Q&A with MaryJo Timpano

Beyond food and shelter: Rescue Mission of Rome offers health and wellness programs to its participants. ‘We talk about things like social contentedness, fellowship and having a purpose in life,’ says director

David L. Podos

Q: How long have you held the position of director of health and wellness at Rescue Mission of Rome?

A: I have held this position for the past eight years.

Q: What professional work were you involved in prior to coming to the organization?

A: So, prior coming to the Rescue Mission, I was doing wellness consulting work in the New Harford area with an organization called Community Wellness Partners, which is part of the Presbyterian Homes services and the Lutheran Care Community.

Q: What are the services that you provide here?

A: Well, first let me explain the health and wellness component of our organization which is not just about biometrics such as our blood pressure and heart rate for example. Important as that is, health and wellness is much more than that. It is actually about the quality of our life. So, our organization is very focused on this idea of wellness and health, but, across all dimensions, our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual components. But we take it even a step further. We talk about things like social contentedness, fellowship and having a purpose in life.

Q: Does your services extend beyond the population of Rome?

A: Yes, we go quite far. Besides the city of Rome, we serve Oneida, Vernon, Verona, Sylvan Beach area, and we go as far as Taberg and Remsen. We also have what we call our mobile mission, where we can take our services out to the people in the community that need it the most, for example shut ins and people without access to transportation etc.

Q:  So, what are the specific services you provide?

A: Sure, first and foremost our services are to make sure that people have the basic necessities of life. So, that would be, food, clothing and shelter. For example, at our Rome location we have food programs where we serve three meals a day, five days a week, served right here at the Rescue Mission. On Saturday and Sunday, we serve breakfast and lunch. This service is free and is open to anybody who is hungry.

Q: What if a person can afford their own meal, but because they may be living alone for example and are dealing with loneliness they come here and not only get a meal, but can be with other people. That must help them feel better?

A: You are absolutely right and we have seen people who are lonely dealing with depression who come here and share a meal and it really does help them. Loneliness and isolation are not just something that affects just your mental health, but it also can affect your physical health. So, we are a place that people can call home, where they can share a meal and engage in fellowship.

Q: What are some of the other services that you offer?

A: We have a referral liaison service component. So, if someone comes to us, we have a conversation with them, we ask them how can we help you what are your needs, etc. If it is something that we cannot provide, we have a very strong connection to many local social services agencies where we have a great relationship with, so we can certainly contact those agencies and refer our clients to them for additional services. Some of those services are help with job placement and or resume building, help with domestic violence, addiction issues, whether it be alcohol and or substance abuse. Our philosophy has always been a hand up not a hand out.

Additionally, we provide what is called representative payee program. With this program we manage and assist our clients in paying their bills and to develop effective budgetary skills.

Q: In the wake of increasing homelessness, does the Rescue Mission offer any shelter services?

A: Absolutely. Our shelter services offer a 14-bed facility for woman and children and a six-bed facility for men. We own the homes and they are located right here in Rome. So, when someone comes in and identifies themselves as homeless for whatever reason, they will meet with our director of operations and they will go through an intake process to determine if our services are a good fit. For example, the person may have fallen on hard times and cannot pay their mortgage and lose their home and or they can no longer pay their rent.

Q: If someone wanted to contact the Rescue Mission and learn more about your services and programs, how would they do it?

A: We have a great website where anyone can obtain a lot of information. That site is www.romemission.org our phone number is, 315-337-2516.

Q: Finally, how is your organization funded?

A: We are funded for the most part by local donors. The citizens of our great community through their generosity keep us open. I also want to mention we have an incredible dedicated staff as well as a group of incredible volunteers who really do so much for us.