Resh's spirit lives at Mission feast

November 28, 1996


Staff Writer

The late founder of the Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission couldn't be at Thursday's Thanksgiving Day dinner in the flesh, but he was there in spirit.

The rescue mission served turkey and all the trimmings to about 145 people on Thursday, the first Thanksgiving since its founder Jimmy Resh died last March at the age of 82.

"It's a little hard this year without him. I really miss him," said 80-year-old Ellen Resh, Jimmy Resh's widow.

Ellen Resh was surrounded by almost all of her five children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren during the holiday dinner as well as by an extended family of dozens who found their way to the mission for a hot meal and a prayer.


"This is a truly amazing place," said T. Wotten, a man in his 40s who stumbled upon the mission about three months ago after walking 27 miles while traveling.

"It's like a family," Wotten said. "They ask very little of you here for what they give."

What Wotten and many others have received from the mission is guidance, love and fellowship as well as meals, shelter and help finding a job.

"They turned my life around a little bit. They showed me here I don't have to take alcohol or drugs," Wotten said.

While Wotten never met Jimmy Resh, he is well aware of his legacy.

"Even though I didn't know the man personally, his reflection is still here. I never met him personally, but yes, I do know the man," Wotten said.

"We're trying to keep that reflection," said Sonny Shank, executive director of the mission and the son-in-law of the late Resh.

"It's his vision. We're just trying to carry on what he started, bringing glory to God," said Shank.

Many people at the mission's 42nd Thanksgiving Day dinner said Resh's vision has endured.

"I don't think they've missed a heartbeat" because what is behind the mission is caring for those who don't have someone to care for them, said Lorena Stearns, 66, of Hagerstown.

Stearns, who was serving turkey on Thursday, said she has been volunteering at the mission's holiday dinner for about 10 years as a way to share her blessings with others.

The meal, prepared mainly by the Rev. Carl Black, included 300 pounds of turkey, 250 pounds of potatoes, 90 loaves of bread, 18 cans of sweet potatoes, five gallons of gravy, six gallons of sauerkraut, six gallons of succotash and 30 pumpkin pies, said Black's wife Dorcas, who is Resh's daughter.

While the holiday meal didn't have its usual high turnout - 300 people were expected - those in attendance had nothing but praise for the mission.

"I've got a lot to be thankful for today," said Donald Anderson, 38, of West Washington Street. If it wasn't for the mission helping him find a home and a job, Anderson said his life would be in the gutter.

Shane Lawani, 40, said she was on her way to the Salvation Army when she found the mission. "I think the Lord meant for me to come here."

"I didn't have nothing else to eat," said Lawani. She ate her Thanksgiving turkey last Sunday because there was no other food in the house, she said.

"This is a nice, big, happy family for me and I really needed it," Lawani said.

The Herald-Mail Articles