The Mission – April 2016

April Cover

In 2014, Tiffani got caught in a perfect storm of misfortune. The year started well. “I learned I was pregnant with my youngest daughter. I had just graduated from Everest College. I was working two jobs. I had two cars.

I was living with my grandmother and was doing good for myself and my kids,” she recalls.
But in April, she first lost one job and then the other. Unable to pay rent, her grandmother asked her to leave in June.

“I didn’t have any other family who would take us in,” she says. “So me and my children lived in a truck, until that was repossessed. Then we lived in a motel. I lost everything.”
But in September, her fortunes changed when she learned about Hope Gardens, a safe haven for single mothers and children experiencing homelessness.

“I knew it was the right choice for my children,” she says. “They’d have their own beds, showers, and three meals a day. But I needed it, too. I was a mess. I needed support. And I needed hope.”

Tiffani found that and more. Over the next 16 months, the staff at Hope Gardens taught her better parenting skills, how to save money, and they even helped her improve her relationship with her fiancé. And “they helped me figure out who I am: a strong, independent black woman,” she says.

She also credits the support she received from the other mothers. “The women here, we’re all the same. We all have things we’re going through and we all need help. I needed a sisterhood, or a family, to help me get where I needed to go. I got that here,” she explains.
But best of all, Tiffani says she found a new faith in God. “Before, God was always on the back burner,” she explains. “But He’s the one who got me through all this. Now He’s number one in everything.

“They call this place a garden,” Tiffani says. “Well, God used Hope Gardens to plant a seed inside of me. Then they watered it every day to keep that seed alive and grow.” And today, Tiffani is a grown, mature woman, ready to blossom in the world away from Hope Gardens.

“I did not deserve to be homeless,” she says. “But God does everything for a reason. He used this to open my eyes and show me what’s really important.”



No one deserves to experience homelessness — but everyone who IS experiencing homelessness deserves your compassion and help. Your gifts to Union Rescue Mission provide them with:

• Meals • Spiritual Guidance • Safe Shelter • Recovery from Addiction • Health and Dental Care • Love and Friendship • Educational and Job Opportunities • Counseling • A Way Home


Because of YOU for 125 years: Colin’s Story

IMG_1640_CMYKFor almost 15 years, Colin, originally from Uganda, lived the American dream — until the spring of 2008, when his coffee-importing business collapsed and his home went into foreclosure. Suddenly Colin, his wife, and his 3-year-old daughter found themselves walking the streets of Skid Row to Union Rescue Mission.
“It just shows how quickly things can unravel,” says Colin. “When we came to Skid Row, all I could think was, ‘What am I doing here? This isn’t my story.’ But I quickly realized anyone can suddenly find himself here. Whether you’re a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a beggar on the street, things outside your control can quickly change.”
Today, thanks to caring friends like you and the help he received at Union Rescue Mission, Colin and his family have returned to Africa, where they founded and run the International Hospitality Academy of Rwanda.

Homelessness in LA

Attention Golfers: 9th Annual Spring Golf Classic

If you or someone you know enjoys golfing, please consider joining us for our 9th Annual Spring Golf Classic on May 16, 2016. This event, held at Mountaingate Country Club, will help Union Rescue Mission provide hope and healing to men, women, and children experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
For more information, please call Karmen Herring at (213) 347-6311 or


Notes from Andy
No One Deserves This

Homelessness is exploding, not just on Skid Row, but all over Los Angeles. It’s skyrocketing rents. The breaking down of families. Mental health issues. Broken prison and foster-care systems. Child and spousal abuse. Unemployment. And, yes, drug and alcohol addictions.

And it’s not just men anymore. For the first time in Union Rescue Mission’s history, we’re sheltering more women and children than men. But no matter who we’re talking about, no one deserves to get left behind, to experience homelessness. Children don’t make that choice. Tiffani didn’t make that choice. The mentally ill don’t make that choice. Not even those who are losing the war to their addictions deserve to die on a sidewalk.

They need help, not judgment. And who will give them that help? “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter” (Proverbs 24:11). Caring people like you and me. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We are responsible.

And that’s why I’m so grateful for you. Your compassionate support provides shelter, meals, and the real, tangible help that leads many from homelessness back to home again. Thank you for all you do.






Thousands of hurting people like Tiffani are struggling with homelessness in Los Angeles today. Many suffer from fear, loneliness, physical abuse, addictions, neglect, illness, job losses, home foreclosures, and more. No one deserves that.

You can help restore the broken lives of precious men, women, and children who deserve a second chance today by supporting Union Rescue Mission. Your generous gift of $25, $35, or more will help provide them with safe shelter, hot meals, and the real, long-term help they need to find their way home.

So please give the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

The Mission – March 2016


There’s nothing worse than the feeling you’re dying. I’ve felt that way many times in my life — sometimes it triggered anxiety attacks so bad I could barely function. And that’s a terrible experience for someone who loved life as much as I did.

At least, I thought I loved life. Looking back now, I realize I was never really alive.

When I first tried crystal meth in 1975, I knew it was the only drug for me. For the rest of my life, no matter how good or bad my life was going, my one companion through it all was meth.

For 15 years, I managed pretty well for a meth addict. I had a good-paying job in the trucking industry, a three-bedroom condo in Huntington Beach, and a girlfriend who loved me. But when I lost my job because of my addiction, I lost everything else, too.

It wasn’t long before I was sleeping on the streets of Anaheim, recycling cans, and diving in dumpsters. Anything to get more meth. I did work from time to time. But I also crossed a lot of moral lines and did some things I’m really ashamed of.

Thanks to meth, I missed out on so much, like family birthdays, camping trips, or a family of my own. I just did not know how to do life without meth. Sometimes I stayed with friends. Other times, with my sister or nieces. But when my drug use got too much for them, I was out again. I thought I loved life — but I hated the way I was living.

In June 2014, however, God led me to Union Rescue Mission. I guess you could say when
I came here I was a walking dead man. But I knew from the start that everything would change. Over the next several months, thanks to my chaplain and the other guys in the program with me, I slowly realized I still had value and life was still possible.

But it was Jesus Christ who made the real difference. He died so I could live. And on that first Easter, when He walked out of the tomb, He carried me with Him. When I got that, I could give up all my guilt and shame. I could forgive myself. And 2 Corinthians 5:17 became real: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

When I came to Union Rescue Mission, I was dead. But today I am truly alive. And I love
that feeling.


Celebrating the Easter Promise of New Life at Union Rescue

IMG_4505 cmyk crGood 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.

IMG_5152_CMYKSaturday Easter Outreach
The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, Union Rescue Mission holds a special outreach event for the Skid Row community.
Guests are treated to 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.

AFriedman_PhotosGood 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.


SunriseService cmyk crSunrise Easter Service (nondenominational)
Early in the morning on Easter Sunday, nearly 150 guests will gather on the rooftop of Union Rescue Mission to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ — the reason we do what we do.

GOING STRONG FOR 125 YEARS BECAUSE OF YOU: Story of a convert from 1941

Chapel Service, Main St. Mission

“I lived all my life without God,” said Earl*, a guest at Union Rescue Mission in 1941. “I suffered all the tortures of the addicted and damned. What was I to do?”

He turned to Union Rescue Mission for help. One Sunday night, he listened to the president of Union Rescue Mission, R. Gordon Boyd, preach a sermon on John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Through the rest of the evening, Earl went over the message again and again: Jesus Christ died on the cross and atoned for the sins of the world. He was resurrected three days later and lives today. So by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus, Earl could be saved.
Could it be true? Earl wrestled with the thought as he lay in bed that night. At last, in despair he cried out, “God, have mercy on me and forgive my sins!”

At that moment, Earl received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. “God granted His mercy to me,” Earl recalled later, with tears running down his cheeks, “and He completely transformed my life.”

He eventually ended up working as an executive at one of the largest hotels on the Pacific Coast.
*Not his real name.

Notes from Andy – Our Easter Mission

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

If there’s a single verse that describes the miracle of James and the new life he’s living, it’s this one. For almost 40 years, he was lost in a living death of meth addiction, a lifelong blur of pain, misery, and fear of death. But today he is a brand-new man,
drug free, restored to his family, and full of life. The old is gone; his new life has begun.

That’s the kind of miracle I see every day here at Union Rescue Mission. It’s the kind of miracle that keeps me going, and it’s why I race to work every day. It’s the kind of story that reminds me to never give up on anyone, because God never gives up on any of us. All things are possible through Jesus Christ! That’s what we believe at Union Rescue Mission, and I know it’s what you believe, because your financial support proves it.

I know it can get pretty discouraging sometimes. Walk a few feet outside our doors, and you’ll see thousands of devastated people, slowly suffering and dying on these sidewalks. It’s easy to look at that man or woman and think there’s no hope. But it’s not true!

Just walk a few feet inside our building, and you’ll see a whole different story. Through your faithful financial support and prayers, through our chaplains, therapists, caseworkers, and volunteers, working together, we change lives. But even more important, we create the space for God to transform lives. And isn’t that what Easter — the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — is all about?

Union Rescue Mission is an Easter mission. Thank you for being our Easter partners!


People on Skid Row who are struggling with addictions and homelessness need hope that new life is possible for them. Thanks to Easter, when Jesus walked out of His tomb, you and I know that new life is more than just a hope.

When men, women, and children experiencing homelessness come to Union Rescue Mission, they receive the real, tangible help they need to rebuild their lives. That’s what your gifts really mean to hurting people at Union Rescue Mission — thank you!

Your gift will provide hot meals — and new life — this Easter!

It doesn’t cost much to help transform a life. And that’s what our Give Help Give Hope Easter Fund 2016 is all about. Your generous gift of $25, $35, or more today will help provide hurting men, women, and children with hot meals, safe shelter, long-term help — and hope for new life this Easter season.

So, please give the most generous gift you can today.

Thank you!


Your Easter Gift Resurrects Lives Like James’

This Easter season, your gift to Union Rescue Mission is truly a cost-effective way to transform a life like James’.
To compare, it costs . . .

$82.50 to house a person for one day in an area hotel.
$129.92 to incarcerate a person for one day in jail.
$600 for a person to spend one day in a private recovery program.


to support a person for one day in URM’s Life-Transformation Program.

The Mission – February 2016

Cover-FebWhen I came to Union Rescue Mission, I had one foot in the tomb. I hadn’t spent two days sober in more than 50 years. I’d lost everything — my family, home, career — and I was in deep debt. I once lived with a view of the ocean. Now my view was Skid Row.

Quite a fall for a man with a master’s degree from one Ivy League university and who once served as Dean of Men at another.

I started drinking when I was 15. I was already an alcoholic in college. I met my wife, Kim, in a New York bar. By the time we married, she quit drinking. I didn’t. For more than 20 years, she tried to get me to stop. She made my life miserable. Now I realize she was the one person who showed me what real love looks like.

As my drinking became unbearable, Kim kicked me out.

So I drank even more. To pay rent, I borrowed from my wife and my mother.

In August 2014, I got evicted from my apartment. That’s when Kim brought me to Union Rescue Mission. When I told her, “I’m not going in there!” she responded, “Then you can live under a bridge.” She saved my life that day.

I stayed. But that meant I had to face the lies I had built my life upon: I’m not an alcoholic; I can quit any time I want. Lie: I’m too smart for this; I have an Ivy League education!
Lie: I’m not as bad as all these other alcoholics and junkies. And the Lie of lies: God hates me for what I’ve done.

Slowly, I gave up every one of those lies but the last one — until my chaplain looked me in the eyes and asked, “Who told you God hated you?” My chaplain started going through scripture with me and enabled me to realize God didn’t hate me: He loved me unconditionally. Nothing could ever make Him stop loving me. When I understood that, I could finally face the incredible shame and guilt that kept me drinking for 50 years. And I left all that shame and guilt on the cross of Jesus Christ.

After Jesus died on that cross, He lay dead in a tomb. When I came to URM, I lay dead in that same tomb. But here’s the thing: Three days after they put Jesus in that tomb,
He walked out with a resurrected life. And when He walked out, He carried me with Him. Now I have a hope and a future. Hallelujah!


The Love That Saved Robert’s Life

P1000952_cmykSome people say that a successful marriage is just two people who refuse to give up on each other. Kimberly, Robert’s wife for more than 35 years, models that adage.

“Bob’s drinking was hard to deal with. I could have divorced him, but I didn’t want my son to go through that,” Kimberly says. “Besides, I care about Bob. I really care. He’s smart, he’s funny. And he has a good heart. So I had to find a way to help him and to make our marriage work.”

When Kimberly met Robert, she was a self-described alcoholic, too. After she started experiencing blackouts, however, she quit drinking and tried to get Robert to quit, as well. He refused.

The marriage was difficult from the beginning. Then, as Robert’s drinking worsened, Kimberly became a “born-again” Christian. She found solace in her new faith, but the marriage got worse. “We argued and kept falling further away from each other. Then, when we fell behind in paying our bills, I got more and more resentful. I finally had to get him out of the house for both our sakes. But I never stopped caring for him.”

Another Miracle on Skid Row

One day, she started listening to Rev. Andy Bales on URM’s Amazing Stories From Skid Row radio program, which features men and women at Union Rescue Mission who are overcoming addictions and homelessness. She knew what she had to do. In August 2014, she brought him to the Mission.

Her tough love paid off. “I see a miracle taking place in Bob,” she says. “He’s a changed man. He loves the Lord and every day he’s getting healthier. I’ve always known that he loved me and our son, but now I’m seeing it every day. There’s still a long way to go, but we’re gaining our trust in each other again, now that we have Jesus in our lives.  I truly believe that all things are possible when we reach out to our heavenly Father. Union Rescue Mission is an amazing place.”



For 18 years, I was rarely sober. In fact, there was a saying back in the town where I lived that if you wanted to do any business with me, you’d better get to me before 5 o’clock — because by 6 o’clock, I was too far gone.

I simply couldn’t stop drinking. I lost everything. My family wanted nothing to do with me. Even my own father denounced me.

I tried over and over to quit drinking. I couldn’t do it. But one day, I walked into Union Rescue Mission because I was curious. I listened to an old man talk about how he had spent 35 years drinking, and he was completely drunk the day he walked in here. But then he prayed to God and he had been sober for nine months.

That’s when I realized that I had tried everything to quit drinking except Jesus Christ. So I went up to the altar and cried out to Jesus Christ. He came into my life that night and I have been sober now for more than two years.

No more box cars, no more empty pockets. Today, I am a free man. I am a trusted employee in a large corporation. I share a Christian home with my beautiful wife and a fine baby boy. And now I can look the whole world in the face and praise God.


Join us for our annual Hearts for Hope Gala

On March 5, Union Rescue Mission and the Hearts for Hope Committee will host the seventh annual Hearts for Hope Evening of Entertainment Event at the beautiful
Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village to benefit Hope Gardens Family Center.
Hope Gardens Family Center is a transitional housing facility where women and children experiencing homelessness can find rest, regain hope, and get the chance to build
a better life. Today, Hope Gardens Family Center is a safe refuge for over 50 moms,
80 children, and 25 senior women.

This year’s event will include a shopping boutique, silent and live auction, raffles with great prizes, dinner, entertainment, and the presentation of our 2016 Heart for Service Awards.

Hearts for Hope Gala
“A Generation of Hope”

Date: March 5, 2016
Time: 5:30PM – 10:00PM
Location: Four Seasons Hotel – Westlake Village
Two Dole Drive
Westlake Village, CA 91362
Cost: $225

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Karmen Herring at (213) 347-6311 or visit


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

“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” — Romans 6:4



Union Rescue Mission helps transform the lives of men, women, and children — mind, body, and spirit — through a variety of programs with the compassion of Christ. After meeting their basic needs, URM offers more personalized and comprehensive solutions.
Your gift today of $15, $25, or more will not only provide meals and shelter, it will help hurting people develop a personal relationship with Jesus, rebuild family relationships, create financial stability, restore physical health, and much more.

So please do more than save a life today. Help change someone’s life. Don’t wait. Please send the most generous gift you can. Thank you!

To put your gift to work even faster, go to


Notes from Andy
Your Life-Changing Work

It may never get made into a movie, but Robert and Kimberly’s tale in this issue of The Mission is a real love story. Robert, the brash, funny, smart, likeable, life-long alcoholic — the college sophomore who never grew up. And Kimberly, the beautiful, faithful, caring wife who refused to ever give up on Robert, despite his self-destructive addiction. Robert caused Kimberly a whole lot of heartache and trouble!

But when Robert hit his rock bottom, it was Kimberly who picked him up and brought him to Union Rescue Mission. Robert slowly came around, and his wit and outgoing charm emerged with him.

I cheered him on every step of the way. The love he experienced here at the Mission transformed him. But it was Kim’s love that saved him.

Yet there’s a deeper love here, too. Robert spent 50 years walking a long, dark journey of addiction. But that long, dark journey ended at the cross of Jesus. Thanks to God’s love, and Jesus’ death and resurrection, Robert is a completely new man. That’s the promise of Easter. And that promise of Easter is what Union Rescue Mission is all about. And it’s what YOU are all about. Your support means Easter miracles.



The Mission – January 2016


“I hated my life and I believed God hated me, too,” says Alan, 59. “I was miserable, and God wanted it that way.” Or so he thought.

Alan was born in Massachusetts. His father died when he was just 18 months old. From that point on, he says, “My mother despised me. For 13 years, she beat me with a belt so bad, I thought she’d kill me.”

He escaped the abuse when he left home at 15. But the damage was done. “I felt worthless,” he recalls. “I never felt I was good enough for anything — or anyone.”

He tried to stay emotionally distant from people, and he says he didn’t have a real friend for more than 45 years. Although he’s been married three times, and fathered three children, he admits he traded love for alcohol and every drug he could get his hands on.

“I should have been happy. I had my own business, remodeling homes and building cabinets,” Alan says.

“I loved the work. I was good at it and I made a lot of money. But I was miserable with myself from the second I woke up until the second I went to sleep.”

His Cross Country Journey to Kill Himself

Finally, one day in the summer of 2014, he left home with a plan to kill himself. He drove all the way across the country, to Los Angeles, where he tried to follow through on his plan, downing a lethal combination of drugs and tequila. But hours later, he woke up.

Frustrated and dead broke, he came to Union Rescue Mission looking for a shower, a meal, and a bed. But once here, he started listening to some of the other guests as they quoted Scripture and talked of hope.

He stayed longer and went to classes that slowly softened his heart.

“The Greatest Thing I Ever Heard”

Then Alan recalls the day a chaplain told him that God loves him — unconditionally and forever. When Alan scoffed, the chaplain looked him in the eyes and repeated, “God loves you.”

“No one ever told me that before. I don’t know why, but I believed it,” Alan says. “It was the greatest thing I ever heard. And everything changed right there and then. It was just that simple.”

Over the following months, God continued to overwhelm Alan with love every day. As misery fell away, love and friendships grew. “I have friends for the first time in my life. Not drinking buddies, but friends. They love me, and I would die for these guys.

“But even if no one loved me, I know God does,” he says. “Here I am, living on Skid Row, 3,000 miles from home, and I have never been happier.”

Then Alan opens his Bible to Psalm 40, and with tears welling in his eyes, he begins to read: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”



Watch why Jon’s second time in our Men’s Program made all the difference!


No child should have to celebrate a birthday in a homeless shelter. But 4-year-old Nancy Lee didn’t seem to mind. There weren’t many presents, but she was surrounded by her loving family and caring employees at Union Rescue Mission. Dressed in red, and with a red ribbon in her hair, she was the center of attention.

Her family were farm laborers near Bakersfield. But when the work ran out, so did their meager savings. They had just enough money for bus fare to Los Angeles. Exhausted, hungry, and broke, they made their way to Union Rescue Mission, where they found shelter, nutritious food, and long-term care.

On Nancy Lee’s birthday, everyone bowed their heads and gave thanks for the help they had received. Afterward, despite their difficult circumstances, Nancy started to sing at the top her voice: “Happy birthday to me!” And for one day, everyone really was happy.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” — Luke 18:16




For 125 years, Union Rescue Mission has been at the forefront of helping our neighbors experiencing homelessness and transforming the lives of countless hurting men, women, and children on Skid Row and throughout Los Angeles — all thanks to caring and generous people like you.

But today, the number of people experiencing homelessness is so staggering, the City of Los Angeles has declared a state of emergency. Tens of thousands of these precious individuals are living in cars and garages, in parks and alleys, in tents, under bridges, and even on sidewalks. They desperately need help. YOUR help.

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 make the most generous gift you can today at Thank you!



Notes from Andy
It’s Our Anniversary – But It’s Your Story

Whenever I see all the hunger, poverty, homelessness, and unimaginable human suffering here on Skid Row, my heart just breaks. But I never lose hope.

That’s because I know there are thousands of people like you in Los Angeles who are heartbroken too — heartbroken enough to care and compassionate enough to do something about it.

A History of Helping Hands
It’s been that way for 125 years, since the day Lyman Stewart, president of Union Oil Company, founded Union Rescue Mission and sent gospel wagons to offer food, clothing, and salvation to lost souls — and invited caring folks like you to support this work through their time and financial support. It was a singular vision to love and welcome struggling people on the streets, and to never give up on anyone until they get back on their feet. And that vision has never changed.

That vision did not falter during the Great Depression, when overwhelming numbers of hungry people needed food, and caring people helped us feed them.

It continued into the 1980s and 1990s, when the numbers of homeless women and children exploded, and you helped us build a shelter for up to 1,000 people a night — and later, to open Hope Gardens Family Center, where up to 55 mothers and 110 children can
get back on their feet. The vision caused us to step up during the Great Recession, when a tsunami of hurting people stretched our resources to the breaking point — and once again, you stepped up when others wouldn’t.

Today’s Crisis Needs Your Care
So it’s because of you I have hope. And I need it more than ever, because homelessness on Skid Row is one of the worst human disasters in the United States today. At least 57,000 people in Los Angeles have no place to call home every night. Half of them are women and children. Nearly 13,000 people a month fall into homelessness because they can’t afford housing. Thousands more stream out of county jails, foster homes, hospitals, and state prisons with no place to go. And now nearly 4,000 people are living — and dying — on the sidewalks of Skid Row.

People come to Union Rescue Mission seeking help for addictions. They need mental health care to recover from past abuse and crippling trauma. Medical and dental treatment. Education and help finding jobs. And they need time and support to find affordable housing. They need to know they’re loved and that they still matter. They need to know that God, and that you and I, really do care, and that a second chance is still possible.

Celebrating YOU in 2016
The crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles is staggering, complicated, and challenging. But it’s not hopeless. In 2016, we will celebrate Union Rescue Mission’s 125th anniversary. It’s not to celebrate history or an institution. It is to celebrate caring people like you, who have risen to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles since 1891. It is to celebrate the hope that together, with God’s help, we will once more rise up to offer a helping hand to precious men and women experiencing homelessness — and to never give up until every one of them gets back on their feet.




5K2016Please join team Union Rescue Mission at the Los Angeles Marathon’s “LA Big 5K” event to raise awareness and financial support that will support men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. Whether you are a novice or an experienced runner, we’ll provide all you need to get started and finish strong. Together, we can help end homelessness in Los Angeles!

For more information or to join the team (spots are limited), contact Alex Cornejo at (213) 673-4860 or!

The Mission – December 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 2.49.49 PM

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.”


Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 2.50.27 PM

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!

IMG_5782_edit_cmyk“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

IMG_5819_edit_cmykBecause 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.

The Mission — November 2015

IMG_5710_cmykMarisa’s Merry Christmas

How you are giving a precious child and her family the chance to rebuild their lives — and learn the real meaning of Christmas.

When I was younger, I thought Christmas was all about decorations, looking at Christmas lights, and getting presents,” says 12-year-old Marisa. “But it’s really about Jesus. I didn’t know that before I came to Hope Gardens. Now He’s my real dad.” That’s important to Marisa because her birth father was a raging alcoholic who emotionally and physically abused his family. He controlled their movements through intimidation and threats, often keeping them prisoner in their own home. And he’s now in jail for other child-related crimes. Marisa is just one of nearly 80 children who live with their moms at Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center, a 77-acre sanctuary that offers transitional housing to families experiencing homelessness like Marisa’s. “She’s changed so much since we got here,” says Marisa’s mother, Jessica. “She’s beautiful, talented, and smart. I’m so proud of her.” Marisa came to Hope Gardens, along with her mother and younger brother, in February 2014, after struggling with homelessness for three years after the arrest of her father. Because of the abuse and trauma she experienced growing up, Marisa has trouble remembering much about her childhood. But she is opening up and thriving, thanks to the care she gets at Hope Gardens. “I like Hope Gardens,” she says. “I met my two best friends here.” She’s also very involved in the praise dance group, Bible studies, and other activities. “But the best thing about Hope Gardens,” she says, “is that my mom and I got to know each other better. Before, we were always stuck in bad situations. Now we’re safe and we get to spend more time talking about stuff.” She also enjoyed spending last Christmas at Hope Gardens. “We watched Christmas movies, made wreaths and stockings, and we even built a gingerbread house,” she recalls. “We also worshipped Jesus. And that’s important, because I know I’m a better person than I was before I met Him.” Like any child, Marisa still enjoys the excitement of opening presents on Christmas morning. But thanks to friends like you, Christmas means so much more now. And she can look forward to a real future when all is calm. And all is bright.

URM logo CMYK Stacked 125years tag stacked2b

Celebrating 125 years of Transformed Lives

In 2016, Union Rescue Mission will celebrate 125 years of continuous service to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. URM was founded in 1891, when we took to the streets in gospel wagons to offer food, clothing, and salvation to the less fortunate. Over the years URM has continued and expanded its efforts to feed both the body and the soul, helping individuals and families break the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.

But really, for 125 years, the work of Union Rescue Mission has been YOURS — YOU are the Mission. Your faithfulness and generosity has transformed countless lives. Stay tuned over the coming weeks and months in 2016, as we celebrate YOU and God’s faithful care for precious men, women, and children.

Alan video imageGrateful Awareness of Mercy: Watch how God brought Alan to the Mission and how Alan learned that God wants you as you are. Through God’s mercy and love, Alan now knows he is good enough.

Time’s Running Out

When you make a gift of any kind to Union Rescue Mission before December 31, not only will you make the New Year brighter for men and women experiencing homelessness, you will receive a charitable tax deduction on your 2015 tax return.

Please Donate Today!

For more information, please call Armi Ramirez at
(213) 673-4825 or send an email to

IMG_5715_cmykAsleep in Heavenly Peace — At Last

Marisa’s mother, Jessica, experiences Christmas happiness at Hope Gardens Family Center.

Christmas is probably my only good memory from childhood. My mom loved Christmas and went all out every year — decorations, lights, Christmas cookies, the big tree, everything. The problem was the rest of the year. Both my parents were addicts, and my father was also physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. There was never much love in our home. Then I met my husband when I was 21. At first, I thought he was kind and just wanted me to stay home so he could take care of me. We had two children together — Marisa, who’s 12, and Jesse, who’s 9. We were married for 11 awful years. He drank every day, all day. He was so controlling, we could never leave the house. The kids weren’t allowed to have friends. We lived in constant fear. I tried to escape many times, but I just couldn’t make it on my own. We only got out after my husband went to jail. But we struggled with homelessness for three years before we finally came to Hope Gardens. We’ve been here for a year and a half now, and I can’t believe how blessed we are. It’s so beautiful here. My kids and I are safe, we have our own space with room to breathe, we can relax, and I feel like we’re getting to know each other for the first time without all the fear and trauma hanging over us. And there are so many other great mothers here who each make me stronger. The classes here have also helped me grow into a stronger, healthier, mature woman and mother. They taught me better financial management. We’ve all received Bibles, we’re going to church, and we’re growing in our faith. And now I’m preparing to go back to work. Last Christmas, here at Hope Gardens, was the best ever. In fact, I can say it was the first time in my life I was ever happy. My kids got to relax and be kids. We didn’t have any money, but thanks to Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Store, I got to give presents to them. We celebrated the birth of Jesus together, because without him we have nothing. And we celebrated our new lives. This Christmas, I really will sleep in heavenly peace.


125 Years of Mission

In just a few weeks, Christians will celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, when Jesus brought healing and hope to a world filled with fear, cruelty, darkness, physical and spiritual hunger, and hopelessness.

Beginning in January 2016, we’ll also celebrate another birth of healing and hope — the 125th anniversary of Union Rescue Mission’s birth on Skid Row. That’s 125 years of bringing the hope and transforming power of Jesus to precious human beings struggling to survive on these mean, cruel streets.

In many ways, Skid Row is worse than ever. But there’s still hope, especially inside Union Rescue Mission, where Christ’s Light still shines, where peace dwells, and where lives are transformed for eternity. It’s our mission. But it’s not really our Mission. It’s yours. For 125 years, thousands and thousands of lives have been saved on Skid Row, because thousands and thousands of generous, caring people like you have partnered with Jesus, and with us, to bring His hope and healing into the dark world.

So in 2016, we plan to celebrate — to celebrate 125 years of Jesus’ presence on Skid Row, and to celebrate YOU. Because YOU make it all possible.




To read Andy’s blog, please visit

Union-Rescue-Mission-Christmas-Donation-452_CMYKURM’s 25th Annual Christmas Store

Give Kids Experiencing Homelessness Joy at Christmas

Thanksgiving and Christmas can be difficult for families experiencing homelessness. But for 25 years, Union Rescue Mission’s Christmas Store has brought joy into their lives when they needed it most.

This year, thousands of precious children at Union Rescue Mission, Hope Gardens Family Center, and other agencies serving underprivileged kids throughout the greater Los Angeles area, will receive brand-new gifts because of the 25th annual Christmas Store.

On December 10, more than 700 moms and dads with little or no income will enjoy the dignity of being able to provide their children with gifts they select themselves (for free) and give to their children personally.

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 Victor Ortiz at (213) 316-2779.

20141001_1486_cmykGive Hurting People Something Meaningful — Hope

For most of us, the holiday season is a magical time of excitement and anticipation, gifts, good food, and time spent with loved ones. But for men, women, and children on Skid Row, Christmas is often a painful time without presents, food, a home — or even hope.

At Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center, however, men, women, and children experiencing homelessness will wake up with Christmas joy — and the hope for a new life — thanks to generous people like you.

This holiday season, 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 at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens. 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

Sign Up for Rev. Andy’s Advent Email Devotionals

The season of Advent leading up to Christmas is 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 now 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

Kenneth_cmykBecause of you: Kenneth’s Story

After my parents got divorced when I was in high school, I ended up living with friends, in group homes, and in foster care while my parents battled over custody. When my dad finally got custody, however, we didn’t have adequate housing, so we came to Union Rescue Mission in December 2008. Union Rescue Mission gave us a roof over our heads and gave me the stability I needed.

We left Union Rescue Mission in March 2010. Today, I’m a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and now I’m planning to go to law school. One day
I hope to go into politics and run for office so I can make an everlasting difference in the areas of homelessness, foster care, and elder treatment.
My goal is to one day be mayor of Los Angeles, and eventually governor
of California.

The Mission – October 2015


“ Skid Row is horrible, like a nightmare . . . I completely wasted my life out there.”

“When you’re an addict, living on a sidewalk, Thanksgiving’s just another day to get high,” says Willie, who called the streets home for almost 25 years. “Skid Row is horrible, like a nightmare. Crowds of people smoking crack, shooting heroin, drinking. Rape. Prostitutes. I‘ve seen folks get their heads busted in for $2. I saw one guy crawl into a dumpster and get eaten up by rats. I completely wasted my life out there.” Skid Row is a long way from his middle-class childhood, when his life felt stable, when Thanksgivings were spent with family, good food, warm feelings, and laughter. Before the pain and confusion of his parents’ divorce sent him into an emotional tailspin, and he started hanging with the wrong friends. At 22, Willie discovered crack, and his life spiraled completely out of control. Drugs cost him his savings and his job. Then his home. He ended up in and out of jail too many times to count. When he was free, he ate, and sometimes slept, at the Missions on Skid Row, including Union Rescue Mission. “Crack and alcohol finally sent me to my knees, crying out for help,” he recalls. “I knew if I stayed out there much longer, I was going to die. I had people who cared about me — sisters, my mom, nieces and nephews. I needed help, so I came to Union Rescue Mission on November 11, 2013.”


Willie took advantage of everything Union Rescue Mission offers: Bible studies, chapel service, physical fitness, work therapy, counseling with his chaplains, health care — he even got new teeth through the Mission’s dental clinic. But one of the highlights was Thanksgiving, he says. “I was here the past two Thanksgivings,” he recalls. “You can’t believe the number of people who come here to serve folks like me. Those folks really care, and they make a whole lot of people on these streets happy.

In fact, last Thanksgiving I got to help serve, too. “When you start ministering to someone else, all of a sudden, all your problems don’t seem so big. So now, whenever I can help someone else out, I’m going to do it. “God and my chaplains helped me through the whole program,” he continues. “This is the longest I’ve been sober in over 25 years. I’m healthy. I got my family back. I’m engaged to be married. And I feel so good about myself. I’m thankful God never gave up on me.”

Thanksgiving Meals and a Way Home — With Your Help Today

All year-round at Union Rescue Mission, your gifts offer precious men, women, and children experiencing homelessness with safe shelter, nutritious meals, long-term care — and even the help they need to find their way home. Thank you! But right now, due to California’s ongoing drought and a severe drop in food donations, we’re facing a severe crisis this holiday season — our busiest time of year. We desperately need your help! Your gift of $33.74 will provide 14 holiday meals!

It still costs just $2.41 to provide a holiday meal to a hungry man, woman, or child. This season, we expect to serve more than 180,000 meals. Your gift of $33.74 will help feed 14 people, $67.48 will help feed 28 people, or any amount you can send will help. So please give generously. Thank you!

To put your gift to work even faster, go to

2015-10-13_09-27-51Special Opportunity to Love Your Neighbor!

On November 14, URM will hand out 3,000 special kits to all neighbors on Skid Row. These kits are filled with shampoo, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, razors, socks, and a special invitation to celebrate Thanksgiving with us at Union Rescue Mission. For just $3, you can provide one of these special kits to one of our Skid Row neighbors — and add a personalized blessing signed by YOU! Please check the special $3 box on your remit form, then sign the Blessing Card with your first name only. It’s a wonderful way to love your neighbor this holiday season!

I grew up in East L.A. I never thought I’d end up on the streets of Skid Row. But I got hooked on alcohol. I lost a good job. I lost my marriage. My drinking got so bad, my own family didn’t want me around. So I ended up homeless here. By October 2013, I was broken down, sick, crying, and defeated by life. Then I came to Union Rescue Mission. Thanks to this place, I opened my life to God. I found what I’d been missing all my life. I found the life God has for me. My family has welcomed me back and I’m even going back to school!



Notes from Andy

A Day of Gratitude and a Moment of Joy

People are pouring into Skid Row like never before. The sidewalks outside Union Rescue Mission are crowded and I’ve never seen so much desperation. It’s just chaos out there. But every Thanksgiving — thanks to your generous support — we take these precious folks away from their desperation for a day of joy. With music playing on the sidewalks, dancing in the streets, and the smoke of fried turkeys wafting down the streets, we make sure our guests enjoy the most splendid Thanksgiving ever — and maybe a reminder of how loved they really are. And when that happens, some will take the courageous step to leave the streets behind and transform their lives. Celebrating Thanksgiving at Union Rescue Mission gives us the chance to show our gratitude for all God has given to us by giving ourselves to those who have nothing at all. How well you and I pull this off is a true reflection of how grateful we really are. So I invite you to join with us again this year, offering your time and your financial support to display to the world our thankfulness and our love for others.



The Mission – August 2015


“For most of my life, the world viewed me as trash,” says Gary, 57. “But God used Union Rescue Mission to make me a treasure, and to show the world what He can do with someone like me.”

Gary grew up in poverty, the son of a struggling mother who had difficulty providing for her family. “We never had what the other kids had,” he recalls. “They dressed nicer than we did. I guess that affected my self-esteem.”

By high school, Gary was snatching purses, burglarizing homes, stealing cars, and gambling on the streets. Then his brother introduced him to crack cocaine. He was immediately hooked, and his life spiraled even more out of control. Between 1998 and 2012, he was constantly in and out of prison. And when he wasn’t in prison, he wasted his life away on Skid Row.

“I wanted to change,” he says. “I would see other people get clean, but I didn’t t

August2015NL_inside2hink it would ever happen for me. Then one day around 1999, the Lord spoke to my spirit: ‘Satan’s trying to destroy you. But I got you.’”

It took 10 more years to see the fruit of God’s promise. In 2009, Gary surrendered his life to Jesus Christ in prison. Before long, he was leading Bible studies and preaching in chapel services, and he even felt God’s call to one day go into ministry.

When Gary was released from prison in 2012, God led him straight to Union Rescue

Mission. “I needed a place to stay and I wanted to be in a stable Christian community,” he says. “The Mission fed me, gave me clothes, all of that. But the most important thing is,

they raised me up in the Word of God, and they gave me purpose and direction. The chaplains here modeled for me what ministry is all about.”

Soon Gary joined Central City Community Church, where he now serves as an assistant to

the pastor. He even got married for the first time in February 2013, and in July 2014, Union Rescue Mission hired Gary full-time to drive a truck for their new thrift store in Covina.

“I’m a truck driver,” he says. “I pick up used items that we sell at the thrift store. But it’s more than that. I know what I’m doing is going to benefit others and to God’s glory. So I drive my truck with joy, because I know I’m a part of this incredible ministry. I’m a part of something glorious and honoring to God.”


20150812-untitled shoot-untitled-DSCF5799

Real Jobs for Real People — Thanks to You!

by Glynn Coleman, Employment Skills Specialist 

Many of the men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission have a spotty employment history, a lack of marketable job skills, and a history of felonies that can hurt their chances at gaining full-time employment and becoming self- sufficient. These precious people need more than meals and shelter, they need jobs. Real jobs.

And that’s where you come in. Your financial gifts and support to URM do far more than provide meals and shelter. Your gifts help transform lives and help prepare men and women experiencing homelessness with job-preparedness training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.

Thanks to you, our Employment Program has already helped more than 100 men and women find sustainable employment that has not only helped them support themselves, but often their families, as well.




Summer heat on Skid Row is dangerous for the men and women who call these streets home. They desperately need your help. Yet every summer, donations to Union Rescue Mission drop way off, threatening our ability to meet their needs. Your gift today will provide cold water, cool shelter, nutritious meals, and another day of hope to precious people who need your help the most this summer. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

— Anytime it’s 85 degrees or hotter, we pass out cold bottled water on Skid Row. Water Walks take place Monday through Friday at 2:00 p.m. Text the word WATERWALK to 51555 to receive notifications for our next Water Walk.


Because of You!

Annette’s Story

In 2013, I ended up homeless with my two small children. It got so bad, we had to live in a tent for awhile. Then we came to Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens helped me give up alcohol and drugs, helped me get closer to God, and they helped me in so many other positive ways. Today, I’m still living at Hope Gardens, but I have a job now and soon I will move into my own place with my children. All I want is to be able to support my children, and thanks to Hope Gardens and generous friends like you, I’m able to do that now.




Notes From Andy

More than Meals

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.

I know one guy here at the Mission who came to us after a 20-year addiction. He’s clean, sober, and ready to go home. But he’s scared. What will happen to him when he leaves? He worries that if he can’t find work, if he can’t support himself with dignity and self-respect, he may end up right back where he started.

Thankfully, he’s now participating in our Employment Program and going to school. He knows we will provide him with the skills, the support, and the connections he needs. And we will walk with him every step of they way until he finds a much-needed job. But really it’s you. Your financial gifts to URM help provide men and women experiencing homelessness with training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.

A life transformed, followed by a job, followed by a home. That’s our strategy. But you’re the one who makes it happen.



The Mission – July 2015

URM 2015.07 July Newsletter (15URM07NL)_Pkg.indd

To anyone else, it was just a silly child’s necklace, a worthless souvenir from Disneyland.

But for William, it was the last remaining memento of his 12-year-old son, whom he hadn’t seen in eight years. After a lifetime of broken relationships and abandonment, William felt alone and hopeless. First it was his mother, a troubled alcoholic who preferred the streets over her children. His grandmother was in and out of his life. He never knew his father, and after he married the woman of his dreams, she tragically died less than a year later.

“I was so depressed, I went into a tailspin and started drinking more and more. I really struggled,” William recalls. “Then I got married again, way too soon. I never dealt with my grief. And because of my drinking, I burned that relationship out in five years. But a wonderful thing came out of that marriage. My son, Judah.”

But two years after the marriage ended, William’s ex-wife disappeared with his son. “I lost all hope,” William says. “I started drinking all day, every day, and I ended up homeless. Over the next four years, I lost everything, all the reminders of my son.”

Everything but a necklace. William knew he needed help.

So in January 2013, he came to Union Rescue Mission. Over the next year, he poured himself into weekly counseling sessions with Chaplain Mike McIntire, 12-step classes, Bible studies, and prayer. As he got closer to God and his burdens slowly lifted, William began to see the same hurt he had felt in the eyes of the other men at the Mission. So he began loving and ministering to them. Before long, he no longer felt alone.

Yet he never stopped praying to see his son again. “Then one day, out of the blue, my son found me on Facebook,” William says. “I finally got my son back.”

In fact, on Easter Sunday 2015, Judah, now 12, visited William at Union Rescue Mission. At the sunrise service, as they celebrated Christ’s resurrection and new life in Him, William turned to Judah and gave him the necklace he’d carried for eight years.

“This necklace means the world to me, son,” he said. “This is what kept me going, even in the midst of my addiction and all my running away from God, from all my relationships, and even from myself. It’s all I had left of you. Take care of this for the rest of your life.”

It was just a child’s necklace. But it saved a father’s life.

URM 2015.07 July Newsletter (15URM07NL)_Pkg.indd

I love William’s story. As a chaplain at Union Rescue Mission, I see men like him everyday — men wounded from broken relationships with friends, family, and with God. Sometimes those wounds are consequences of bad choices they’ve made. Other times, the broken relationships are suffered from no fault of their own.

But one thing is clear: People don’t end up on Skid Row because of drugs and alcohol. They end up here because of some kind of relationship trauma they’ve never recovered from. In fact, the single biggest common denominator I see among addicted and homeless men and women is the overwhelming grief they feel at being completely alone.

But you and I know they’re NOT alone. They’re not alone because there’s a God who loves them. They’re not alone because we surround them with unconditional love and friendship. They’re not alone because compassionate people like YOU care.

If men and women come here wounded by broken relationships, they heal through loving ones. And thanks to your giving hearts, hurting and broken people who come to Union Rescue Mission have the time and space they need to build new relationships and reconcile old ones — especially in families.

Everyone who comes here is someone’s father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. So every time you invest in someone here, you do far more than help to restore a life. You help heal and restore entire families — healing that will offer hope for generations to come.


Notes From Andy

Loved and Accepted

I bet if you were to survey 100 people here on the streets of Skid Row about what led them here, 93% would say a broken relationship. Whether that relational trauma led to some kind of mental health issues or led to their addiction issues, they’ve never healed from the grief and pain. So by the time they come to Union Rescue Mission, they have nowhere left to go and no one else to turn to.

But that’s where you come in. With your support, we encourage them to trust again and risk building new relationships. We teach them how to overcome grief and loss, how to overcome anger, how to overcome addiction, and how to turn to the Lord for help. And that’s most important, because when they have a relationship with their Lord, they are embraced by the only perfect Father.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people go through our program and return home to start over as healthy parents, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters. We all need to be loved and accepted. There is no greater joy than seeing that happen. But it happens here, because caring people like you make it happen.