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Mel Trotter is a name that has impacted generations. He is known for starting dozens of rescue missions across the country and his commitment to helping individuals who are struggling with addiction. In 1897, he returned from a 10-day drinking binge to discover that his son had died. He felt hopeless and blamed himself for his son’s death. Despite his pledge to never drink again, he continued.

Mel hopped a Chicago-bound freight train and arrived in a bitter snowstorm and sold his shoes for a drink. Barefoot, broke, and drunk, Mel staggered toward icy Lake Michigan to end his life. However, his path took him past the Pacific Garden Mission. The doorman nudged him inside, and Mission superintendent Harry Monroe was leading the singing. He saw Mel, stopped the singing, and asked the crowd to pray. Mel accepted Christ as his Savior that night and found hope.

In 1900, City Rescue Mission was founded in Grand Rapids, and Mel was asked to lead it.

In 1925, Mel started opening other rescue missions across the country. He started over 60 missions in over 40 cities instilling hope and impacting thousands of individuals across the country.

Shortly before Mel’s passing, City Rescue Mission was renamed to Mel Trotter Rescue Mission. His story exemplifies hope in action.

Mel Trotter’s legacy continues today through the many programs offered at MTM—including prevention and diversion, workforce development, and housing—that offer pathways for a better future.

One person can make a difference, and Mel Trotter proved that through his life’s work. It is up to us to continue to put hope in action, just as Mel Trotter did over a century ago.

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