Boulware Mission has been changing lives for 100 years; celebration held Monday

May 4, 2021 | 12:14 am

Updated May 3, 2021 | 10:08 pm

Boulware Mission

New branding unveiled as nonprofit continues to look to future

The Boulware Mission is celebrating 100 years of changing lives in the Owensboro community, and they continue to adapt services to meet the most pressing needs of their clients. During a 100th anniversary ceremony on Monday, Boulware also unveiled new logos as part of their rebranding project.

The mission began as the dream of a local school teacher, Milton Boulware, who wanted to help feed the poor and shelter the homeless. She and four colleagues founded the Gospel Center Mission, which was later renamed the Boulware Mission.


In its early days, it served as a faith-based settlement house and a place where neighborhood children could be supervised after school and feel safe. Today the Boulware Mission provides shelter services to displaced men, as well as a long-term self-sufficiency program aimed at helping clients become independent, contributing members of the community.

How Boulware got started
The original Hall Street building was purchased and renovated at a cost of $2,500 in the early 1920s. During the 1930s, a soup kitchen was established at the mission and as many as 300-400 people were fed per day. In 1950, after Milton’s 50 years of teaching, she decided to retire and devote all of her time to the mission.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, the organization extended their outreach and could house 30-40 people at a time. In addition to housing transients, they operated a kindergarten class for poor children, hosted prayer meetings and community programs, and offered music lessons, a Homemakers class, Sunday school lessons and singing on Sunday afternoons.

In the early 1990s, the Mission exclusively became a homeless shelter, with a focus that on drug and alcohol treatment.

In 2006, the current building was purchased and both campuses were kept open. In 2010, everything was consolidated to the current building.

What Boulware offers today
Leigha Taylor, executive director of the Boulware Mission, the work of the mission has adapted many times over the years in order to meet the greatest needs of the community. Currently, the greatest need is substance abuse programs and recovery.

“We’re still housing the homeless, but not everyone we serve is homeless,” Taylor said. “Some people just need a fresh start and need a place where they can work on themselves and can really start their lives over again.”

Every client works with a case manager to come up with a personal action plan for what they will accomplish and how they can become self-sufficient.

The self-sufficiency program includes financial literacy, referrals for GED tutoring, employment skills, and licensed substance abuse treatment.

In addition to the residential services, several services are offered to the public, including an all-female substance abuse treatment program, and a public treatment program for men. 

“At the end of the day, we’re just trying to help each of our clients start a new life,” Taylor said. “I hope that the clients that are in here feel like they are getting that quality care.”

Sarah O’Bryan, President of the Board of Directors, added that, “The ultimate goal here is to provide our clients with everything they need to become healthy, happy, contributing members of society, to get them back with their families. We’ve got a lot of great clients here.”

Boulware Mission will officially celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 23, and Taylor said it was the perfect time to start fresh with a new brand.

“The Mission’s old logo is a little outdated and doesn’t fit the direction of the Mission as well as it used to,” Taylor said previously. “For example, we’ve received feedback indicating that the purple color was a little feminine, so we wanted to find something a little more gender-neutral.” 

Kelsey Ray with Celestite Design Studio is the designer behind the new brand.

“For the inspiration behind the brand itself, I wanted to create something that better captured the personality of Boulware today. I wanted something that was neutral, timeless, clean, modern — something that would last well into the future.”

There are multiple versions of the new branding, with a sleeker overall look. Combining subtle reds and blues, along with a few other modifications, Ray thinks the new look will be appealing to both men and women.

(Boulware has also launched a new site,

Changing lives for 100 years
In 2012, after a tour of the facility and listening to the vision of Boulware, pastor Mark Watson helped create a Sunday Night Bible study that has since been offered every week.

In 2016, some of the men picked a name for their services: 2ND — Second Chances, Second Hopes, and Second Lives. The hard work of the residents inspired the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to donate equipment for the chapel in order to conduct worship services and assist in the recovery classes. 

Since April 2012, there have been 1,100 unique individuals to attend Bible study classes and worship services, with total attendance over time being more than 6,000. Residents who participate in 24 worship services earn Study Bible. So far, more than 100 residents have earned Study Bibles.

“We are privileged to send these new Christians out into our communities as new persons of faith, ready and willing to serve others,” Watson said.

Watson made a special note of an incident in December 2017. Two residents who were on their way to work noticed a small fire outside a home. They used a nearby water house to slow the spread of the fire until the fire department arrived and was able to quickly extinguish the flames.

The two men — Calvin Rideout and Gary Eldridge – later told news crews “that they were just doing what anyone would do” and “even God can use people who have done bad things to help other people.”

Both Rideout and Eldridge had been in prison before coming to Boulware Mission’s recovery services. Both eventually were baptized at Boulware and graduated from the treatment program.

“To me, as the pastor of 2ND at Boulware Mission, I have seen many lives changes, not only of the residents but mine also. That’s what Boulware Mission has done for 100 years — change lives.”

May 4, 2021 | 12:14 am

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