This year, the Frederick Rescue Mission celebrates an important milestone: Arnold Farlow’s 15th anniversary as executive director. Arnold has worked faithfully to lead the Mission forward through many changes over the years, from complex building projects to significant program renovations. In his first Partnership Letter article in June of 2005, Arnold wrote, “One thing I have quickly learned is that God uses the Frederick Rescue Mission…God is at work among our residents…our staff and board…our volunteers and contributors.” Under Arnold’s leadership, God has continued to work through the Mission to change lives now and for eternity.
“Arnold came to the Mission with a huge heart to help those in need and those in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction,” says Tracy Vagrin. Tracy was a member of the board of directors and also a member of the search committee that recommended Arnold for the executive director position in 2005. Little did they realize that Arnold’s abilities and determination would soon be put to the test.
Tracy recalls Arnold’s first months at the Mission. “Shortly after Arnold took over as executive director, the Mission was cited for a variety of fire code deficiencies,” she says. The men in the recovery program had to be relocated off-site to sleep, and then return to the Mission to prepare breakfast and lunch for the community as well as keep other programs operational. Arnold only had a few weeks to get up to speed with the operations and solve the fire code issues to keep the Mission open during the crisis.
“He was extremely organized and not afraid to think outside the box to bring the Mission to a better place for the residents and those that they served in the community,” says Tracy. “This was no small task and it took many months to accomplish, but the Mission’s infrastructure greatly improved thanks to Arnold’s leadership.”
“Here at the Mission we are on a journey of better,” says Arnold. “When I first came here the board asked me to develop my vision for the Mission. I thought, ‘Well, we help men in addiction, we feed those in need, and we give out clothes – and we do all this in Jesus’s name. I can’t beat that!’ So, I determined that we just need to do those things better.” Equipped with this clear and simple vision, Arnold set a course for the Mission that included several major achievements.
Various renovation and construction projects have been completed during his 15-year tenure. To better serve the Mission’s guests, the dining hall was thoroughly renovated in 2011, including the addition of new classrooms for the Changed Life Recovery Program residents on the floor above. These classrooms are where men study, learn, fellowship, and worship as part of the recovery program. In 2018, the circa 1925 kitchen was thoroughly renovated, including major upgrades in technology and efficiency, and re-opened as the George L. Shields Bread of Life Kitchen by the end of the year. During the renovation, the Mission was able to continue serving daily meals from a food truck parked on campus, because of Arnold’s careful planning and execution.
In addition to major improvements to the main building, a Food Distribution Center was built across the driveway in 2016, enabling the Mission to better serve those in need of groceries. On the other side of property, Rescued Treasures building repairs are nearing completion, with new electrical wiring, interior upgrades, a new roof, and a fresh coat of paint. Guests in need of clothing, shoes and linens will now be able to get what they need in a much more cheerful and clean environment.
But Arnold’s journey of better is not limited to construction projects. In 2016, Faith House opened its doors to help women in crisis overcome obstacles and get back on their feet. The 90-day program provides a Christ-centered approach to the urgent physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of hurting women, with or without children. And in January of 2020, Faith House expanded its ministry by opening 12 apartments to women for transitional living. Additionally, in 2019 the Changed Life Recovery Program was evaluated and improved. The new 12-step Christian recovery curriculum includes a six-month residency followed by a six-month transitional period and will allow the Mission to serve more men in a deeper way.
“Arnold was born to lead the Frederick Rescue Mission,” says Mike Vario, former Mission board president and senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship. “He really established a solid reputation for the Mission and built a fabulous ministry. Arnold is amazing. I can’t think of a better person to take the Mission forward. He is remarkable in his executive capacity and I’m sure that whatever he attempts for the Mission will be successful.”
Arnold’s singular desire to bring glory to Jesus Christ remains central to his dedication and enthusiasm for the Mission. “What stands out to me about Arnold is his devotion to the Mission and to the community,” says Charlie Powers, current president of the board of directors. “I see Arnold as a very progressive thinker. He is always looking for ways to improve the Mission and to serve God and expand our resources.”
As Arnold continues to advance the cause of Christ in our community through the ministries of the Mission, we eagerly anticipate future milestones established for God’s glory and by His grace on the journey of better.