I don't know about you but with the end of 2013 looming right around the corner I find myself reflecting on all that has happened in the last 12 months and I must say that it has been nothing short of amazing both for me personally and for Union Rescue Mission and the people we serve.
For example just this week I received a note from a grateful father whose long lost son was found on Skid Row by two of our teammates here at URM and returned home. This morning, I was brought to tears as a co-worker shared how he has been taking breakfast each morning to a very troubled, dangerous man living on the sidewalk right outside our building, hoping and praying that this man will sense God's love through our staff member and take the opportunity to come inside and receive the help he needs to turn his life around.
Similar scenarios take place each and every day at Union Rescue Mission. I can’t begin to thank you enough, for all of your financial support, that makes the life saving, life changing work of Union Rescue Mission possible! With the power of Our Lord, we believe it is possible to transform lives!
This year, my time of reflection has actually gone way beyond the last 12 months. I’ve been spending lots of time sharing our history, each Thursday evening at 9:30 PM on 99.5 FM KKLA Radio. Going back in time has encouraged me immensely! It's abundantly clear that believing in the life transforming power of Our Lord has been an integral part of who we are for over 122 years. Our history affirms our focus to do our part to end homelessness by transforming lives, assisting folks in finding jobs, and returning these precious folks to a home, and living productive lives. A quote from our own history book, Mission on Main Street, by Helga Bender Henry, says
“Some people apologize for their neighbors; Union Rescue Mission picked hers: loan banks (check cashing), flop houses, taverns, burlesque halls. Here congregate the forgotten men and women, object of the mission’s search and remembrance.”
That was the neighborhood surrounding URM in 1953 and unfortunately it is a fairly accurate description for Skid Row today. In 1953, the Rev. John B. Nield described URM:
“It is a soul saving place where human wreckage is salvaged through the making over of lives by the Gospel’s power. It is an oasis in a desert of despair; a haven of hope for the homeless and heavy-hearted; the salvage department of the church; the church at work downtown every single night of the year…By the grace of God, it is able not only to put a new suit on a man, but much more important, to put a new man in the suit."
"The mission is a relief society, an employment bureau, a reading and rest room, a restaurant, the poor man’s hotel, a place to be fumigated and where one may get a bath. The mission is a place devoted to the reconditioning, the rehabilitating of human derelicts who have been wrecked by the storms of life. The mission is a spiritual awakener, a crime preventer; it is a soul saving and a life saving institution..in a mission under the power of the gospel…men are changed from liabilities to assets..”
The only differences at URM in 2013 as compared to 1953 are that instead of just putting those suits on men, we are now putting them on women and children! And with your partnership and generosity we are putting new men, women, and children in those suits!
As I said at the beginning of this letter, it's been an amazing year! With your help we’ve been able to;
- Completely renovate and open 16 additional units at our Hope Gardens Family Center and we are moving 12 precious women and their 20+ children to the safety and peace of Hope Gardens.
- Strengthen our jobs program for graduates by hiring a jobs assessor and jobs developer who will assess our graduates strengths and passions and connect them with the right area of work and appropriate employer.
- Launch a social enterprise division that will first launch a thrift store, provide job training and jobs for our graduate men and women, and provide another income stream to Union Rescue Mission, increasing our sustainability. We have located a store, hired a general manager, and we are gearing up for an opening. Please pray with us that all goes well!!
- We continue to house, feed, and serve 800+ precious guests every night.
- We continue to house over 300 men and women in our innovative Guest/Gateway Program, affirming the dignity of our guests by allowing them to participate in their own recovery through the expectation of sobriety and paying part of their own way.
- We continue to provide life transforming opportunities through our intense recovery program for men at the downtown URM and for women and children at Hope Gardens Family Center.
- We’ve recently added a Men’s Chaplain, Chaplain Billy, a remarkably courageous fellow who served 7 tours of duty while with The Marines. We hope his presence with us will lead to more men in our Life Transforming Programs.
- We continue to provide permanent supportive housing for Senior Women at Hope Gardens Family Center.
These efforts and achievements at Union Rescue Mission are made possible by your faithful, sacrificial gifts of love. None of it would be possible without your vital partnership in this work. That is the reason I am writing you today.
December 31st marks the halfway point in our current fiscal year. We have remained on track for the first 5 months and ended November slightly ahead of budget. Our goal for December is $4.3 Million dollars. Your strong support this month will help to continue the momentum moving us forward this Holiday Season and beyond, especially as our Board of Directors & leaders meet and pray together over the next steps for URM and develop a 3 year plan to do our part to change the landscape of Skid Row, deconstruct Skid Row, one transformed life at a time.
Every gift you give between now and December 31st will be doubled by a matching gift up to $500,000!
Would you prayerfully consider a life saving, life changing year end gift at this time?
Your co-worker in Christ,
Rev. Andy Bales, CEO