At Rescue Mission, work therapy is key

At Rescue Mission, work therapy is key

Friday, November 26, 2010 SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Work therapy and life/job skills training, which give residents a sense of belonging and responsibility, are at the core of the Rescue Mission of Trenton's efforts to remake, reshape and rebuild lives.

All residents of the Mission who are physically and mentally capable must participate in work therapy, which includes meal preparation, cleaning, industrial salvage, sorting clothing, listing items on eBay and other work assignments.

Through their efforts, residents keep the Mission complex clean, serve more than 750 meals daily and staff an industrial salvage operation that generates about one-fourth of the Mission's annual operating income.

When performing work therapy assignments, residents learn key life/job skills such as getting to work on time, dressing appropriately, learning to take orders and respecting the chain of command. These skills are important for job retention.

Work therapy began at the Mission right after the start of the Great Depression. In 1931 the Mission secured a contract to demolish a vacant building. Over the next few years, the Mission salvage operation expanded to include sending trucks out throughout the city to pick up papers, wood, used furniture and clothing. The clothing and furniture were resold at the Mission while the paper was sold to commercial recycling companies.

In the 1940s, the list of items collected expanded to include electrical appliances, lamps, radios, televisions and bicycles, which were repaired by Mission clients and sold in the Mission store.

Over the next six decades the industrial salvage operation changed with the times. The Mission no longer collects firewood and paper, and no longer maintains a repair shop since it is not economically viable to repair most electrical products.

In addition to the changes in industrial salvage, the Mission clients have changed over time.

The population today is composed of younger clients with disorders and criminal justice clients who come to the Mission's treatment programs


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98 Carroll Street, P.O. Box 790 * Trenton, NJ 08605-0790