but i want to tell you about another mission i'm familiar with. it started as a very small mission in a very small building. it began with good intentions and with a vision of aiding the poor and the homeless. and they did. they housed the homeless at nite and fed them in the mornings. they were christian oriented and passed the word of god along to the homeless along with the shelter and food they gave them. the mission grew and they acquired a new building by the way of a gift from a former client. the staff grew and out that staff came a new ceo. that ceo was eloquent in his speech and was compassionate and understanding in his dealings with the homeless. his interaction with the city was good and most of the city and the city officials accepted the mission as a needed service and were willing to cooperate with the mission and the ceo. the mission expanded its services beyond the homeless into mental health, medical and families. it grew...and grew. the ceo guided the mission thru an extraordinary growth period ad it became known widely for its services and its size. but then somewhere along that road of growth something happened. it became something more than a mission and a sanctuary for the poor and homeless. it became a business run by a ceo. the employee base expanded to around 35. it departmentalized. its expenses grew along with its size. its original vision become blurred. the mission thrived....the clients became an afterthought whose monetary value was often greater than the value of their redemption. more than once in a meeting the question was asked of a potential new program client....is he funded? before the question of what is the problem that brought him here, before the question of what physical or mental problems does he have. is he funded? the programs themselves began to become unfocused as the client base expanded. the employees were swamped with clients and short of time. the services offered weren't given. it started to take on the atmosphere of a social service agency where people where shuttled back and forth with no progress. it became a people warehouse. what started as an outstanding mission with good services and excellent results ended up being like so many other agencies that deal with the homeless.....long on showroom, short on results. the ceo inadvertently contributed to this by being so busy promoted the mission and his own personal agenda and recognition that he didn't see the mission morphing into something that noone recognized.
today that mission is a troubled organization. it is in financial chaos and embattled with the city it resides in. it may be relocated and relegated to an afterhought. it's ceo is no longer with them....released by its board after months of battling and inner conflict. its clients still come and go. the shelter was still there, but the attention and treatment and healing that is needed in such a place was not. it became a business, obsessed with the bottom line.
you have to be careful when you operate a mission that money and the cost of remaining open and even growth do not make you lose focus on why you are there and who you are there for. if you do....noone wins. you certainly won't in the long run and the ciients lose in the short term and the long run. its' not only shelter that missions provide, its also a new beginning for alot of people. for others its a regrouping station to recover initially from the shock of being homeless. to get some temporary shelter and respite and then begin your life over again. for others its a shelter for their children when their familly disintegrates around them. the community that supports you will also turn away if they sense the clients aren't being helped in the fashion they expect or you claim.
again...i'm not criticizing missions. i'm just giving a cautionary piece of advice to you all.