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New home for Galesburg Rescue Mission

The Galesburg Rescue Mission and Women's Shelter is moving into a new facility and out of this building on 3rd Street.
Deborah Moreno
The Galesburg Rescue Mission and Women's Shelter is moving into a new facility and out of this building on 3rd Street.

After more than eight decades of operating from the same location, the Galesburg Rescue Mission and Women’s Shelter will have a new home soon. It will relocate to the former Nielson School building on North Farnham Street in Galesburg.

The organization said the current shelter on East 3rd Street has fallen into disrepair.

Mission Director Teresa Wise said the new facility will double the organization’s capacity by increasing the number of beds, providing handicapped accessibility, and offering family areas. The mission’s goal is to help people feel like they’re part of a family, Wise said. They are welcome to stay until they are ready to move on.

“We tell each and every one here you’re welcome to stay until you feel you’re ready to fly. Until then, you’re here. Until then, we are family,” Wise said.

The shelter serves people from around the state, not just those from the Galesburg area. Some are on the move and others are sent to the Rescue Mission from far-off communities that might not have enough beds or adequate resources at any given moment.

“We have homeless people who have drug addictions and alcoholism and mental illness, but we also have homeless people that are here because their medical bills were so high that they couldn’t afford to keep their home and be able to have the medication they needed,” she said.

The mission also sometimes receives people released from the Illinois Department of Corrections who are vetted by the mission. Many do not have anywhere to go or lack basic resources such as identification.

Wise said that on a typical day, most people around town might not notice the homeless in Galesburg. She said there are far more than the community thinks.

“We have a large homeless population in Galesburg. People are able to not see them. They become invisible. If you drive down Main Street Galesburg at 6 a.m. you will see the people coming out of many different places with the backpack going out to start their day walking,” she said.

For those seeking shelter, the mission provides food, beds, clothing, and other necessities. The current facilities are insufficient, according to Wise, often causing families to be separated.

“The children can go to the women’s side, and the husband would go into the men’s side of the shelter, so we’re not keeping a family whole and complete. We’re forced to tear them apart and live in separate areas of the building,” she said.

The new facility will be approximately four times larger and allow families to remain together. A bus stop in front of the building will make it easier for individuals to access grocery stores, gas stations, and possible job opportunities.

Wise said the new building will fill the need for a larger and more updated facility.

“We are experiencing, as a community, a great increase in homelessness. We receive a lot of people that have been trying to maintain on the street. It’s heartbreaking to tell someone, I’m sorry, we don’t have a bed for you,” she said.

According to Wise, about 20% of people served by the mission go on to find jobs and live independently. Another 75% cycle through, sometimes repeating their stays at the mission and sometimes living there for several years.

The cost of renovating the new location is $1.2 million. Local churches, businesses, and private donors are covering the cost.

Wise said funding for the new shelter is rolling in. They’d hoped to open it in the spring of next year, then planned for Christmas of this year, and now she anticipates opening the doors as early as this October.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.