Transforming hearts and lives in Northern Nevada.
Transformation is at the heart of our ministry…
in fact, it’s in our walls!
In 1963, one of Reno’s most infamous hotel & bars was transformed into a building that became a safe haven for people in recovery. From these humble beginnings, the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission is now one of Northern Nevada’s largest Christian providers of addiction recovery and support.
Thanks to the faithful support of our community, today more than 200,000 men, women and families have found Christ-centered hope and healing through our doors.
The Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization dedicated to helping the homeless, hungry, addicted and abused in the Northern Nevada area.
What We’ve Done
Our history of rescuing & restoring lives.
“We’re here to meet people at their point of pain. Once we’ve got them stabilized, we’ll work on spiritual issues, employment, social services and mentorship. We look at each person as a whole.”
– Executive Director Luis Santoni
Since 1963, the Mission has:
Served nearly 15 million meals
Provided more than 2.7 million nights of warm beds
Given away more than 2 million pieces of clothing
Helped more than 100,000 people struggling w/ alcohol & drug addiction
Click on a section below to read more about our ministry’s history and God’s faithfulness throughout the years. Then keep reading to see how YOU can be part of what we’re doing now and what we’re planning next…
“It was like the Acts of the Apostles all over again, miracle after miracle.” – Rev. Howard Cooper, Miracles in Sin City.
The old Bronx Hotel certainly has some colorful history. It’s seen its share of drunks, prostitutes and brawlers saddle up to the wormwood bar. An ex-alcoholic once offered $20 as a down payment on the $150,000 purchase price – and got it. And its name came from a congested metropolis 3,000 miles away from the barren Nevada desert. That old hotel has since been razed (2009). But for more than three decades it ended up being the light of Reno. For what once was a place for practicing alcoholics became a haven for recovering ones. In the late 1960s, the wooden bar came down and the wooden cross went up. The Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission had arrived. From humble beginnings, the Mission has become Northern Nevada’s largest Christian providers of services to the homeless, needy and addicted – affecting more than 200,000 different lives and families since 1963.
Men and women used to walk into the building at Third and West streets and stagger out drunk. Now, they walk out of the Mission with their heads held high. In fact, more than 70,000 men and women who entered its doors left as changed creations. They had become Christians. “It’s what we do,” said Luis Santoni, Executive Director of the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission. “We take hurting people and make them whole again through Christ. We’ve been doing that for 50 years now and we’ll continue on that path. We don’t cram anything down anyone’s throat. We accept people where they are and I think they respect us for that. But we are a Christian organization and we’ll never compromise our beliefs. People come to us for answers and we give them The Answer: Jesus. He’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He’s where true success lies.”
Former Executive Director Rick Redding – with the backing of the Board of Directors – paid off mortgages to eliminate staggering interest rates. Upgraded a tattered vehicle fleet. Expanded a struggling industrial operations division. Created an intensive recovery program. The work continues to pay off. Redding said, “We target the whole person. They’re usually hurting pretty bad when they come through our doors, so our first encounter is usually one filled with pain and crisis. We want them to see that the year with us is spent productively in giving them a new start. Our hope is that this is the last program for everyone who comes here.”
The Mission continues to be innovative in its studies and approach to recovery, offering some of the finest services and programs in the nation. Up to 75 men and women now call the Mission “home” on any given night. About 75 people are enrolled in the Christian Addiction Recovery and Education program, an intensive recovery program that stresses Christ while leading men and women through a year of rigorous Bible-based studies, in-house mentoring, counseling referrals, educational courses, and a work therapy program that stresses ethics, responsibility and on-the-job training.
Yet somehow, somewhere down the line, the Mission was labeled a “soup kitchen,” as if all it did was ladle soup to lines of indigents. The Mission continues to struggle to publicly combat that limiting image. But those who work with the homeless or oversee public agencies know what the Mission means to the community.
“We’re no flophouse,” Santoni said. “This is hard work. I tell the clients that they spent a lot of time and energy ruining their lives, and it’s going to take that same commitment to turn things around. We have a big heart but we’re tough. No one is coddled. We don’t buy into the perpetual ‘victim’ mentality. We’re blunt. If you want change, you’ve got to work for it. If you want our help, we’re here for you. I’ll bend over backward to help someone who truly wants help. But if you’re here for ‘three hots and a cot’ and to play games, this isn’t the place for you.” It’s that commitment that makes the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission credible to other agencies and – more importantly – to the thousands of people who contribute to it annually, Santoni said. “People have misconceptions about us all the time, but they change their impression when they work with us and see us in action,” Santoni said. “They see a professional, Christian agency in action. I believe that credibility has built up a loyal base of donors. They know they can trust us with their money. They know they’re making a difference in thousands of lives. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Following the unexpected passing of former Executive Director Rick Redding in March of 2019, Luis Santoni was chosen to carry on Rick’s legacy and was named Executive Director of the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission. Santoni has been with the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission since 2006. In his position as the Director of Development, Luis developed partnerships with 150 businesses, organizations, churches and schools. During the time Luis led the Development Department, he acquired over $25,000,000 worth of partner donations. These partnerships remain strong and committed to this day. Luis’ experience provides an excellent foundation for leading the Mission’s many life-changing programs.
Santoni, the Board of Directors, and staff are dedicated to delivering the highest level of quality care possible, utilizing a robust Christian-based philosophy. Santoni ensures anyone coming to the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission seeking help receives our organization’s best efforts. Santoni states, “The impact we have in seeing lives changed is what motivates me. We get to see a person come through our doors on what might be the worst day of their life, and then, many times, see them experience the best day of their life during their stay with us.”
Some of the recent projects that have been spearheaded by Santoni to ensure the future success of the Mission include:
The complete renovation of the Prayer House, the women’s program location.
The transformation of the Prayer House Shelter for Women and Children into a new Family Center for women and children participating in the Mission’s long-term residential substance abuse recovery program.
The remodel and renovation of the Victory Center facility. This is the location of one of two program sites for long-term residential substance abuse recovery programs for men.
The creation, development, and ongoing success of a monthly Pop-Up Pantry. For more information on this food distribution event, please click here.
Increased the number of organizations the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission assists with food distribution outreach. This outreach provides bulk food items to be used in other food pantries located throughout Northern Nevada.
What We’re Doing
Your support makes it possible.
The Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission…
ministers to the community through numerous outreaches and services, including a weekly food pantry, holiday meals, coat and blanket drives, monthly Pop-Up Pantries, and annual “Random Acts of Kindness” events in low-income neighborhoods.