STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - The Valley Mission in Staunton serves the area’s homeless and other community members 24/7 every day of the year, and this is its 50th year doing it. In five decades, the Mission has seen a lot of changes and continues to overcome challenges to help people in need.
The Valley Mission has served over 50,000 people, whether that’s providing a safe place to sleep, a hot meal, clothes to wear, or even direct financial support.
“Fifty years is huge,” said Valley Mission Executive Director Susan Richardson.
The Valley Mission opened in 1971 to a very small number of people -- primarily men.
“The very first client had somehow ridden his bicycle all the way from the west coast and ended up in Staunton and you know really had no place to stay,” stated Richardson.
Since then, the clientele has expanded. Richardson says they’re seeing more families. “Single women with children occasionally married couples who have just hit hard times.”
That’s just one of many changes. Today, the Mission features two thrift stores, a computer lab, an afterschool program, family rooms, an expanded dorm, and a more attractive family area.
“Every single year, we think of something to do to improve our program and improve our space,” stated Richardson.
But like many nonprofits, one of the greatest challenges is money. “From an agency perspective, funding has always been a challenge in different ways,” said Richardson. It costs nearly $1.5 million a year to operate the Mission and provide shelter to more than 700 unique individuals.
Other challenges include finding affordable housing and transportation for clients and keeping staff. “Some of the work that we do can be high stress. We struggle at times to find people who have made this their passion,” stated Richardson.
She says the Mission is blessed to have 50 years of community support. “I just really feel like it’s a hub for people who want to give compassion and love to the needy in our community.”
Richardson says the best way to celebrate 50 years is to give more to clients. This year, that’s going to be new windows in the upstairs dormitory, a summer enrichment program for children, and a new playground.
More information about volunteering and making donations is available at https://www.valleymission.net/.