DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The founder of the Durham Rescue Mission says opioids are driving more and more people to seek help at the shelter.

That was one point he made into day’s state of the mission address.

Men going through the mission’s “Victory Program” sang at the event – which highlighted the work the organization has done in the past year.

That includes nearly 37,000 meals served and nearly 12,000 nights of lodging for people in need.

Earlier this month, 496 people stayed with the Mission in a single night.

“What would Durham look like if those 496 people were still out on the streets, sleeping on the streets, sleeping in the restaurant doorways?” said Rev. Ernie Mills.

The Mission also announced it will likely break ground this spring on a new housing facility for 54 clients who are going to school.

The organization says it just needs $60,000 more to make it happen.

Rokelia Brown and her four kids moved to Durham from Seattle in 2016.

Now, she is humming right along at her job.

“Words can’t explain how happy I am,” she said.

She’s so content because she’s come so far.

“It was the first time in my life that I realized I couldn’t help my kids,” Brown said.

A job offer came just as she lost the home they finally found.

“My kids had just went to school that morning and I had no idea where we were going to go and I literally drove up and down the roads like, ‘What am I going to do for my family in the next few hours?'” she said.

Then she saw a sign – literally – for the Durham Rescue Mission.

“It blew me away that they said, ‘Just come in.'”

She passed on that job offer in favor of enrolling at the Mission.

“I could go to the job but where would we sleep at night?” she said.

She enrolled in the Mission’s “Victory Program” and graduated two months ago.

“From the beginning of our journey here, I knew that the Lord wanted my heart and he had to take everything away for him to get my attention,” she said.

Along the way, Brown, who already had a master’s degree in business, started working for the Mission helping clients who wanted to further their education.

“It’s rewarding. It’s encouraging. And, it builds me up,” she said.

She continues in this paid position at the Mission with no plans to leave it.

As she and her family look to live their life beyond the mission.

“Getting a home, building our family component now with Christ as the leader and the head of it all. I know we can only go up from here,” she said.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON: