Loving to make a difference at Springfield’s Victory Mission

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Attendees wait for the nightly church service to begin at the Victory Mission, a local outreach that Rev. Jim Harriger has led since 1993. After nearly 23 years at the helm, he is set to retire on Jan. 31.

They’re seen on street corners, searching for food, shelter or sometimes some work. Others lounge in doorways, shielded from the cold — or in summer, fleeing the sun. And every night of the year, you can find them at the Victory Mission’s evening meal seeking to fill their hungry bellies.

Each unique, yet sitting side by side, one word describes them all. But the most obvious word isn’t homeless.

It’s human.

“Men and women who are homeless may have a lot of problems, but at the very basic level, they’re the same as you and me,” says Rev. Jim Harriger, who has served as the rescue ministry’s executive director since 1993.

He’s seen the mission through many changes during his nearly 23-year tenure, but the biggest one is yet to come. Because on Jan. 31, he’s retiring. (more…)