Since its opening on Dec. 3, 2012, the Latrobe Street Mission has proved faith put into action can bring about positive results. In that time, Latrobe Street Mission has grown from the dream of mission director Shad Martin and his wife Amy to provide an overnight shelter for homeless individuals needing a bed and a meal, into a place that not only assists people in finding their own place to live, but also to help them find the life skills needed to get a job and, hopefully, turn their lives around.
This week, shelter officials announced the Latrobe Street Mission is taking another step in that direction by offering a recovery program for people with addictions, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling or other problems. Called the Grace Project, it is a one-year program that will, as mission operations director Jason Batten said, offer those with "a sincere desire to change your life" either a faith-based program or the traditional recovery program to help end those addictions.
"This recovery program was always a part of the vision for the shelter project," Shad Martin said. "Homelessness always has a deeper root, and we wanted to offer (addiction) services to those in the shelter, but also to others in the community who are tied down by these types of problems."
We are lucky to have many caring people and organizations in Wood County and the surrounding areas that offer a temporary safety net for those who need help. The Salvation Army immediately comes to mind with the invaluable service the organization has offered here for decades.
However, the Latrobe Street Mission is somewhat different. It is a smaller, non-profit organization that exists through grants, donations of area churches and individuals, and proceeds from sales at the mission's small thrift shop. It is staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers who believe they are doing God's work by serving others. Since its inception, the forward-thinking board of directors has been willing to increase the mission's outreach by adding programs as the needs increase. And its location in the former Storck bakery offers ample room to grow as the mission's outreach grows.
The Latrobe Street Mission is proof that people within a community know how to best help members of their community. While relying on grants for many of its programs, it still is able to maintain a from-the-bottom-up approach that works much better than the often-restrictive top-down rules of many government programs for the poor.
Not everyone who walks into the Latrobe Street Mission will walk out a changed person. Mission officials and volunteers know that. However, still they keep the doors open.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Latrobe Street Mission can visit the organization's website at latrobestreetmission.org.