Mission kicks off fundraiser

November 20, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The Rev. William C. Crowe spent the last 45 of his 76 years running the Union Rescue Mission in a big old yellow Victorian house at 602 W. King St., and things are wearing out in the 100-plus-year-old building. There isn't enough room to house everyone who needs to be there. The plumbing, wiring and heating systems need to be replaced and the building is sagging in places.

Crowe said Saturday at an open house that it's time to move to modern quarters.

Saturday's event coincided with the launching of a $2 million fundraiser for a new $2.5 million building on mission-owned land next door.

The mission has been saving money for 25 years and has $500,000 to put toward the total, said Dean Shewbridge, the mission's part-time personnel director.


Shewbridge is one of three part-time employees. Three others work full time.

The mission's capacity is 64 beds. The new building is designed for 100 beds in eight dormitory rooms. It could be expanded to 200 with bunk beds, Shewbridge said.

The new building will have a modern kitchen, a dining area with a serving line, administration and other offices, and the chapel.The two-story section will house the sleeping quarters, Shewbridge said.The building will be handicapped-accessible.

"We want to build something for 50 years ? a very basic, functional building," Shewbridge said.

The area's growth tells mission officials that more beds will be needed in the future, they have said.

"Last winter, we had 86 men here," Shewbridge said. "We put mattresses and pullout cots all over the place ? in the chapel, dining room, everywhere."The mission runs on an annual budget of about $300,000, Shewbridge said. Most of it comes from donations from area churches, businesses and individuals, he said.

"We have a core group of supporters who are consistently generous," Shewbridge said.

The mission's thrift shop brings in about $80,000 per year.The goal of the fundraiser is to bring in $2 million in two years. It will take a year and a half to build the new mission. It will open in 2010, the year of its 50th anniversary. The mission bought all of the property on the block it sits on along West King Street in the 1990s with an eye on future needs. The block is sandwiched between Tuskegee and Elijah streets,.

The mission razed a large apartment building next door. The land will be the building site for the new 20,000-square-foot mission.

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