The Need Continues
The story has not changed. There are hundreds daily who continue to come through the Topeka Rescue Mission in search of shelter, food and hope. In addition, over sixty remain unsheltered outdoors who have not yet come to the Mission for support. The reasons are multiple.
Over the years, funding across social service delivery systems has been cut dramatically or eliminated entirely in some arenas. As a result, many who were recipients of these services are now fighting daily to survive and unable to remain in their homes. The loss of jobs and increased living expenses has also brought many new faces to our doors. We have found in numerous instances that those who were once able to give generously of their resources are now also affected by the economic changes within our nation and coming to us for the support they once so freely gave.
Because gainful employment and affordable housing has become scarce, we are finding that the majority of those coming to us for shelter are staying much longer than in previous years. The combination of increased numbers of individuals coming to us for shelter and the extended time in which they stay with us has led to the current capacity crisis we are experiencing.
Sadly, we do not expect the epidemic to decline. Instead, we are preparing for a rigorous increase of individuals in need of support and are attempting to do what we can to offer each one a safe refuge from the heat and cold.
For three years we have been operating under a temporary variance for shelter from the City of Topeka which has allowed for us to place cots within the common areas of our facilities to accommodate our increased needs. Because the variance we have received is temporary, we were asked to have a long-term plan established by June of this year. While the plan in its entirety has not come to fulfillment, we are drawing closer with each passing day.
Operation NET-Reach is the plan we are establishing in hopes of addressing the increased rise of homelessness within our community. Our goal is to not only create more shelter space, but also to systemically address the causes of homelessness and assist individuals in breaking free from the repetitive cycle that grips so many for years. In doing so, we are working across all service areas to ensure a successful and effective transition. This includes collaboration with multiple other social service entities within our community to address permanent housing, mental health, substance abuse, etc. Because of the multifaceted factors which must be taken into consideration in order for our expansion endeavors to be successful, these plans will be unfolding over time. Our more immediate objective is to develop additional shelter space. Currently we are considering different options to make this possible.
Our goals are ambitious but the needs are great and we know that we serve a God who is more than capable of supplying for every need. We are grateful for the compassionate community in which He has placed us that has allowed us to link arms with thousands to help our neighbors who have not been as successful in navigating through life. Your support, prayers and resources are invaluable to these efforts. You truly do make a difference in the lives of many.
Thank you for continuing to stand by our side and helping to bring the vision to pass.