pantry, classes, and other support. The Rockingham ministry is a two-year-old startup that offers a food pantry, showers, hot meals, and case- work assistance, so there is no historic rescue mission model in place to follow, notes director L. Torrey Easler. Like Dennis, Torrey notes that rural homelessness is very different. “Family ties are very deep in a rural community. And because of that, sometimes people are held here for memories of what used to be. Some- times they are trapped, and they can’t go anywhere else. There is a segment that is transient and they get stuck here for whatever reason. The chal- lenges are different.” Torrey and his board are taking things one step at a time as they build the ministry. “Our goal is to be a full- scale mission where we house men. But we are trying to pace ourselves and address the needs that we see before us in the community.” Sharing the Load I n Winchester, Virginia, a small town more than an hour outside Washington, D.C., the chal- lenges of rural homelessness are also unique. “It feels like we have, to some extent, big city problems with rural resources,” said Brandan Thomas, the executive director of the Winchester Union Rescue Mission. Their mission distributes food on a daily basis and does an evening dinner, in addition to offering shower and laundry services twice a week. Like Dennis and Torrey, Brandan maximizes his ministry’s efficiency by partnering with other agencies. “Being a rural shelter, we have to collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. We work with a lot of folks,” he said. A major partner for the mission is the organization Literacy Volunteers. Another organization, Northwest Community Services, assists when the mission’s shelter needs counseling support. Valley Workforce and Good- will Industries are also key partners for clients needing employment help and skills development. One of the ways the mission is collaborating with other agencies is through an app. Funded by the mis- sion, the “Get Help Winchester” app brings together all of the resources in the Winchester area serving people experiencing homelessness. “Because we collaborate with Winchester Area Temporary Shelter, we can look at the app and see available bed space and when the bed is available. You can reserve the bed on the app,” Brandan said. He is excited about the app, which will soon be available through the iTunes store. But he’s also painfully aware of the limited resources avail- able in the community. While the mission offers beds for men, there are no services for women experiencing homelessness. “We are working toward opening a women’s shelter soon. We are turning away one to seven women a week. And there ends up being nowhere 36 WWW.AGRM.ORG JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 One of the ways the mission is collaborating with other agencies is through an app. Funded by the mission, the “Get Help Winchester” app brings together all of the resources in the Winchester area serving people experiencing homelessness.