children in Boise?

We Always Have Room – and We Will Make Room

At the Rescue Mission, we don’t turn anyone away because of lack of room. We have warm safe beds, warm meals, and a community of individuals, both guests and staff, who encourage each other and build each other up.

Should tent city go away? That’s a question you can answer. But allow me to paint two pictures for you now. The first contains a crude tent struggling to stay upright, riddled with trash, covered in snow, and inside, an individual trying to stay warm. Maybe it’s a single person, maybe it’s a family with children.

Now let me paint the second picture. A warm welcome from a supportive family, a warm safe building, a warm hearty meal, and an opportunity to pursue freedom from homelessness. As President Bill Roscoe said “we have room to serve many more people….and not only will they find safe, clean shelter, clean clothes and three hot meals at the Mission, but also resources to help them recover from homelessness and help them attain their personal goals.”

We thank you so much for your support – it gives us the ability to offer help to those in need. As you come in contact with individuals sleeping on the street, kindly direct them to the Mission, and we’ll do all we can to help them.