One of Lorraine’s fondest childhood memories is her mother’s cooking. Food was her mother’s way of saying, “I love you.” But no day was better than Thanksgiving and the magical aroma of turkey, ham, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, yams, and sweet potato pie. Lorraine was only 11 when the magic ended. That’s when her stepfather came into the family, bringing verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. Lorraine’s mother quickly became a drug addict. And love disappeared from the home. Then the unthinkable happened. Lorraine was 13 when she was raped by her stepfather.
“When I told my mom, she didn’t believe me,” Lorraine recalls. “She just said, ‘No way. He’d never do that.’ After that, I felt so alone. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of living.” A scar on Lorraine’s face, from a car accident, was just the physical manifestation of the wounds she felt inside:
“ I hated myself. When I looked in a mirror, all I could see was how ugly I was.”
Lorraine left home at 15. She soon had her first child at 16, dropped out of school, and her life slowly unraveled — abusive men, alcohol abuse, more children, and severe depression crippled her. In August 2014, unemployed and a mother of four, she came to Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens.
Cooking Up a New Life
“I asked God to help me build a new life,” she says. “Hope Gardens was the perfect place for me. God answered all my prayers. The people here didn’t see me as a scared and ugly girl no one cared about. God used them to drive the clouds away in my heart and bring the sunshine out. They showed me I’m not Lorraine-who’s-ugly-and-raped. I’m just me. A brand-new person.” Today, Lorraine is also a cook on staff at Hope Gardens, where she serves nearly 222 meals a day to mothers, children, and senior women. “This is my dream come true,” she says. “When I cook, it reminds me of the magic of my mom’s cooking.” But no meal has been more important than Thanksgiving: “Last year, I got to cook all the things I remember from childhood: turkey, ham, mac and cheese, sweet potato pie, all of it. I cooked all night. It was my way of showing the women and kids here how much they’re loved. When we all prayed, I thanked God for Hope Gardens, for my new life, and for my chance to give back to these women. It was the best day ever.”
THANKSGIVING AT UNION RESCUE MISSION: The Recipe for Success . . .
Union Rescue Mission will serve more than 135,000 meals this holiday season and more than 4,000 meals at our Thanksgiving Celebration alone! It’s never too soon to start getting ready. Here’s a brief peek at everything that goes into making Union Rescue Mission’s special Thanksgiving Celebration a day filled with good food and a whole lot of love.
1. FILL THE PANTRY! It takes months to collect enough food!
2. VOLUNTEER! We need over 200 volunteers to help make this day special.
3. PREPARE FOOD We have to start prepping the food almost a week in advance! After all, we have to deep fry and serve more than 500 turkeys in one day!
4. SEE GUESTS SMILE We’ll serve hundreds of thousands of meals this Thanksgiving season. The meals we serve can open the door to a lifetime of change.
5. YOU ARE THE MISSION None of this is possible without YOU! Give someone a real reason to offer thanks to God in 2016!
Please give today so more people like Lorraine can receive the meals and family love they need at Union Rescue Mission. See how your gifts helped transform Lorraine’s life! www.urm.org/Stories
Union Rescue Mission is proud to celebrate its 125th Anniversary on October 24, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Please contact Karmen Herring at 213.347.6311 or firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
URGENT CRISIS ON SKID ROW! WE NEED YOUR HELP . . . Help Serve a Thanksgiving Dinner — and a Side of Love
This Thanksgiving season, Union Rescue Mission will serve more than 135,000 meals! And that number continues to climb, due to a growing crisis of women and children experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. This year, each Thanksgiving meal we serve costs only $2.41. Your gift today will provide precious men, women, and children on Skid Row with hot meals, safe shelter, hope — and even love. Thanksgiving is still more than two months away, but it takes months of planning and preparation to serve a Thanksgiving dinner for thousands of men, women, and children on this special day. Your gift will help provide holiday meals — just $2.41 each! So please give someone a real reason to give thanks this holiday season. Send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you! For more information, or to put your gift to work even faster, go to www.urm.org/thanksgivingfeast
The one word that describes Skid Row right now is “extreme”: extreme numbers, extreme violence, extreme desperation, extreme heat, and extreme danger. And no one is more at risk than the growing number of women and children we’re seeing here. As many as 4,000 people now call these dangerous streets of Skid Row “home.” It’s tragic to see anyone trying to survive here. But it’s the women and children who break my heart most. Fortunately, many of them are now seeking shelter inside of Union Rescue Mission. In fact, for the first time ever, more than half of our 1,163 guests are women and kids. The sheer numbers and need are challenging all our resources — financial, food, space, beds, increased security, and clean-up costs. And the months ahead only promise more desperate straits. But Thanksgiving is around the corner, and despite our many challenges, we still have much to be thankful for. And I’m especially thankful for the faithful generosity of people like you. You’ve stepped up in unprecedented ways to help struggling people in the past. And I know you will again, as we seek to ensure that every man, woman, and child who comes to Union Rescue Mission finds their way home again.