NEWARK, NJ - For the homeless, hungry, and hurting in Newark, a sincere greeting from a caring person and a warm meal at Goodwill Rescue Mission can be a first step toward living a life of dignity.

To put people back on the right track, The Mission has launched their life transformation program that is built on the concept of “Dare to Hope.” The concept means that compassion begins by meeting the basic needs of people who are lost, broken, or addicted to harmful substances.

According to the Goodwill Rescue Mission’s new Executive Director Rev. Hector Vega, “We generously meet the emergency, short-term needs of men, women, and children who are facing homelessness, poverty, and despair. However, the bigger goal of our faith-based programs is to assist, guide, and encourage people to transform their lives so they can become productive members of the community.”

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Over the past winter, the Mission prepared and served over 30,000 meals to people in crisis. According to the Mission’s Director of Development Don Hall, the organization’s head cook, Chef Jeff, his kitchen team, and the many volunteers are regularly making between 8,000 and 9,000 hot meals a month. At that rate, the Mission will serve over 100,000 meals with food largely supplied by a number of resources, including the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

In addition, the Mission is serving Newark’s men in crisis by providing showers, emergency shelter and nightly chapel services. In fact, a number of the City’s non-profit, social service organizations are also assisting the community of people who are experiencing the epidemic of unemployment, addiction, poverty, and despair. Just feeding and caring for people are unlikely going to break the hopeless cycle of homelessness and dependencies.

The Mission strives to do much more. For 119 years, the organization has been a beacon for individuals who “Dare to Hope” for a life of dignity as a contributing member of their community.

Rev. Vega said, “The Mission’s main focus is our life transformation programs that provide men, who have nowhere else to turn, a framework to truly change their lives and begin again.”

The Mission recently launched its life transformation program. Men interested in the Program begin in what’s referred to as “Gateway,” a 30-90 day starting path for men seeking long-term recovery. During this period, participants go through detox and have psych referrals made. Also, the program includes a vocational assessment, and the Mission uses work therapy to re-establish healthy working habits. Participants’ sleep patterns are normalized and their capacity to live in a community is restored.

The Gateway onramp leads to the Mission’s “Going D.E.A.P.E.R.” Program. The acronym Going D.E.A.P.E.R. describes four phases of the 9-to-12 month program: Digging In, Embracing Accountability, Planning for the Future, and Employment Readiness. Each resident receives personalized growth plans, Bible study, individual and group counseling, financial planning, life-skills training, vocational development, and educational as well as employment resources.

By early 2016, the first group of men will start completing this comprehensive program. As Rev. Vega explained, “We are reaching out to local corporations, foundations, and private individuals for assistance. Changing lives for the better requires many resources from vocational trainers to computer equipment and much more.”

The alternative of letting people live a bare subsistence life is unacceptable to the Mission, concluded Rev. Vega.   

 About the Goodwill Rescue Mission

Founded in 1896, the Goodwill Rescue Mission began its operation as the Industrial Home for Men. The original name reflected the convictions of the organization’s Founder Robert Ballantine, who believed that a positive work experience is the key to successfully restructuring lives. 

Throughout its history, the Mission has ministered to those suffering in the hopeless cycle of poverty, homelessness and dependencies.  The nonprofit and faith-based organization’s goal is to bring renewal, hope, joy and victory to their lives through the transforming grace and power of Jesus Christ. The Mission does not seek or accept city reimbursement or government funding that would compromise the faith-based foundation of its ministry.

The Mission is located at 79 University Avenue in Newark, N.J., and the organization’s website is www.grmnewark.org