Rotary Minute: Ernie Mills and Ernie Mills, Jr.

ErnieMillsErnieJrWe departed from our usual Rotary Minute format to let Ernie Mills Jr. introduce his dad, the Reverend Ernie Mills, who then provided the program in their brand new facility at the corner of Alston and Main in East Durham.

Both “Preacher” Ernie and his wife Gail were were exposed to addiction early. The Reverend Mills was born in very humble circumstances in rural Pitt County. His father was described a hard working family man who nonetheless was a victim of his addiction and died at the age or 40. Gail’s step-father fell in a different place along the spectrum of addiction and was both alcoholic and abusive. They found each other and their mission in “hatred for the addiction but love of the addict” in the church where they met.

They started their mission in Winston-Salem but Ernie decided to move to Durham…not because he was invited but because he saw the need. The facilities of the rescue mission including three thrift stores speak to their success. So does the Honorary Paul Harris Fellowship conferred on Ernie Sr. as well as two honorary doctorates and the recognition of Governor McClory. But the real testament to their success were the numerous graduates of the Rescue Mission’s Victory program for the addicted and the homeless  that helped the Mills family host the club at this successful offsite meeting.

A history of the Durham Rescue Mission was distributed at the meeting. Titled A Step of Faith it also chronicles the origins of this incredible family and its meaning to Durham.

Submitted by Jay Zenner

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