Rescue Mission still serving at age 50

September 19, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART


Even though she is 88 years old and has slowed a little, Ellen Resh still works a few days a week sorting and pricing clothes for the Hagerstown Rescue Mission thrift store.

"What I do is important, plus I can sit and do it," Resh said.

As the 50th anniversary of the Hagerstown Rescue Mission approaches, Resh said her memories of founding, nurturing and expanding the work begun by her and her late husband, Jimmy Resh, are truly living memories.

"The last 10 years have been a little lonely," she said, noting the still painful absence of her husband and the father of her five children. She has been living in the same house for 40 years, with family members living close by to keep her company.


Starting Friday, Sept. 23, the Resh family will join with the community that the Mission has served for a half century in a grand observance of the milestone.

Ken Davis' 'comedy with a message' has sold out at North Hagerstown High School's auditorium for a 7 p.m. program on opening night, according to Becky Shank, one of Ellen Resh's daughters and office manager/development director at the Mission.

Some tickets are available for the Saturday, Sept. 24, dinner-concert featuring The Pfeifers at the Trinity Center on the mission property at 125 N. Prospect St. The cost of a ticket is $18 and must be purchased in advance.

On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Rev. Jerry Falwell will be speaking at 3 p.m. at Tri-State Fellowship, 13153 Cearfoss Pike, for the 50th anniversary celebration wrap-up. There is no charge for the event.

Ellen Resh said the path of her life began on a double date with her future husband.

"He told me once that he wasn't ever going to get married but I changed his mind," she said with a smile.

When she was 21 and Jimmy Resh was 25, the couple wed and began their family.

"Then Jimmy saw a film about a mission in Memphis, Tenn.," she said. He bought a projector and started showing that film and renting others.

"The bug bit him, and the rest is history," Shank said.

It was 50 years ago this month that Jimmy Resh quit his job at Fairchild industries, uprooted his wife and five children from their comfortable home and moved them into a former dance hall on Jonathan Street in Hagerstown. Later, they moved to the current mission site.

Resh said her husband would often go out and pick up men who were literally in the gutter and try to steer their lives in a new direction by giving them shelter, food and Christian love.

Through the years, the Mission in Hagerstown seeded five new missions in Martinsburg, W.Va., York, Pa., and in Frederick, Cumberland and Westminster in Maryland.

"Either we were crazy or we just trusted the Lord," Resh said.

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