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If You Give To Cookeville Rescue Mission, Where Does That Money Go?

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
If You Give To Cookeville Rescue Mission, Where Does That Money Go?

The city of Cookeville is encouraging residents to give to charities instead of panhandlers, but where would your money go?

Cookeville Rescue Mission Executive Director Bruce Bailey said for them, donations keep the doors open 24/7 and get people off the street.

“Whether it is walk-ins or by law enforcement may bring them by at 1,2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” Bailey said. “We have the ability to answer our phones and open the doors and let somebody in, and so, we provide shelter.”

Bailey said the organization also provides free hot meals, hygiene kits and clothing. Bailey said everything the mission does is a hand up to try to achieve self-sustainment.

“The first set of clothing is no charge,” Bailey said. “If they are here longer than a day, and they need more clothing, we ask them to put in a little effort in to maintaining the facility. It may be something as small as sweeping or washing a window or spraying tables after meal time to clean up, and they can earn points. It’s not heavy duty, labor intensive, but it is at least something to say I have contributed to these clothes that I am wearing.”

Bailey said giving to a panhandler instead of a charity comes with risks. Bailey said one can not control what that money is spent on and can enable bad habits.

“We know from personal interviews with those individuals, and they choose not to live indoors,” Bailey said. “They choose to spend their money on a lifestyle that most people wouldn’t agree with. Handing them money just enables them to continue that constructive lifestyle. Now, this is not disparaging homeless people. Certainly, there are people who are homeless due to unforeseen circumstances. We see that everyday. (…) But for those who are out panhandling, because they are making substantial sums of money at the generosity of citizens who want to do something good for people, and they are going about their lives and destroying their lives with destructive habits and behaviors.”

Bailey said most people the organization deals with face both mental health issues and addiction. Bailey said if donations can make progress with these issues, the money was used successfully.

“For even a day, that is success,” Bailey said. “They may come back here several times, because addiction is that strong. It pulls people back in, but ultimately, they come back to the mission, and we want to open that door and extend open arms to them again to say let us help you. The next time they come in they may have a longer stretch of sobriety, and that is successful. Ultimately, the success is they will go back and live as a productive citizen.”

Bailey said the mission asks those staying in its shelter to not panhandle. Bailey said all services and necessities are free, so someone should not ask the public for money at the same time.


The post If You Give To Cookeville Rescue Mission, Where Does That Money Go? appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.