My parents loved me and raised me right. I was on a good path — until I got lost after my father died when I was 16. Without his guidance, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, drinking, smoking marijuana, and eventually smoking crack. Before long, I lost everything and ended up on a path that eventually took me all the way to Skid Row.
On Skid Row, I could smoke all the dope I wanted. I spent my days on a sidewalk, and slept in the different missions here at night. I smoked crack all day, every day, so I didn’t have to face all my disappointments and failures. And I smoked crack so I could endure the horrors of Skid Row — a filthy, drug paradise controlled by the devil. A place that drives many people here to near madness.
I saw women get beat up and raped. I saw a man get his throat cut open. I saw people die out there every month. But the worst part? You get used to it.
In 2014, though, I couldn’t do it anymore. I came to Union Rescue Mission to get help. I give the chaplains and all the other guys here a lot of credit for helping me get sober. But what really changed my life was the day I looked at how bad my life had become and realized I had no one else to blame but me. I had to forgive myself and realize I could still live right, the way I was raised.
So I invited God into my life and let Him heal me and take control. God became personal to me. And when that happened, everything changed.
Now I want to get involved and be part of the solution for others. I’ve already gone back into the streets and persuaded three other people to get help like I did. And now I’m planning on going back to college to get a degree in drug and alcohol counseling, so I can help others get to where I am.
Union Rescue Mission offers much more than food and shelter — we resurrect the lives of men like Paul. Watch his story at www.urm.org/Stories
A Streets-Eye View of Skid Row
Everywhere there’s smoke, cigarettes, pee, and trash. It’s dirty everywhere. Nowhere is sanitary. When it gets hot, the smell becomes overpowering. — Marquesha, 15
The streets are horrible. There ain’t no respect for life. You can get someone killed out here for $5. — Tom, unknown age
Sometimes I lived in a tent on the sidewalk, other times I lived in a storage unit. In the winter, I can’t tell you how many times I went to bed wet and freezing. And I reeked because I rarely bathed.
— Guillermo, 41
Where’s Jesus on Skid Row?
by Dan Anderson, Director of Strategic Relationships
Some people say hell is wherever God is absent. It’s hard to look at Skid Row and not think that’s true. As a pastor, I spent much of my life in the suburbs.But last winter, I started working here at Union Rescue Mission and Skid Row. I’ve never seen anything like the pain and suffering I see on Skid Row. The sidewalks are crowded, elbow to elbow. Trash piles up everywhere. It smells like urine, and you have to be careful you don’t step in human waste. But for many, these sidewalks are their home. Even their bed. No human being should have to live like this.
Skid Row — The Final Stop
Every day, I walk these streets, praying for people. The heaviness of spiritual oppression overwhelms me. Many people I meet are filled with so much sadness and hopelessness. Their lives have been one giant fall through the cracks until they land here, the final stop, the end of their rope, where too often they give up on life, because they feel like life gave up on them.But God made these men and women. They’re God’s special masterpieces, made in His image. When Jesus walked the earth, these are the people He befriended — and healed. People the world labeled as prostitutes, thieves, outcasts, drunkards, sinners, people with broken bodies and wounded souls, the weak and powerless. The people here on Skid Row need Jesus’ healing touch today — but where is He?
See For Yourself
He’s right here. He never left. He’s out there on the sidewalks, and He’s inside the walls of Union Rescue Mission, transforming lives through people like you and me. He’s in every gift you send and every prayer you pray. I know, because I see it every day. In fact, I invite you to come see for yourself. Take a tour, meet the men and women whose lives YOU have helped transform in the name of Jesus, helping people who cannot give anything back in return. You and I, working together, have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference on Skid Row. And through the power of Jesus Christ, we’re transforming lives. Thank you for being Jesus on these streets.
Going Strong for 125 Years Because of You:
A Testimony From 1996
“Please help me! I’ve never been to Skid Row,” said Jennifer, a young mother with three children, ages 3, 5, and 10. “I don’t know what to do. Someone told me Union Rescue Mission could help.” It’s hard to imagine the fear and despair she must have felt walking her kids through these streets. She could barely speak between her sobs of hurt, as her children cowered behind her. Delowesia, a URM staff member,tenderly put her arm around the young mother’s shoulder and held her hand. “It’s okay, you’re safe here.” Later that evening, as Jennifer stroked the heads of her sleeping children, she began to sob, “This may sound strange,” she said, “but my tears are really ones of joy. I can’t tell you the last time I went to bed with sounds of love ringing in my ears instead of hateful threats. This is a wonderful place.”
Notes from Andy:
There is Hope
On the surface, Skid Row is an overcrowded, post-apocalyptic world of chaos, violence, and lawlessness. The sidewalks are clogged with tents and makeshift shelters sitting on concrete stained with human waste. The people who call these streets home could be predators or prey. They’re hungry, desperate, and many are beaten, raped, and robbed over a dollar or a watch. That’s what some people see on the surface of Skid Row. But it’s not what I see. I see precious individuals, made in the image of God, who have been dumped into this vacuum of despair and left to die. I see hurting men and women who have a better future, if only they could see it and receive help. It would be easy to lose hope out here. But I don’t. That’s because every day I see lives transformed here, I see people who have escaped these streets and are now filled with joy and hope. And those lives change for one reason: people like YOU who care and who are willing to do something about it. This is God’s work. And as long as you and I continue working together here, there is hope.
It’s shocking. Tragically, as many as 4,000 people now call the filthy, dangerous sidewalks and back alleys of Skid Row “home”— and more come every day. Some are mentally ill and many are struggling with addictions, but all of them are precious men and women made in the image of God. No one deserves this kind of life. And for the past 125 years, thanks to thousands of caring people just like you, Union Rescue Mission has transformed the lives of countless hurting souls on these streets, leading them back to health and wholeness — and home.
Often, it doesn’t take a lot to help a hurting man or womanget back on their feet and escape Skid Row. But today, thanks to an extraordinary matching grant, your generous gift of $25, $35, or more will help provide TWICE the food, and shelter, and a fresh start at life for people experiencing homelessness. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you! For more information or to put your gift to work even faster, go to urm.org/icare