Ashley Brooks had a busy Monday at The Mission in Rolla as she stepped into her first day as executive director, The Mission’s first full time position. Brooks immediately began coordinating volunteers, including Missouri S&T students participating in the MLK Day of Service. As volunteers and visitors bustled around her, Brooks didn’t have to fight to keep a smile on her face.

Ashley Brooks had a busy Monday at The Mission in Rolla as she stepped into her first day as executive director, The Mission’s first full time position. Brooks immediately began coordinating volunteers, including Missouri S&T students participating in the MLK Day of Service. As volunteers and visitors bustled around her, Brooks didn’t have to fight to keep a smile on her face.

The addition of Brooks as the executive director is one of the major changes The Mission is looking to make this year, according to her.

“We’re looking to expand our program because we’ve had more and more people coming to us, and so we need to start working on ways to meet those needs,” she said. “I’m here to help make all that happen.”

Brooks said she began volunteering last year after learning The Mission was looking for overnight volunteers.

“I felt like I needed to be here,” she said. “My heart has always been with helping the homeless and so I was like, this is a real practical way I can help.”

Brooks took her first shift supervising the overnight program, staying at The Mission from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in their back room reserved for volunteers. She said that night was a great success and led her to become even more passionate about helping the homeless.

“My first night here, there was a woman who had just been gifted a pair of slippers,” Brooks explained. “She was so excited — she was elated.

Everything went great that night and the next morning I came home, put on my own slippers and I thought of that woman…and I just started crying.”

Brooks asked herself why she was able to have so much, and why others weren’t given the same. She said it was her husband who gave her some helpful advice.

“He said, ‘Maybe you were given shoes so you can give them to someone else.’ That made so much sense to me, and it really just resonated with me,” Brooks explained.


Afterwards, Brooks continued to volunteer overnight at the mission, eventually taking over the overnight program, and adding duties as a lunch volunteer as well.

“I just started increasing my role gradually,” she said. “I knew there was so much here I could do.”

Eventually she began speaking to another volunteer about how she wished she could do more, but couldn’t manage with a full time job and three kids. This conversation eventually led to several donors coming together, agreeing to pay Brooks a full time salary to serve as the executive director for The Mission. Brooks said she already has big plans for the new year.

“Right now, we are open Monday through Thursday and we serve three meals a day, and then on Sunday we serve breakfast,” she said. “I would like to be open seven days a week, but that’s going to mean we need a significant increase in volunteers and donors to make that happen. That is one of my main priorities.” Brooks said she would also like to see the overnight program extend into the summer.


The Mission is currently operating on $46,000 a year, according to Brooks, which has come from donations and offerings. The Mission had previously had their rent and utilities donated by The Vineyard Church, however the church is no longer financially able to fully fund that aspect of The Mission. Brooks said the average cost of rent and utilities is about $1500 per month. In order to meet the needs of the increased number of visitors, Brooks said the budget will have to be increased to $185,000.


“I’m very confident we can do that,” Brooks said with a smile. She explained she previously worked for Phelps County Regional Medical Center’s foundation as they were raising funds for the Delbert Day Cancer Institute, and she plans on bringing that experience to The Mission.


Brooks said she would like to begin incorporating fundraising lunches where local residents can hear the stories of the people who visit The Mission, along with the organization’s dreams for the future. She explained the goal is to start these in April or May, although there is no definite date.

There will be two meetings this Thursday, Jan. 18 for residents who want to learn more about The Mission. The first meeting will take place at 1 p.m. and the second will be at 5:30 p.m.. Both meetings will take place in the cafeteria of The Vineyard Church, and will feature a tour of The Mission.

As Brooks continues in her role as executive director, she also offers her thanks to the community that supports The Mission and all it’s visitors.

“The people they’re helping, they feel their kindness. It’s made a difference in their lives,’” she said. “I always want to tell people ‘thank you’ because we run on human kindness, and things are running great.”