HOLLAND, Mich — An employee at Holland Rescue Mission has been helping serve the homeless for decades after being a resident at the mission himself.
Frank Wilson was just 23 years old when he was dropped off at the Men’s Ministry Shelter in Holland and now he’s been on the payroll for 35 years.
He calls serving the mission both his passion and his calling.
Wilson has served as the mission’s Food Services Director for the past 20 years, taking charge of a whole kitchen, coordinating donations and hundreds of volunteers every day.
It’s a role Wilson never envisioned for himself.
“I couldn’t stop drinking,” Wilson said, “I couldn’t control when I started, I couldn’t control when Istopped, other than running out of money or ending up in jail.”
That is, until the day that cycle was finally broken.
He said, “After a binge on the weekend, I came home and all my stuff was packed up and my Dad drove me down here and dropped me off.”
It wasn’t an easy thing to understand or accept Wilson said.
“I was very angry, I was hurt, I felt that I was abandoned, unwanted, unloved.”
After all these years though, Wilson said the mission truly changed his life and it’s the reason he stays.
“It was like they kept taking me back, and helping me, and showing me the love and care that God has for us, so that’s my obligation to the guys that stay here, and the ladies and the children that are here,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that he can see a little of himself in every person who comes for a meal after having been exactly where they are.
“It’s something to be able to give hope and extend that help out to people that are in need and pull up alongside them and help them, love them, care about them, no matter what their circumstances.”
Darryl Bartlett, Holland Rescue Missions Executive Director said Wilson truly cares for the people at the mission.
“Frank is a terrific advocate for the men that we serve,” he said.
Bartlett even going as far as calling Wilson the ‘poster child’ for what their organization can do.
He said, “Frank is really the example of how you can go from homelessness, to employment, to savings, to paying your bills, to acquiring a home, a car, and a family.”
Bartlett added that Wilson is the true embodiment of love, compassion, and service.
“If I called him at 3 o’clock in the morning and said ‘I need help,’ he would jump out of bed and say ‘where are you? I’ll come get you,” Bartlett said.
While Wilson would never say this about himself, the mission feels he’s become the heart and soul of a kitchen; giving people more than just food, but also a little grace.
Wilson said, “My biggest hope for anyone out there struggling is that there is hope in Christ, but it takes movement on your part. It takes diligence, it takes falling down and getting up.”
Holland Rescue Mission serves 3 meals a day at the Men’s Ministry Center.
To learn more about the mission’s services visit hollandrescue.org.