It's not unusual for the Boise Rescue Mission to turn to the public for help, but in nearly every instance, appeals have come as part of regular newsletters or direct mailings and usually around the holiday season. So, more than a few Treasure Valley residents were surprised to read an Aug. 1 announcement from the Mission, stating it needs financial assistance, quick—and the tone of the request was dire.
"I'm not crying wolf," wrote Mission CEO Rev. Bill Roscoe in the Aug.1 newsletter.
The Mission serves between 900 and 1,000 free meals each day to needy Treasure Valley men, women and children, and the Mission's shelters house around 400 people each night.
"This is no small thing; we do it without any government money," said Roscoe, adding that this is the first time anyone with the Mission can remember turning to the public for help in a financial crisis. "We did have something a bit like this four of five years ago, but we looked within ourselves to solve that. This time ... the deficit is quite large (approximately $350,000), and we want to the Treasure Valley to know that we need their help."
Roscoe said the problem started in the fall of 2015, when the Mission was set to mail out its traditional holiday appeal, which helps fund programs through the calendar year.
"But the subcontractor who was to send out those letters, one of the largest mail houses in the nation, went bankrupt, turned out the lights and walked away, leaving all of the letters in their warehouse," said Roscoe. "Our direct contact didn't hear about it until it was too late. There was no way to recover that and the deficit followed us through the year."
Roscoe estimates about 50,000 appeal letters were never mailed.
"That's our life blood," he said. "It's not as if we have a collection plate."
Things went from bad to worse, Roscoe said, when the Mission experienced a "summer slump," a downturn in donations.
"We've never had to turn to a bank for a loan, and we're going to do everything we can to avoid that," said Roscoe. "We don't see any cuts to programs or layoffs. We just wouldn't do that. We would go to the bank first, but I'm optimistic that the people of the Valley will hear about what happened and help us out."