Providing Relief, Aid To People In Need

By Bob Marchant, executive director, River of Life Mission

It can be overwhelming when you look at the poverty and conditions of many people on the streets. However, it should result in compassion and material support. Such is the motivation behind River of Life Mission (ROLM) in Chinatown since 1986.


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Bob Marchant

ROLM has a three-pronged approach to dealing with homeless problems. We call our approach the three Rs: Rescue, Rehabilitation and Reintegration.

The Chinatown location provides meals (15,000 per month), showers, clothing, social services and a food box program (8,000 meals per month) for the low-income and elderly. ROLM has two houses that take in individuals who want to change their lives.

The women in our program come to us from prison. The men come from the streets or referrals. Individuals in both programs work at ROLM to receive job training, life-skills classes and recovery classes.

There are many core issues addressed in the program, including job skills, education and basic life skills. Many of the individuals in our programs come from a background of dysfunctional families or have suffered physical or sexual abuse. Many of them turned to drugs or alcohol to dull the memories and pain from their past. The biggest problem is to help them see that their past experiences are not valid predictors of their future.

Take Hilda. Abused throughout childhood, she turned to drugs. She came to us after a five-year prison sentence. She came looking beaten and discouraged. The first year was spent dealing with the pain. She saw herself as a failure. Last year, she began the culinary program at KCC. Her instructor sent the following email to her last week: “You are amazing. You’ve grown so much during the past seven weeks. There are many things that represent you in a positive light. You’re not afraid to approach new challenges, you’re always interested in learning and you ask great questions. I could go on and on; however, the one thing that represents you in the brightest light is your positive attitude. You never have anything negative to say about anyone or anything. I have some professional ideas for you, so we need to talk.”

This is but one of many whose lives have been impacted at ROLM.

For more information, visit or call 524-7656.

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