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The Mission – January 2015

by Steve Lee — January 5, 2015

 



The day is etched forever in Phillip’s mind. The wound will never go away.

Phillip grew up in the projects near downtown Los Angeles. One day when Phillip returned home in the afternoon, the house was empty.

“Your family’s gone. They got evicted,” a neighbor said. “They’re not coming back.” He was abandoned — and he was only 8 years old.

“My mom left me,” Phillip, 53, recalls. “That hurt so much. I wanted to close my eyes and never wake up. I was so upset, but I didn’t know how to ask anyone for help. I never had a home after that.”

At first, Phillip slept in stairwells or outside a local school. His only warmth came from the sweater he wore. Sometimes authorities would take him to juvenile hall or place him in foster homes, but he never stayed long. He preferred the streets, sleeping in abandoned cars, in a laundromat, or in storage rooms . . .

But the lack of parental guidance took a toll.

“No one ever gave me direction,” he recalls. “So when the light turned red, I just kept going. When the iron was hot, I touched it. I played with fire and got burned. I didn’t know any better.” As he grew older, he took to living in alleys, on dead-end streets, under bridges, or in the doorway of the Los Angeles Times building. He remembers the security guard there who would wake him each morning with 40 cents to get a cup of coffee. “I loved that guy,” he says. “He treated me like a human being. He was my only friend.”


To cover his emotional wounds, and to numb his anger and fear, he drank, devoured downers, and finally turned to heroin. “Heroin became my life,” he says. “At first, it covered me like a blanket. But it turned into a blanket of misery. My whole life was lonely and ugly.”

Two years ago, after more than 40 years on the streets, Phillip admitted he needed help and came to Union Rescue Mission, because “I got tired of myself.”

Over the past two years, Phillip has received the guidance and love he never got. He regularly sees a therapist and chaplains led him to Jesus Christ. “The word for me right now is ‘change.’ ‘Healing’ and ‘change.’ Every day, I ask God to help me let go of my past and to heal my body and mind,” he says.

“Everyone asks me, ‘Phil, you’re the happiest guy on earth. Why?’ Well, I found God. And I never had a home or a family before. Now I do. The chaplains say I can stay as long as I need. I think I will.”










Because of You


Brian Mitchell

I was homeless and addicted to drugs for years after I lost a son, a wife, my home, job, and car, all within a month’s time. I just couldn’t bounce back.

Then I came to Union Rescue Mission in February 2009 and God miraculously intervened in my life. I ended up going to college to study graphic arts and was later hired to work as the Mission’s graphic designer. Last year, I was hired by my church, and today I have a beautiful apartment, a puppy, and I’m taking care of my disabled mom. I’m also engaged to be married — and I’ve never been so happy or excited.

I will never be able to repay Union Rescue Mission or their donors for everything they’ve given to me.




 



Tonight, more than 58,000 people here in Los Angeles will have no place to call home. Many of them will bed down in alleys, under bridges or a bush in a park, or on a sidewalk. It’s been said that people don’t live on the streets of Los Angeles — they die on them.

Your gift will provide safe shelter and warm beds. It costs just $24.84 to give a hurting man, woman, or child a safe, warm night of shelter. Your gift to Union Rescue Mission today, however, will help provide even more — you will give them access to life transforming programs and other necessary resources. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

To put your gift to work even faster, go to urm.org/SafeShelter




 


Notes From Andy


Shelter Shortage

Right outside our front door today there’s a small, makeshift memorial, with flowers, candles, and a handwritten message that reads “Rest in Peace, Ray.” He died last night on that very spot of the sidewalk. I don’t know how he died, but I can’t help but wonder if he’d be alive today if he’d found safe shelter here at Union Rescue Mission.

There are more than 1,900 women and men, like Ray, trying to survive on the streets of skid row, and that number is growing. Right now, our guest program is completely full every night — and for the first time in my history here, we’re referring people to other agencies because we’ve run out of space. It just breaks my heart.

But we’re not giving up. We’re already looking at different solutions that would enable us to offer safe shelter and beds to all those who need them. We simply have to find a way. These are precious people made in the image of God. They need our love. And it’s our love for God that compels us to do this.

Thank you for sharing this great love and work with us.

Blessings,

Special 2015 Sales Event – URM Thrift Store

by josiah — January 5, 2015


The Union Rescue Mission thrift store is humming along as we roll in to 2015.  It continues to provide needed resources to combat homelessness in LA and create jobs for URM graduates and community members alike.  As we begin 2015 we wanted to celebrate its success and say thank you by hosting a 2015 Special Sales Event!
What

32 in. Flat Screen TV raffle (tickets given with any sale)

Free soft drinks and kettle corn

Items up to 50% off
When

Saturday January 10th from 9am to 6pm
Where 

URM thrift Store

280 E. Arrow Hwy

Covina, CA 91722

Please join us for the fun and bring your friends!

 

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,

Recent Headlines  

The Mission – January 2015

by Steve Lee — January 5, 2015

Special 2015 Sales Event – URM Thrift Store

by josiah — January 5, 2015

Andy’s End of Month Update – December 2014

by jhuckleby — December 30, 2014

Andy’s End of Month Update – November 2014

by jhuckleby — November 29, 2014

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