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The Journal Gazette

  • Fort Wayne Rescue Mission CEO and senior pastor Donovan Coley talks Tuesday morning about how money donated by Indiana Michigan Power's AEP Foundation will help with the construction of new facilities. (Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 1:00 am

I&M aiding Rescue Mission

Foundation donates $300,000 to shelter expansion

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Rescue Mission received a $300,000 donation Tuesday toward its expanded shelter for homeless men at the southeast corner of Lafayette Street and East Washington Boulevard downtown.

The contribution, announced at a news conference, came from Indiana Michigan Power via its parent company's nonprofit AEP Foundation.

Toby Thomas, I&M's president and chief operating officer, said the money aimed to equip a community resource center that will aid residents in completing their education, linking with other assisting agencies and finding employment.

The goal, he said, is self-sustainability.

Thomas said he sees the money as an extension of $50,000 in previous funding for a learning center at the mission's current location at 301 W. Superior St.

“This is a significant and tremendous gift,” said Donovan Coley, the mission's chief executive officer and senior pastor, in accepting the contribution.

The mission, Coley said, is in the midst of a $23.1 million capital campaign, which includes the expansion of the men's shelter and then an expansion of Charis House, the mission's shelter for women and children at 431 Fairmount Place.

Coley said the mission has raised nearly 80 percent of its goal, with groundbreaking expected in April.

He said the new facility will allow the mission to expand its square footage from 24,000 to 80,000 square feet and the number of beds from 114 plus 65 cots to 325 beds. The mission serves about 1,700 people a year, he said.

About $16 million has been received or pledged, which would allow the mission to complete all but one of the four floors of the men's shelter,  Coley said.

The additional funds will come from the public portion of fundraising, which will begin early next year.

Thomas said the foundation contributes several million a year for projects in the 11 states in which AEP operates.

About $750,000 of that goes to the I&M service area.

This is the second large donation by the foundation to Fort Wayne projects in as many weeks. AEP on Oct. 1 donated $150,000 to the Posterity Heights/Scholar House development geared to single parents obtaining higher education.

Thomas said the utility's money for charitable donations is set aside from shareholders and does not come from ratepayers.

Coley added the donation results from a five-year relationship with the foundation.

He said he was especially pleased because the donation represents “transformational,” not “transactional” giving – meaning the gift not only helps the mission but also works to change the corporate culture “internally, in terms of furthering social responsibility.”

rsalter@jg.net