The Bridgeport Rescue Mission is more than a ministry that provides emergency shelter, meals, clothing, and recovery resources for the poorest of the poor.

It is a ministry that transforms people’s lives, from the inside out, the Rev. Terry Wilcox, executive director of the 25-year-old mission, told members of the Wilton Kiwanis Club May 16 during their weekly luncheon meeting.

Wilcox was at the WEPCO hall to accept two checks: one in the amount of $5,500 from the Kiwanians, and one in the amount of $5,500 from Grace Community Church in New Canaan. Kiwanis also donated 228 cases of fruit, at a value of $3,000.

He explained the miracles that happen in people’s lives when they come to the mission, which serves Bridgeport and South Norwalk.

“Real-life change begins with a heart change, they have a change of heart,” Wilcox said. “They come to believe that God loves them, cares for them, and accepts them as they are. It changes them on the inside and makes change on the outside possible.”

Words like this cheered the Kiwanians, who are all about helping children and the needy. They were glad to have found a worthy mission to donate their fund-raising dollars to.

Bo Beatty, director of community development for Grace Community Church, was glad, too. Together with Fred Hans Sindel, past president of the Wilton Kiwanis, he presented a check to Wilcox to help feed and clothe the hungry.

“I believe the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. In the New Testament, Matthew 22:39  states: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:18 states: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Sindel told the crowd of about 50 Kiwanians.

They were happy to hear Wilcox tell them their combined donation of $11,000 would be doubled by a benefactor providing a matching donation.

Wilcox gave them an idea of the size of the rescue mission. Last year it provided 555,000 meals and free clothing for thousands, plus 38,000 nights of accommodations in the shelter.

The Wilton Kiwanis Club and Grace Community Church of New Canaan have partnered to raise funds for the mission over the past six years totaling $68,000.