Hartford Rescue Mission began as Crossroads Rescue Mission (CRM) on January 30, 2004 in Meriden Connecticut. It was birthed stemming from a movement of local pastors meeting together for prayer. An idea was voiced that those present representing churches of differing denominations and backgrounds, should come together to make an impact on the Meriden Community. Those pastors believed that the body of Christ should be touching lives in a meaningful way. CRM applied for and received the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status and joined the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). During the following year, Crossroads Rescue Mission, a non-denominational organization, served the poor and homeless by holding devotionals, and making and serving lunches in the Meriden area.
Sensing a call to expand our ministry and outreach to individuals and families in need, the Board of Directors of Crossroads Rescue Mission confirmed some exciting changes on May 18, 2005: Crossroads would move to Hartford and become the Hartford Rescue Mission.
The Board was confident that this change would allow the Mission to reach a larger number of individuals and families in need by being centrally located and in addition, to receive the necessary financial support to better meet the needs of the homeless and needy families of Central Connecticut.
On September 5, 2005, Hartford Rescue Mission (HRM) served its first meal in the north end of Hartford. Since that time, HRM has borrowed various locations to conduct prayer and devotionals services and serve healthy meals. Additionally, HRM has consistently provided needy individuals with clothing and other personal hygiene products. In September 2011, HRM purchased its new home location – a “shell” 21,000 square foot building that needs capital improvements to become operational.
Since September 2005, Hartford Rescue Mission (HRM) has made and continues to make an impression on the greater Hartford community by positively impacting the lives of individuals who have availed themselves of its services and also among its many volunteers, donors and community partners.
Nutritious meals served in a safe, clean welcoming environment by volunteers who generously share the love of Christ through compassionate, judgment free ministry service characterize the uniqueness that is Hartford Rescue Mission. This is evidenced in the documented testimony of guests and volunteers who have experienced life change while participating in the Mission meal service. The meal service program meets the immediate physical needs of individuals but is much more in that the gospel message of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ is presented before each meal giving guests an opportunity to enter into a life transforming relationship with God which begins the process of positive change in relationships with others.
Founder and Executive Director, Rev. Gregory Woods firmly believes that unless the heart changes, nothing changes. Therefore, the root of the success of HRM is in building relationships with guests, volunteers, donors and community partners. In that way, as God intended, burdens along with reasons to rejoice are shared at HRM.
“Hartford Rescue Mission exists to offer help, hope and the life-changing message of God’s love in Jesus Christ to the homeless and needy of Central Connecticut.”
The primary way in which Hartford Rescue Mission has accomplished its mission to date has been by providing nutritious meals to those in need. Additionally, HRM has used this meal connection to further serve the community in specific ways such as offering a free clothes closet for clothing needs, distributing hygiene products, providing food bags on an emergency basis, bringing in community based volunteers to provide basic medical screening, making available limited non-clinical counseling, referrals to community service providers and referrals to other missions with established long term care programs. HRM also supports individuals in job search efforts in various ways from counseling to haircuts. Advice and encouragement is also provided by HRM to community members in need of housing and struggling with problems such as substance abuse. These services have been received with eagerness and appreciation, creating a sense of belonging, support, care and love which focuses on the individual’s needs from a holistic perspective. Guests arrive in advance of meals being served, anticipating the opportunity for fellowship or a peaceful respite from the inner city. Some come to “give back” by volunteering to help with meal preparation. Historically, this was accomplished with limited hours of access (approximately 4 hours per day) in limited space in shared rented facilities.
From its inception Hartford Rescue Mission’s goal has been to acquire a property that would accommodate and facilitate the ministry of life change. The Mission has as its model the approximately 400 Rescue Missions of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) of which it is a member. There are programs that are specific to each Mission based on local needs but all have as their premise the gospel message that “Jesus Saves” and through Him lives are changed. Most other Gospel Rescue missions provide a 24/7 sheltering and nurturing environment in addition to serving meals. With God’s grace and the support of generous donors, HRM has already taken, and plans to take additional affirmative steps to emulate the AGRM model in Hartford
Hartford Rescue Mission desires to expand its mission based programming in the next 4 – 12 months to include first, new temporary housing for men, along with a Meeting Room in which they can receive fellowship, encouragement and spiritual direction, helping keep them off the streets and positively engaged, thus diminishing the temptation to commit crimes or make other poor choices. Then focus will be given to implementing long term residential programs for men that will include life and job skills training, counseling referrals and a much needed preventive medical services program which would refer individuals for treatment to local health care providers. Currently, HRM tries to find housing for homeless persons by referring them to other Missions outside of Hartford or even the state of Connecticut — with some documented successful results more fully described later in this Business Plan. Although these placements have been successful, the Mission passionately desires to support homeless individuals locally where they can most easily regain connections to family, recapture productive elements of their lives, and remain in contact with their own supportive community as they become self-sufficient. HRM has developed programs responsively and responsibly, focusing on needs of the community to guide services.
In furtherance of its mission, purchased a facility located at 650 Windsor Street in Hartford in March of 2015. The new facility will build on and expand already established programs by further serving the Mission’s guests, including, importantly, offering shelter for men in need locally. The facility is a 72,000 square foot industrial building. We are currently working with a design firm and architect to finalize a layout based on planned usage and program needs. As the costs of remodeling and repurposing the structure are known we will share it with our gracious donors. The facility will provide transitional sheltering and house long term residential life change programs. The building will also have education and training rooms, a full service kitchen, Chapel and a Meeting Room. Building construction will be completed in phases. This facility will be a beacon of hope and positive life change in the North End of Hartford, but will have ripple benefits across the region in ever widening circles as HRM’s reputation and influence expands. HRM is seeking funding to establish a permanent quality environment for life change a reality for those in need in Greater Hartford.