Mission’s anniversary marked with donation challenge

The Charlotte Rescue Mission is celebrating two anniversaries this month, and hopes community members will join in on the party with their wallets.

The Leon Levine Foundation will match donations to the Charlotte Rescue Mission up to $37,500 during July in a bid to reach $75,000. The mission is celebrating its 75th year serving Charlotte throughout July, while also marking the opening of its new Dove’s Nest facility one year ago next week. The Dove’s Nest and the mission’s Rebound program combine to serve homeless men and women in the Charlotte region who are struggling with drug addiction.

“I think all of us have a passion for ending homelessness, and there is a connection between substance abuse and homelessness,” Rev. Tony Marciano, executive director of the mission, said. Marciano also writes the bi-weekly Real Help for Real Living column for South Charlotte Weekly (see page 15). The $75,000 will be spread across the mission’s programs to combat the growing need in Charlotte, and Marciano hopes to get a lot of support from Charlotte residents.

“It’s the right thing for us to do as a community, the right thing to do for individuals in crisis, and it’s the right thing to do for families,” Marciano said. “It helps to reconnect family members who have walked away from their loved ones who are actively using.”

The Leon Levine Foundation has worked with the mission since 2009, when work began on expanding the mission’s 12-bed Dove’s Nest program. At first, the mission planned on expanding the program to 45 beds. The idea quickly grew to 90 beds, and then added an additional 30 to accommodate women with children.

“Addicts have burned every bridge they have, so if we can’t take in kids, women have to put them in foster care … and mothers don’t want to do that, and instead will keep bouncing from shelter to shelter,” Marciano said.

The Dove’s Nest facility has been open in west Charlotte for a year now, thanks in part to a $500,000 pledge made by the Leon Levine Foundation. It currently serves 41 women and three children, with five women added to the program each month.

“From a mission perspective, the Charlotte Rescue Mission fits really well with what the Levine Foundation is trying to accomplish,” said Tom Lawrence, executive director of the foundation. “We’ve known Tony (Marciano) and his team for quite a while, and Tony is one of the most passionate and engaged nonprofit leaders. … We’ll be excited to match whatever they raise.”

People can donate to the cause through the mission’s website, www.charlotterescuemission.org. They also can find out more information about the mission and other ways to help.

There are a lot of ways to help.

“A needs list (on the website) is constantly being updated,” Marciano said. “Many of our residents walk in with little more than what they have on them at the time. They need towels, bed sheets, toiletries…”

The mission provides intensive counseling and services for people addicted to drugs and alcohol, with programs and classes running each day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The organization also hosts three massive holiday meals a year, where people in the program are treated to home-cooked meals and other services.

The next big event for the mission, after this month’s donation push, is the Thanksgiving meal. Marciano said his staff will start preparing for the event the day after Labor Day. Turkeys are needed, as are homemade desserts the day before and on Thanksgiving.

Find more information on donating and helping with the mission’s efforts at its website. Donations need to be made before the end of July to be matched by the foundation.

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