When Kenneth Chancey was a child, there were probably few people who gave him much of a chance to excel in life. His mother was a drug addict and his stepfather was physically abusive.
Kenneth spent his sixth-grade year living in a van in Griffith Park, where his mom frequently did drugs in front of him. His life was so unstable and toxic, he was placed in foster care. While he was safer in the group home, the instability and lack of personal identity persisted. The frequent group-home meetings, chores, and stress of sharing a room with 12 other boys “created a barrier to my education and my ability to participate in other school activities,” he says.
A Second Chance. When he was 15, however, he came to Union Rescue Mission, where he shared a 210-square-foot room with his father and sister. It wasn’t much, he says. “But it was the first time I had my own space since I was a kid.”
There Were Still Stresses. Despite facing many obstacles, including the stresses of life on Skid Row and a two-hour, round-trip bus ride to school each day, Kenneth persisted. “I started to excel at school,” he says. “My GPA jumped from a 2.0 to a 4.0. I could also spend more time playing football, running track, swimming, and participating in school government.”
One persistent stress was the financial struggle of his father. Kenneth says he constantly thought about dropping out to get a job to help his father financially. His dad refused. “Your education will pay off in the long run,” he would tell his son.
The Struggle Pays Off. Kenneth’s hard work paid off. Two years later, he graduated. And thanks to scholarships from Congresswoman Karen Bass, Magic Johnson, Andre Ethier, and the Dodgers Foundation — scholarships (with the exception of Bass’) made possible through Union Rescue Mission — Kenneth was able to attend Loyola Marymount University, where he studied political science.
He graduated in May 2015, and today he works for the City of Los Angeles as a special assistant to Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “I’m going into politics,” he says, “because I want to help people experiencing homelessness, especially youth.” Kenneth says he also wants to use his story to change perceptions of what people who are homeless can achieve.
“I was the first person in my family to ever get a secondary education,” Kenneth says. And his father adds that now the rest of the family will follow him.
“It’s so unbelievable,” he says. “I climbed here barehanded. Yes, it was harder than most people who have advantages I didn’t have. But it’s not impossible. All thanks to Union Rescue Mission.”
The Andre and Maggie Ethier Learning Center
“I know God will never let us down.”
One of the greatest needs among people experiencing homelessness is education. Lack of educational attainment is a significant barrier to independence. But Union Rescue Mission, with your help, enables our guests to overcome that barrier through instruction, inspiration, and motivation.
The Andre and Maggie Ethier Learning Center is equipped with 30 online computer terminals and is staffed by fully credentialed LAUSD instructors who help men and women in our recovery programs work toward their educational goals.
Thanks to you, the Learning Center also provides additional vocational education and trade support opportunities through programs offered from various community partners.
The Learning Center’s services include
• Microsoft (MOS) certification for Office software programs, including MS Word, MS Excel, and MS Access
• Basic math and English skills instruction
• Computer/typing literacy
• Graphic arts/design
• Business marketing & retail
• English as a Second Language (ESL) classes
• Literacy tutoring
• GED preparation
• Specialized vocational services
Please Help Transform Another Life Today
Union Rescue Mission helps transform the lives of men, women, and children through a variety of programs and educational opportunities with the compassion of Christ. After meeting their basic needs, URM offers more personalized and comprehensive solutions — including literacy tutoring, access to colleges and trade schools, job training, Bible studies, and more.
Let’s go beyond the meal and change someone’s life. Don’t wait. Please send the most generous gift you can. Thank you!
Remember Our Hope
This Lenten and Easter season, we invite you to join us for a few moments each day to reflect on our real hope for healing and new life. Receive Andy’s devotional emails by signing up at www.urm.org/devotionals
Join Us For Our 8th Annual
Evening of Entertainment Event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village to benefit Hope Gardens Family Center, a safe refuge for over 68 moms, 125 children, and 21 senior women. For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Karmen Herring at 213.347.6311 or visit www.urm.org/HeartsForHope
Date: March 4
Location: Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village, Two Dole Drive, Westlake Village, CA 91362
Thanks to Hope Gardens, Sebastian is getting the education and support he needs to grow into the amazing man God wants him to be. See his story at www.urm.org/stories
Notes from Andy
Learning and Life-Transformation
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.” I can’t think of a better way to describe what happens here at Union Rescue Mission: transforming lives through education.
I think immediately of Kenneth, who we feature in this newsletter. Homelessness can devastate kids like Kenneth. But thanks to the stability he found here, he thrived in high school. And then, thanks to all kinds of connections he made here, he fulfilled his dream of attending college. Today, he’s an exemplary young man who’s really going to leave his mark! Education transformed his life — and his family’s lives.
But college is just one kind of education open to our guests. Thanks to you, kids here get the stability and educational support they need. Our learning center teaches adults to read, do math, or get their GED. They also have access to trade schools and job training. And most important, everyone learns about the love of God.
I hear it all the time, “This is the first time I feel loved by God and loved by a family.” That’s the kind of life-transforming education we strive for — and that you make possible.