When dignitaries gathered at the corner of Lafayette and East Washington Boulevard in September 2017, it was to watch a wrecking ball smash a huge hole in the side of a massive brick building.
Tuesday, that building was gone. Instead of a crane, a yellow bulldozer took the spotlight as Fort Wayne Rescue Mission officials formally broke ground on a $23.1-million building, promising 317 beds for the city's homeless and space for medical, vocational, mental health and other services.
The event featured six separate ceremonial turnings of earth, as groups of up to 15 people involved in the effort lifted silvery shovels.
Participants included Mayor Tom Henry and the project's leaders, the mission's executive staff, board members and mission residents.
"I think it's exciting," said Blake Hall, 25, a former resident of Bluffton who has been at the mission for six weeks and lifted one of the shovels. "It will help everybody who wants the help get help, through the power of God."
Fellow resident Ray Holley, 61, agreed. He said the new mission will help all of Fort Wayne.
"It's going to have more of an outreach and more availability for the homeless to stay and (get) all the resources – like they said, a one-stop shop," he said.