As Development Director, Laura oversees fundraising and public relations for the Mission. She is a native of Columbus, Ind., and she holds bachelor’s degrees in English and communications from Valparaiso University. She is also a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and a professional grant writer. Laura is the daughter of Jim and Becky Connell, and she has been involved in the Mission since its earliest days. She officially joined the Mission team as an AmeriCorps Housing Counselor in 2004, returning in 2007 to serve as the Development Director. Laura is married to Jason Carr, and she has a dog and a cat that keep her on her toes. She attends St. Patrick's Church and enjoys volunteering as a mentor through the Amachi program and providing pet therapy for nursing home residents through Paws for Christ.
Why she loves working at the Mission: “I love seeing how God transforms lives at the Mission."
The wife of Jim Connell, Becky joined the staff in 2002 and is the driving force behind the Outreach Center. Becky holds a Masters of Science degree in health education, and a Bachelors of Science in nutrition and dietetics and spent most of her career in hospital nutrition services managment, including overseeing food service, accreditation, and quality improvement. Becky volunteers on the Benevolence Committee at Immanuel Baptist Church, and she enjoys spending time with her grown children and granddaughter as well as gardening, walking, and visiting her family.
Why she loves working at the Mission: “It is a great opportunity to meet all kinds of interesting people- guests, volunteers and donors and to get a glimpse of what eternity will be like with them.”
Jim founded the Mission in 2001 and has continued as our fearless leader ever since. Jim has a degree in accounting and worked as an accountant, project manager and fund-raiser in Indiana prior to establishing the Mission. He is married to Becky, has a daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Jason, a son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Maya, and a baby granddaughter, Indira. He is also member of Immanuel Baptist Church. From 2011 to 2014, he served as the Southern District President for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. In his free time, he enjoys reading non-fiction, watching movies, and traveling.
Why he loves working at the Mission: "I love experiencing the love and power of God through the ups and downs of ministry. Problems now seem less overwhelming and more like opportunities for God's glory to be made known. The more I see God going through the trials with us and delivering us from them, the more I can rest in the shelter of my Lord."
Most afternoons, when you call or visit the Mission, you will have the privilege of talking to Helen. Whether she's answering phones or greeting guests, Helen always has a kind word and a smile for guests. Originally from Spears, Ky., Helen is a graduate of Jessamine County High School and attended Lexington Community College. She is also one of our Jobs for Life graduates. She has 3 children and 5 grandchildren, and she enjoys fashion, traveling, and singing.
What inspires her: "When I take time to talk and listen to those who are experiencing difficult times in their lives and show that I care, doing what I can to encourage them, just to see a faint smile appear on their face is worth a thousand words, and God is pleased with me for my efforts."
Renee grew up in a family dairy farm in PA and went to school at Pennsylvania University at a local branch campus close to home. She graduated in May 2016 with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. While in school, Renee worked with a local non-profit community action helping empowering families to end poverty. Renee and her husband Matt love serving their community together. They just recently moved to Wilmore to help start a church called Plowshares Brethren In Christ. In her spare time, she enjoys playing games with family or friends.
Renee really loves helping others and is excited to help people at the Lexington Rescue Mission.
Erica is our primary "connector" at the Mission -- she works to connect clients with the resources they need. Whether it's food, clothing, housing, furniture, or anything else, she helps clients access resources in the community and take steps out of poverty. Erica earned her Master's in Social Work from the University of Kentucky and her Bachelor's in Social Work from Northern Kentucky University, and she is fluent in Spanish. She first served as an intern at the Mission when she was pursuing her master's degree and then officially joined our team in the fall of 2016. Prior to working at the Mission, she served as the Program Director for E7 Kids Cafe. Erica is married to Diego Dominguez and has two daughters, and they are active members of Fuente de Avivamiento.
Norris keeps the Outeach Center running smoothly and looking great. He has a true servant's heart and is always the first to pitch-in and help carry, lift and fix things. Originally from Springfield, Ky., Norris graduated from St. Catherine's Junior College and started working at the Mission several years ago through a senior employment training program. In 2014, he came on staff part-time to oversee janitorial and maintenance duties. Norris has three daughters, two sons and a dog who is a part of the family. When he is not working, he enjoys fishing and hunting.
His favorite moments at the Mission are: "When we serve client meals and see their faces light up."
Christen manages individuals and groups of volunteers who serve at the Lexington Rescue Mission. In addition to her full-time role as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the mission, she is finishing her Bachelor's in Psychology at Eastern Kentucky University and will graduate in the fall of 2018. Christen has a wonderful husband and two great kids as well as a two dogs, a cat, and fish. She and her family love to fish, camp, and find fossilized agates, and she enjoys spending her free time getting lost in flea markets and antique shops.
Christen loves working at the mission, and she's passionate about change. "I like to see others make positive changes in their lives and know that there are people who love and want to help them."
Steve takes on many roles at The Potter's House -- everything from interviewing applicants to driving residents to medical appointments and job interviews to leading Bible studies. He likes to catch unsuspecting guests, volunteers, and interns off-guard with his humor and has even been known to make prank phone calls on staff. Originally from Indiana, Steve is married to Linda and pastored churches for many years. He holds his B.S. from Indiana State University and his Master's of Divinity from Grace Theological Seminary. In his free time, he enjoys riding his bike, sharing the Gospel in creative ways, listening to Christian music, and sightseeing.
His favorite moment at the Mission: "No favorite -- too many! I enjoyed meeting the Mayor and having him attend the Misson's staff meeting and learn about the Mission."
A native of Lexington, Julius is dedicated to helping ex-offenders make the transition to life outside of prison walls after making the same journey himself years ago. "I am passionate about bringing hope to returning citizens. I want them to know they are needed by their families. Many times, people do not know how important they are." Julius is a devoted single father to his teenage son, with whom he enjoys traveling. He is also a talented saxophone player. In his free time, he is pursuing his master's degree in Community Leadership and Development from U.K.
Why he loves working at the Mission, "I love that everyone at the rescue mission gives of themselves. You can feel it the moment you walk in the door."
As our Pastoral Care Coordinator, Donna is "listener in chief" at the Mission. Whether its during our meals, walk-in hours, or counseling sessions, she gets to know our guests, listens to their stories, and offers prayer, encourgement and guidance. Donna has a B.A. in Philosophy and a Master's in Divinity, and she brings years of chaplain experience to her role at the Mission. A native of Chicago, Donna is married to Paul, who is a faithful volunteer in our health clinic, and she has a son, Joshua, a daughter-in-law, Sharon and two grandchildren, Cameron and Chloe, as well as four cats. She enjoys traveling, mission work in Kenya, running, camping, kayaking, reading, writing, spending time with family, working in her vegetable garden, cooking and baking.
What she loves about working at the Mission: "The opportunity to participate in living out Matthew 25 and the guests."
As Director of Donor Relations, Mark serves as a personal contact to our donors. Even though he is a Florida native, his roots are in Kentucky and he feels more at home here in the Bluegrass than anywhere else....even though he still cheers for the Florida State Seminoles. Mark and his wife, Leslie, have been married for 33 years, and they have two grown sons, Gary and Stephen. Mark earned his B.A. from Warner Southern College in 2004 and his Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010. The two most influential people in his life, Ross Epperly and Hoyt Byrum, both showed incredible grace to him and everyday, Mark tries to to show that same grace to others. Mark loves cheering for and defending the underdog, and he is inspired by their success stories. What he loves about working at the Mission:
"Seeing the change in people. I have had instances when I did not recognize someone after not having seen them for several months; their countenance had changed so much!"
A Lexington native, Delores finds joy in helping others and singing in the choir at Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church. She joined the Mission staff in 2006 and, for ten years, has been the first kind voice our clients hear when the call us for help. Delores has three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Why she loves working at the Mission: “We are committed to giving people hope, and I’m proud to be a part of that. We’re here to be a blessing the people who come to us for help, but sometimes they are a bigger blessing to me.”
With 17 years of ministry experience, Rick loves sharing the Word of God and is excited to see the power of transformation in people's lives. Rick is married to the “Lovely” Marcella, an RN at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. They have two adult children adopted from Russia and the Republic of Georgia, Vladimir and Natya, and a teen daughter, Abigail Grace. Rick completed a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration in 2012. Prior, he taught in the Upper School of Trinity Christian Academy, was Branch Manager for Training and Recruiting with the KYTC in Frankfort, Management, Parts, Service and Sales Trainer for Chrysler Corp., Lecturer in the UK Gatton College of Business, and Research Director for Brand Advertising Group. Rick is an avid reader, musician, singer and volunteer with Gateway Regional Arts Center, and he and Marcella also foster dogs for Love of Paws in Montgomery County.
Sean is a caseworker at the Potter’s House, so he especially enjoys all the time he gets to spend talking with clients. He is originally from Wilmore, KY, and has a Masters of Arts in Counseling. Sean lives with his wife, Kimberly, and their two children, Nick and Gabi. Sean started working at the Mission in March 2017. When he isn’t working, he likes to be reading, and one of his talents is speaking French.
What he’s passionate about: “Helping people connect to a church family.”
A gifted teacher and preacher, Thomas shares the Word of God with our guests in chapel, Steady Hands, and whenever the opportunity arises. A native of Lexington, Thomas is married to his wife, Marcia, and they have five daughters and one son. He has his Master's in Christian Education and loves doing Kingdom work, seeing people's lives changed by God. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf. He even offers to preach for golf.
His favorite Mission moment: "At Steady Hands, when one of our clients gave his life to Christ." It doesn't get any better than that.