HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- The Breaking Free Rescue Mission's clients are running out of time. Leaders announced the mission, which has been around for 26 years, will be closing by Thanksgiving.
"We'll be closing our doors for good," commented Robert Connell, the executive director.
Monday evening, Connell gathered clients and staff to break the news. The group of around 40 people remained silent as he explained the problem; donations have not been enough to keep them running.
"We are not in debt. We are not in financial trouble," he told WHNT News 19. "We're just losing money."
He explained donations have taken a decline, and sales at the thrift shop have not been enough to make up the difference. So come November 18th, the thrift store and labor program at the mission will end. Connell said they will try to keep the residents housed until Thanksgiving, when they will share one last meal together. He describes it as a goodbye party.
Some residents are left concerned, and confused. But they understand what the mission is up against. Dennis Connell, who says he is not related to Executive Director Connell, said, "I was in shock when I heard the news... I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried." He explained the feeling of being at the mission: "It gives you an easy feeling, rather than being out on the street wondering where your next meal is going to come from."
"We are going to try to find a place for everybody," said Robert Connell. "We are going to try to make sure that not a single person that leaves here is going to be on the street." He said they would use their various contacts around the community to try to find work and places for their clients to stay.
It's not been an easy decision, Connell assures us. He says he knows the community will be losing a mission that has been a shelter and in many cases, an employer for people who didn't have anywhere to turn. "I'm terrified that the people might not have a job when they leave here. I'm terrified there is a chance that we can't help these people," he said. "We're going to make sure they are much better when we leave them than when we found them."
He said the only way he could imagine them staying open is they get a large amount of donations, quickly.