When I came to Hope Gardens in 2015, the rest of my life didn’t look promising. I was 57, and I’d been to prison four times. I had nowhere to live, a spotty work history, no driver’s license, ongoing legal problems, no savings, and no one to take care of me.
I found myself in the seniors’ wing of Hope Gardens with little hope that I’d ever be able to leave. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life here, but what chance did I have to support myself at my age?
Shortly after I arrived, however, my caseworker, Miranda, noticed I was depressed. She looked me in the eye and said, “Kimjoy, if you don’t hear anything else I ever say, hear this: This is not your end.”
She said it with so much conviction, I believed her. I knew it would take every bit of courage, strength, determination, and faith in God I could muster. But I was going to live independently one day.
A Lifetime of Insecurity
I grew up with a lot of insecurities. My parents weren’t around much and didn’t know how to show affection. Worse, I was never black enough for my black peers and never white enough for my white peers. So I became the prodigal kid, hanging around with all the wrong friends.
When I was 25, however, everything changed: I became a drug dealer. Selling drugs, it was instant respect. Everyone was my friend. Everyone listened to what I had to say and did what I wanted. The power of being in charge was addicting — and for the next 30 years, nothing could stop me. Not even prison.
When I left prison in 2014, I knew I had to change. But if I was going to be independent again, I needed a new career. Over the past two years, Hope Gardens has helped me get my ServSafe® Certification so I can work in any kitchen. I’ve also obtained two A.A. degrees in psychology and behavioral science, and I’m currently working on my B.S. in psychology, and I eventually want to get my master’s degree.
Hope Gardens has also hired me to work as a case manager, working with youth, and I’ve bought a car, and I’m getting ready to move into my own apartment.
Hope Gardens wasn’t my end. God used this place to help me every step of the way. I’ve come back from zero. It took me two years, but I reached my goal. I have a career, a job, and I’m independent again. And I have a future.
Thank YOU — YOU make all this possible!
What Kimjoy thought was “the end” turned out to be the beginning of something beautiful. See more of her story here.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” — 2 Corinthians 5:17
Good Friday Easter Egg Hunt and Personalized Easter Egg Baskets
On the Friday before Easter — what we call “Good Friday” — children experiencing homelessness at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center receive handcrafted, personalized Easter egg baskets filled with toys and candy and participate in a special Easter egg hunt.
Good Friday Evening Service in the Main Chapel
On the evening of Good Friday, all Union Rescue Mission guests are invited to a special chapel service to commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.
Saturday Easter Outreach
On Saturday, April 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Union Rescue Mission will hold a special outreach event for the Skid Row community. Guests are treated with live musical performances, free medical checkups, foot washings, and the chance to obtain items of their choice, including clothing, shoes, snacks, hygiene items, and Bibles.
Sunrise Easter Service (nondenominational)
Early in the morning on Easter Sunday, nearly 150 guests will gather with Rev. Andy Bales, CEO, and team on the rooftop of Union Rescue Mission to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ — the reason we do what we do.
Transforming Lives Through jobs
Union Rescue Mission’s Jobs Program provides job seekers with the tools and resources they need to find long-term employment that will help them rebuild their lives. Sustainable employment and dignified work are an essential part of helping our guests end the cycle of poverty and escape homelessness.
Our services include resume creation, workshops, mock interviews, vocational rehabilitation, and more. In addition, we build strategic relationships with other organizations, businesses, and recruiters to create more opportunities for job seekers.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
— Jeremiah 29:11
Your Gift Will Help Provide Jobs And New Life This Easter!
Struggling men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission seeking help need more than meals and shelter. They need more than sobriety. They need jobs. Real jobs. When guests leave here unable to find work — when they can’t support themselves with dignity and self-respect — they may end up right back where they started.
In addition to meals and shelter, your generous gift today will help provide men and women experiencing homelessness with long-term recovery programs, as well as training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles. And this Easter season, that can lead to real life transformation!
Last summer, I was in so much excruciating pain from the flesh-eating disease destroying my right foot, I considered retiring. But the thought of giving up my work — my ministry and vocation — and losing the dignity of providing for myself and my family, was too overwhelming. After my foot and ankle were amputated in September, I immediately returned to work.
But I came back understanding how many of our guests at Union Rescue Mission feel. Some have been out of work for years. Their hearts cry out for a job. They want to be productive and to be able to take care of their families. But it’s not easy. Some of them have long prison records. Others have disastrously little education or job skills, or even much of a work history.
That’s why URM’s Jobs Program is so crucial. We provide our guests with all the tools they need to go back to work, then connect them with employers willing to give them a chance. Giving someone a job is the best way to end homelessness. Thank you for giving our guests that opportunity. What you do is transforming lives — today and for eternity. And isn’t that what Easter is all about?