We Are a Charity on a Great Mission
The Boston Rescue Mission, established in 1899, has been caring for people who are poor and homeless for more than 115 years. We strive to create a healing community where the poor are nourished, lives at risk are transformed and homelessness is both prevented and ended. Our 39 Kingston Street facility provides up to 150 residential beds. We offer our services to all regardless of race, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, marital status or physical disability. The policies and standards we have in place are to be respected and followed by each individual electing to stay at the Mission. If for any reason a person is not willing to abide by Boston Rescue Mission policies, rules and regulations, they will not be allowed to stay at the Mission.
The Boston Rescue Mission Meets its Goals Efficiently
In his book Good To Great and the Social Sector, Jim Collins writes:
"In the business sector, the flywheel works exceptionally well. Deliver superior results, and the world will line up, eager to give you capital. In the social sectors, by contrast, there is no guaranteed relationship between exceptional results and sustained access to resources. In fact, the exact opposite can happen. Nonprofit funding tends to favor programmatic funding, not building great organizations: 'if you have a surplus, why should I give you a grant?' Small nonprofits face a valley of the shadow of death in making the shift from programmatic funding to sustained, unrestricted funding, and many fail along the way. I find it puzzling how people who clearly understand the idea of investing in great companies run by the right people often fail to carry the same logic over the social sectors. But building a great organization requires a shift to "clock building"-shaping a strong, self-sustaining organization that can prosper beyond any single programmatic idea or visionary leader. Restricted giving misses a fundamental point: to make the greatest impact on society requires first and foremost a great organization, not a single great program."
An examination of the Mission's financial details reveals a major strength that spans all of our programs: we believe that our cost per client is much lower than the average organization serving the homeless population, while remaining true to our vision and mission of transforming lives by empowering people at risk to achieve a healthy and self-sufficient life.
Our case management programs continue to operate with an average of 70 to 75 percent success rate, an excellent performance metric for any human services organization.
The Mission Depends on the Generosity of its Donors
Private funding from individuals, private foundations, and corporations makes up half of the Mission's income, and a quarter comes from public sources. We try to remain good stewards of these resources by maintaining reasonable development costs (7 percent in fiscal year 2014), and administration costs (2 percent in fiscal year 2014). Our board of directors oversees the Mission's programs and financial state.
Hungry guests await a complete Thanksgiving meal on our annual Day of Thanks, held the Sunday before Thanksgiving each year.
Safe & Healthy Program
The Safe & Healthy program is a place where men who are homeless can find safe refuge from the weather and city streets. Any guest may request case management services, apply for other Mission treatment programs and receive opportunities to participate in Mission-sponsored activities.
Many people do not have the means to both pay monthly bills and to feed their families. As a result, they may fall behind on their rent and utility bills, and eventually risk losing their homes. Our community meals and Food Pantry programs help to feed families and ease financial strains so that our neighbors may stretch already-thin resources to pay rent and maintain a stable living situation. Through our Safe & Healthy Program, Residential Recovery Program, Food Pantry, Saturday Morning Outreach and Community Meals, the Mission served more than 193,000 meals last year.
Residential Recovery Programs
For men and women in the throes of addiction, their spirits can be easily broken. Homelessness and poverty can drive broken souls into disastrous living situations. The Mission's residential recovery programs provide a safe and therapeutic environment to address substance abuse issues, an individualized care plan to build self-esteem, and programs to equip people with the tools and skills they need to achieve permanent self-sufficiency. Our guests receive guidance through daily twelve-step programs, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, anger management treatment, employment assistance, job training, housing assistance and financial management assistance. In addition, guests participate in classes on living independently, repairing broken relationships and improving social skills. When guests are ready to embrace independent living with a community-based support network, graduates are provided with detailed discharge and aftercare planning. On a yearly basis, more than 300 lives have been transformed through our residential recovery programs.
Safe Haven Veterans Program
The Safe Haven program is a 10-bed short-term transitional housing program for veterans with current substance abuse and mental health issues located in Dorchester, Massachusetts. This is a pilot program and one of only four throughout the country. The Safe Haven program targets chronically homeless veterans who have had difficulty with traditional housing programs.
The program utilizes three evidence-based practices for care: motivational interviewing, critical time intervention and stages of change. Safe Haven provides a low-demand and non-intrusive environment to its guests. The guidelines to the program are minimal and the focus is on the safety of the individual. The ultimate goal is to facilitate a safe and healthy transition for the veterans into permanent housing.
In addition to shelter, three healthy meals per day, snacks, counsel, spiritual guidance and referral services are provided at the request of the client. The staff will strive to provide an environment that is conducive for the veteran to find hope, opportunity and strength for a life transformation.
Women's Parole Re-Entry Program
Since November 2005, the Boston Rescue Mission women's parole re-entry program has transformed the lives of 245 women. In Massachusetts, female penitentiaries are filled with women like Lynne, who struggle with alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, and mental health issues. Lynne's parole officer and case manager worked together to place her at the Boston Rescue Mission. Since program inception, nearly 70 percent of the women served (including Lynne) have graduated successfully from the program. Many have humbly and joyfully reunited with their children and families, found meaningful employment, or continued treatment. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports, "two out of three people released from prison in the United States are rearrested within three years of their release." Of the 245 women in the Boston Rescue Mission Parole Re-entry Program, only a very small number have returned to jail for new crimes. Reverend John Samaan, President and CEO of the Boston Rescue Mission states, "It is by treating women like Lynne as individuals and not as cases that we have seen such resounding success." While the Women’s Parole Re-Entry Program was suspended in 2014 due to funding cuts from the state, it is the Mission's hope and desire to expand services and treatment to the incarcerated men and women of Massachusetts as soon as possible.
Rebuilding Homes Program
In 2010, the Mission launched the Rebuilding Homes program, designed to prevent homelessness by reaching out into greater Boston communities to help with home rebuilding projects for low income, elderly and disabled residents. In most cases, current residents have been threatened with eviction or are otherwise at risk of imminent homelessness, and have already sought help from other organizations. In response, Mission program members join with community volunteers to provide labor and some materials for simple home improvement projects which might otherwise cost hundreds or thousands of dollars for contractors to complete. Through this project, not only are we building bridges between Mission clients and community members, but we are maximizing available resources by keeping individuals and families in their existing homes before they can become part of the shelter system.
Job Readiness Program
Our job readiness program is designed to provide Boston Rescue Mission clients with the effective training necessary for them to successfully become a part of the workforce. We teach and develop the work skills, coping abilities, positive attitudes and self confidence to be successful in today's job market. The Mission collaborates with several vocational programs in the area to prepare our clients for realistic positions of employment. We maintain a Job Referral Network where local companies partner with the Boston Rescue Mission to provide employment opportunities.
Ministry and Spiritual Development
Though the Mission's spiritual development programs are strictly voluntary, we believe in the healing power of God's love to transform lives in a meaningful and lasting way. A network of resources is available for those seeking spiritual healing, including a Director of Spiritual Formation who meets with guests one-on-one. Our guests may participate in weekly church services, bible study sessions, retreats, and develop spiritual mentoring relationships on their journey through forgiveness, acceptance and rebuilding.
Community Builder Incubator Program
The Boston Rescue Mission administers shared office space and services in downtown Boston for several Massachusetts community-based organizations, including homelessness, youth and child services. Proximity to each other facilitates programmatic collaboration among several of these organizations and with the Boston Rescue Mission.
Housing Assistance Program
The housing assistance program is for select elderly and/or homeless individuals in poor health who have completed the programs at Boston Rescue Mission and need further assistance to achieve permanent housing. The Boston Rescue Mission will select clients that they see fit to participate in this program who demonstrate the qualities needed to succeed in an independent living situation. The Mission will provide rental assistance directly to a landlord for these individuals.
Stay in Bed/Respite Program
This year, Boston Health Care for the Homeless teamed up with the Mission to launch a new Stay-in Bed respite program for homeless individuals who have been hospitalized and require some health care services but do not require 24 hour care in a medical facility. The program provides medical care and services for approximately two weeks. While residing at the Boston Rescue Mission clients are welcome to participate in Mission programming and apply for services through other residential programs offered by the Mission.
BRM is Building Capacity
Major capital expenditures and facility renovations are possible because of funds from the Boston Rescue Mission Board Restricted Funds for Expansion. These funds are designated for expansion of future programs, new facilities, prepayments of mortgages and capital improvements.
In early 2011, the Mission acquired a facility in Dorchester with ten units of transitional housing. After renovations, the facility we call "Humboldt House" now serves homeless veterans as part of our Safe Haven program. Financial resources to acquire and renovate Humboldt House were approved from the Board Restricted Funds for Expansion.
In fiscal year 2014, the Boston Rescue Mission invested over $3.3 million in its expansion funds. The expansion funds will vary from year to year as capital campaign or expansion needs arise. Because our service to the community requires a warm and safe physical presence, our success hinges both on equipping our existing facilities with proper safety systems and preparing new facilities for program expansion. Having these funds available affords the Mission the opportunity to expand services even in a challenging economy when other sources of funding become more difficult to secure.
Beyond the Form 990
The BRM Form 990 and the financial data on the BRM web site show a few marked differences in expense allocation. The BRM web site is meant to help you understand the BRM financial picture in a larger perspective. We include all in-kind donations in our numbers on the website but the 990 form does not. Our audited financial statements include in-kind food donations but only refer to In-Kind volunteer services in a footnote. Accounting rules only allow in-kind services of a strictly professional manner (e.g. medical or legal) to be included in the audited financial statements. Removing these costs, which are solely program service expenses, substantially reduces our service expenses and inflates the percentage of our budget spent on development and administration.
At the Boston Rescue Mission, food donations and volunteers are vital to our program members and for the Mission to provide quality services at reasonable costs. The food donations we receive from food banks, restaurants and individuals enable us to serve more than 300 meals per day to hungry individuals. By offering volunteer positions to serve our programs, we create synergy and valuable relationships between volunteers and program members. We strive to use our donors' gifts wisely; without these donations, our program expenses would increase substantially.
Ending Homelessness: A ReflectionPeople often see homelessness as something caused in adults by laziness, recklessness or even conscious choice. In reality, an individual's descent into the world of homelessness often begins very early in life. It may be caused by the death of a loved one, a family history of substance abuse or violence, mental illness, lack of affordable housing or inadequate public policies. Whatever the chain of events that leads to a person's homelessness, it is clear that long-term solutions to the problem require long-term commitment and genuine compassion. As people enter the Kingston House, food and shelter are their most obvious needs. After serving these needs, we attempt to address deeper issues within our guests' lives.
Rev. John Samaan
Our guests are men and women representing a wide variety of ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Some are young, others elderly. Some are victims of fires or perhaps job loss, others come from broken or abusive families or have fallen into the insidious trap of substance abuse. Regardless of the circumstances, we at the Boston Rescue Mission care about each and every person who comes through our door and see in their faces not only who they are and where they've been but also who they can become. The journey back from homelessness is a difficult one that requires courage, understanding, and support. We invite you to become a miracle maker by standing alongside the men and women of the Boston Rescue Mission. Together, with God's help, we can end the social and spiritual evil of homelessness.
***For financial information refer to our Financial Information page.