Dubuque’s Rescue Mission Turns 90

by Connie Cherba

The Dubuque Rescue Mission is marking 90 years of serving those in need – offering overnight shelter for men, providing daily meals for those in search of food and fellowship, and providing clothing and other items for those with no means to pay.

Although earlier organizations going back as far as 1895 had stepped up to help Dubuque’s needy, today’s Dubuque Rescue Mission traces its beginning to February 14, 1932, during the midst of the Great Depression. At that time, Rev. William Masters, pastor of First Baptist Church, and businessman Edward Beach of First Congregational Church, along with a group of men from the Protestant Ministerial Association, collaborated to come up with a solution to help dozens of men who were struggling to provide themselves with shelter, clothing, and food.

Together, Rev. Masters and Edward Beach started cooking up soup and rented a house at 551 Iowa Street to offer overnight shelter and spiritual comfort to homeless men, in addition to providing food and used clothing to the needy of Dubuque. The need was great – within the first six days of opening, the City Mission served 310 meals and housed 60 men. In 1938, the Mission relocated to a larger facility at 5th and Iowa Streets to meet the growing needs of the community. In 1946, the shelter moved to its current location at 398 Main St. Two years later, the City Mission was renamed the Dubuque Rescue Mission in part because some thought the former name indicated it was run by the city.

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