During the most recent annual fundraiser for the Durham Rescue Mission, over 600 donors, volunteers, clients, and graduates gathered to show their support for the Mission’s work. However, during the event they were treated to an exciting surprise; none were more surprised than the founders of the Mission themselves.
Gov. Roy Cooper, in representing the state of North Carolina, expressed his gratitude for all Ernie and Gail Mills have done. He told everyone that North Carolina is recognizing them with the state’s highest civilian honor. Upon bringing the Mills on stage, he presented them with memberships into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
This highest civilian honor was created in 1963. The Order has been awarded to North Carolinians who have provided “exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.” Ernie and Gail joined an esteemed group of members such as Billy Graham, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, and Andy Griffith.
Gov. Cooper said: “When we think about North Carolina, its motto esse quam videri, which means ‘to be rather than to seem,’ that is exemplified by these two who are here.”
“It is one thing to have faith, it is another thing to talk about faith; it is yet something else to put that faith into action. That is what Ernie and Gail Mills have done.”
Upon accepting this prestigious award, Ernie said: “I really never dreamed when we started the Mission that it would be what it is today. It’s far beyond anything I ever imagined.”
“On behalf of our staff, our donors and our clients that live at the rescue mission, we want to thank you. This award is really not for Ernie and Gail, but it’s for our staff, our volunteers and our donors that have given. You’re the ones that made it possible.”
Looking Back — And Forward
Dear Friend of the Durham Rescue Mission,
As we move into 2019, Gail and I are thinking back to victories and challenges last year. We want to say thank you.
As one of our friends and supporters, you were instrumental in helping us keep up with record attendance in 2018. You helped us start construction of the Clegg Family Student Housing building, which will provide 54 new beds this March. You also helped us move into the new year more confident we can address the increase in those who only have us to turn to.
However, with the new year come new challenges to face. North Carolina has four cities in America’s top 25 for opioid abuse. It seems that everyone we speak to knows someone who is affected. Too many of our neighbors, from all walks of life, are falling prey to this epidemic. Often they find us as their best and only means to recovery. Homelessness across our country is continuing to rise. No matter their struggle, we must be able to help those who desperately need it.
When a life is recovered, we are also helping their spouse, their children, their parents and loved ones. We’re helping bring families back together again. The compounding of this is enormous. When the needy have recovered and begun a new life with Christ, they’re telling others to turn to us. That’s why we’ll be there with help and hope for all — no matter what challenges we face.
Your friends to the homeless,
Ernie and Gail Mills, Co-founders
Alex Pursues His Dreams
When people encounter the homeless, many can see them as a stereotype. As someone irredeemable, or beyond help and hope. Someone less than they are. However, we know they’re seeing these homeless neighbors at a low point they can recover from. Some have missed the potential we see in everyone who turns to the Durham Rescue Mission, like our good friend Alex.
Alex was raised in a loving, churchgoing family. He was a model student, and graduated valedictorian of his high school. He was voted class president, and earned a full scholarship to Duke University to study medicine and business. Everything about Alex’s life seemed ideal.
But the peer pressure of teenage years and a desire to fit in with the “cool” crowd was taking its toll. What started with half a beer turned into a bottle of vodka under his pillow. He moved from smoking cigarettes to hiding in his dorm room for days under the effects of ecstasy, LSD and cocaine. His drug and alcohol use became so severe he eventually left college and returned home.
Once home, his addictions escalated. Alex stole from family. He lied and cheated to avoid sobriety. He damaged so many relationships that he wound up homeless, living in his car.
One night he called his grandmother for help. She suggested going to the Durham Rescue Mission. He ignored the idea, but after a heavy snowstorm he knew he couldn’t survive alone. So, he came to the Mission and asked for our help.
What he found were role models — others who had been where he was. However, they were rebuilding their lives with God’s help and the Mission. It reminded him of his teenage years when he followed others to be “cool.” However, this time he was inspired to heal and recover.
Alex started working as a sorter of donated clothing, but as he gained victory in his addictions, he began working for the director of education, and then the donor relations office. He discovered his strength, ambition, and dignity returning. He began feeling like a useful member of society again.
When the time came to pursue his dreams again, Alex reapplied to Duke — and was awarded another full scholarship to complete his studies. This January, Alex started his new semester of studies.
All of us at the Durham Rescue Mission are extremely proud of Alex and his potential. We think his story perfectly illustrates how anyone is just one opportunity away from a life they were meant to live.
– Ernie & Gail Mills
Here is how you can take part:
To volunteer, contact (919) 688-9641 ext. 5025, or sign up online by visiting DurhamRescueMission.org
Awarded by Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most utilized evaluator of charities, who rated Durham Rescue Mission with a perfect score (100%) and their highest rating (4 stars) for the seventh year in a row.
According to the last complete Durham County Point in Time Count, 64% of all homeless in the area choose us. Thank you for your ongoing support as together we help men and women in need discover New Life in Christ.
On October 23, 2018, Ernie & Gail Mills were awarded North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Since its creation in 1963, it has been presented to honor persons who have a proven record of service to the State of North Carolina.
When you grow out of something, it’s time to replace it. Even if it’s a name.
Since 1974, Ernie and Gail Mills have been bringing food, shelter and God’s Word to their community through the Durham Rescue Mission. Starting with room for 12 and growing to sheltering nearly 500 strong, their mission is now growing even further with their new thrift store in Wake Forest. This move has created the need for a new name that would reflect this wider reach for those struggling with homelessness and addiction.
Moving forward, the mission will now be known as Rescue Mission Ministries. Ernie and Gail’s tireless work, alongside that of their outstanding staff and volunteers, can no longer be defined by Durham’s boundaries. It’s bigger than the Triangle, touching even more communities, and this new name will better suit the wonderful scope of this growth.
This new growth and expansion mean more opportunity for our many struggling neighbors in 2019. As Rescue Mission Ministries, we’ll be reaching many more who are desperately seeking help, while continuing to bring the same hope, help and healing our neighbors in need have been relying on.
We’re forever grateful for your support of the Durham Rescue Mission, and our new chapter as Rescue Mission Ministries wouldn’t be possible without compassionate friends like you.