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Mission Socorro--HELP! direct to you

Mission Socorro's History

Tragedy aftermaths
Mission Socorro's Services
How to Give
Contact Us
Mission Socorro's History

Interestingly, the idea for Mission Socorro began during the Korean War, with a simple act of kindness to Ivan Smith, a young soldier in Washington, DC.

Rev. Ivan and Janet Smith after a full day's work

A Soldier in Need

Shortly before Ivan Smith was to leave for Korea, he went from Aberdeen Proving Grounds, where he was stationed, to pay a visit to his country's capitol. When it was time to get the bus back to Aberdeen, he reached in his pocket, but he was short of money for the ticket.

A warrant officer at the Military Police station, hearing his dilemma, gave him the money. When Ivan asked for his name and address so he could return the money, the officer said, "Just do something good for somebody else."

That was in 1953. Despite the loss of a leg in 1996, Ivan is still "doing something good for somebody else."

The Mission End of It

Janet Hallett was a young missionary in Venezuela when Ivan began corresponding with her. Before long, they were married. They returned together to Venezuela, and overall served there for nine years. This provided their interest in the Latino population of South America, and eventually in the US, after they had to return due to an illness Janet endured.


After reading an article in the Minneapolis Tribune about the plight of the migrant population in the Red River Valley, Ivan and Janet felt called to go lend a hand. They began operation in East Grand Forks, Minnesota in April, 1972 on a shoestring, seeking both clients and local support for their dream.

The initial contacts with the migrants were made by notifying doctors, hospitals, the American Crystal Sugar Co., farmers, police, courts, insurance agents, etc. that they were available for translating services--at no charge to anyone. The first call came from the hospital at midnight, when a young "wetback" (illegal) was admitted following a very serious accident. That was the beginning of a very busy thirty-plus years.

In 1974, an office was established in neighboring Grand Forks, North Dakota. The phone line, (701) 775-4357, was added by the phone company, and the entire focus of Mission Socorro changed. They were just as involved in the lives of the migrants, but they now reached out to local people (primarily families) who were facing all sorts of problems. To see more about their programs, check out the "Our Services" page on our website here.

Mission Socorro has never charged any client for any services rendered to them. There have been a few who, after finding themselves in a much better situation, have come back to make a donation. Others have returned to say "Thank you." And many, hopefully, have gone on to "do something good for somebody else."

Mission Socorro's directors and all volunteers have always depended on other personal resources for their livelihoods, so no salaries have ever been taken from any donations to the organization. 100% of the funds that come in have always been, and always will be, used for the aid to their clients.

Following the flood of 1997 in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, when the entire cities were underwater and then fires burned rampantantly, Mission Socorro lost much of its local support. Many people who had been faithful contributors suddenly found themselves on the other end of the list--looking for help themselves. 

Then, as if to add insult to injury, a California foundation which had supported Mission Socorro for quite a few years with several thousand dollars annually lost its founder, and the new director changed its focus to that of protecting the environment. This foundation support has not been replaced.

The support level of Mission Socorro has dropped, since 1997, by almost 400%, yet the calls for aid have continued to climb. Your help is desperately needed so Mission Socorro can continue to operate and help those who are in need. 

A minister in Grand Forks, many years ago, described Mission Socorro as "a maverick organization that finds people who are falling through the cracks of society and gives them a hand up to keep from dropping into oblivion."

Mission Socorro is a (501)(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, as declared by the Internal Revenue Service. All donations are tax-deductible.  

Mission Socorro offers a hand up,
Not a handout

All donations tax deductible when made payable to:
Send to:
Att.: Janet E. Smith
P.O. Box 264
Amberg, WI 54102

It's as easy to give as to click on the button

- Father Gerald Potter, Grand Forks, ND -