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Durham Rescue Mission seeks help with expansion

With the average number of residents increasing every year, the founders of the Durham Rescue Mission say something has to be done.

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DURHAM, N.C. — For Charlie Smith, home is bed No. 4 at the Durham Rescue Mission at 1201 E Main St.

“Everything that I have is in this little space,” Smith said. “I just have the things that I need.”

Smith said if it wasn’t for the mission, he would probably be living on the street.

While Smith is thankful for the space, there's no denying the quarters are cramped.

“It’s a very small space, and I’m 6-foot-5 and I’ve having to live like this,” Smith said ducking to miss the low ceiling.

Elsewhere, in the kitchen, there's barely enough room for three people to work.

With the average number of residents increasing every year, the founders of the mission say something has to be done.

Rev. Ernie Mills, co-founder of the Durham Rescue Mission, said organization has plans to expand with a new 23,254 square-foot facility located on the men’s campus at the corner of East Main Street and Alston Avenue.

The Center for Hope would triple the space and add more than 50 beds to the shelter. The kitchen will be 10 times bigger.

“We’ll be equipped to cook meals to serve hundreds of people,” mission co-founder Gail Mills said.

The facility will have more classroom space and an expanded computer lab.

Mission directors held a press conference Thursday to address the financial side of the expansion.

To build the new center, they hope to raise $4.5 million by November. They are about $800,000 short, but a local philanthropic group is offering to help with part of the cost. 

The Stewards Fund of Raleigh said it will match up to $400,000 donated by the public, but only if the money is donated by Oct. 31. If the mission fails to reach its goal of $400,000 public donations by then, they will forfeit the entire amount donated by the Stewards Fund. 

For Smith, the expansion would be more than just extra space. He says it shows that people care.

“That will help a whole, whole lot of people,” Smith said.

Mission directors hope to break ground this fall.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Durham Rescue Mission should contact their offices at 919-688-9641.



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