ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Rockford Rescue Mission, a place for the homeless and hurt members of the community, celebrates its 58th birthdayth birthday this month.
The organization opened on May 1, 1964 by Ray Stewart in a dusty storefront at 116 Kishwaukee Street and welcomed 15 to 20 homeless men as its first guests.
After a meal, chapel service, and music, the men spent the night sleeping on the floor of the space on donated old mattresses.
Today, the mission operates in three different locations and welcomes women and children in addition to men.
“It’s with deep gratitude to God that we celebrate 58 years of extending help and hope to our community,” said Sherry Pitney, Rockford Rescue Mission’s CEO.
“The challenges feel so much more complex today, but our mission remains the same: Share hope and help in Jesus’ name to move people from homelessness and despair toward personal and spiritual wholeness.”