“For most of my life, the world viewed me as trash,” says Gary, 57. “But God used Union Rescue Mission to make me a treasure, and to show the world what He can do with someone like me.”
Gary grew up in poverty, the son of a struggling mother who had difficulty providing for her family. “We never had what the other kids had,” he recalls. “They dressed nicer than we did. I guess that affected my self-esteem.”
By high school, Gary was snatching purses, burglarizing homes, stealing cars, and gambling on the streets. Then his brother introduced him to crack cocaine. He was immediately hooked, and his life spiraled even more out of control. Between 1998 and 2012, he was constantly in and out of prison. And when he wasn’t in prison, he wasted his life away on Skid Row.
“I wanted to change,” he says. “I would see other people get clean, but I didn’t t
hink it would ever happen for me. Then one day around 1999, the Lord spoke to my spirit: ‘Satan’s trying to destroy you. But I got you.’”
It took 10 more years to see the fruit of God’s promise. In 2009, Gary surrendered his life to Jesus Christ in prison. Before long, he was leading Bible studies and preaching in chapel services, and he even felt God’s call to one day go into ministry.
When Gary was released from prison in 2012, God led him straight to Union Rescue
Mission. “I needed a place to stay and I wanted to be in a stable Christian community,” he says. “The Mission fed me, gave me clothes, all of that. But the most important thing is,
they raised me up in the Word of God, and they gave me purpose and direction. The chaplains here modeled for me what ministry is all about.”
Soon Gary joined Central City Community Church, where he now serves as an assistant to
the pastor. He even got married for the first time in February 2013, and in July 2014, Union Rescue Mission hired Gary full-time to drive a truck for their new thrift store in Covina.
“I’m a truck driver,” he says. “I pick up used items that we sell at the thrift store. But it’s more than that. I know what I’m doing is going to benefit others and to God’s glory. So I drive my truck with joy, because I know I’m a part of this incredible ministry. I’m a part of something glorious and honoring to God.”
Real Jobs for Real People — Thanks to You!
by Glynn Coleman, Employment Skills Specialist
Many of the men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission have a spotty employment history, a lack of marketable job skills, and a history of felonies that can hurt their chances at gaining full-time employment and becoming self- sufficient. These precious people need more than meals and shelter, they need jobs. Real jobs.
And that’s where you come in. Your financial gifts and support to URM do far more than provide meals and shelter. Your gifts help transform lives and help prepare men and women experiencing homelessness with job-preparedness training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.
Thanks to you, our Employment Program has already helped more than 100 men and women find sustainable employment that has not only helped them support themselves, but often their families, as well.
Summer heat on Skid Row is dangerous for the men and women who call these streets home. They desperately need your help. Yet every summer, donations to Union Rescue Mission drop way off, threatening our ability to meet their needs. Your gift today will provide cold water, cool shelter, nutritious meals, and another day of hope to precious people who need your help the most this summer. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!
— Anytime it’s 85 degrees or hotter, we pass out cold bottled water on Skid Row. Water Walks take place Monday through Friday at 2:00 p.m. Text the word WATERWALK to 51555 to receive notifications for our next Water Walk.
Because of You!
In 2013, I ended up homeless with my two small children. It got so bad, we had to live in a tent for awhile. Then we came to Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens helped me give up alcohol and drugs, helped me get closer to God, and they helped me in so many other positive ways. Today, I’m still living at Hope Gardens, but I have a job now and soon I will move into my own place with my children. All I want is to be able to support my children, and thanks to Hope Gardens and generous friends like you, I’m able to do that now.
Notes From Andy
More than Meals
Struggling men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission seeking help need more than meals and shelter. They need more than sobriety. They need jobs. Real jobs.
I know one guy here at the Mission who came to us after a 20-year addiction. He’s clean, sober, and ready to go home. But he’s scared. What will happen to him when he leaves? He worries that if he can’t find work, if he can’t support himself with dignity and self-respect, he may end up right back where he started.
Thankfully, he’s now participating in our Employment Program and going to school. He knows we will provide him with the skills, the support, and the connections he needs. And we will walk with him every step of they way until he finds a much-needed job. But really it’s you. Your financial gifts to URM help provide men and women experiencing homelessness with training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.
A life transformed, followed by a job, followed by a home. That’s our strategy. But you’re the one who makes it happen.