Rescue Mission Alliance https://rescuemissionalliance.org Fighting Homelessness in the Greater Syracuse Area Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:57:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Don’t Miss Out https://rescuemissionalliance.org/alans-blog-dont-miss-out-rescue-mission-alliance/ Tue, 27 Jun 2017 16:57:34 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3746 Alan’s Blog So it’s an absolutely gorgeous morning and I’m out walking along this really small, rocky peninsula that juts out into the Chesapeake, enjoying a morning cup of coffee and a great conversation with Meg. The two of us were taking our time, trying to get to the flagpole located at the end. Since […]

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Alan Thornton, Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse

Alan’s Blog

So it’s an absolutely gorgeous morning and I’m out walking along this really small, rocky peninsula that juts out into the Chesapeake, enjoying a morning cup of coffee and a great conversation with Meg. The two of us were taking our time, trying to get to the flagpole located at the end. Since Meg was in sandals, I was out front, so that, should she slip, I could be there to hopefully stop her from falling into the water. We were nearing the halfway point when, just as I was about to put my foot down on a rock, a spooked black snake suddenly slithered out of a little crevice right by where I was about to step.  Now, I hate snakes, and have been deathly afraid of them since watching The Swiss Family Robinson TV show when I was a kid, so it stands to reason that the more I tell this story, the bigger the snake gets and it usually becomes poisonous – it was at least a 9-foot-long King Cobra as of last re-telling. Truthfully, it was maybe 3 feet long, and a harmless Black snake, but despite the small size, its presence was so unexpected and it moved so fast that it startled me – I may have even been accused of letting out some kind of high pitched cry, but the facts on that are very gray at best!

Once my heartbeat calmed down and Meg got control of her laughter, we were back to our mission of reaching the flagpole at the end of the peninsula. However, with the idea of snakes in our heads, we were studying every single crevice and rock before taking a step – picture Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark after being lowered into the room with the slithering floor of snakes. Before long we had stopped talking about how beautiful a morning it was and how amazing our surroundings were… We stopped being interested in how cool it would be to stand at the flagpole at the end of the peninsula…  All we were doing was worrying about being bitten by some snake, so much so that we bailed on our mini-adventure to head back to the safety of the shoreline.

Laughing to myself about what happened a couple days later, I realized that experience provided a great metaphor. Each of us is on this great adventure called life, full of amazing people, places, and experiences. Even in our daily grinds we have the opportunity to laugh, love, work, volunteer, and live in a way that adds to the meaningfulness of our lives. Yet so often, problems, like snakes, pop out of nowhere and create fear and anxiety. Think about it – what is it that you are worrying about right now? What is it that is taking so much attention and draining the joy right out of your life? It could be a bill to pay, a deadline you’re dreading, a tyrant boss, a mistake you’ve made, a difficult co-worker, health issue, or any number of things, but once upon you, it’s all you can focus on. By now, you see where I am going with this. If we’re not careful, the fear in our lives can actually ruin our lives. If we give too much weight to what just happened, is happening, or might happen, or what they said, what they did, or what they might say or do, we could miss all the other amazing people and things happening around us.

If you’ve hung out with me at all over the past year, you know I’ve fallen into this trap on more than one occasion. I’m not saying that my challenges haven’t been real or significant – going through a divorce, juggling parenting and finances in light of that, finishing an MBA, moving twice, and challenges at work, are all individually, big life events that could upend you. However, even big life events shouldn’t keep me from marveling in the amazing things happening around me. Teaching my 16-year-old son Micah how to drive, getting to know him and his twin sisters, Jonaca, and Riley, better than I have ever known them while on spring break, hearing my oldest son Connor tell me he feels he is getting a new and better Dad in me, walking across the stage at commencement, having old friends remain while making new friends as well, and meeting an amazing woman named Meg.

I am in awe of people who somehow maintain superhuman, transcendent perspective when faced with adversity. I’m not that guy. I hope one day to attain that, but in the meantime, let me offer you a few key ways that I’ve learned to not let that snake popping up completely derail you. I hope they help in some way.

  1. Find someone to talk to. By far, this has been practically one of the best things I have done. Friends are great, and I am so grateful for the friends that held me up this past year, but your problems can burn them out. Most employer-sponsored Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provides some level of professional counseling or financial advising. I’ve used ours and it’s a great starting point. Don’t bottle it up. Talk with someone and get objective perspective and support.
  2. Exercise and watch what you eat. Taking care of your body gives you a starting place for a sense of control of your life, and you can’t help but feel better. Be realistic, start with a short amount of time, or a short distance to walk or run, or a just a handful of exercises done a few times a week. Cut down on fast food, aim to choose healthier options, and be careful not to self medicate with alcohol. Remember, everything in moderation. If you set unrealistic exercise or diet goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. One of the small things I did was to start drinking my coffee black, eliminating a ton of sugar that I was consuming through sweetening my coffee three times a day.
  3. Center yourself. Pray, read, meditate… whatever the right answer is for you, make the time, but, again, be realistic. I am far from perfect on this one but my best days are the ones where Meg and I have called each other first thing in the morning for 15 minutes to read a short reflection for the day and pray. I watch my daughters find themselves through reading a book for hours, letting their imaginations come to life and invigorate them. What centers you? When do you feel at peace? Make that a priority.
  4. Finally, give yourself grace. Life can be overwhelming and we all fall short at times. Understand that the problems that pop up, whether through our own actions or through circumstance, do not define who we are, or who we can still become. I was a terrible, unfocused, undergraduate student with a very poor GPA, and I let that define an element of who I was for the next 23 years of my life, despite accomplishing a lot through my career. Going through the MBA program at Syracuse University was the toughest thing I ever faced academically, but through that process I learned what I was capable of and how hard I was willing to work – and in doing so I finally re-wrote the negative narrative I had been telling myself for so long.

What’s the negative narrative that you have been writing about yourself? If you could, how would you write it differently? What would it take to change it? Don’t allow fear and anxiety to paralyze you. Give yourself grace, for we are all still learning, and start planning the small, next steps that can begin to help you re-write your story.

Alan Thornton
CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance
Alan is on Twitter @Alanrmsyr.

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Ride & Run Offers Fitness and Fun https://rescuemissionalliance.org/ride-run-offers-fitness-fun/ Mon, 05 Jun 2017 15:22:52 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3725 Whether you prefer to run, walk or bicycle, the Ride and Run for the Rescue has an event for you. REGISTER HERE The Ride and Run takes place Saturday, June 24 at Long Branch Park in Liverpool. Whether you take on a 5K or one of our five supported cycling routes, you will help the […]

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Whether you prefer to run, walk or bicycle, the Ride and Run for the Rescue has an event for you.

REGISTER HERE

ride and runThe Ride and Run takes place Saturday, June 24 at Long Branch Park in Liverpool. Whether you take on a 5K or one of our five supported cycling routes, you will help the Rescue Mission ensure that individuals and families at risk of hunger have somewhere to turn for nutritious meals.

The Rescue Mission expects to serve more than 70,000 meals over the summer, and we need your help! When you sign up for the Ride and Run, you help provide as many as 22 meals. Plus, every additional $2.24 you raise from friends and family provides a meal to one of our neighbors in need!

All participants receive a medal, t-shirt, morning coffee from Starbucks, bagels from Bagelicious, and a great lunch by Bull and Bear Roadhouse! Also – don’t miss our bounce house and other kids’ activities, vendor booths and tempting raffle prizes!

So, what are you waiting for? Click here to register!!

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“That’s My Son” https://rescuemissionalliance.org/alans-blog-thats-my-son/ Thu, 01 Jun 2017 20:04:26 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3713 Alan’s Blog Alan Thornton CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance One of the most common questions I receive from people is, “Should I give money to people experiencing homelessness standing on the street corner, holding a sign asking for help?” I figured I would make that the theme of my recent speaking engagement at St. Paul’s Lutheran […]

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Alan Thornton Rescue Mission Alliance

Alan’s Blog

Alan Thornton
CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance

One of the most common questions I receive from people is, “Should I give money to people experiencing homelessness standing on the street corner, holding a sign asking for help?” I figured I would make that the theme of my recent speaking engagement at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Liverpool.

I always welcome the opportunity to speak to the faith community. The Rescue Mission was founded by a group of churches almost 130 years ago, and many churches and parishioners across Upstate New York actively support our efforts today. With each opportunity, I am challenged to tailor the message appropriately within the timeframe. For this, I had a target of 15 minutes. (Those of you who have heard me speak know that is indeed a challenge!)

I was asked to speak about, John 14: 15-21, and, while I know this passage, the challenge was in somehow letting the passage speak for itself while applying it to the work of the Rescue Mission. Challenge accepted. The theme of the passage, (click here to read), is that those who love Jesus and follow him obey his commands. So, I started by posing this scenario: You’re in your car and you come to a red light, and there is a person holding a sign asking for help, on the corner right next to you. What do you do? What does it look like to love and obey Jesus in that moment? What should you give to that person?

At that point, we paused to think about the stereotypes that might be going through our minds: “If I give them money they’ll just use it for drugs or alcohol.”
“They’re lazy, no good.”
“They don’t deserve my help.”
In the awkwardness of that moment, when you’re avoiding eye contact, and you are desperately, painfully waiting for the light to turn green, what does it mean to love Jesus and obey his commands?

Since I only had 15 minutes, and I had just used three of them to set the stage, I had to move rather quickly. From there, we reflected that Jesus’ ways were often in conflict with the world of his time: Be good to the poor; release the prisoner; take care of the sick; free the oppressed. No matter the situation, or how a person got there, Jesus would extend grace to them.

So, how do we know if we are living up to Jesus’ example?  One touchpoint for me is Matthew 25:34-36: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… Truly, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

You’re back in your car, back in that awkward moment with the person holding the sign, back waiting for the light to turn… what should you give to them?

Give them your attention.

Smile. Wave. Roll down the window and say hello. Ask them their name. Ask them how they are doing. Give them something to eat, something to drink. If you don’t want to give them money, give it to an organization whose mission is to help them. Give them your time by serving a meal. Give them the dignity of acknowledging their humanity.

However you choose to do it, give them your attention.

As I was shaking hands with every parishioner as they were leaving, a woman gently took my hand and thanked me for speaking on behalf of individuals who are so often overlooked. I wasn’t prepared for what came out of her mouth next…

“That’s my son. He’s one of those guys that is homeless and holding a sign, asking for help.”

I didn’t know what to say.  What a powerful reminder that the man or woman you see standing on the side of the road is someone’s loved one.

They are the son or daughter of heartbroken parents …

They are Jesus’ brothers and sisters…

They are our brothers and sisters…

Let’s love them as well.

 

Alan Thornton is on Twitter @Alanrmsyr.

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Yordanys’ Story https://rescuemissionalliance.org/yordanys-story-syracuse-rescue-mission/ Wed, 31 May 2017 17:59:46 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3681 When Yordanys lost his job, his home and all hope for a better life and future, he decided to come to the Rescue Mission after his stepfather, who works in the Mission’s kitchen, strongly suggested he do so. After spending 30 days at the shelter, he entered the Mission’s Willing to Work program. This is […]

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When Yordanys lost his job, his home and all hope for a better life and future, he decided to come to the Rescue Mission after his stepfather, who works in the Mission’s kitchen, strongly suggested he do so.

After spending 30 days at the shelter, he entered the Mission’s Willing to Work program. This is an intensive program offered by the Rescue Mission to help men who have experienced homelessness find and keep employment. It provides these men with a room of their own and three meals a day as they complete 25 hours of job training every week through internships in various industries, including food service, retail, customer service, product distribution and maintenance.

The Willing to Work program also includes case management help, life skills training and job search assistance. And it has helped many formerly homeless men, including Yordanys, succeed in the workplace and grow into greater security and independence.

Yordanys is now working for a company that transcribes speech to text for people with hearing impairments. He said, “I love my job. I really enjoy helping people and serving them in such a meaningful way.”

When asked how the Mission helped, he said, “They not only provided me with food and shelter when I needed it most, they also provided me with the support and the tools I needed to grow and thrive. The wonderful people who work here went above and beyond for me.”

Yordanys is now looking forward to getting his own apartment and wants to go back to college and finish his degree. With a broad smile, he added, “I now have a sense of purpose and belonging that I’ve never had before.”

Help build hope this summer! Click here!

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Gary’s Story https://rescuemissionalliance.org/garys-story-ithaca-rescue-mission/ Wed, 31 May 2017 17:58:14 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3684 Alcohol pretty much ruled Gary’s life for more than 30 years. He started drinking at age 18 and eventually lost everything to alcohol: his 20-year marriage, his family, his home and his job. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to get sober, he landed in jail for a time after a DWI conviction. Gary said, “I actually […]

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Alcohol pretty much ruled Gary’s life for more than 30 years. He started drinking at age 18 and eventually lost everything to alcohol: his 20-year marriage, his family, his home and his job.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts to get sober, he landed in jail for a time after a DWI conviction. Gary said, “I actually thought I was doing okay. I now realize drinking kept me from living a normal life and took everything away from me.”

He eventually ended up homeless and living on the streets for a short while, but the cold winter forced him to seek shelter at the Rescue Mission’s Emergency Shelter. And that’s when things began to turn around for Gary. After spending some time in the shelter, he was able to move into the Rescue Mission’s permanent supportive housing, while getting the counseling and coping skills he needed to remain sober.

Gary’s daughter never gave up on him through his entire battle with alcohol. After coming to the Mission, he made a promise to her to quit drinking.

The support and encouragement that he has been receiving through the Rescue Mission’s programs, along with the close guidance of his case manager, have helped him keep his promise.

Gary is now working a full-time job in a food services position at a local college. He said, “I’m on the right track now. For the first time in many years I feel a real sense of purpose and independence.”

Now that he is employed, Gary is looking forward to getting his own apartment.

He has also improved his relationship with his daughter and his new infant granddaughter, whom he now visits every weekend.

He said, “Not too many people get a second chance like I did. Now, for the sake of my daughter and my granddaughter, I’ll remain on the right path.”

Help build hope this summer! Click here!

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Candice’s Story https://rescuemissionalliance.org/candices-story-auburn-rescue-mission/ Wed, 31 May 2017 17:56:49 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3687 Candice and her two young daughters, ages 4 and 7, found themselves homeless after they could no longer stay with an aunt they had been living with. They lived in a motel for a month before coming to the Rescue Mission seeking help. The Mission then placed them in transitional housing while waiting for one […]

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Candice and her two young daughters, ages 4 and 7, found themselves homeless after they could no longer stay with an aunt they had been living with.

They lived in a motel for a month before coming to the Rescue Mission seeking help. The Mission then placed them in transitional housing while waiting for one of 28 newly constructed housing units to be completed.

At the recent ribbon cutting for these new permanent and transitional units, built for local families and women who have experienced homelessness, the Rescue Mission’s Chief Executive Officer, Alan Thornton, said, “No person should ever have to experience domestic violence, and no family should ever have to experience the crisis of homelessness and hunger. But when that happens, the community response should be to wrap our collective arms around them, love them, care for them and help get them on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.”

Today, after years of shuffling between relatives’ homes and motel rooms, this young family is benefitting from those collective loving arms and is now finally living in their own two-bedroom apartment. Candice said, “Living here means a lot to me and my family. Everyone at the Rescue Mission has been incredible. They have been there for us, no matter what we needed. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

With a place to call a home of their own, Candice and her daughters are now able to flourish. For the first time in years, Candice is able to look beyond fighting for life’s basic needs for her children and can actually think about the future. She said, “I’m going back to school and getting my GED, and then I plan to go to college.”

As Candice watched her daughters at the kitchen table gleefully chatting with each other while they drew and colored pictures, she said, “Words can’t describe what it means to me to see the smiles on their faces.”

Help build hope this summer! Click here!

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Noble’s Story https://rescuemissionalliance.org/nobles-story-binghamton-rescue-mission/ Wed, 31 May 2017 17:55:19 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3690 Noble’s life got off to a rocky start at a very young age and continued to spiral downward for several years until coming to the Rescue Mission a few months ago. He started drinking alcohol and using drugs when he was just 10 years old. He said, “I never thought all that would lead to […]

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Noble’s life got off to a rocky start at a very young age and continued to spiral downward for several years until coming to the Rescue Mission a few months ago. He started drinking alcohol and using drugs when he was just 10 years old. He said, “I never thought all that would lead to my putting a needle in my arm.”

To support his habit, Noble began to lead a life of crime. “I’d lie, cheat and steal, pretty much do anything to support my habit. And it all got to be too much. I was tired of looking over my shoulder and running from the cops.”

When he first arrived at the Rescue Mission, Noble was scared, anxious and depressed. He said, “I felt lonely and irritable and didn’t know what to think of the staff. I was pretty much wallowing in a lot of self-pity. But they welcomed me with warm, caring, open arms.”

Coming to the Rescue Mission was Noble’s sixth attempt to get clean and sober. When asked why this time at the Mission was different, he quickly answered, “God has made the difference. I feel connected to him. My heart, mind and soul are involved in getting better this time, and I’m doing the work.”

Today, Noble has been free from his addictions for more than six months. He now has a steady job. And for the first time in years this young man feels secure, grounded, uninhibited by anxiety and hopeful about the future.

Noble now wants to complete his GED and go to college. With a clear, penetrating look in his eyes, he said, “I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if not for the Rescue Mission.”

Help build hope this summer! Click here!

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How We Say “Thank You” https://rescuemissionalliance.org/alans-blog-how-we-say-thank-you/ Mon, 22 May 2017 20:41:09 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3648   Alan’s Blog Alan Thornton CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance   Last year, with your help, the Rescue Mission placed nearly 1,000 men, women, and children experiencing homelessness into permanent housing, helped almost 400 people find employment, served over 275,000 meals, and provided over 140,000 overnight stays. We celebrate every life changed through our work and […]

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Alan Thornton Rescue Mission Alliance

 

Alan’s Blog

Alan Thornton
CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance

 

Last year, with your help, the Rescue Mission placed nearly 1,000 men, women, and children experiencing homelessness into permanent housing, helped almost 400 people find employment, served over 275,000 meals, and provided over 140,000 overnight stays. We celebrate every life changed through our work and I am so truly grateful that you have chosen to partner with us through your generous donations. With only 11% of our total budget coming from government funding, our life-changing programs are largely funded through your generosity.

In an effort to maximize the dollars so generously donated to the Rescue Mission, we have recently adopted a change in the way we say “Thank You.” We are thankful for each and every gift given to help make life change possible, but we have also grown sensitive to the cost of mailing frequent acknowledgement letters.

Our goal is to maximize the impact of your donation and ensure that every cent possible goes directly into assisting men, women and children experiencing homelessness and hunger. As we strive to invest 82 cents of every dollar donated into programs, we are reducing our mailing costs by moving to monthly acknowledgements of donations.  When you give, your gift immediately goes to work providing meals, shelter and support programs, and you will receive a thank you letter by mail within six weeks. (Please note that when you give online, you should receive a receipt for your gift within 24 hours.)  If you prefer to make your dollar go even farther, and you only wish to receive an annual acknowledgement summarizing your contributions for the entire calendar year, please email us at info@rmsyr.org . (To view our official acknowledgement policy, please click here.)

Thank you for all that you give and do to help us feed, clothe, shelter, and provide case management and spiritual guidance to individuals and families. Because of you, thousands of men, women and children in our community have new hope and opportunity. You are truly changing lives!

Alan Thornton is on Twitter @Alanrmsyr.

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Hungry For Love https://rescuemissionalliance.org/hungry-for-love/ Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:53:13 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3584 Alan’s Blog by Alan Thornton CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out at Laci’s Tapas a couple weeks back. While the food was great, what blew me away was the ambiance… I watched as owners Cindy and Laura went table to table, not just checking in to see how the […]

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Alan and his puppy, Jameson

Alan’s Blog
by Alan Thornton
CEO, Rescue Mission Alliance
I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out at Laci’s Tapas a couple weeks back. While the food was great, what blew me away was the ambiance… I watched as owners Cindy and Laura went table to table, not just checking in to see how the food was, but totally loving on their guests, visiting with them as if they were the only table being served that night. It’s no wonder they have a waiting list – people are hungry for love…

This experience was only topped when I visited with a sweet 2-year-old girl who had just moved into our family housing. We bonded over Jameson, my 6-month-old rescued sweetheart mix of a puppy. While this precious little girl who had known so much crisis in her life showed me the Easter eggs she had collected and gently petted Jameson, I watched the joy and love of her two moms, who shared how blessed they feel to have a new home with us, and the new hope it offers.

Many Rescue Missions that operate in other locations would have forced this family apart or not even taken them in, simply because they don’t fit within their theology. Instead, this family experienced the joy of Easter together… and new hope offered by a faith grounded in love.

I am so proud of our Rescue Mission team that works with families, that makes them feel like they are the only family we serve. I’m also so happy to know that Jameson’s little 2-year-old friend has a soft pillow, plenty of warm blankets, and a safe place to call home with both of her moms… all because of love.

My kids and I had the pleasure of serving Easter lunch at the Rescue Mission to kick off their spring break. As a Dad trying to navigate parenthood, it gave me great joy to see my three teenagers join with 50 other volunteers, interacting with our guests and going out of their way to make them feel welcome and loved. It was our own version of Laci’s hospitality that afternoon, but the intent was much the same… to serve a great meal and, more importantly, to create an ambiance of love – because, after all, people are hungry for love.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

Alan Thornton is on Twitter @Alanrmsyr.

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CoreLife Eatery Opens in Ithaca with Benefit for Rescue Mission https://rescuemissionalliance.org/corelife-eatery-opens-with-pay-what-you-choose-benefit-to-rescue-mission/ Fri, 14 Apr 2017 15:04:55 +0000 https://rescuemissionalliance.org/?p=3547 CoreLife Eatery will open in Ithaca with a “Pay What You Choose” benefit to the Ithaca Rescue Mission on Thursday, April 20, 11:30am to 7:30pm in its new location at 740 South Meadow Street. Diners are invited to try the CoreLife menu and select their price, with proceeds going to the Rescue Mission’s programs to […]

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CoreLife Eatery will open in Ithaca with a “Pay What You Choose” benefit to the Ithaca Rescue Mission on Thursday, April 20, 11:30am to 7:30pm in its new location at 740 South Meadow Street. Diners are invited to try the CoreLife menu and select their price, with proceeds going to the Rescue Mission’s programs to end hunger and homelessness in Tompkins County.

CoreLife cofounder Todd Mansfield stopped by WHCU radio to talk about the restaurant, its menu and the reason it selected the Ithaca Rescue Mission to benefit from this event. (Hear him at http://whcuradio.com/morning-newswatch/corelife-supports-our-rescue-mission/)

“At this time of year, with Easter in a few days and the notion of caring for our neighbor – you tell me a better place to care for humanity and care for people than the Ithaca Rescue Mission,” he said. Founded in Syracuse, this will be CoreLife Eatery’s 10th restaurant in Upstate New York.

 

 

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