Restoring Veterans

This Fourth of July, families across the country will gather to celebrate America’s Independence. Burgers will hit the grill. Fireworks will light up the sky. Joey Chestnut will attempt to eat his weight in hot dogs. And red, white and blue will be the colors of the day.

But this day is about more than backyard barbeques and spectacular firework shows. The brave men and women of our military have fought to make sure that the freedom that was dreamed of by our forefathers in 1776 remains intact today and for generations to come. So, what happens when our veterans fall on hard times and need a helping hand? At the Mission, we pull our resources together to serve those who have honorably served our country.

The words homeless and veteran together bring a range of emotions and images. According to the US Department and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), on any given day, an estimated 40,056 veterans are experiencing homelessness. Of that 40,056, two-thirds are staying in shelters or programs like the Mission’s Life Recovery Program.

The majority of the veteran homeless population consists of men that are over the age of 51. Our military has adapted over the years and is providing our younger service men and women with mental health care and access to more resources. Unfortunately, 62% of the homeless veteran population did not receive those same services. According to The Military Wallet, 62% of homeless veterans served in the Vietnam War and or have served prior to the Vietnam War. In comparison, only 5.5% of homeless veterans served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

So, what are some of the most common reasons veterans may experience homelessness?

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Trauma from war zones can often lead to flashbacks and will trigger a person’s flight or fight response. According to the VA, it’s estimated that about 30% of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime. Left undealt with, this condition can be debilitating.
  • Disabilities and Chronic Health Conditions.
  • Substance Abuse. This is a common coping mechanism when it comes to dealing to trauma.
  • Unable to navigate available resources. In the military, everything happens under one roof at one base. However, when veterans transition in civilian life, they must learn to navigate a new complex system of resources.
  • Depression or other Mental Illness. Veterans often report missing the camaraderie that the military provides and many lack emotional support.
  • Predisposition to instability. Many service men and women joined our military not just to serve their county but also as a way out of chronic poverty. If a person is never able to cope with past trauma, those issues will come to the surface at some point during their lifetime.

That’s a lot of numbers and a lot of facts but I’m not here to leave you hanging! Here is how the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission is making a difference in the lives of our homeless vets.

The Mission is on the front lines when it comes to helping the hurting and homeless in our community. We serve guests from all walks of life that are dealing with various struggles and obstacles. Everyone that comes into the Mission is needing help but the veterans that come to the Mission require unique care and services from our Life Recovery Program.

So, what can we as a community do to help our homeless veterans?

First, pray daily for our homeless veterans that are at the Mission and ones that have not found their way to the Mission yet. Pray for hope, healing and restoration.

Second, send any veteran that is experiencing homelessness or on the fringe of homelessness to the Mission. Recently, the Mission helped Air Force veteran William (mid right) find housing at our TLC Campus and helped US Navy veteran Tim (top left) find a job and housing. If there is a veteran in need, we are here to help.

Third, support the Mission and the work that we do with your time, talent and resources. The Mission has successfully helped many veterans overcome their struggles and given them the tools they need to be productive members of our community. This process is tedious and requires more than just housing. Psychology Today reports on a study of formerly homeless veterans which “found that 44% experience at least one day of homelessness within five years after being successfully placed in housing and that drug use and post-traumatic stress were the strongest predictors of later homelessness.” At the Mission, we know that if we do not get to the root cause of someone’s homelessness, we will never truly eliminate the problem. Our Life Recovery Program addresses the root cause of someone’s homelessness and gives them practical tools to sustain long-term employment and housing.

Finally, share with your friends, family and church about what the Mission is doing to care for homeless veterans in our community. The best way we can reach someone in need is through passionate people sharing what God is doing at the Mission.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” You can make a difference for homeless veterans in our community. Join the #SBMissionLife by volunteering, donating goods or donating funds to the Mission and together, we can show our veterans how much we care not just for one holiday but all year round.

Pastor Larry Otwell, Executive Director

When Love Hurts

When people ask me about the women that we serve at the Mission, many things come to mind. Here’s just a small description of what we see. They come to us hurt and broken. They have been labeled by the world and have felt tossed to the side. They often wonder if anyone cares.

So where do these feelings come from? Well, for many women at the Mission, these feelings and struggles are a direct result of being a victim of Domestic Violence.

Between 80-90% of the women that we serve at the Mission have experienced Domestic Violence at some point during their lifetime. Domestic Violence does not discriminate. It does not care about how educated you are. It does not care where you live. It does not care how much money you have in your bank account. Domestic Violence could happen to anyone anywhere. Most people do not realize that I am a survivor of domestic violence. Years in an abusive relationship lead me down a path of hate and self-destruction until one day I surrendered and gave my life to Christ. From that point on, Christ took the pain and hurt, and I made it my life’s mission to help other women turn from victims to overcomers.

Domestic Violence is a serious problem in our state and in our community. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 81% of female homicides in Louisiana are committed by a partner, making us 2nd in the nation of women victims being killed by male offenders. On top of that, Domestic Violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness according to the National Coalition for the Homeless.

We know that love should never hurt. So the question is, how can we help reduce domestic violence in our community? Here’s where we can start:

First, we must be willing to have a conversation about Domestic Violence. Many times, victims feel shamed. I know that I and many other women at the Mission stayed in an abusive relationship far longer than we should have. Why did we stay? Because we were so broken, we didn’t believe we deserved better and if we did want to leave, we felt that we didn’t have anywhere to go. Be willing to talk about Domestic Violence and let others know that it is never okay. Also, let victims know that there are resources like the Mission available for women in crisis.

Second, learn to recognize the signs of Domestic Violence (found at and be available if a friend needs help. Too many times in our society, we think it’s none of my business. I shouldn’t get involved in other people’s personal lives. The truth is Domestic Violence is everyone’s business. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year and 90% of these are eyewitnesses. Studies show that children that are exposed to Domestic Violence have an increased risk of either being victims or being abusers themselves. If we want to end Domestic Violence in our community, we cannot turn a blind eye.

Finally, support the Mission and the work that we do to help women and children heal from Domestic Violence. When you support the Mission with your prayers, financially, volunteering, or by donating clothes or goods, you are helping provide victims of Domestic Violence with hope, healing and the tools they need to live independently.

I can’t and the Mission cannot make Domestic Violence go away on our own. We need your help and partnership. Recently, I listened to a segment on Robert and Erin in the Morning that featured Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond (hear the entire interview here: They spoke about the recent spike in crime during the Summer months and what that meant for Shreveport. What he said spoke to my heart. It is not solely the police’s job to fix the crime rate in our community. It is us as a community coming together, having difficult conversations and beginning to do more prevention rather than reaction. We as a community have to be actively engaged in change in our cities.

You can be a part of change in our cities. Start by supporting the Mission and the work that we do with your prayers, your finances and your time. Then, let your friends and family know what we do and that there is hope and healing for Domestic Violence survivors. Finally, follow us on social media to see how YOU are changing our cities one life at a time.

Donna Otwell, Director of Women and Children’s Program

The Mission Thrift Store…Shopping with a Purpose

We all love a good deal! There’s nothing better than hunting through shelves and racks to find that hidden treasure with a tag that says $2. That rush you feel when you walk away with a $2 gem is amazing. But what happens with that $2 once you leave the store? Well, here at the Mission Thrift Store that $2 is put back into our Life Recovery Program.

The $2 you paid for that treasure provides 1 meal for a homeless man, woman or child who is in our Life Recovery Program. It could be a man who wants to work but just lost his job. It could be a woman who is escaping a life of domestic violence and wanting to stand on her own feet. It could be a child who has bounced from house to house and still thrives in school knowing its their way out of poverty. It could be a neighbor, a friend and the truth is based on the current statistics, it could be anyone of us.

When you shop at the Mission Thrift Store, you are not only finding a great deal….you are a partner in helping us change our cities one life at a time. Here’s why the Mission’s Thrift Store is important to our community:

First, it provides needed clothing, appliances, mattresses, and household items that would have been thrown away to families at a reduced price. Many of our families in Shreveport-Bossier are struggling to make ends meet, and the Mission Thrift Store is designed to provide these families with the items they need at prices they can afford.

Second, it provides Vocational Training for our guests (at the top of this post you will see Robin, a guest in our Discipleship Program, learning how to operate a cash register from our Thrift Store Manager, Tee). With these skills, our guests have the experience needed to secure a job in the retail industry.

Finally, the Mission Thrift Store supports the work of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission. All proceeds from the Mission Thrift Store are invested into changing the lives of homeless men, women and children right here in Shreveport-Bossier.

You see when you shop at the Mission Thrift Store, you are not just a customer….you are a partner for change in our cities. Everyday guests at the Mission are finding hope, healing and restoration but there is still more work to be done. You can help by spreading the word to your friends and family about the Mission Thrift Store and how every purchase supports the ministry of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission. Then, stop by the Thrift Store Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm at 6800 Mansfield Road and let us serve you with a smile and a great deal.

A Day of Golf with Purpose

Last week, the Mission hosted its annual Community Golf Classic. This year’s Golf Classic was hosted at Southern Trace Country Club and raised a grand total of $58,200.

Funds raised from the Golf Classic are used to provide homeless men, women and children with food, clothing, shelter, small/large group classes, one-on-one case management, life coaching, counseling, vocational training, on-site medical and dental care and more. Over the course of a year these funds help to provide guests with 115,000 healthy meals, 56,000 safe nights of shelter, 4,800 medical and dental services, 19,000 hours of classes, 90,000 hours of Vocational Training and more than 2,000 hours of case management. Last year, the Mission served 1,384 homeless men, women and children.

Our services are only available because of the generosity of our community. As a Christ-centered ministry, we do not solicit for state or federal funding so programs at the Mission are available solely because of the generosity of our amazing community.

We had several businesses who joined the #SBMissionLife and partnered with the Mission as sponsors for this year’s Golf Classic. These businesses are passionate about changing our cities one life at a time. They are committed to investing in making Shreveport-Bossier a brighter and better community. Here are the incredible Golf Classic Sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor: EdGear, Inc.

Luncheon Sponsor: Citizens National Bank

Beverage Cart Sponsor: RSI Building Products, LLC

Hole Sponsors: Metro Aviation, Anti-Pest, Barksdale Federal Credit Union, Frank’s Pizza Napoletana/Frank’s Louisiana Kitchen, Hilton Shreveport, Ivan Smith Furniture, Louisiana Timber Partners, Riverpark Church, PMI Resource Management, Bank of Coushatta, Heath Crager, CPA, Martin Specialty, Arthur J. Gallagher, Alpha Roofing, The Highland Clinic – Dr. Craig Springmeyer, Fibrebond, Manpower/Collier Investments, Oral Surgery Associates – Dr. David Clark, DDS

Putting Green Sponsors: Wicker Construction, Brewer Direct, Inc., Gordon & Gordon, Law Offices of Damon Kervin, Origin Bank, Bayou Belle, Eastgate Chiropractic Clinic, Mayfield Chiropractic, ChiroCare

Thank you Golf Classic Sponsors for partnering with us to change the lives of homeless men, women and children in our community. You are sowing into great soil when you invest in the Mission and the seeds you are planting are producing great fruit. On behalf of our staff, guests and Board of Directors, thank you!

P.S. Check out the highlight reel from this year’s Golf Classic.

A Day in the Life of a Ministry Intern – Part 2

When I look back at my life, I see someone who was wondering lost down a path of chaos and destruction. I had bitterness and anger in my heart. My life finally hit a crossroad. I was at the fork in the road where I had to choose between life and death. Reluctantly, I chose life and from that point my life was changed forever.

I came to the Mission as “an outlaw.” I didn’t know how God could change someone like me, but I went through the Mission’s Discipleship Program anyway. Things changed in Phase 2 and God radically changed me. After graduation, God put a calling on my heart to join the Mission’s Ministry Internship Program. I didn’t know how God could use an “outlaw” for good, but I soon found out how.

A typical day in the life of a Ministry Intern includes meeting with guests, assisting in our Intake Process (the first step for all guests coming into the Mission), case managing men who are in 1 of the Mission’s 8 programs, and more. There are many challenges that come with being a Ministry Intern, but the rewards far exceed the challenges. My favorite activities of my day include teaching the Not a Fan Class at the Mission (this is the class that changed my life and where I gave my life over to Christ) and witnessing to other men who are struggling.

I have been asked before why I decided to dedicate 1 year of my life to the Ministry Internship. It’s because these are my people, and this is my Judea. This is where I found true recovery. This is where I found a real relationship with Jesus. I didn’t know then, but I know now that God was using my life to build a testimony that would inspire other men to change their lives. There is a lot of hurt and brokenness in our cities and God is equipping me to be a part of change in our cities. When I think about how God is using me at the Mission, I often go back to a quote from Mark Twain. He said, “The two most important days of your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why.” I am blessed to say I have found my why and I am honored that God chose an “outlaw” to be his hands and feet.

Bobby Adkins
Ministry Intern Graduate, Class of 2019

A Day in the Life of A Ministry Intern – Part 1

When I was first asked to write about a day in the life of a Ministry Intern, I thought of Dr. Seuss’ book Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 hats. Everyone at the Mission wears many hats. It takes many hats from many willing hearts to change our cities one life at a time.

Hat 1 includes doing intakes. An intake is the initial step for everyone that comes through the Mission’s doors that gives us the initial information to start the process of their recovery.

Hat 2 involves being a mentor and a friend and above all else being a good listener.

Hat 3 is my favorite hat because as a former teacher, I love to teach. I have the privilege of teaching a weekly class at the Mission. This also includes preparing devotions to share with the ladies.

These are just some of the many hats that I wear as an intern. People have asked me why I would spend one year of my life at my age doing a Ministry Internship? Quite simply it’s because God placed a call on my life to be a light in the life of others when all they see is darkness. I have been where each of these ladies have been. I understand the worry, the tiredness, the stress and the hopelessness. And at the end of that journey, I found light and I found hope and a future.

Many of the women that come to the Mission feel unloved and unworthy. I was not unique in having those same feelings, but I have learned through my time in the Mission’s Discipleship Program that I have value. And my value does not come from my job or from how the world defines me but in the eyes of the one who created me.

I realize that I am not what people think of when they think of someone who has experienced homelessness. The truth is there are more and more women like me coming to the Mission looking for a second chance. My hope is that through my work at the Mission God will use me to show hurting and broken women that they are loved and valued. The Mission has changed my life forever and I am honored to do the work commissioned to us by Jesus and share the good news of hope and healing.

Ginger Stothart
Ministry Intern Graduate, Class of 2019

Ready, Set, Give (for Good)

“Philanthropy, charity, giving voluntarily and freely… call it whatever you like, but it is truly a jewel of an American tradition.” President John F. Kennedy

Philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others using our gifts and talents. Since 1955, our community has partnered with the Mission to help those experiencing homelessness. Back then, the Mission was a safe haven that provided homeless men with food, clothing and a warm meal. Today, the Mission offers a full Life Recovery Program that helps men, women and children find redemption and recovery. Our Program offers more than food, clothing and shelter. Our Life Recovery Program offers our guests classes, case management, vocational training and the tools needed to be a self-sufficient member of our community. Our guests leave the Mission restored, redeemed and emboldened with the love of Christ.

While the Mission has changed a lot since 1955, our core Mission remains… to change the lives of the hurting and broken in our community through the love of Christ. At the Mission, we are more than a shelter and we are changing our cities one life at a time starting with the men, women and children that are in our care.

How are we able to provide this? Through community partners like you! It’s people, churches, businesses and organizations in our community coming alongside the Mission and supporting our vision of change in our cities.

We are seeing great fruit from our Life Recovery Program. Men and Women are finding freedom through Christ. They are finding full-time employment and have the tools to sustain that job. They have turned their brokenness into hope and a future.

Great things are happening at the Mission but the truth is there are more men and women in our cities that need our Life Recovery Program and we need your help to reach them.

You can help us change the lives of more men and women in the community by partnering with us on Give for Good Day. What is Give for Good? Give for Good is North Louisiana’s largest day of online giving. Starting today, you can visit and give to make a difference in the lives of homeless men, women and children. The best part of Give for Good is that each gift is enhanced through the Community Foundation’s Lagniappe Fund so your impact will be amplified even more.

So are you ready to make an impact and help us change our cities one life at a time? Are you ready to be a part of something big? Then, join the #SBMissionLife and Give for Good. You can beat the rush and schedule your gifts today or give on May 7. Make sure to watch the fun on social media and share the impact of Give for Good with your friends. It’s giving made easy. Alright Mission family, here we go …. Ready, Set, Give (for Good)!

You Restore Hope: An Easter Message from Pastor Larry

When we pass a homeless person on the street, it’s often easier to avert our eyes to our phones rather than engage with that person’s very real pain. That way, we don’t have to hear their cries… or see how broken their lives are… or feel how much they suffer.

But their pain is real, even if we look away.

On the cross, Jesus didn’t look away from the suffering, but endured it, fixing his eyes on “the joy set before Him.” The glory of the cross is that Jesus boldly engaged with our pain. He experience our struggles and our cries, and suffered with all of humanity. Jesus took our pain upon Himself and redeemed it. Easter is our celebration of that new hope!

Our generous Mission Family have faithfully demonstrated that you turn toward those who are hurting – and want to offer them healing and restoration through classes and skills in our Life Recovery Program and through Christ’s love.

Because of you, our guests are celebrating huge changes in their lives. By God’s grace and your support, many men, women and children are experiencing hope restored. One behalf of each guest in our care, thank you for reaching out to them with the love and kindness that helps restore lives this Easter.

Click here to read more stories about lives that have been changed at the Mission. I hope as you read, you’re inspired by how you turned a life filled with pain into a beautiful new beginning.

Easter Blessings,
Pastor Larry Otwell, Executive Director

Volunteer Appreciation Week

This week, the Mission celebrates Volunteer Appreciation Week by celebrating and thanking our incredible volunteers. Each month an average of 250 volunteers come to the Mission to serve and be a part of change in our cities.

“The Mission has a small staff so volunteers are a critical part of our ministry and play a great part in how we are able to serve our guests,” says Sarah Ardis, Director of Development and Community Relations.

“You can see the guests’ faces light up when they see our volunteers. They know that these individuals are here out of the kindness of heart. I am humbled by all of our volunteers and we can all see the impact that they are making in the lives of our guests and in our cities,” says Donna Otwell, Director of Women and Children’s Program.

You can be a part of the #SBMissionLife and you can volunteer your time and talent to serve homeless men, women and children in our cities. For more information on how you can make an impact and help change our cities one life at a time, visit our Volunteer Page.

Help the the Mission just by Grocery Shopping

Kroger logoYou can help change our cities one life at a time every time you shop for groceries and the best part is that it doesn’t cost you a dime!

Enroll in the Kroger Community Rewards program today. Sign up with your Kroger Plus Card, and select the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission as your charity of choice. Once you’re enrolled, you’ll earn funds to help provide homeless men, women and children with the life changing tools of our Life Recovery Program every time you shop and use your Plus Card at Kroger. This is an annual program, so you need to re-sign up even if you did it last year. Click on the Kroger logo or the link to sign up. THANK YOU!