"If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone outside of the church notice?" Pastor Matt Forest instantly felt conviction in his heart after listening to this at a conference. Once home, he started to notice unused space in the church. He wanted to provide something that no one else in the community did. Then the inspiration came: a free laundromat. They installed washers and dryers downstairs, as well as a shower. The facility was only open once a week.
In 2011, a young man in his 20's volunteered to open an extra day, as well as provide a meal. This was called Lunch and Laundry. At this time, there were about 150 loads a month. Marie Allen, Matt's administrative assistant, started making laundry soap for the patrons, inspired by her own frugal nature.
As time went by, the Lunch and Laundry continued to grow and it became apparent that more structure was necessary. In January 2014, The Rolla Mission was incorporated in the state of Missouri. Marie recalls spending almost a year buried in 501 © 3 paperwork, and by September 2014, they received the non-profit documentation. The Rolla Mission continued to increase the number of days they were open, how many people were being served, and what they could provide for the community.
Part of this increase was the overnight emergency shelter. One young woman that frequented The Rolla Mission was sleeping in her car. Thus The Rolla Mission started have people stay overnight during the winter months.
Tori was the Executive Director, then Vince, then Ashley. Ashley started as an overnight volunteer. She would come in with her newborn son and watch the cameras. Marie wanted her to be the new Executive Director. Funding wasn't in place for it at first. But due to the generosity of our donors, her salary was covered and she was able to take on the role.
Public awareness skyrocketed when she became the Executive Director. The Rolla Mission has been able to partner with many great non-profits in Rolla to get people the help they need.