The Salem Mission began in approximately 1979 as an outreach program of the Crombie Street Church. It began as a program of the Open Door United Church of Christ in the church building offering shelter and food for the homeless. The Salem Mission (now called Lifebridge) operates a homeless shelter and serves three meals a day in the busy downtown location of the former St. Mary's Italian Church campus, which closed in 2003. They offer education programs and transitional apartments as well.
In 2007, the Mission converted an old rectory into 22 single-occupancy units for semi-independent living so the homeless can transition into society when they are able.
In late 2008, the Mission changed its name to Lifebridge, to reflect its new goals of being more than housing for the homeless, but rather an advocate for life changes. Their housing initiative began by opening 22 units of housing for people making the transition away from the Mission's housing to independent living.
In June 2009, the decision was made to combine the multiple food pantries in Salem. The Mission's food pantry (Harvest of Hope Food Pantry) merged with the St. Joseph's Food pantry. In 2011 the food pantry moved its operations to 207 Highland Avenue and now calls itself Joseph's Storehouse Food Pantry. It services 800 to 1000 people a month.
Lifebridge operates an on-site health clinic and provides an outreach worker to the community.
Lifebridge also operates a thrift shop called Second Chance Thrift Shop, on Canal Street, with proceeds helping fund their various programs.
- Vertical File in Salem Collection - Salem Mission (sub-folder Crombie Street Shelter)
- Lifebridge Salem Official Website
- "Shelter buys St. Mary's for $2 M" Salem News, June 3, 2004, p. A1
- "Crombie Street Church closes, but mission lives on" Salem News, July 11, 2005, p. A1
- "Pastor to resign as head of city's homeless shelter" Salem News, July 27, 2005, p. A2
- "Oliver: Man on a Mission; Salem shelter to move into new home tomorrow" Salem News, Aug. 5, 2005, p A1
- "Expanded Salem shelter adds educational programs" Boston Sunday Globe, July 24, 2005, p. N1
- "Homeless czar calls Mission a 'national model'" Salem News, Oct. 30, 2007, p.A2
- "Neighbors object to shelter, homeless on their streets" Salem News, June 28, 2007, p. 1
- "Shelter residents adjust to new home" Salem News, Aug. 9, 2005, p. A1
- "Mission to shutter its food pantry" Salem News, May 7, 2009, p. 1