SHS alumnus leads by example at Rescue Mission

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McArthur demonstrates how Salemites can make a difference

By Kelsey Bartlett

Amy McArthur, a 2008 Salem High School graduates, is a welcoming face at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. Photo by Kelsey Bartlett.
Amy McArthur, a 2008 Salem High School graduates, is a welcoming face at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. Photo by Kelsey Bartlett.

Amy McArthur’s path to the Roanoke Rescue Mission may seem unconventional.

After graduating from Salem High School in 2008, she went on to earn her degree in historic preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. After college, she started a career in wedding planning in Boones Mill.

As much as she enjoyed her work, her heart led her to pursue nonprofit career options. When the development associate position at the Roanoke Rescue Mission opened earlier this year, she didn’t hesitate to apply.

Now, McArthur can be found guiding tours of the establishment, as well as in her office writing press releases and updating social media. McArthur says one of the greatest things about the shelter is the opportunities it provides for families and children. Recently, the mission collected book bags stuffed with school supplies for its “Back to School Blast.” This year, the event took place on August 9 at Parkway Wesleyan.

“Last year we handed out 1,500 book bags to kids,” said McArthur. “We had elementary school age and middle school and high school age separated out. “There’s haircuts, immunizations, physicals and a foot-washing ceremony.”

McArthur isn’t the only Salemite involved with the Rescue Mission, though. Many of those who play a vital role in the establishment aren’t employees, but volunteers. In fact, many church groups from the area often stop by to lead services, as well as individuals who help with guest services, and those who work in one of three thrift store locations helping sort and organize donations and merchandise.

“We have over 720 volunteers from Salem on our master volunteers’ list at the moment,” Marcela Jara, volunteer coordinator at the Rescue Mission, said. “They help us in a wide range of opportunities here at the Rescue Mission.”

The Rescue Mission provides survival essentials to those in need, such as food and shelter. However, workers and volunteers are striving to provide much more than that. Therapy, education and art classes are available to those struggling, as well as free health and dental clinics to those who are homeless. Many of the physicians who volunteer their time are from Salem. Since it is a Christian organization, spiritual guidance is available as well.

They also occasionally work with the Salem Red Sox during their “Pack the Park” events. This past Friday, the Rescue Mission teamed with the Sox to collect new and gently used coats at the game.

Help is always welcome, as much of the Rescue Mission’s success depends on the generosity of those in the community.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood and backbone of our organization, and we certainly give thanks for every single one of them,” said Jara. “We utilize them every day to help us provide the services we offer, and would love to talk to anyone or any groups interested in serving our community.”

Besides shelter and a hot meal, the Roanoke Rescue Mission also offers guests tutoring and art classes, such as pottery. Photo by Kelsey Bartlett.
Besides shelter and a hot meal, the Roanoke Rescue Mission also offers guests tutoring and art classes, such as pottery. Photo by Kelsey Bartlett.

There are plenty of upcoming opportunities to get involved. “Bless My Sole” is a foot- washing ministry hosted on the third Thursday of every month, which gives volunteers the opportunity to interact with guests on a personal level. In October, the Rescue Mission will be seeking volunteers to help with Christmas card stuffing opportunities, and in November, volunteers will be needed for “The Drumstick Dash,” followed by their Thanksgiving feast.

Those who just choose to participate in the 5K are helping as well, as registration proceeds go to the Rescue Mission. To register, or learn more about opportunities at the Rescue Mission, visit rescuemission.net