Make a life-changing donation Make a life-changing donation The problem and The Solution The problem and The Solution How you can Get Involved How you can Get Involved Learn about our Programs Learn about our Programs

The Mission – December 2014

by Steve Lee — December 2, 2014



I love gardening. Every day after work, instead of grabbing a beer, I grab the hose and tend to all the plants in my garden, examining each one, admiring the veins and the complexity in each leaf — each one a gift from God. It’s so peaceful and serene. And it reminds me how far I’ve come in my life.

It was my grandmother who taught me how to garden when I was kid. She also raised me, taught me how to cook, and gave me my values and morals. She was the center of my world and I thought she’d live forever.



But one day in 2004, I got a call at work. When my aunt told me my grandmother had died, it’s like everything around me stopped. I didn’t know how to handle it. So I bottled up all my feelings inside — feelings of hurt, sadness, grief, and frustration. Then, as the days rolled by, all those feelings started growing into anger and rage. 

I never talked to anyone about it. Instead, I turned to alcohol. I’d start drinking after work. One drink turned into two drinks, and two drinks turned into too many drinks. And the more I drank, the angrier I got. And violent. I started getting into fights and going to jail on battery charges. I also had two DUIs, in 2006 and 2010. But I couldn’t stop drinking.

One night, however, I found myself drunk, sitting at a train stop on the Green Line. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I screamed out loud that I needed help. And that’s when I went downtown and walked into Union Rescue Mission.

I immediately started anger management classes to get that under control. Then I took 8 months of classes to deal with my last DUI and get my driver’s license back. And I went back to school and studied microenterprise at Pepperdine University.

I also opened up for the first time about my grandmother. My chaplain helped me realize that she’s in a better place and that helped me let her go. I spent three years at Union Rescue Mission. In short, I grew up and today I’m moving forward with my life. I’m working for Toyota, I have a wife, and I’ve even opened my first bank account ever. I guess if I have a New Year’s wish, it’s to establish enough credit to buy a new car in 2015.

Looking back, I see now that Union Rescue Mission, like my grandmother, taught me how to garden — the garden of my own life.

 











Union Rescue Mission's Gift Catalog


Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog is a wonderful way to give someone experiencing homelessness the gift of hope this holiday. And when you purchase a gift on behalf of a loved one, you can also send them an e-card to let them know you've made this special gift in their honor. Please visit our online Gift Catalog today at www.urm.org/GiftCatalog




 

The season of Advent and the days leading up to Christmas are a wonderful time for thoughtful reflection and joyful anticipation as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This holiday season, please sign up to receive Rev. Andy’s Advent series of daily devotional emails. Each day from November 20 until December 25, you’ll receive scripture and messages focused on the joy of the season. To sign up for these special email devotionals, please visit www.urm.org/AdventDevotionals





Notes From Andy


Instruments of God's Love


In her excellent book 'Pursuing God’s Will Together', Ruth Haley Barton writes, “One of the first lessons we learn about discernment — from Jesus, anyway — is that it will always tend toward concrete expressions of love with real people rather than theoretical conversations about theology and philosophy. Such conversations are valuable only if they eventually lead us to more concrete expressions of love for the real people who are in need around us.”

To me, that’s what caring people like you and your support of Union Rescue Mission — are all about. You don’t just talk about homelessness, you take concrete steps to do something about it. And in 2014, your faithful support led to a number of concrete expressions of love for those in need on Skid Row. You helped us expand Hope Gardens to house even more moms and kids.

To expand our jobs program and start a thrift store to help more men and women find employment. To open space to provide older men on Skid Row with permanent
shelter and care. And to improve our Learning Center to help more men and women achieve their academic goals. Working together, taking concrete steps, we’ll continue to make a real difference for people experiencing homelessness in 2015.

Blessings,

The Mission – November 2014

by Steve Lee — November 5, 2014



Every child loves to open presents at Christmas. Grace is no different. Yet she also knows it’s about much more than that.

“Christmas is a time to give to people who are in need,” she says with a wisdom far beyond her 13 years. “This year I plan to volunteer at Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Store, just like I did last year.”

Grace, along with her mother, Sam, and two brothers, Adam and Daniel, know all about the Christmas Store. In 2011, they were guests at Union Rescue Mission after they escaped an abusive home and ended up losing almost everything. Before coming to the Mission, Grace and her family spent six weeks living in her family’s Ford Contour in Long Beach.

“I was scared,” Grace recalls. “But as long as we didn’t have to sleep outside, I was OK with it. The hardest part was having people see us sleeping in a car instead of our own home. I was embarrassed.”

When Grace and her family came to Union Rescue Mission in September 2011, she didn't want anyone to know where she lived.

But she recalls the staff at Union Rescue Mission worked hard to make all the kids at the Mission feel special — especially at Christmas.

“They had Christmas parties and other events,” Grace says. “We got to pick a Build-A-Bear and decorate it. There were crafts, games, and Christmas carols. We even watched the movie Snowmen. My brothers and I were actually excited throughout the whole Christmas season.”

As Christmas approached, Grace’s mom, Sam, warned the kids there was no money to buy presents. But then Sam discovered the Christmas Store, where parents throughout Skid Row are able to shop for presents for toys and other items to give their kids for free. Grace and her brothers experienced the joy of opening presents after all.

“Union Rescue Mission did a lot to help me and my family,” Grace says. “Now that we have our own home again, I think it’s important to go back and volunteer at the Mission. We try to go back twice a week to inspire and encourage the other kids there. We made it, and we tell them they can, too.”





A Mom’s Christmas Blessing


Grace’s mother, Sam, recounts her family’s journey through homelessness and their first Christmas at Union Rescue Mission

As Christmas approached in 2011, I was tired and depressed. I was a highly capable single mother with three kids. I’d always had good jobs, so I knew how to make money. But that Christmas, my children and I were experiencing homelessness at Union Rescue Mission.

How could this happen? I’d experienced emotional and physical abuse all my life — first at the hands of a sadistic aunt, then from my own parents, followed by a five-year marriage to a man who beat me to a pulp.

I thought I’d escaped all the abuse when I divorced my husband and left with the kids. But in 2010, I went back to live with my mother to help care for her after a serious car accident. She promised to pay me, so I quit my job.

But she never paid me and the abuse started all over again. She even laid hands on my kids. I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked other family members to take us in. No one did. With no more money, we had to live in my car for six weeks, until we moved to Union Rescue Mission in September 2011.

I cannot describe the peace I felt when we got there. For the first time, I could rest and not worry. Over the next several months, the Mission gave me my self-confidence back, I found a new job, and I started saving money to move out. But as Christmas approached, I had to tell the kids there would be no presents because we were still struggling financially.

That’s when I learned about Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Store. They gave me the chance to shop for gifts for my kids at no charge. When I saw the joy in my kids’ faces on Christmas morning, what a blessing! I will always be thankful to Union Rescue Mission for that memory.

That taught me that Christmas really is all about family. I’d lost my own family, but now I’d found a brand-new one. Family is about more than blood — it’s about the people who go through life with you. And Union Rescue Mission did that for us. They will forever be my family.






The holiday season is an exciting and special time for most people, a season filled with gifts, good food, and time spent with loved ones. But for men, women, and children on Skid Row, Christmas is little more than a reminder of gifts they will never open, food they won’t eat, family they won’t see — hope they’ll never experience.

This Christmas, however, you can help men, women, and children at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center regain that hope. This holiday season, please show them that someone really does care. Your generous gift of $25, $35, or more will help provide special holiday meals, clothing, and shelter — and, yes, hope — to hurting individuals and families. 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 www.urm.org/ChristmasHope





Giving Kids Joy at Christmas


Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult for families experiencing homelessness. But for more than 20 years, Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Store has brought joy into their lives when they needed it most.

This year, hundreds of precious children at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center will receive brand-new gifts because of the 23rd annual Christmas Store.

On December 11, moms and dads with little or no income will enjoy the dignity of personally selecting a gift for their children, having it wrapped that day and being able to give it as a gift on Christmas morning. All year-round, Union Rescue Mission embraces people experiencing homelessness with the compassion of Christ, and offers healing and hope to help them find their way home. And thanks to the Christmas Store — and generous friends like you hundreds of families will find that new hope this holiday season.

For information about donating toys to the Christmas Store this year, please contact Alexandra Monsibaez at (213) 673-4882.





Union Rescue Mission's Gift Catalog


Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog is a wonderful way to give someone experiencing homelessness the gift of hope this holiday. And when you purchase a gift on behalf of a loved one, you can also send them an e-card to let them know you've made this special gift in their honor. Please visit our online Gift Catalog today at www.urm.org/GiftCatalog




Because of You - Steven’s Story


I spent nearly 40 years of my life drinking, smoking crack, going in and out of prison, living on the streets, and eating out of dumpsters. I finally came to Union Rescue Mission in March 2011 and they helped me get clean and sober. But after I graduated, I found out I was dying from cirrhosis of the liver. In fact, on January 6, 2013, I was on life support. Doctors said it was over.

I was going to die.

But the very next morning, they found a liver donor — and suddenly I was given a second chance at life. Everything changed. I got married. I moved into a new house. I swim most days. I go to church every week. My life is beautiful and an absolute miracle, and I enjoy every minute of it, every day. Thank you for making it all possible.




 

The season of Advent and the days leading up to Christmas are a wonderful time for thoughtful reflection and joyful anticipation as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This holiday season, please sign up to receive Rev. Andy’s Advent series of daily devotional emails. Each day from November 20 until December 25, you’ll receive scripture and messages focused on the joy of the season. To sign up for these special email devotionals, please visit www.urm.org/AdventDevotionals




 


Notes From Andy


Giving Joy to Families at Christmas


There’s probably nothing tougher for a young mother, like Sam, than to spend Christmas with her children in a shelter instead of their own home. There’s probably no way to take that burden away entirely, but I’m grateful that, with your support, we can offer young families like hers the chance to experience a bit of joy throughout the Christmas season, including providing gifts for children through our annual Christmas Store.

But Christmas is such a family time. And so many people, including Sam and her children, have lost connections to their extended families at this special time of year. So I’m even more grateful we can become the “family” precious folks experiencing homelessness don’t have at Christmas — to sit around a tree singing carols, exchanging gifts, watching movies, and eating holiday meals together.

Family homelessness is increasing to epidemic proportions here in Los Angeles. According to the Department of Social Services, more than 11,000 families are experiencing homelessness right now in our City of Angels — and many of them are coming to Union Rescue Mission seeking help. Please remember these struggling young families this holiday season — and let’s work together to offer them a little bit of family and Christmas joy.

Blessings,

It’s the Grand Opening of our Thrift Store!

by Steve Lee — October 16, 2014



We are super excited to announce the Grand Opening of the URM Thrift Store and we'd like to invite you to celebrate with us!

Please join us at 280 E. Arrow Hwy, Covina CA on Saturday, November 1st, for the grand opening of the newest thrift store in town! To celebrate our kick off, the grand opening will include Free Refreshments for the first 200 customers (Kettle Korn, Specialty Cookies, and Ice Cold Beverages) and we'll have a store-wide Treasure Hunt where we will mix in free items with the other merchandise on our racks and shelves. Plus, we are giving YOU a 15% discount on all your purchases and each customer will be given a raffle ticket to win an assortment of Great Prizes (iPod Touch, XBOX One, and Gift Cards)!

Make sure you don't miss out this great event!

Store hours 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The official ribbon cutting will begin at 9:00 am 

About Union Rescue Mission

Union Rescue Mission is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people experiencing homelessness. Established in 1891, URM is one of the largest rescue missions of its kind in the United States and is the oldest in Los Angeles.  It provides a comprehensive array of emergency and long-term services, including food, shelter, clothing; medical and dental care; Christian recovery programs, transitional housing, legal assistance, education, counseling, and job training to needy men, women, children and families.  For more information, please visit www.urm.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Headlines  

The Mission – December 2014

by Steve Lee — December 2, 2014

Andy’s End of Month Update – November 2014

by jhuckleby — November 29, 2014

The Mission – November 2014

by Steve Lee — November 5, 2014

Andy’s End of Month Update – October 2014

by jhuckleby — October 31, 2014

 Tweets