When tasked with the assignment of finding what makes me proud of Utica, my mind immediately went to the number of places in this community that accept charitable donations for those in need.
The place that stood out the most to me was the Rescue Mission of Utica, a nonprofit and faith-based organization dedicated to aiding those dealing with substance abuse and addiction, those who are homeless, those with disabilities and generally anyone else in the community who may be in need.
I initially was under the impression that the Rescue Mission’s sole purpose was to provide meals and housing. I was wrong.
After speaking with Director of Development and Communications Susan Woods, I learned what a huge misconception that was.
Woods spent nearly fifteen minutes detailing the incredible programs and services the mission offers to the community. The list includes an emergency shelter, addiction stabilization center, spiritual life programs, job training, free hot meals and a learning center among other programs.
It would be an injustice to the Rescue Mission to omit their devout Christian faith.
“We believe completely in the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ and we don’t shy away from that,” Woods said.
Although I am not Christian, I find such a positive and kind expression of religion to be incredibly heartwarming.
People at the Rescue Mission use the strength given to them by Jesus Christ to help those around them in need. This quote from their website sums it up pretty well: “God calls us to reach out to these neighbors in need. At the Rescue Mission of Utica, our calling comes straight from Scripture: ‘To share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him. (Isaiah 58:6-7).’”
A tally of their service over the years makes the community value clear. The Rescue Mission has fed 147,930 people in need and provided nearly 4,000 food boxes to 6,290 struggling families and individuals. The mission has housed men and women seeking aid for 30,677 nights. They also provide a safe place for people with mental illnesses at the Enriched Living Center along with an emergency shelter that has helped people for 13,677 nights.
None of this could have been accomplished without the amount of aid they receive from the community.
When asked to describe one or two characteristics all volunteers seem to share, Woods responded without hesitation.
“They have huge hearts that want to give back; it’s just amazing,” she said.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Students at Pratt MWP College of Art and Design in Utica participated in a project called Utica Proud. The project focuses on “positivity” in Utica and the people, places and things that make us who we are. The series will run Sundays in the O-D through June.
HOW TO HELP
The Rescue Mission of Utica needs assistance in its finance department. Help from accountants or anyone willing to assist would be greatly appreciated.
You also can help by giving food, clothing, monetary donations or by volunteering time. Work can range from shoveling snow and mowing grass to working in the kitchens or even wrapping holiday gifts.
To those looking to offer aid can contact the mission at 315-735-1645 ext. 2100, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lizzmarie Perez is a sophomore studying communications design at PrattMWP. Her project was selected by O-D personnel among dozens of entries to represent a series highlighting positivity in the city of Utica.