On a Mission

When Tracy Gorman became president and CEO of the Evansville Rescue Mission (ERM) in 2008, he expected a learning curve.

“I had been a pastor my entire career,” says Gorman, a New Castle, Indiana, native and former pastor of New Life Church in Newburgh, Indiana. “I truly did not know the day I took this job every aspect that the Evansville Rescue Mission was involved in.”

The Evansville Rescue Mission, 500 E. Walnut St., is more than a 204-bed men’s residence center; it also operates Camp Reveal, Youth Care Center, two thrift stores, and a donation center, with plans for additional thrift stores and a women and children’s shelter in the distant future.

Gorman’s position at the ERM gives him a front-row seat to the issue of homelessness, which he says is more encompassing than most people realize.

“It doesn’t always fit so nicely in a package,” says Gorman, who has seen every demographic come through the ERM’s doors — men and women; children and elderly; doctors, lawyers, and even a chemical engineer. “I think we get a picture in our mind of what it looks like, and sometimes we’re wrong. I was wrong.”

Since Gorman took the job, the need for the ERM’s services has risen exponentially. The Gobbler Gathering held each November has grown from serving 800 families in 2008 to more than 2,200 families expected this year. Gorman also reports a dramatic rise in the need for daily housing and meals — the ERM is on course to have more than 50,000 bed spaces and serve more than 210,000 meals by the end of the year — and the need is not likely to decrease anytime soon.

“We had the types of numbers in the summer that we normally don’t see until winter,” says Gorman. “We’re anticipating using all our bed spaces this winter, plus all our cots.”

However, Gorman isn’t deterred. Thanks to social media, relationships built with elected officials and businesses, and mailings regularly sent to homes, Gorman says the ERM’s annual giving has doubled and its presence within the community has grown.

“I think the community trusts us. We’ve been here 99 years. We’re not the new kid on the block,” he says. “I think we’re at a point where we can make a huge impact on the community even more than we ever have in the next few years. For me, that is really exciting.”

▲ Joshua Estes, 32, of Evansville, works on an assignment of PACES, the ERM’s long-term residential program.

For more information about the Evansville Rescue Mission, call 812-421-3800 or visit evansvillerescuemission.org.

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