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MRM Flood

The Montana Rescue Mission serves lunch on the sidewalk in front of Minnesota Avenue building Monday because of the power outage to the building after a water line break flooded the building over the weekend.

The Montana Rescue Mission needs help after a broken water line flooded the basement kitchen and dining area of the men’s shelter at South 28th Street and Minnesota Avenue.

As of Monday, the mission’s main building remained closed to the homeless it shelters nightly and the hungry it feeds daily. A disaster restoration crew was at work inside the 65-year-old building.

On Sunday night, about 50 homeless men slept on cots in the Rescue Mission administration offices in a building across the street from the flooded shelter, according to Denise Smith, mission public relations director. Mission staff distributed sandwiches and other no-cook meals to those guests, and to 37 women and children housed at the Women’s Shelter on Montana Avenue. The Rescue Mission also continued to supply 18 meals in the evening to the Community Crisis Center.

How can the community help?

Help Wednesday

Volunteers are needed to move bags and boxes of clothing out of the Minnesota Avenue shelter starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Smith said. Pierce RV is supplying two large trailers to transport the stored items to the mission’s thrift stores on Main Street and 24th Street West. Volunteers also are needed to be at those two stores about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to help unload the trailers.

“We need as many volunteers as we can get to get shoes and clothing out before it becomes damaged,” Smith said. These are items that were stored for the mission to distribute to its guests as needed.

The mission needs sandwiches and other ready-to-eat foods to serve to guests at the two shelters and to the Crisis Center clients. The mission also supplies sack lunches for its guests to take to work.

Everyone who can help with the Wednesday morning moving, at the mission locations on Minnesota, on Main or on 24th Street West, should call 259-3800 in advance so the volunteers can be coordinated. Individuals and groups who want to deliver sandwiches or other food to the mission also are asked to phone 259-3800 in advance.

Community response

Local businesses and organizations have been quick to offer help to Montana Rescue Mission, a faith-based nonprofit with a long history of serving Billings’ homeless people. Smith said A1 Rental donated pumping services and Total Rental provided a 50-percent discount. Food Services of America donated use of a large refrigeration trailer, which was being used to store frozen foods rescued from the flooded kitchen. Soup 'n Such and King of Glory Church brought weekend meals. Head Start and the Army National Guard offered the use of their kitchens. The Billings Food Bank, which has a large commercial kitchen, dining space and cold food storage, also offered to help the mission.

In addition to immediate clean-up, the mission building will need renovation. Donations of skilled labor and building supplies will be welcome.

What isn’t donated, Montana Rescue Mission will have to buy. So for those of us who prefer to write donation checks, this is an excellent time to write them to the mission. It’s worth noting that summer is typically a slow time for charitable contributions. Many nonprofit organizations count on getting the bulk of annual donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

Montana Rescue Mission certainly didn’t count on having a costly flood this summer.

The mission has given much to the Billings community: Shelter for men, women and children who have no other place to go, meals for anyone who is hungry, programs to help individuals and families rebuild their lives, get jobs and permanent housing.

Now it’s time for Billings to step up and help Montana Rescue Mission fulfill its mission.