Image features a from-the-road photograph of the Rescue Mission building in Youngstown, Ohio, featured in the story Youngstown Rescue Mission's Intricate Ties to YSU, by Tyler Rothbauer.

Youngstown Rescue Mission’s Intricate Ties to YSU

By Tyler Rothbauer

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio: The Youngstown Rescue Mission plays a substantial part in the process of re-creating the city of Youngstown. Year after year, more meals are being served, more beds are being occupied and more lives are being changed.

Volunteer quantity determines how effective the Rescue Mission is able to be.

Brad Weber, vice president of support services at the Rescue Mission, attributes maxed out volunteer numbers to the accessibility Youngstown State University students have. This creates the ability to fulfill community service and volunteer hours.

Primarily, three specific groups come in to lend a hand. Weber commented how the honors college, physical therapy department and nursing students make the most frequent appearances.

When these groups come to serve, they generally do specific tasks centered around their education.

Weber said, occasionally nursing students will give tours and host a health fair to educate clients about proper hygiene such as washing hands and using a tissue correctly. After, the physical therapy department will come in and serve breakfast.

Weber commented on the generosity of the hospitality department.

“At the end of every school year, they call us and we go over and pick up all of their leftover food and ingredients,” said Weber. “They give that all to us.”

Each year, the honors college will come down and spend time volunteering during their homeless awareness week. During the event in the previous year, Weber spoke to the honors students, informing them about the mission.

“The honors department is a huge advocate of our mission,” said Weber. “Students need not serve only with dependent groups. Individual volunteering is always welcomed.”

Standard 15-30 hours can be completed at any given time for students who need to complete volunteer hours. Accessibility is key, according to Weber.

“If a student has class at 10 a.m., they’re able to come here in the morning and serve breakfast or work in the kitchen until 9 a.m., then jump right over to campus.”

Part of the Rescue Mission’s outreach is to break the stereotype of homeless shelters. Encouragement to actually come, leaving bias and irreverence at the door will open up an opportunity to really experience what it means to serve, according to Patricia Sciaretta, vice president of social services at the Rescue Mission.

Sciaretta believes that volunteers are truly able to understand what this facility is about. A change of heart is implicit. Credit according to Weber, is given to their gospel-centered approach.

“With us being a gospel centered rescue mission, our job is to give [clients] shelter, food and clothing and all of these tangible things,” said Weber. “But we really want to love them as if Christ is loving them directly.”

All in all, the work is voluminous. The Rescue Mission is open seven days a week, with volunteer totals ranging from 800 to900 per month. There were 230,315 meals served and 47,657 total stays were provided in 2015.

As well as offering students volunteer hours, the social services department at the rescue mission offers real life, hands-on internships for YSU students pursuing associate, bachelor’s or graduate degrees in the fields of social work and sociology. There have been 25 students who have come through the internship program in the last seven years, Sciaretta said.

“We’ll take anyone who has a passion to do social work, this is the best place for anyone who wants to be a social worker,” Sciaretta said.

Sciaretta places a heavy emphasis on immersing her interns, focusing on giving them the opportunity to encounter experiences with every population type.

Former intern and YSU graduate Madison Goske, now a case manager working alongside Sciaretta, explained how beneficial and rewarding working at the rescue mission has been.

“This place changed my life,” Goske said. “I was able to learn hands-on, and it was an eye-opening experience.”

Sciaretta expressed her genuine interest and passion for helping students. She teaches social work classes part-time at YSU in midst of her busy schedule.