The Allentown Rescue Mission, located at 355 Hamilton St., Allentown, has welcomed a new director who attended the Feb. 12 T.R.I.A.D. meeting.
Chris Aylward, of Syracuse, N.Y., officially started his job as chief executive officer at the mission in January. Aylward has over 20 years of experience assisting homeless and impoverished people and has come to Allentown to continue to fulfill his passion of helping people in need.
Most people in Allentown recognize the mission by the large fluorescent sign displaying "God Is Love," which is the "mission of the mission." Aylward spoke at the meeting, held at Emeritus Senior Living, 1545 W. Greenleaf St., Allentown, to further explain what the Allentown Rescue Mission is all about.
The mission serves only men, ages 18 and up; most men are in their 40s, but they have seen a range from men in their 20s through men in their 60s. Providing emergency shelter, a Christian living and values program, hot food, clothes and the tools to better their lives, Aylward said the men who come to the shelter know it is a place to get help.
"Most people are two paychecks away from homelessness," Aylward said. "Some of the men that come to the mission have had problems with alcohol and drugs, maybe they lost their job, had a big medical bill or their wife kicked them out of their home."
The "gateway center," or homeless shelter, is where the men can come to sleep at night.
The Allentown Rescue Mission has 48 beds in the gateway center and 24 beds for those who are putting forth more effort to move forward. The mission hopes to see an additional 24 beds in the future.
There is a policy where those who stay at the mission can only stay 10 days at a time. Aylward explained men who are serious about making changes in their lives, working and saving money, and need to stay for a couple months are allowed.
"The hardest cases to help are a speciality to the mission," Aylward told the T.R.I.A.D. members.
Alexandra Hackett, director of communications at the Allentown Rescue Mission, said she has been surprised and most affected by the number of men who are still dealing with the affects of the physically, mental and sexual abuse in their lives.
"It really resonated with me," Hackett said.
The mission assists men as they address issues from their background.
The mission helps men looking to bring themselves back by assisting them in getting jobs. They have a "Clean Team" which gives jobs to men to help clean up Hamilton Street.
"We just signed a brand new contract that allows us to triple the area we clean," Aylward said.
The "Clean Team" also helps with house cleanups and is a way for the men to begin positive and long lasting changes. The Christian Living and Values Program furthers the men's skills. They can attend anger management and money management classes, learn how to use a computer, work on resume writing and interview skills, learn how to save money, and receive assistance in helping to find a church. Drug and alcohol treatment can also be provided at the mission.
The Allentown Rescue Mission is completly funded by donations, private funds and by building community partnerships. Tours of the mission are always available and donations are constantly needed. Clothes, canned foods, shampoo, trash bags and alarm clocks are some of the top items needed.
There are always ways to get involved and help through donations or volunteering. Call the Allentown Rescue Mission at 610-740-5500 to schedule a tour of the facility, sign up to volunteer or find out specific needs.