History of the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission
1967 - Several pastors and businessmen became burdened for the homeless and hurting men in Winston-Salem and determined that there was a real need for a rescue mission ministry in the city. A building on North Trade Street was obtained, and Rev. Neal Wilcox was chosen as the first director. He and his wife Barbara moved to Winston-Salem on June 1, 1967, to begin what would become a long and fruitful ministry. The Winston-Salem Rescue Mission officially opened its doors on July 22, 1967.
1973 - The Lawrence Apartments (formerly Lawrence Hospital) were donated to the Mission. This building was remodeled and refurbished, and in October, 1974, the Mission building moved from North Trade Street to its current location at 717 Oak Street. This new location enabled the Mission to house up to seventy men each night. During this time, the Mission provided meals and shelter to men who had no home.
1975 - The purchase of a store at 705 North Trade Street provided work opportunities for the men who stayed at the Mission and also helped to bring in income to support the Mission.
1976 - A ladies division was opened and operated for eight years. Due to staffing shortages, it was necessary to close the women's ministry. The building was renamed “Bethel Hall,” and the Mission was now able to accommodate eighty-five men.
Also, an apartment building in the Ardmore section of the city was donated to the Mission. This building was traded as a down payment on a farm in Davie County. This farm was used to raise pork and beef as well as some vegetables for the Mission and also provided more work opportunities for the men.
1986 – The Mission purchased a nearby warehouse and established the Industrial Division to provide job therapy and training to the countless men who came to the Mission for help and direction.
1994-1997 - The farm in Davie County was sold, and a 110-acre camp in Yadkin County was leased. The camp property was purchased in 1997, and a long-term drug and alcohol program was established and became known as Alpha Acres, “The Place of New Beginnings.” A computer-based learning center was introduced, and a Bible-centered recovery program became a reality.
2000 – The Mission received their certification from the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, which recognizes missions that have demonstrated a high quality of service to their communities through well-managed programs and operations.
In September, Rev. Neal Wilcox retired as Executive Director, having served the Mission for thirty-three years. Mr. Danny Parsons, a former Mission Board Member, was named as the new Executive Director. The Mission continued to grow, and the demand for shelter for more homeless men increased.
2003 – 2008 - The Mission purchased the USA Hotel on Trade Street for future expansion of the Mission ministries. Construction of the New Life Center, which housed a one year residential recovery program for men, was completed in 2008.
2013 – In June, Ken Heater was hired as Assistant Executive Director to serve a six month transition period with Danny Parsons, and on December 31, after 14 years of ministry, Danny Parsons retired as Executive Director.
2014 – On January 1, 2014, Ken Heater began serving as the third Executive Director of the Mission.