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Focus on scripture as Rescue Mission building rises

Good stewardship essential, leader of $7.5M facility says

President and CEO of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley John Muckridge III talks about the new facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Staff photo / R. Michael Semple

YOUNGSTOWN — Those who have driven past the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley construction project across from the Youngstown City Schools bus garage on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard have seen great change since dirt began to move in late 2019.

The laying of block, then the start of framing was the exciting part — when the shell of the 50,000-square-foot structure began to emerge on a hillside overlooking the industrial Youngstown North Side Mahoning River valley.

In the months since, siding and other exterior work on the building have nearly wrapped up, leaving most of the work to be done inside, hidden from view. Grass and paving also are among the projects to be finished in the months to come.

But rest assured, the work inside is full-speed ahead, with crews working throughout the building.

John Muckridge III, Rescue Mission president and CEO, allowed The Vindicator a peek inside to see the three entrances and vestibules, 90-seat chapel, separate men’s and women-and-family sides of the facility, bathrooms, dayrooms, 90-seat dining room, play rooms, laundry, kitchen, food storage, sleeping areas, fenced-in outdoor areas, first-floor offices, and second-floor office and future expansion space.

The tour provided a view of the construction materials being used — many durable materials such as block walls in the men’s shower area, plastic walls and ceiling tiles in other bathroom areas, and durable, epoxy floors in many heavy-use areas.

The epoxy floors look like marble, but the cost is similar to that of vinyl flooring, which also is used in some parts of the building, Muckridge said.

In the kitchen, tilt skillets and combination ovens will play a big role in feeding the people staying there or coming only for meals.

Many of the finishing materials are not yet installed, so a viewing of those details will have to wait until the project is finished, most likely this fall.

But Muckridge revealed one feature he believes is unique to the $7.5 million project: The creation of Bible-sized spaces in seven places on the floor throughout the building that will each encase a Bible open to a specific passage of scripture.

With a worker using a nail gun nearby, Muckridge summarized a scripture reading about being stewards of God’s people.

“Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found faithful,” Muckridge read. The apostle Paul said he was not necessarily concerned about people judging him, Muckridge said.

“I’m more concerned about the moment I’m going to stand before God on judgment day and held accountable for how I steward what he sends or what he calls me to,” Muckridge said of Paul.

“And so this Bible is open to that passage to give me an opportunity to communicate the reality of the stewardship, the accountability that’s going to fall on me and the other leaders,” Muckridge, a McDonald native, said.

“We will stand before God and held accountable for every dollar that comes in here and, most importantly, every soul that comes through the door,” he said.

Completion of the project is being delayed several months because of COVID-19. As is happening throughout the construction industry, materials have been delayed by labor shortages and other issues throughout the supply chain.

But the Rescue Mission has been blessed by the general contractor, Witmer’s Construction of Salem, and subcontractor DeCerbo Construction of Canfield, locking in the price of construction materials, saving the Rescue Mission hundreds of thousand of dollars, Muckridge said.

Muckridge called the facility’s dining room a “focal point of the building because so many people use it. The goal here from a design perspective is when we have homeless clients walking in off the streets … they walk into this space, and it is designed from a warm, homey type of feel. We’re trying to stay away from the institutional type of design.”

Of the $7.5 million cost, $1.5 million is the furnishings. Fundraising continues to obtain the last $534,027 needed for furnishings.

Muckridge said this project compares favorably to others of a similar size and scope. In addition to the donations that made the project possible, the contractors and subcontractors are also making donations.

“All of these subcontractors that the Lord is using to build are being extremely generous in giving, and they are doing amazing work,” Muckridge said. A local CEO who is building a hospital elsewhere told Muckridge he was “in awe of the craftsmanship and the price we are getting. It was very encouraging to hear that,” Muckridge said.

Among the reasons for the new building is to provide greater security through three separate entrances — one for men, one for women and children, and one for the office area. The mission provides food, shelter and counseling to those in need. Assistance is provided in job searches, personal finances and household management.

The new building will replace the existing Rescue Mission, which is a short distance south on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It has one entrance.

The new Rescue mission will accommodate close to 200 clients compared to 134 at the present facility. The new facility will be nearly double the size of the current 27,000-square-foot facility.

erunyan@vindy.com

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