OGDEN -- The Ogden Rescue Mission is serving more people than ever as the economy remains poor, and it works longer with its residents to return them to the workforce.
The mission got busy in the summer, which is unusual, and the inflow never receded, said director Gary Doud. He points to the hard financial times as the main reason. And hard times for Top of Utah residents mean the same for the mission.
The mission is serving 25 percent more people than it normally would -- which for a charity that gives everything away for free means it's spending that much more to keep up, Doud said.
"It's been a difficult year," he said. "It gets harder and harder all the time."
Ginette Bott, of the Utah Food Bank, pointed out that home foreclosures take time to materialize and Utah tends to trend a year or two behind much of the rest of the nation.
The mission normally shelterss its transient population on the main floor.
But now it has opened the bottom floor and is bedding people in the chapel and the hallways, Doud said.
That means spending money to air condition and heat that floor.
"Our utility bill has skyrocketed," he said. And each new person need meals, showers and laundry done, he added.
Doud did not want to speculate how long the mission could keep up at this rate into the next year.
It's become harder to keep people off the streets and out of the mission, too. A few years ago, the average resident was an alcoholic around age 42 who had trouble holding down a job, he said. Now it's a 28-year-old who got involved in drugs and doesn't have job skills.
"Then they get out sober but they still don't have the job skills and face emotional distress ... his hope level is way down and falls quickly back to the drugs," Doud said.
That's why the mission introduced a vocational program four years ago.
The mission will house someone for more than a year and put them through further education.
The long-standing drug rehabilitation program lasts one year.
On Friday, one of the residents graduated from Stevens-Henager College pharmacy technician program after spending every semester on the dean's list and recovering from drugs, Doud said.
People can come to the mission as long as they need, though they normally can only stay 18 nights a month outside of winter.
On nights when the temperatures dip toward freezing, the mission does not want to turn anyone away, even if they have hit their 18-day limit, Doud said.
More than 40 people -- families, couples and people of all ages -- filled the chapel Friday night. It was freezing outside.
Among them was Gary Child, 40, who has relied on the mission for the past five years.
He's in vocational rehabilitation and is applying for low-income housing now that a felony conviction is four years behind him.
His wife, who also sleeps at the shelter, just graduated from Ogden-Weber ATC thanks to a program at the shelter.
He sleeps downstairs and has seen the mission's numbers grow as well. But they're in a good place, and the mission does him and his fellow residents a great benefit, he said.
"It's a nice (shelter) with nice people," he said.
Doud asks that people pray for guidance from God to see if there is anything they should do for the mission.