In its web page, The Gates Presbyterian Church of Gates New York comments that the design features of their church building (built in 1969) ‘speak of who we are.” One of those features came about through their choice of building material.
“The bricks that make up the exterior walls as well as the walls of the sanctuary are called “clinker” bricks. These are basically the bricks that were normally rejected by masons because they were imperfect or defective. These “clinker” bricks represent not only that we as Christians are all unique, as no two bricks are the same, but also that God, as well as the church, accepts and loves us with all our imperfections.”
This is really a wonderful illustration of how we at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries have the courage to do what we do (despite our knowledge of our individual imperfections). It also explains why we so highly value the people whom we serve and help.
When we set out to help the homeless individuals who come to us, we don’t merely provide them with a bed and meals and then wait in hopes that they will find the resources within themselves to put themselves into housing or employment. To be sure, some people only require a safe place to regroup for a day or a week and can land on their feet again after the series of defeats and misfortunes that led them to our shelter doors.
However, we know that homelessness in itself places people under a great amount of physical, emotional, economic and spiritual distress. That knowledge requires that we stand ready to provide them with everything we can to meet every need they may have.
That is why we and other high quality community partners work to provide and link our homeless guests to a wide range of other services they may need. We also work to communicate to our guests that though they have fallen on hard ground in life, they are both valuable and capable of taking the steps that will change their lives for the better.
Our goal is to help them return to self-sufficiency and re-unite with their family and community in the shortest time possible. Whether that can be accomplished immediately through a housing first approach or requires a process that could take many, many months, we will hang in there with them.
As we do so, we will help them find houses and jobs, restore relationships with family and supportive friends, and teach new skills that assure their future independence. We know with these tools, they can be established in their community as contributing tax-payers and mentors to others who may need the help they themselves once received.
Our renewed commitment this year is to keep doing what have been doing for 105 years, but to keep improving. We are always looking for better methods and programs to meet the needs of those who come to us each day. The services we provide today are far more varied and extensive than they were when we first began in 1909. However, we got where we are today by meeting the needs of the people who came through our doors and responded to the services we offered.
We know for example that despite wider availability of health care through the Affordable Care Act, we need to continue to expand our health care services to those who cannot afford co-pays or are not presently insured. We also know that we need to continue to develop program models that will sustain themselves financially (such as through our culinary arts training facilities) and that teach people solid employment, financial management and literacy skills.
Today, we are one of the top 20 providers in the nation for inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment. We also provide thousands of men, women and children with warming center, shelter services and transitional housing and permanent housing and supportive services to homeless, disabled individuals. We are privileged to contribute to the communities in which we live and work and to mobilize thousands of volunteers to beautify the neighborhoods around us.
We are committed to not only continue our tradition of providing services to people who are most in need of help but to dedicate ourselves to adopting the best methods we can to help our clients achieve the best outcomes possible.
Finally, we are committed to enter the coming year and wrap all of our programs with a spiritual emphasis. We have found that no matter how skilled, caring, motivated, and innovative our staff or programs are, we have to be able to help people have an ongoing relationship with the one and only Super Power they can truly rely on. After all, we are but ‘clinker bricks’ but we serve One who can use us to help His precious people.