Fort Wayne Rescue Mission
The Rescue Mission, founded in 1903, is a faith-based, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, providing restorative care to men, women and children experiencing a homeless crisis. Our organization serves Fort Wayne, Allen County and its nine surrounding counties. The Mission is comprised of four ministries, or houses, that function as communities of compassion.
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Fort Wayne Rescue Mission (FWRM), located in Fort Wayne, IN, has been addressing the needs of its county for over 100 years. Originally founded to be a Christian halfway house for alcoholics whose families sent them to FWRM to, in the words of Donovan Coley (CEO/Senior Pastor of FWRM), “get sober and get ‘religion’”, FWRM has continued to adapt to meet its community’s evolving needs. The key to its longevity has to do with its emphasis on running themselves like a business, a value that has been recognized and lauded by the BBB who gave FWRM a torch award in 2014.
This recognition is due to the abundant fruit born of strategic processes put in place both by FWRM’s board members and its CEO Donovan Coley. Early in Mr. Coley’s tenure he understood the fundamental challenge to fundraising was communicating FWRM’s value statement to corporate America and the public sector in terms that were both quantifiable and familiar. While FWRM is a non-profit looking to bring people to holistic health, it is also an organization that is strategically driven by statistics and best practices. By implementing logic models, tracking each client-service outcome, mapping out ROI’s for contributors, and clearly communicating how investing in FWRM saves the taxpayer significantly (by curbing prisoner recidivism and reliance on government support programs), it demonstrates that it is not only invested in the flourishing of it clients (Mr. Coley’s preferred term of reference for those FWRM helps) but also deeply respects the contributions of its partners.
This emphasis on professionalism has impacted FWRM on a variety of levels including its hiring practices. Many of the organization’s staff have an MA in the fields of social work, marriage and family therapy, organizational leadership, and business administration, while others are licensed addiction counselors, and still more carry years of experience in the social services that enhance the level of service FWRM provides to its residents. While FWRM retains its identity as a Christian centered facility, it embraces the capacity of the social sciences to bolster its impact.
FWRM’s serves its clients through four houses: three residential facilities (Charis house, Life House, and Restoration House) and one thrift store (Treasure House-whose proceeds go to fund FWRM’s programs). Charis House offers short and long term residential programs that serve women and children experiencing a homeless crisis. Life house and Restoration house offer short and long term residential programs for men. Additionally, each of these programs gives the tenants access to personal development programs (classes in life skills, vocational guidance, spiritual development, and educational enrichment) as well as medical and psychological clinical support. Through these programs FWRM aims to provide comprehensive support to their clients’ diverse needs: spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
When asked what he would consider a successful client experience, Coley had this to say: “Success has a different meaning for each of our clients. When an individual comes to the mission in their brokenness… our aim is to empower them. With each of our clients, we work on creating a personal development plan to accomplish their goals. This plan could include pursuing a variety of services: educational development, vocational enrichment, housing advisement, and mental health programs. We want to empower our clients to move from a place of dependence to becoming interdependent. We stay away from the word ‘self-sufficient’ because, in reality, we all need somebody. So, we show them that they now belong to a community and that they are contributors to a community. If we can empower our clients to that end, we have found success.”
For more than a century, FWRM has been dedicated to serving its community in Fort Wayne, IN. Their obvious longevity and recognized effectiveness are due to their purposefulness in programming, rigorous transparency, and deep desire to serve their clients well. By running their organization as a social service agency that embraces best business practices, FWRM doesn’t posture itself as a charity giving handouts, but rather as an agency that seeks to empower and enrich all its patrons. It is this difference that distinguishes its programming from simply distributing aid to enabling dignity.