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Durham Recue Mission-Not Your Ordinary Used Car Dealership

(Below is an article that was published recently in Auto Dealer News. It was an honor and pleasure for me to highlight the work of this worthy organization. In the nature of ExtraOrdinary, this group is anything but ordinary. Enjoy!!!)

Not Your Ordinary Used Car Dealership
By Marty Coates
Each year, I provide training to thousands of independent automobile dealers. Each dealer has a story and recently I met a few guys in one of the classes that were associated with an “ExtraOrdinary” dealership.
Rescued Treasures Auto Sales, is a division of Durham Rescue Mission in Durham, North Carolina. This non-profit organization receives vehicles on donation. Together with the help of mechanics, it re-conditions the vehicles and sells them to the public. The money generated from the sales is returned to the mission to further the work of the organization. Many of the folks who work at Rescued Treasures Auto Sales previously came to the mission for help. The work of the non-profit organization is only a small part  of the Durham Rescue Mission.
The Durham Rescue Mission is the vision of Reverend Ernie and Gail Mills. The couple moved to Durham more than forty years ago with a passion to help those who struggle with addiction. The focus is to minister to the helpless, hopeless and homeless. Those that find their way to the mission are provided a bed, food, clothing and counseling. “It is a holistic approach,” says Rev. Mills. Participants are required to attend church services each day. Professionally trained counselors are on staff to assist those struggling with a variety of challenges.
Rev. Mills admits that he had a limited vision as he began his work in Durham. However, he acknowledges that God had a much larger vision. In the early days, the mission consisted of one house large enough to care for twelve men. Today, Durham Rescue Mission houses hundreds of men, women and some families with children. Their stay at the mission is a temporary journey in route to independence and self-sufficiency. The mission receives no state or federal funds and is completely funded through private donations, three Thrift Stores, a temp-to-perm hiring agency called Temps to The Rescue, set up to place clients in jobs. This large-scale undertaking would be most difficult were it not for the help of the community. Thousands of volunteers, nearly a hundred companies and even the city and county of the area provide manpower and resources to help.
Michael Darrow, President and Owner of AutoFinders, Inc. of Durham has hired a number of employees through Temps to The Rescue over the years. He said, “This is a wonderful program. We have several team members of our detail shop who live at the mission and came to use through the program. We have also had residents of the mission on our sales staff who were terrific employees.” Mr. Darrow commends the work of the Durham Rescue Mission and remarks only praise for Rev. Mills and his team.
Each year Durham Rescue Mission provides meals to thousands at Christmas and Thanksgiving. They also have a back to school event where they, along with the help of the community, pack more than 4000 book bags filled with supplies and clothes to give to needy children in the Durham County area. On that day alone last year, the mission and its workers hung more than 10,000 clothing items on racks for folks to select and claim for their children.
The need for help in this area of North Carolina is great. In fact, the neighborhood in which the mission is located is deemed among the worst in Durham. The streets are a haven to drug traffic and crime. The situation was so bad when the mission opened there that properties were being abandoned and the plight of neighborhood flight ravished the area. What has happened over the years is nothing short of a miracle. As buildings have become available, the Durham Rescue Mission has attempted to turn them into ways to help the helpless and restore hope to this challenged area. While others felt the need to run away, the mission decided to “dig in” and stay.
In 2002 a drug infested, hotel riddled with prostitution and illegal activity became the concern of a local neighborhood watch group. The group appealed to the City of Durham to condemn and demolish the property. The owner admittedly was not interested in improving the hotel or investing time and money to create a better place. That’s when Rev. Ernie Mills believes he was directed to pursue the property. It was the perfect building in the perfect location for the mission. Its rooms were already built so as to allow women and children and even families to live together. The hotel’s 130 rooms would potentially quadruple the capacity of the mission. The mission did not have the money to purchase the building. To most, this would be an insurmountable problem. To Rev. Mills, however, he knew that with God all things are possible. He would get lots of help from city officials, donations from the community and two remarkable loans (one from the owner of the hotel) before it was done. Today, the Good Samaritan Inn is the centerpiece of the Durham Rescue Mission campus. Rev. Mills is always quick to say, “we could not do the work we do here without the support of the community.”
The list of initiatives and projects of the Durham Rescue Mission is vast and continues to grow. Rescued Treasures Auto Sales is an integral part of the mission. Rev. Mills describes it as “people helping people.” We all know of someone who has been challenged by addiction or lost a job, his/her home or family. We are called to help. For more than forty years, the Durham Rescue Mission has provided a safe place to stay, get clean inside and out, get healthy, and get back to life. Rescued Treasures Auto Sales is not an average used car dealership. It’s providing much more than a car. It’s helping to change lives.
If you would like to help or need more information about the Durham Rescue Mission, you may contact them directly at 1201 East Main St., Durham, North Carolina 27701 or call them at 919.688.9641. You may also visit their website at


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