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The Mission – December 2015

by Union Rescue Mission — November 25, 2015

Jon was dying — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He was 54 years old and his life felt empty and meaningless. Loneliness, depression, and alcohol were killing him. The physical and emotional abuse he experienced as a child ended long ago. But the pain didn’t.

“I don’t remember a lot of happy times as a child,” he says. “My father was an alcoholic and there was a lot of violence in our home. When he beat my mom, all I could do was sit there and cry. I remember asking God why we couldn’t have a regular family, without all the hurt.”

Jon spent the rest of his life crippled by feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Over the years, conflict tore his family apart and they all went their separate ways.

“I felt so alone,” Jon recalls. “I didn’t have any close friends. I was OK as long as I was at work, but then I had to go home. Money, cars, and homes didn’t make me happy. I just couldn’t figure out what my life was all about. So I started drinking and one thing led to another. It just got worse and worse.”

Jon came to Union Rescue Mission in 2009 and got sober. But he soon relapsed. “I still felt lost and for some reason I just gave up on everything. I didn’t want to be around people, places, or things. I could barely get out of bed in the morning.”

But he didn’t want to die like that. So he returned to Union Rescue Mission in April 2014. The first time he came, he learned how to stop drinking. This time  he was determined to learn how to deal with himself.

“I knew I had to let go of my past,” Jon explains. “So this time, I turned my life over to God and got into His Word. I started to learn that God loves me. Really loves me. I learned I was important and that I was worth something. I had to learn how to forgive my father and how to love myself. As I started to understand all that, it seemed like the emotional baggage I’d carried my whole life just fell off. I could live a brand-new life.”

Heading into 2016 with his new life, Jon has one goal:
“I know there are a lot of people like me out there. I want to find a way to lift them up. At the end of the day, I want to make a difference in someone’s life. That’s my New Year’s wish.”


Watch how Tiffany works through losing everything to experiencing blessings and joy at Hope Gardens Family Center.

Notes from Andy
More Challenges — But Even More Hope

Looking back at 2015, it’s been a challenging year. Skid Row has exploded with people, reaching new levels of cruelty, fear, and desperation. And the number of families experiencing homelessness is growing, too. Nearly 100 families, including almost 200 kids, live here at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens.

Yet despite the challenges, I’ve also never been more hopeful and I’ve never seen
so many lives changed. Hundreds of men and women have been transformed. Thirty moms just graduated from Hope Gardens, their families healthy and strong. More than 100 men and women at URM have found jobs. And thanks to your extraordinary generosity, we are responding to new challenges as they arise. So 2016 promises to be a wonderful and productive year.

Your partnership will enable us to improve and expand Hope Gardens to house
an additional 16 moms and their kids. And we’re even in discussions with a city official to start a satellite of URM in a neighboring city so more hurting men and women will get the help they need without having to relocate to Skid Row. Thanks to you, struggling people in Los Angeles will have a very happy New Year!



Let’s End 2015 2X Stronger!

Many of our Skid Row neighbors have little hope that their lives will be different in the coming year. But right now, generous friends of Union Rescue Mission have offered to match every gift we receive before December 31 — up to $500,000!

That means any gift you send will be doubled — automatically — to provide twice as much help for hurting men, women, and children at Union Rescue Mission as they rebuild their lives in 2016. That means TWICE the safe shelter, warm clothing, hot meals, and even hope — but you must send your gift before December 31!

So I urge you, 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


New Year’s Wishes from the Street

Thanks to your generosity in 2015, Union Rescue Mission is giving men, women, and even
families experiencing homelessness the chance to hope and dream for a better 2016. In this issue of The Mission, we celebrate some of those men and women and their dreams for a better life in the year ahead!

“I want to be a better father . . .”

I’ve been in and out of prison since the age of 20 because of drugs. I came to Union Rescue Mission in 2014 because I was getting too old to live like that and I wanted to get my life together. Today I’m clean and sober, and I have my own apartment. In 2016, I want a permanent job, maybe a vehicle, and to be a better father to my 8-year-old son.
Ricky, 53 Union Rescue Mission Christian Life Discipleship Program

“I hope to get my real estate license . . ."

I left Houston and moved to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of being a professional singer. But when I got off the bus here, I had no money and nowhere to go, so I came to Union Rescue Mission. In 2016, I hope to get my real estate license, continue to pursue my singing and acting career, and even travel the world. I have a lot of faith!

Raven, 24 Union Rescue Mission Gateway Program

“In 2016, I want my own room again . . ."

For the past 10 years, I struggled with bipolar disorder and was unable to work. I’ve lived off a small pension I have from being a former schoolteacher. But I’ve had some tax problems this year and could no longer afford anyplace to live, so I came to Union Rescue Mission. In 2016, I want to take care of my tax issues, get my own room again, and heal my relationship with my daughter.

Robert, 55 Union Rescue Mission Gateway Program

Because of You: Marty’s Story

I grew up in a very Christian family and my father was a minister. But early on, I took off the other way. I was addicted to alcohol and drugs, like crack and meth, for 30 years. It almost killed me. In fact, I had two major heart attacks, in 2007 and 2008, and should have died. I’ll have to wear a pacemaker the rest of my life.

I finally admitted I needed help and came to Union Rescue Mission in 2009. So much has happened since then. I just celebrated six years of being clean and sober. My relationship with my parents, siblings, and my two kids has never been better. And I’m now working full-time here at the Mission, trying to support and help guys like me through their addictions. I really enjoy my time with these guys.

December 31 Is Around the Corner — Give Today and DOUBLE Your Gift!

Precious people experiencing homelessness need YOUR help. And now, generous friends of Union Rescue Mission have offered to match every gift we receive — up to $500,000.

That means any gift you send will be doubled — automatically — to provide twice as much help for hurting men and women at Union Rescue Mission. But this extraordinary opportunity is only available for a short time — the deadline is December 31!

Also, when you make a gift of cash or appreciated property to Union Rescue Mission before December 31, not only will your gift double to help more people experiencing homelessness, you will receive a charitable tax deduction on your 2015 tax return.


by lorraine — November 18, 2015

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LOS ANGELES CALIF. (Tuesday November 17, 2015) ---- Union Rescue Mission CEO, Rev. Andy Bales said, “November 21, 2015 we will invite our friends experiencing homelessness into our home and around our family table at Union Rescue Mission for a delicious meal in celebration of Thanksgiving. Chef Merito will help us spice up our deep fried Turkeys with his famous seasonings! We hope and pray that this will be another step towards connecting our friends with services and moving closer to the day when not one precious person will be left on the streets of our city”.

This 124 year old celebration is sponsored by The Bold and The Beautiful. The Reverend Andy Bales will be joined by over 200 volunteers serving up a Thanksgiving meal to an estimated 4000 guests. It will be a day of food, fun and festivities starting with a great meal, live entertainment and a special fun zone for the kids.

Additional participating partners include; KJLH Radio Free 102.3 FM, Herbalife, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Cast and crew of The Bold & the Beautiful, former football great Marc Mills, actress Stephanie Nogueras, and many more. Celebration activities will get underway promptly at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 21, 2015 inside Union Rescue Mission located at (545 South San Pedro Street Los Angeles, CA 90013).

MEDIA Note: Media Live Shot Opportunity starts Friday, November 20th at 8:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. Saturday, November 21st. Visual of 500 turkeys being deep fried on the street in front of URM’s loading dock beginning at 8:00 a.m. Friday, November 20th in preparation to be served to the thousands of men, women and families experiencing homelessness on Skid Row.


Schedule of Events & Photo Opportunities

500 turkeys being deep fried starting at 8:00 a.m. Friday in front URM on Skid Row.

Saturday, November 21st at 11:00 a.m. URM’s Annual Thanksgiving Meal Served (11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

11:00 a.m. – “Home Sweet Home” Desert Bar.

11:15 a.m. – Kids Fun Zone (URM Gym 3rd floor) 11:15 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


About Union Rescue Mission
Union Rescue Mission is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving 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


Twitter: @URM


Instagram: @UnionRescueMission


Why I still believe in Rescue

by Rev. Andy — November 16, 2015

11RESCUE those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

12If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?

Proverbs 24:11-12

Some Missions are dropping the word Rescue from their title. A marketing executive recently suggested that Union Rescue Mission consider the same. He felt the term painted a picture of an old school mission providing only 3 hots and a cot along with a Gospel message. A former associate viewed the term as paternalistic and archaic, but I dare to disagree.

Union Rescue Mission will keep the important word Rescue in our name. No mission has proven to be more innovative, guest affirming and non paternalistic over the years than URM.

Over 29 years ago I joined a mission in Des Moines, Iowa and one of the first things I did was to make the chapel voluntary after the meal rather than compulsory before the meal. Attendance not only held steady but those in attendance were no longer physically hungry and had an increased appetite for spiritual food. History shows that happening at about the same time at URM in LA.

URM refers to all who live here as guests.

URM invites guests to reside at the mission 24/7/365-to be in guest area, or rest in their bunks-no coming in at night, leaving after breakfast and wandering the streets all day.

Guests keep their bed until they find a more permanent home-no 30 or 60 day revolving door. In fact, we are on pace to have 824 guests move into permanent housing this year. This number does not include our recovery programs, which would put the number closer to 1000.

We affirm our guests dignity by inviting them to stay free for 15 days then choose recovery or join Gateway program and pay a part of their own way, set up a personal savings plan, keep their valuables in a locked storage area under their bunks, volunteer throughout URM, maintain sobriety and participate in our clinics and jobs program. We have great respect and high expectations of our guests.

Our hope for everyone is a life transformed, followed by a job, followed by a permanent home. That is the focus of our intense recovery programs. However, we've set up sober permanent housing options for single men and women and soon families just in case a return to a job and complete independence is not possible.

URM is Christ and guest centered; each day we strive to listen to Our Lord and our guests and to do even better.

I know Rescue sounds like there is one rescuer and one to be rescued, which may sound paternalistic and there is a need for humility on the part of the rescued.

But humility isn't a bad thing. It may save your life.

Awhile back, I was body boarding at Newport Beach in big waves. I didn't realize at the time, but I guess a riptide was carrying me out to sea. A bright yellow life guard boat pulled up and told me to get in the boat. I declined. "I've got this. I'm a strong swimmer."

Lifeguard, "No you don't, you're heading out to sea. You have no chance unless you had swim fins on. Get in the boat."

I humbly(humiliated) climbed in the boat.

When I got back to the beach, my wife and kids were laughing at me, reliving the moment when they realized it was their big tough dad being rescued by the handsome young life guard. I was indeed, humiliated, but I was alive, and from then on, wore a pair of swim fins. :)

It is difficult to walk in the doors of a rescue mission. It is a place of last resort. It is difficult to ask for or accept help. It absolutely requires a level of humility, brokenness, to be rescued, to be restored, to get your swim fins, so to speak, for life's big waves. It definitely helps when the rescuer is also humble, understands your predicament and welcomes you while affirming your dignity. There is no shame and there should be no shame in asking for help.
3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

4 RESCUE the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

-Psalms 82:3 - 4

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