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Meet Your Neighbor: Heather Engle

By Callie Thomas

Life and circumstance are constantly changing, and from adversity can come great accomplishment and success.  Heather Engle has found that success after making some life-changing decisions and finding her passion and calling as the CEO and first female executive in the history of the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. “My career today was chosen for me twelve and a half years ago by God when I became sober,” says Engle.  “What was suitable prior was no longer, so through an evaluation and circumstances that opened doors, I received the great honor and privilege to share my life with my fellows who are suffering from the bondage of self.” 

In her position as CEO, Engle oversees every aspect of the nonprofit, including government and community relations, acquisition of donor gifts, resource development planning, as well as recovery and shelter services and programming. Since accepting the role in 2018, her focus has been to remove the stigma associated with true homelessness and addiction and continue the groundwork that had been laid out before her in the areas of expansion and growth of the Christian ministries department. She added, “By expanding our Shelter of Hope, more women will receive relief from homelessness, and we can fulfill the need for transitional housing and treatment beds. With the lack of housing, we will be feeding more and more individuals and families in crisis,” Engle said. “We are also one of the only on-demand treatment facilities in the valley, so anyone needing drug and alcohol treatment can come here without insurance or other monetary issues that prevent them from care. Finding ways to keep this program in operation is on my immediate radar as well.”

Since opening its doors in a small storefront building that included a chapel, kitchen and a shelter that could only house a few men in 1970, the Las Vegas Rescue Mission has grown to cover two city blocks in downtown Las Vegas to help hundreds daily and serve more than 30,000 meals on a monthly basis.  The campus includes dining and training facilities, the Shelter of Hope housing, a facility for single fathers with children, a chapel and a thrift store. On July 4, the mission will hold its annual Independence Day Community Meal Service.

Engle has a deep connection with the work of the mission and the people that they are able to help each day. “I’ve been personally associated with the Rescue Mission as a community partner throughout the years.  I understand and live in long-term recovery.  I had a shattered life and hurt family and friends. I know what that is like, and I know what recovery, freedom and forgiveness has given me on the other side.”  In addition to the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Engle also sits on the board with her family foundation, There is No Hero in Heroin. “My involvement is one of the heart.  The organization was founded by my husband, Joe Engle, after the death of his son Reese Engle. No Hero in Heroin brought the first publicly funded recovery high school in the nation to Las Vegas, and we just graduated twelve incredible students. We also run the alternative peer group housing, which is at the heart of recovery for the school.”

At the center of Heather Engle’s life success is her trust in faith, recovery, family and “a tribe of strong amazing women.” Family is everything to Engle, and at the center is her husband Joe, who she says was a prayer answered, along with her children, Taylor Coombs and Christian Frost, and her bonus children, Reese Engle, Dylan Engle, Shane Engle and Adam Engle.

 “Everything I am is 100% due to the faith and the people in my life. My recovery community and my family are the thread that is woven in and throughout me. There is no greater strength that correlates to success. Life is not a dress rehearsal so live out loud every day.”

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