'God gets a lot of the credit' for new 78-bed Union Rescue Mission building

April 21, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • The Rev. William C. Crowe, superintendent of the Martinsburg (W.Va.) Union Rescue Mission since 1961, stands Saturday next to a bronze plaque that names the missions new building in his honor.
By Richard F. Belisle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — More than 100 supporters, local officials and the just plain curious traipsed through the new 78-bed Union Rescue Mission building on Saturday.

The building will open next month, two years after ground was broken.

Greeting the guests as they entered the front door of the 21,400-square-foot facility at 608 W. King St. was the Rev. William C. Crowe, 82, who has served as the mission’s superintendent since 1961, when he and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Martinsburg. Crowe will continue in his position in the new building.

A bronze plaque on the front door names the new facility in Crowe’s honor.

The move to the new building will end the existence of the familiar 100-plus-year-old, yellow brick Victorian home at 602 W. King St. that housed the 50-bed Union Rescue Mission. That building, listed on the Historic Register of Historic Places, will be razed to make room for a 32-space parking lot to serve the new building and a stormwater collection system.

The new mission was built on a vacant lot, part of the mission’s holdings on the block of West King Street that runs east to west between Tuskagee and Elijah streets. An office building and the mission’s thrift shop are between the old and new buildings. A large warehouse to the rear of the property houses the mission’s recycling program.

Initial estimates put the cost of the new building at $3.4 million, but the actual cost, when it’s complete with furnishings, will round out around $2.89 million, said Terry Lindsay, chairman of the building committee.

“The old building was wearing out,” Crowe said. “It was costing more to operate, it had no insulation and was not accessible for the handicapped.”

The new mission has four dorms and 20 private rooms, a dining room with a capacity of 96 and a large modern kitchen.

“We have new walk-in freezers,” Lindsay said. “The freezers in the old building are outside.”

There is a 100-seat chapel/multipurpose room, training and computer rooms, a library and a main lobby where incoming guests will be screened.

Some of the money for the new construction came from donors who paid for rooms and other amenities. Bronze plaques on doors identify who they are.

The mission offers a community employment program and structured support to recovering alcohol and drug abusers.

Men who come to the mission have to either leave after seven nights or agree to enter its programs, Lindsay said. For those who do, the average stay is nine months, Lindsay said.

The mission serves an average of 200 meals a day to residents and walk-ins. On cold nights, as many as 60 men will walk in for temporary shelter.

The mission has six full-time employees, a number that might increase in the new building, Crowe said.

It operates on an annual budget of $400,000. Up to 40 percent of it comes from the mission’s recycling program and profits from its thrift shop, Lindsay said. The rest comes from donations from individuals, businesses and churches. 

“More than 100 churches support us,” he said.

The mission does not accept federal, state or local government funds.

“It’s a miracle that all this has come together,” Lindsay said of the new building. “God gets a lot of the credit.”

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