Nonprofit View: What's in a name? Our call is to 'rescue' the perishing, the addicted

The Westminster Rescue Mission has been serving this community for 50 years. Yet, we find that our longevity as a provider of hope and healing to so many is sometimes overshadowed by confusion surrounding our name.

Let me explain.


I was recently introduced to someone with, “This is Carol, director of the Westminster Rescue Mission,” and the person replied, “Oh, that’s so great, what do you rescue?” Similarly, not long ago I offered a tour to an elected official, who said, as he crossed the threshold of our facility, “I thought I was coming to an animal shelter — I had no idea you did this.”

This happens all the time these days. Many people assume we rescue dogs or horses.

The Biblical concept of “rescue” has been almost lost in the contemporary vernacular. Our call is to rescue the perishing, specifically, those perishing from drug and alcohol addiction. My pastor used to say, we are Easter people. We live in the light of God’s work of rescue, reconciliation, and resurrection through Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we should change our name to overcome this confusion (e.g. Addiction Rescue and Recovery Center?). Given the scourge of addiction that has gripped our nation and this community, we want to make sure that anyone who needs our help is aware of the services we offer. Our Board is currently considering this possibility.

We offer a long-term, faith-based, residential addiction treatment program for men. In 2018, we became duly accredited and licensed by the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration. Our 9-month recovery program is highly structured, with daily chapel, classes in recovery, counseling by licensed clinicians, 12-step meetings, workforce development and work therapy, peer support, urinalysis testing and more. The work therapy component includes meaningful job assignments to address skill building and focus on serving the community, primarily through our large food distribution program, which provides food to thousands of Carroll countians in need.

Our facility is located on a beautiful 30-acre campus, providing a tranquil setting and an environment conducive to the hard work of recovery. There are several buildings on our campus. Renovation work is currently underway in one of the buildings so that we can open our treatment services to women in early 2020. Having served only men for years, we are keenly aware of the demand for services for women as well, and we look forward to the expansion of our treatment to this underserved population too often fighting the bondage of addiction without resource options like ours.

Meanwhile, we are also making needed renovations to two detached houses on our campus, in order to open sober home capacity, also in early 2020, for our graduates and others looking for a supportive environment to walk in recovery.

Change our name? Maybe. But if someone you love needs help in the battle against addiction, encourage them to call the Westminster Rescue Mission, where rescue is our middle name and healing is possible.

Carol Bernstein is the executive director of the Westminster Rescue Mission. Reach the Rescue Mission at 410-848-2222.