Growing up in Ghana and spending most of his life as an international seaman, 65-year-old Seth had never experienced an American Thanksgiving before. But in 2015, traveling the United States, tragic circumstances forced Seth to seek help at Union Rescue Mission, where he spent the holiday season.
“I loved the opportunity to spend my first Thanksgiving with so many Christian brothers,” he recalls. “But more than that, it was a day to reflect back on everything that happened in my life and to thank God for protecting me.”
Despite being raised in a large, influential, polygamous family in his native country, Seth says he never experienced real love. The trauma, bitterness, and resentment he felt eventually led him to leave home and seek adventure as a seaman.
Near Death at Sea
The work was often dangerous. Seth was involved in several serious accidents at sea and saw many people die as a result. But in 1994, it was almost his turn. Sailing on a yacht off the coast of Brazil, his captain — who was drunk — accidentally blew up the boat. Without food or water, Seth clung to the boat’s remains for a week before help arrived.
“I prayed the whole time,” he says. “God gave me courage.” He survived, but the trauma was so great, he started drinking and struggled with alcohol for the next 20 years.
“Eventually, I went back to sea. But I could never forget I should have died,” he says. “So I kept drinking.”
In 2013, Seth decided to travel in the United States. But the day he arrived, he lost all his money. For the next two years, he struggled to find work. But he kept hearing God speak: “Just trust me and obey, and I will take your hand.” When he finally made it to Los Angeles, he says God led him to Union Rescue Mission.
Grateful to God
“They gave me food and shelter. Then I started to learn more about Jesus and the true way of God,” he says. “I stopped drinking and my life changed so much. I came to realize that God was calling me to minister to other people. All my life, I wanted to get revenge on my family. But now my plan is to return to Ghana where I can be a blessing to them.”
"In Everything, Give Thanks"
"I know God will never let us down”
I never thought my family would be homeless. But this year, my husband and I, and our three boys, wound up here at the Union Rescue Mission. Last Thanksgiving, we were in our own place. I know this coming Thanksgiving is going to be very hurtful, but thanks to God we’ll have a roof over our heads. I know God will be with us and He’ll never let us down. He might not answer when I want him to. But I know He’ll answer my prayers and we’ll have our own home again.
"I’m thankful we’re all safe”
I’ve been here with my family for about two months. I’m a straight-A student, but my grades dropped when we first got here because I was worried about my family. But now I see God working in our lives and everything’s getting better. This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that all my brothers and sisters are safe and we have somewhere to lay our heads.
"I thank Jesus I’ll live to see another Thanksgiving sober”
I’m 54 years old and I’ve been drinking more than 40 years of my life. In the past, Thanksgiving was all about liquor stores and partying. I’ve been at Union Rescue Mission for over a year now, and this Thanksgiving will be only the second time I’ve ever spent it sober. I just thank Jesus I have a roof over my head and I’ll live to see another Thanksgiving sober.
Rufus lived next to the mortuary that he thought was his next stop, but God wasn’t done with him yet. Watch his incredible story!
Women and children experiencing homelessness are seeking help at Union Rescue Mission in greater numbers than we saw in the Great Recession. The misery they face on Skid Row right now is almost unspeakable. Children see and hear things no child should ever experience, and vulnerable women are threatened by predators night and day. The emotional scars they suffer often last a lifetime. For everyone, these streets are simply a Darwinian nightmare of survival of the fittest.
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, it would be easy to wonder how anyone could find anything to be grateful for here. But they do, especially inside the walls of Union Rescue Mission, where they find food, safety, shelter, long-term help, and even love.
But they’re not the only grateful ones. I’m thankful too, especially for compassionate and generous people like you, who make it all possible. Thanks to you, we never have to turn a woman or a family with children away. Thanks to you, every day I see lives transformed and renewed. And thanks to you, every time I see the smiling face of a child in our care, my heart floods with joy. Your partnership with Union Rescue Mission means everything to me.
Please give hurting people a taste of love and the chance to start over this Thanksgiving.
For most people, Thanksgiving is a day of warmth, love, family, and gratitude. But for people experiencing homelessness, it’s too often a day of everything that’s gone wrong. And this year, the growing number of hurting people — especially mothers and children — seeking our help at Union Rescue Mission is heartbreaking!
All year round, your gifts provide these hurting souls with safe shelter, nutritious meals, and God’s care. But this Thanksgiving season, your generosity will provide even more — the hope and courage they need to rebuild their lives.
CONTACT: Kitty Davis-Walker
(213) 673-4585 or (213) 507-5562
VP of Public Relations
(213)673-4882 or (213)200-1758
Los Angeles California (October 2016) On Monday October 24 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Union Rescue Mission will be celebrating 125 years of serving people experiencing homelessness in the City of Angels. CEO Andy Bales says, “We are coming together with our friends and supporters to celebrate 125 years of greater healing”
Master of Ceremonies
Andy Bales CEO
Union Rescue Mission
Scott Minerd, Honoree
This evening is made possible with a special thank you to all of our sponsors Tim and Lisa Sloan, Silvia and Kevin Dretzka, Watt Companies, and The Bettie Gordon Neale Foundation. This celebratory event promises to include personalities, special guest hosts, and sponsors all with the goal to raise awareness to help precious people experiencing homelessness. Union Rescue Mission alongside volunteers, guests, donors, and special honorees to commemorate 125 years of life transformation.
For tickets please contact our Event Coordinator Karmen Herring at email@example.com
For special VIP seating for media contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
URM is one of the largest missions of its kind in America — bringing help and hope to men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. URM provides comprehensive emergency and long-term recovery services to our guests to help them escape the dangerous streets of Skid Row and transition from homelessness to independent living. URM was recently rated 4.0 by Charity Navigator along with 100% rating in Transparency and Accountability. Union Rescue Mission is the only emergency shelter that accepts single women and families with children.
About URM's Hope Gardens Family Center
Nestled in the foothills of the Angeles national forest, HGFC offers a peaceful setting and transitional living to moms, children, a number of single women and permanent supportive housing to senior women. In addition to food and shelter, HGFC offers the real help women need to escape homelessness forever, long-term rehabilitation programs, job training, counseling, training and encouragement.
Liz Mooradian, Spirit of Union Rescue Mission Award
David Dow, Architect of Hope Award
Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners, Lyman Stewart Founders Award
with your Host Alfonso Ribeiro
& Entertainment by Shalyah Fearing of The Voice
Monday, October 24th, 2016
Beverly Hilton Hotel
9876 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills
5:30 p.m. Reception | 6:30 p.m. Dinner & Program
Business Attire Purchase Tickets or Sponsorship
Union Rescue Mission Honorees
Scott Minerd Chairman of Guggenheim Investments and Global Chief Investment Officer Lyman Stewart Founder Award
As Chairman of Guggenheim Investments and Global Chief Investment Officer, Mr. Minerd guides the Firm’s investment strategies and leads its research on global macroeconomics. Prior to joining Guggenheim Partners, Mr. Minerd was a managing director at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.
He is involved in leadership roles at a number of civically-minded organizations, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Geffen Playhouse. Mr. Minerd’s long time generous support has been crucial to URM’s success.
Liz Mooradian Spirit of Union Rescue Mission Award
Liz joined the URM staff in January 1992 and served as the Director of Communications and Public Relations. Liz had the opportunity to raise a family as a first career and move into serving those who are less fortunate as a second career. She worked in the International Office of World Vision before transitioning to URM.
In addition to enjoying an active ministry with URM, Liz has been blessed with many years of service to her church, community, and local schools. Among her many accomplishments at URM, Liz is most proud of her efforts in gathering and saving the historic archives and then building the Mission’s History Library. She believes her personal duty during her tenure at URM was to find and save the history.
David Dow Architect of Hope Award
Named Chairman of the Board in January 2004, David Dow has been a member of Union Rescue Mission’s (URM) Board of Directors since 1999. Originally introduced to URM as a reporter on assignment, David brings a unique perspective to the board as a 38-year veteran of print and broadcast journalism.
A witness to many landmark events, David has developed a deep sensitivity for human distress. He joined CBS News as a correspondent in1972, covering stories in more than two dozen countries on three continents.
David is a graduate of Stanford University, an elder of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, father, and husband to Dr. Nancy Edwards.
Union Rescue Mission Honorees And Other Community Honorees
Alfonso Ribeiro Emcee
As the new host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, actor, TV director, award-winning dancer, and Broadway star, Alfonso Ribeiro has spent more than 30 years leaving his unique mark on the worlds of television, theater and beyond.
Ribeiro began his career as a child actor, most notably on Broadway, playing the lead role in the Tony-winning musical The Tap Dance Kid. After earning a Theater Arts education from Cal State University, he was given the opportunity to choose a role on the established sitcom A Different World or a new pilot called The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Showing an adventurous streak, he chose the latter and created the memorable character of “Carlton Banks” opposite another teen idol, Will Smith, for six seasons.
Having grown up in front of the camera, Alfonso knew that opportunities existed behind the scenes, too. His impressive resume as a TV director includes popular programs like In The House, Shake It Up, Are We There Yet?, The Wannabes, Meet The Browns, Cuts, Eve, One on One and All of Us. Alfonso enjoys non-competitive racecar driving, playing competitive golf, and spending time with his wife and three children.
Shalyah Fearing Entertainment
Shalyah Fearing first entered the music industry when she auditioned for Season 10
of The Voice and lasted through the top 8 of the semi finals. Prior to The Voice, Shalyah
won a host of talent shows, her first being the Tarpon Springs Idol competition in
Florida. Shalyah is ecstatic about lending her gift to benefit a useful cause, especially
one that hits as close to home as this one.
2015 proved to be a challenging year for her family as they lost their home to foreclosure. During that time her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and her dad lost his job. If it were not for local churches and programs like those offered by Union Rescue Mission, Shalyah is not sure she and her family would have survived.
Honorary Dinner Committee
Bishop Charles E. and Lady Mae Blake
Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez
Steve and Sue Silk
Tim and Lisa Sloan
Scott and Obaida Watt
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
Board Of Directors
David Dow, Board Chair
Kevin Dretzka, Secretary & Development
Caryn Ryan, Audit & Finance
Tim Yee, Programs
W. Cedric Johnson
J. Scott Watt
Senior Leadership Team
Andy Bales Chief Executive Officer
Dan Roleder Chief Financial Officer
Steve Borja Executive Vice President of Programs & Operations
David Melendez Vice President of Development & Marketing
Lucy Rivas Vice President of Human Resources
Kitty Davis Walker Vice President of Public Relations