Community Rescue Mission is a non-profit, faith-based organization that provides safe shelter, meals, and needed support to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible. When people come to our door, most are broken and in crisis with no place to call home. Imagine how you would feel if you did not know where you would lay your head tonight nor from where your next meal would come. Multiply those concerns several times over if you had children in tow. Whatever the circumstance, we are here to instill hope and empower lives while offering Christ-like hospitality and care since 1981.
Community Rescue Mission (CRM) was birthed by the Lord in the hearts of two men living in Fort Smith in 1980. Bob Miller had sold his natural gas drilling company and had the money to invest in a ministry to homeless people. Jon Grimm had sold his ambulance company and had the time to minister to homeless people. Both men had a calling to reach out to the down and outs and had met each other at the Gospel Rescue Mission that had been started and operated by Frank Turner in Van Buren, Arkansas. Jon was working with Frank and Bob was serving on its board of directors. Bob was being led to find a place to start a mission when he found that the Westside Baptist Church located on North 3rd Street was for sale. He made a deal with the pastor and bought the property. With the location secured, he and Jon, along with Jon’s wife, Sam, officially opened CRM on December 17, 1981.
For the next 24 years CRM continued to grow with the Lord’s blessing and the hard work of Jon, Sam and, after 1995, their son Doug. Bob served on the board of directors and purchased adjacent lots that came up for sale from time to time and rallied the community to invest its money and time to make CRM grow. With the passing of Jon in 1995 and the retirement of Sam and Doug in 2005, a new director, Brian Hilts, was brought on to oversee the operations and serve as chaplain. Around the same time, a change was made as to how the board members were chosen. Previously, people in the community were asked to serve on the board by the then board members. Now board members are selected by churches in the community who are willing to support CRM in this way.
CRM has always been a place of refuge for single men, women with or without children and families who need a new start in life. In 2017 the board of directors decided to modify its outreach by focusing primarily on women with children and families. With the Hope Campus opening in 2017, the single men and women population has been served there.
The transition by CRM to focus on women with children and families has resulted in a new Executive Director, Heather Sanders, coming on board and the complete renovation of the family housing building along with new attractive fencing around the entire campus, enhanced security features for the residents and upgraded playground equipment for the children.
Our long days of planning now pale by comparison as we prepare to equip our inspired vision with a focus on families and children, as shown in Phase I of our renovation plan, which is expected to be completed by October 2019.
This plan enlivens our campus and aligns our facilities with our mission. Nothing like this is currently available in Fort Smith to minister and serve the complex life needs of children, youth, and families. The design removes any stigma of a “shelter” and replaces old images with a welcoming, safe, home-like environment families can call home during their life transition.
Our old family shelter was over 35 years old and as you can imagine, was in need of repairs. The plumbing issues were piling up, the roof leaked in several places, and despite our efforts, there was more to fix than we could manage. The shelter was also very outdated, not energy efficient, and the fixtures were worn out. It was apparent that the need to renovate was no longer a desire, but rather a necessity. We needed to fix the plumbing and electrical issues, become energy efficient, offer better privacy for our families, and have rooms that are equipped for families who may need ADA compliant rooms.
We also wanted to move away from the "shelter" atmosphere and make it feel more like a "home". Therefore, we are adding windows to each room, a modern color scheme, LED lighting throughout, front porches for each unit, and climate controls in each room. There will also be conjoining rooms so that large families can stay together, new furnishings, new fences and gate systems that will includes electronic entries, as well as additional landscaping throughout the campus to add beauty to the neighborhood. We are also proud to say that we will now be able to accept those families who are in need of ADA compliant rooms.
"I believe this new shelter is the best thing you could do to help these families." - A CRM Volunteer
"It will be a light in the dark, a beacon of hope." - Former CRM Resident
"A safe place to stay... hope... a place to learn to believe again." - CRM Resident
"It will show the love of Christ to families in crisis." - A CRM Volunteer
We are blessed to say that we were able to follow through with this project 100% debt-free. We are thankful to the individual donors and multiple agencies who have supported and continue to support us in our vision to provide safe and suitable housing to the our area's families in need. We could not have done this without our wonderful donors, so a special thank you to those who have donated, prayed for us, or supported us in any way. We thank God for allowing us all to work together to be the hands and feet of Christ.
If you have any questions about the Capital Campaign, Phase I, or Phase II, please call us at 479.782.1443.
It is important to note that Community Rescue Mission receives ZERO dollars from city, state, federal, or any government entity. We DO NOT receive funding from the United Way. We are completely supported by your generous contributions.
We need your financial support to enable us to never turn any family away because of limited resources to provide for them. There are many worthy causes in our community, but when you make a gift to Community Rescue Mission, you can be confident it is widely used toward your intended purpose.
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Thanks to you and others, we have provided food and shelter for 34,582 men, women, and children through the sale of over 11,500 boxes of apples since 1994.
Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. It is a time for communities to band together to support worthy causes. Community Rescue Mission participates in Giving Tuesday. Click here to learn more about Giving Tuesday.
Community Rescue Mission is member of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. To learn more about Citygate, you can visit their website by clicking the button below.
City Christian Fellowship – Bill Stuckey
Covenant Presbyterian Church – Cheryl Cole
Evangel Temple – Charlie Murphy
First Lutheran Church – Brenda Acord
First Presbyterian Church – Dr. Mike Thames
First United Methodist Church - Marlin Fretheim
Goddard United Methodist Church - Mike Mankin
Grace Community Church – Kathleen Halliburton
Harvest Time Tabernacle – April Phipps
New Life Church - Kim Shaver
St. John’s Episcopal Church
St. Luke Lutheran Church - Debbie Andrews Kraus
St. Paul United Methodist Church – Charles "Tiny" Muehe
Ss. George & Alexandra Orthodox Christian Church – Fr. Nicholas Roth
Wesley United Methodist Church – Norma Strang
West-Ark Church of Christ – Shane Bocksnick
At Large Directors: Bert Lewis, Mike Miller, Garry Peevy, Curtis Sawyer, Jeanne Carroll
Ex-Officio: Linda Gurlen Billingsley, Robert E. Miller, Harley Strang, Ken Wallace, Abram Sopshire
Heather Sanders: Executive Director
Jeannie Newton: Program Director/Case Manager
Shanelle Livingston: Intake Coordinator
Kim White: Executive Assistant to the Board
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions.