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Help for the mission

December 30, 1998

More than 40 years ago, a man named Jimmy Resh gave up a comfortable job for the dubious proposition that he could found a mission in Hagerstown to rescue men ravaged by the disease of alcoholism. But succeed he did, and generations of alcoholics who might have perished have been helped back to a life of sobriety instead.

But after playing host to literally thousands of the afflicted, the mission buildings on North Prospect Street are beginning to show their age, and Resh's successors are hoping to renovate them. It's a project we heartily endorse.

The mission and the Good Samaritan Lodge where recovering alcoholics work at farm chores are nothing fancy, in part because their purpose is not to be comfortable accommodations for the body, but places to heal broken spirits. The fact that clients are not distracted by sumptuous surroundings is a plus.

But what the mission needs now are the basics - new plumbing and heating systems and basic interior renovations. Additional structures will link existing buildings, so that going between them won't entail going outdoors.

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The cost for all this work is a relatively modest $750,000, an amount that would be easily found in many agencies' annual budgets. But the mission has always been a private, non-profit organization which existed because of the charity of individuals and local churches and not because of government grants.

Because the mission was here, the drunks that might have accosted citizens for spare change and fallen down in a stupor on downtown sidewalks were treated instead. Those that might have gone hungry without the daily hot meals served to the public were nourished instead. All this was done at no cost to the public treasury, making it one of the area's best bargains.

It's time to help the mission move into the next century by helping with its building fund. The late Jimmy Resh risked his future - and his family's security - 43 years ago to help the less fortunate. Given his sacrifice, citizens certainly should be willing to send a few dollars to the mission's building fund at 125 N. Prospect St. Hagerstown, Md., 21740.

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