Let’s Give It All Away Partner Spotlight: Faith Mission
By NMC - November 20, 2015
Posted in Partnerships, Stories from NMC, Let's Give It All Away
Let’s Give It All Away is this Sunday, November 22. All undesignated gifts will be given to our many local food pantry partners. This week as we anticipate Let’s Give It All Away, we will highlight three of these partners. Look for stories throughout the week!
In 1956, Reverend Howard VanHarlingen and Reverend Harold Barger laid out a vision of an organization that helped feed, house and provide spiritual help for the homeless. Today, nearly 60 years later, Faith Mission operates under the same mission of providing, “faith-based programs and services that minister to the homeless and other individuals so they may have positive life-changing opportunities.” What began with two reverends now has grown to 28 employees who work tirelessly for the cause.
Last year alone, Faith Mission provided shelter for over 650 individuals. Yet, they are much more than a homeless shelter. At the heart of their ministry are the various track programs that residents are required to join. Residents begin in the Emergency Track when they first come to the Mission.
If residents are still at Faith Mission after 30 days, they must choose between joining the Goals or Discipleship Tracks. If a resident chooses the Goals Track, he will develop the skills necessary to break the cycle of homelessness through setting goals. He will find support from the staff and volunteers at the Mission to achieve these goals both during his time at the Mission and after her leaves.
If the resident chooses the Discipleship Track, she will be taught the life skills necessary to break the cycle of homelessness from a faith-based perspective. The goal of this track is to build a solid spiritual foundation that will guide the rest of the individual’s life.
The final track, the Shepherding Track, is designed for the individuals or families who need to stay at Faith Mission beyond the allotted time for the Goals and Discipleship Tracks. All residents, no matter what track they are enrolled in, are required to contribute to Faith Mission through program fees, program hours, or a combination of both. This eliminates the trap of charity and allows residents to take ownership.
Perhaps one of the greatest ways Faith Mission helps its residents is by maintaining the dignity of those who walk through their doors. Many who come to the Mission are on the fringes of society, but the employees and volunteers at Faith Mission treat them with respect. They look their residents in the eyes and get to know their lives. Because of donations from restaurants like Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, they are able to offer quality meals. These kinds of meals show those in community that Faith Mission desires to serve the best food possible..
Although their programs have structure to them which takes away certain personal freedoms, Faith Mission treats its residents with dignity by giving them responsibility as they are required to help around the Mission through different projects. Their facility itself provides extremely dignified housing in a family atmosphere. Executive Director Ross Swihart and his team work tirelessly to maintain an environment that reminds residents of what it feels like to belong in a family because they understand that it is through relationships that a person can begin to build new habits.
Progress in residents’ lives takes time. Often, residents will take one step forward and three steps back. They will fall back into addiction or drinking. They will let down their family or the people who work with them at Faith Mission. Yet, some days they will say no to alcohol. They will build new friendships that won’t pressure them to do drugs. It’s this progress and stories of transformation that make the work of Faith Mission worth it.
Currently the Mission is in need of people who will join their work. They need people who will pour into the ministry through volunteering or by donating items on their needs list. When residents enroll in a track they are paired with a mentor because this investment is a way to bring about long-term change after a resident has left Faith Mission. The Mission is always in need of men and women who are willing to become a mentor. Like any nonprofit, Faith Mission also needs financial donations to keep the operation running. If you would like to find out more information or volunteer, click here. You can also contact Vera Swihart at (574)293-3406 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.