Durham Rescue Mission: The Domino Effect

“Operation Florence”, with volunteer Jalil Lewis. (Staff photo by Isaiah Ball)


The Durham Rescue Mission has been doing its part by serving the community longer than any other outreach center in North Carolina. The devastating effects of Hurricane Florence have dramatically increased the Center’s efforts.

“You never know how it feels to go without, until a disaster hits home,” said Jalil Lewis, a volunteer at the Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store on Chapel Hill Boulevard who described the effects of the Hurricane Florence as “devastating” and fears the impact which could affect generations to come. Since he has family and friends who have been displaced by the flood waters, he felt obligated to lend his time and service.

“Volunteering at the Center is soothing to the soul,” Lewis said. Before he began volunteering, he did not know the impact one person could have on assisting the lives of so many families.

People from all over the region visit the Mission to replace damaged items that were left behind during the storm evacuations. He noted that volunteering early mornings and interacting with hurricane victims creates a loving environment for everyone from the very beginning of the day.

“You just never know who will walk through those doors and what life situations have impacted them,” he explained. “Something as simple (as) helping them find clothes that fit will put a smile of someone’s face. Just treating people with love to assist with the healing process.”

The Durham Rescue Mission has its doors open to those in the community and especially Hurricane Florence victims. Chris Wallace, a former client of the Mission now serves as the volunteer coordinator.

“Helping others is a good way to help yourself,” Wallace stated. He explained the Mission helped him evolve into a completely different individual than who he was when he first arrived. His first visit was when he was 26 and now, he can confidently say the Mission has helped him become less shy, and friendlier when engaging with clients and volunteers at the Center.

“We opened the shelter because we expected a direct hit from the storm, but luckily it missed us,” Wallace said. Although it passed the Durham community, family members of those from Durham visit the Mission daily. “We have been able to help over 40 families with food, clothing and other amenities,” he noted. The process continues.

The Durham Rescue Mission offers a Men’s Campus and Women’s Campus to help those relocate. The Thrift Stores offers affordable clothes to assist those who prefer bargain items.

“Please stop by our campuses. People are still allowed to check in if they need a place to stay,” he reiterated.

The biggest lesson he learned was sharing is caring. Taking the initiative to care about another person’s situation will change your perspective. “Blessings create other blessings,” he said. “It is what the Durham community thrives on.”

You can visit or volunteer at The Durham Rescue Mission, 507 E Knox St, Durham,  or by visiting the website below.