The Mission in the News

Apr 21, 2015

Rockford Rescue Mission to serve more women with $7 million expansion

ROCKFORD  — About 150 women and children a year are turned away by the city's largest homeless shelter because it lacks accommodations for them.

Over the next 10 to 12 months that will change.

Ground is expected to be broken in early May on Pitney Place, a $7 million addition to the Rockford Rescue Mission's Hope Place at 715 W. State St.

The two-story, 25,000-square-foot addition will be added to the back of Hope Place at the corner of North Horsman and Mulberry streets. The 120-bed addition — 44 more beds than what the mission currently offers — will house a 60-bed 24/7 emergency shelter for women on the ground floor, and a 60-bed, long-term life recovery program for women on the second floor.

The addition will include six transitional housing apartments for women who have completed the yearlong life recovery program, and women and children who are housed at the Women’s Crisis Center on Cedar Street will be relocated to main campus.

"There will be so much more that we can offer because they will be here on the campus as far as the education, the (health) clinic and the food services," Rescue Mission Executive Director Sherry Pitney said.

Earlier this month, Remedies Renewing Lives, a domestic violence and addiction treatment center, announced it is building a 28,000-square-foot facility on the city's east side to serve more women who are victims of domestic violence and abuse.

"I think we get a lot of their overflow," Pitney said of Remedies. "The police are dropping off people here every week. Just being able to address the needs that are in the paper every day: the heroin overdoses, the domestic violence and abuse. We think it's a good thing that there is going to be more capacity."

The Rescue Mission's Women's Crisis Center offers 24/7/365 emergency services for women, women with children and intact families. Last year, the mission provided more than 15,350 nights of shelter for 478 different individuals, 29 percent of whom were children; and more than 117,000 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner were served.

Chris Eldridge, Rescue Mission operations manager, said the addition's $7 million price tag also includes money to add about 12 employees and to furnish the addition.

"We're trying to make sure that the donors know that when this building is built, we will be able to utilize it," he said. "We're trying to raise enough to utilize the building as we grow into it."

Pitney also said the entire building will receive a new facade and construction is targeted for completion by mid-February. The mission hired Rockford-based Tyson and Billy Architects and Cherry Valley-based Ringland- Johnson Constructor as the contractor.

"We're calling it Pitney Place," Sherry Pitney said, "as a way to memorialize our founders: my mother- and father-in-law (Nadine and Gerald Pitney). It was my mother-in-law's heart and love to see the mission care for women and children like it had been for men."

After the passing of Gerald Pitney in August 2010, Rockford City Council approved the honorary street name of Pitney Place on Horsman between West State and Mulberry streets.

Eldridge said just more than 50 percent of the mission's $7 million campaign goal has been reached. On Tuesday, the mission will launch the public phase of its campaign during its annual telethon, which will air from 7 to 9 p.m. on WTVO.