When I first started working at the rescue mission my kids were small. At that time I always worked on either Saturday or Sunday. Since the kids were not in school on weekends and I was not office bound as much on weekends. that meant it worked out for them to go to work with me under their mother’s watchful eyes each weekend.
The Mission helped what we called our guests and also helped with men on our recovery programs. Street men. or our guests used a separate part of the building to receive the help we offered from the program men who had there own area. There were about 100 program men. Women and children were helped at two facilities miles from the mission. The mission had about 80,000 sq feet of space in its main facility.
The program side space featured a large Coffee Shop that ran pretty well from the sidewalk to the alley. It had a pool table on the Mezzanine level and a ping pong table on the ground floor.
There was a long food and beverage counter running most of the length of the Coffee Shop and many four man tables for the men to play games or sit and talk.
The Coffee Shop was a safe place for my family to be. When someone had to use the restroom four kids and mom all went together. The dining room was in the big room next door to the Coffee Shop . My family ate with the program men in the dining room.
The Mission was very different then from what it became later. In the early years it was largely populated by alcoholics who left the suburban areas so they could spend their resources on booze and still have a place to rest and eat etc. These men did not want to rob and steal to survive. They just wanted a safe place to drink. It was not at all unlikely that some men who essentially still lived in the suburbs came down to skidrow for the purpose of binging.
In fact one man who was very, very rich came down to Skidrow to drink with his buddies for a week or two every once in awhile. When he was done with his binge, one of the Missions chaplains would clean him up and then phone the rich man’s family who would come down and pick him up.
When that rich man died his family bequeathed the Mission a huge amount of money. That money helped enormously when the mission had to relocate under pressure from the city.
The girls really loved the program men . Each girl picked out her favorite uncle. It was good for the men but also for the girls. All the time they spent at the Mission converted to volunteer hours looked great on college and job applications.
Also, the girls were forever not afraid of people who were different from them. I often joked the only bad thing for me was trying to unspoil them girls after they had spent a day with dozens of generous doting. protective uncles.