© 2012 Idaho Press-Tribune
For decades, Boise Rescue Mission Ministries have helped homeless people across the valley gain food, clothing, shelter and hope.
Since 2002, that help has been led by the caring and compassionate Rev. Bill Roscoe.
As executive director, Roscoe works in the administration side of the mission, responsible to the Board of Directors and overseeing all the mission staff. But his job is so much more than that. Roscoe spearheads work to improve the Mission’s programs with a real, positive impact on the Treasure Valley’s homeless, including those in Canyon County at the Lighthouse Rescue Mission.
“I’m a program-oriented guy. I believe in providing people with the programs, the training, the opportunity they need to overcome homelessness, that’s what I’m all about,” he said. “We have developed and implemented a number of programs that are tailored to meet the needs of homeless people, to get out and stay out of homelessness.”
Roscoe’s marks on the Boise Rescue Mission include improvements to the drug and alcohol recovery program and the creation of a transitional program for homeless veterans discharged from the Boise VA hospital.
“It’s been extremely effective in giving homeless vets an opportunity to get back on their feet,” Roscoe said. “In the two years of operation, we’ve had 100 percent success.”
Roscoe also led changes in the mission’s services for women and children through the City Light Home for Women and Children. This includes more programs for children to encourage them in their school work, extra curricular activities and higher education opportunities.
“All of our kids have good GPAs. When they come in behind and leave ahead, we’re very, very pleased about that,” Roscoe said. “…We’re breaking the cycle of homelessness.”
Roscoe’s staff describes him as a compassionate man, perfect for the work he does.
“He really loves people. He likes the homeless people who come in to our shelter as much as he likes the staff and major donors,” City Light director Jean Lockhart said. “He likes everyone the same, and he actually treats everyone the same all the time. It doesn’t matter who you are if you’re rich or poor, he treats everyone the same.”
Lockhart said it’s easy for people working in rescue mission work to get cynical and jaded because they work so hard to help people, sometimes with little success. However, Roscoe never seems to get jaded, she said.
“He is a great boss. He has a great sense of humor, which we really need because our work is kind of sad sometimes,” Lockhart said. “He’s very wise and smart … It’s really fun to work with someone like that.”
Lighthouse Director Chris Ellison has worked with Roscoe since 2005 and describes him as a down-to-earth, personable and caring man.
“He really has a heart for people, he’s a very compassionate person. I’ve seen it to where he hears stories about women and children who come through the shelter, and I’ve see him tear up, I’ve seen him have to regain his composure,” Ellison said. “This is real for him. This isn’t a job, this is part of his life.”
Outside the Mission
Roscoe carries his love through into his personal life. He and his wife Sandra will celebrate their 40th anniversary this year.
“Without her (Sandra) he just couldn’t do what he does,” Lockhart said. “She’s so supportive, she’s a little bit of an unsung hero.”
The couple has four children, two biological and two adopted, and four grandchildren.
A Caldwell resident, Roscoe also works as a volunteer chaplain with the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office and as the vice chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“He’s probably the most dedicated, compassionate person I’ve ever met in my life. His life is consumed with helping people in the Rescue Mission,” Canyon County Sheriff Chris Smith said. “In his spare time he comes and works with us. He’s subject to call out, and most of the time when we call him, he’s available. He meets with the families of victims, works with them through their tragedies. He’s an amazing man to say the least.”
Before beginning his long history of mission work, Roscoe worked in California in the construction business.
“In 1976 I became a Christian and that was the radical change in my life … I realized that there’s a responsibility that comes with that to serve your fellow man,” Roscoe said.
After serving for a time on the board of directors for a rescue mission, he was eventually hired as the director of youth ministries. He worked at missions in Colorado and California, then eventually made the move to Boise.
His experience at the other missions is behind some of the services Roscoe implemented in Boise.
“It was at the Denver Rescue Mission that I saw the mission we have become here in Boise,” Roscoe said, describing the range of programs the mission provided. “I’d never seen anything like that at a mission and it really opened my eyes as to the possibility of what could be.”
Even at 60, Roscoe said he hopes to continue his work at the mission for another 10 years, providing his health holds out.
“I love what I do, I’m the most blessed man in state of Idaho, at least. Every day I wake up, I thank God that I get to do what I do,” he said. ”The community in the Treasure Valley is absolutely amazing in how they care for one another and how they support the Rescue Mission.”
Despite all the improvements he has already made at the mission, Roscoe said the work is still not done.
“There’s a lot of need in the West Valley,” he said. “We’re always fine tuning the programs and services, learning better ways to help people, to be a cutting edge rescue mission here in this valley.”