In 1963, a former lumberjack-muleskinner was called by God to start a Rescue Mission in Great Falls, Montana. His name was Harold Ross. With a few hundred dollars and a vision to partner with local churches, Ross set out to share Jesus with homeless men.
A building was rented in the “skid row” area of town and Great Falls Rescue Mission began ministering to those who society viewed as lost. In October of 1973, Ross’ dream to purchase a building was fulfilled and the Martin Hotel building at 326 2nd Ave S. became the new home of Great Falls Rescue Mission.
For the following ten years, Great Falls Rescue Mission continued to serve the needy and less fortunate. Due to Harold Ross’ declining health, Joe and Judy Thompson were voted as the new Superintendents of the Rescue Mission in April 1983.
In 1985, a youth ministry called “The Downtown Kids Club” was established by Frank King. King continued to minister until his retirement in 2003. Yet, the work with at-risk youth continued, and has been led by various Youth Directors and staff since its beginnings. Between 1985 and 1997, the Lord continued to bless Great Falls Rescue Mission with additions such as medical clinics, a kid’s camp program, a commercial washer, and computer technology. In 1986, Great Falls Rescue Mission underwent renovations to expand the ministry to include homeless women.
Due to increasing drug and alcohol use, 1999 saw the need for a Christ-centered Recovery Program for men. Great Falls Rescue Mission took steps to develop a long term recovery program that still exists today called the Christian Discipleship Program (CDP).
The Salvation Army Hospitality House was purchased as the future home of a Women and Family Shelter in March 2002. The building, which was located directly across the street from the old Martin Hotel, underwent a remodel that was completed in 2005. During this time period a Christ-centered recovery program for women was added, called the Humbled Hearts Christian Discipleship Program (HHCDP).
Today, Great Falls Rescue Mission has purchased and renovated a Thrift Store that directly profits Great Falls Rescue Mission programs. The Cameron Family Center is the newest addition to Great Falls Rescue Mission and opened its doors in January of 2017. Between each shelter, Great Falls Rescue Mission has 300 beds, and continues to serve over 350 meals a day to residents and the public.
In the 57 years since Harold Ross was called to start a Rescue Mission, Great Falls Rescue Mission still reaches out to care for homeless men, women and children. Many changes have occurred over the last 50 years. What has not changed is our commitment to meet the needs of the whole person: spiritually, mentally and physically.
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