Rescue Mission joins Urban Mission
STEUBENVILLE — Harry Kellermier was 10 years old when he first walked into the former hotel across the street from the railroad station that would become the City Rescue Mission in 1960.
Kellermier was with his father, the Rev. Harold Kellermier, who was looking at a new home for the mission that had been on North Third Street since 1928.
“George and Gladys McGrew started the City Rescue Mission in 1928, and my dad came out of Methodist seminary in Kentucky and took over in 1938. The Great Depression was under way and there were people without jobs and people moving around the country looking for jobs,” according to Kellermier.
“The mission had to be moved in 1960 because a new post office was being planned for the North Third Street site. One of our board members told my dad about this building on Sixth Street but said it was in a rough section of town. But my dad said it was a perfect location. He opened the door and I can remember to this day looking inside and thinking what a mess it was,” Kellermier recalled.
“There was a lot of activity in this neighborhood in 1960. The railroad station was still operating and there were more businesses around here,” said Kellermier.
“My whole life has been tied to the mission. When I was younger I would work on the thrift store trucks and just generally help out. I had no intention of making this a career, but I met my wife here and just stayed,” Kellermier related.
Kellermier became director of the City Rescue Mission in 1996 when his father died.
And now Kellermier and his wife, Tracy, are preparing to retire and have donated the City Rescue Mission on North Sixth Street and the nearby City Rescue Mission Thrift Store on Market Street to Urban Mission Ministries.
“They have agreed to take over all the operations and keep the Rescue Mission open and operating, which is very important with the frigid weather we have experienced recently. There are no mortgages or liens on the properties and we are simply passing the rescue mission on free and clear,” Kellermier explained.
He noted he has been involved with the rescue mission his entire life.
“I would always be down there with my dad when he ran the mission. And I always worked two jobs. One was to support my family and the other job was making sure the mission, and then the thrift store, stayed open with the help of my wife Tracy. Our three kids have been successful in their lives and we decided to retire so we can take it easy and to travel to visit our kids,” Kellermier said.
“We have been talking to the folks at the Urban Mission for the past couple of years and felt they were the right people to take over the rescue mission. The shelter is really necessary because of the homeless in Steubenville. My wife and I have been very involved in this ministry but it will be a weight off our shoulders after all these years,” he said.
Kellermier has been working with Urban Mission Ministries Executive Director Rev. Ashley Steele for the past several months to acquaint her staff with the City Rescue Mission and the Thrift Store operations.
“We want to see them succeed. I have been talking to them about our water lines and the boiler system and how everything works. I want to thank the community for supporting the mission. I also appreciate all the nice people who have stayed at the rescue mission or shopped in our thrift store. My wife and I are looking forward to the next chapter in our lives,” he noted.
“I am humbled the Kellermiers have entrusted us with the City Rescue Mission,” Steele said. “We plan to continue their legacy of caring for others. I am very thankful for this opportunity and we will do our best to provide the support system for the community that the Kellermiers have provided for all these years.”
“We plan to close the thrift store for the rest of January so we can assess everything in the store and in the surrounding warehouse buildings. We will look at how we can expand our current clothes and furniture ministry now in the War Memorial building on North Street. And at the same time we will be preparing to train people as part of our new ‘Jobs for Life’ program to work in a retail atmosphere. That will include how to budget for a business, how to run a retail business for the public. We are also looking for volunteers this month to help us in our assessment and to help us get the store ready to re-open in February. Anyone interested in volunteering can call our Urban Mission Ministries office,” commented Steele.
And according to Urban Mission Ministries Urban Mission Housing Services Director Debra Bryan, the rescue mission will remain open throughout the transition period.
“The mission will be open 365 days a year and anyone can come in for shelter or help at anytime. No one will be turned away. We will have managers in place to assist the people coming to the mission,” Bryan noted.
“There will be a social worker at the rescue mission to walk a path with people seeking help. The transition will take some time but we want to make sure services are available for the guests at the mission. We will be examining the rooms and plan to clean, paint and make repairs throughout the building. We also will add a sitting room with a television so the residents can have a place to relax. Our dream is to care for all homeless people in the community and help them find housing and train for a job,” said Steele.
“Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. We will ask the people staying at the mission to volunteer at the thrift store as part of their life skills training and to give back to the community. We want to help people to do all they can with what God has given them,” Steel said.
“This is a compassionate community and God is putting us together to help our community,” remarked Steele.