My favorite non-profit is the Rescue Mission in Syracuse NY. Who doesn't require rescuing every now and again? My small contribution helps feed the down and out. With the economic recession, there are more hungry families than ever, many in need temporarily.
"We serve seven hundred meals a day," said the Mission representative when he called to thank me. "Anyone humble enough to ask for a meal gets one."
The word rescue conjures up historical events that inspire me every day. In the mid-nineteenth century, Syracuse was a bustling hub on the Underground Railroad. What with the Erie Canal moving salt barrels and other goods east and west, the rough hewn highways bearing horse-drawn wagons, and the sooty railroads bringing in coal, slaves could sneak into town, find a safe house, and eventually continue on to Canada. The sustenance of the few meals and needed rest in Syracuse, might have reversed their fortunes, might have been a critical detour in their lives.
The Jerry Rescue was a locally famous slave rescue. It took place in October 1851, weeks after a visit from a government big-wig, Secretary of State Daniel Webster. He had come to warn the abolitionists to mind their own business when the U.S. Marshals came to arrest fugitives. Webster dared them to defy the Fugitive Slave Law and he threatened to test the Syracuse citizens. Soon afterward, marshals arrested a fugitive, an employed cooper named Jerry. They planned to return him south.
The abolitionists, black and white, defied the Slave Law. They broke down the door of the jail with a battering ram and Jerry sprung himself from the marshals' grip. He appeared to vanish, hidden for a few days, his wounds cleaned, and he was stowed off to Canada and freedom, in a butcher's delivery cart.
So, I think of this when I send a check in to the Syracuse Rescue Mission. Who will be rescued? Can something as small as a few meals turn his or her fortunes around? I hope the historical tradition of rescue somehow adds power to the Syracuse Rescue Mission's efforts,