A Beacon of Hope in Hard Times

Misty’s journey began near Riverton; she was placed into foster care because of abuse and addiction in her home. Unfortunately, foster care didn’t offer much of a respite. Suffering further abuse at the hands of her foster father, her pain was overwhelming. Lost, hurting, and without a family or home, Misty fell into a cycle of addiction herself.

Finally, she was arrested, and while serving time in prison, she met a minister. Inspired by a flicker of hope, Misty managed to entirely shift the course of her life. After completing her sentence, she found open doors and open arms at the Wyoming Rescue Mission in Casper. Immersed in the Discipleship Recovery Program, she spent a full year investing in her own spiritual, mental, and physical health. Today, she’s living a life she never thought possible — happy, successful, and free. She now works as a Case Manager for Wyoming Rescue Mission, she’s helping others discover the same kind of success that she’s found.

She’s far from alone.

“We've got a guy that's in that program right now and he used to own his own contracting business,” says Brad Hopkins, Executive Director of the Wyoming Rescue Mission. “He was on the job site and stepped into a hole that he didn't see. There was a piece of rebar coming up in the bottom of that hole, and it went through his boot, through his foot. It had to be surgically removed, but being pre-diabetic, he ended up losing his leg. He fell into alcoholism, his wife left him. He's said to me: ‘Brad, I literally had the gun in my mouth at least twice.’ And, you know, hearing about our Discipleship Recovery Program really brought him hope. Even through all the tragedy and brokenness, there's a way through it. There's a way through it.”

Founded in 1978, Wyoming Rescue Mission is dedicated to helping people find their way through some of the toughest times and situations imaginable.

“We restore lives that are struggling with homelessness and poverty back to community and independence. And we do all that with the love of Christ,” Brad explains. “We overlap with issues of poverty, with issues of hunger, domestic violence, mental health, suicide. However, our connection point is homelessness.”

Brad explains that over 57,000 people in Wyoming — roughly 10% of the population — are classified as living in “extreme poverty,” meaning they make $21,000 or less per year. This population is exceptionally vulnerable to upheaval that can leave them without reliable access to food or safe, stable housing. One service that Wyoming Rescue Mission offers is specifically tailored to help people in this kind of acute crisis.

“Our emergency services program is about 90 days. It's really kind of that quick pick-me-up, getting back connected to employment. Seventy-five percent of our folks get any job within two to three weeks, and then we're helping them to save and then to locate housing within their budget,” he explains.

Other individuals find they need a longer period of structured care to truly get back on their feet, especially if they’re navigating mental health and substance addiction. “The transitional program, called the Discipleship Recovery Program, is a twelve-month program. 30% of the people that come to us report addiction is their leading cause for homelessness. These are people who have just gone so deep into drug and alcohol use that they realize they need more than 90 days. They need intensive care re-purposing in their life. And a lot of that is a process of really unpacking for many of our folks, a great deal of deep childhood woundedness and trauma.”

“Our role is to meet people where they're at and then help them progress in their lives and find hope,” Brad says. No matter where someone is on their path, or the challenges they’re facing, the Wyoming Rescue Mission is guided by the example of Christ to offer love, support, and healing. "When someone arrives, for us, the journey begins with the warm, tasty meal cooked in our kitchen. Then all of our people have a case manager, a staff member who just lovingly sits down and hears their story. We create with that guest a guest-centric plan to really move forward in their life. And while we are founded on our faith in Christ, we see in the great stories in the scriptures how Jesus healed and touched and loved everybody, whether they believed in him or not.”

“We’re so inspired by how the Wyoming Rescue Mission works through such a profound and loving understanding of Christ. Those who seek help are not required to come in the door with belief; all are welcome and offered compassionate care,” says Molly Hughes, Executive Director of the Hughes Charitable Foundation. “As guests move through the layers and levels of holistic and empowering elements within these programs, they get the chance to discover faith as a source of strength, resilience, and hope.”

In addition to emergency shelter and a recently-expanded Discipleship Recovery Program facility, the Wyoming Rescue Mission is opening the doors on a second Rescued Treasures Thrift Store location on the west side of Casper. The stores not only provide a source of revenue to the program itself, but offer excellent job skills training for participants in the Discipleship program.

“Hope is alive. I think partnerships like the one we have with the Hughes Charitable Foundation, that's the real news. We see so much discouraging stuff in the news,” observes Brad. “Not that we stick our heads in the sand — certainly praying for Ukraine right now — but the transformations we witness here are the classic come from behind story. We just had graduation out of the Discipleship Recovery program for 20 folks. We gave them certificates of progress and graduation, and it was so uplifting — just encouraging and cheering them on in these next steps on their path. Redemption and connecting to hope; it's so beautiful.”