When Union Rescue Mission saw this economic downturn happening before our eyes, we made an unusual choice. We decided to not only stay on course welcoming those struggling in poverty with the love of Christ, but in order to live up to our history during the Great Depression, we stepped it up a notch to meet the growing need. We converted our 5th floor, previously saved for VIP’s and volunteer groups (and me if I ever needed to spend the night), into housing for two-parent families and single Dads with children, two groups we had not often seen coming to the Mission previously. Since making that choice, we’ve seen some incredible things. Our meals have gone up nearly 40%, as we served 3,450 in one day alone last week. Last night 929 souls found shelter under our roof. Dozens of families have arrived on our 5th Floor, Project Restart as we call it, and a number of families have been placed in transitional and permanent housing thanks to our efforts and partners working with us. As of last night, 15 families with 39 children, a total of 61 people, occupy this 5th floor space that was largely under utilized in the past.
This includes one very special family awaiting their first baby. A co-worker came to my office on Monday and told me that we had a couple who had lost their housing and were seeking shelter, but all of our rooms were full. Not only were all of our rooms full, but even our tent-like structures, EDARs, were in use. My co-worker also let me know that the husband is working and the expectant mom is 9 months pregnant, due any day. We did what we always do. We searched for a place to put this precious family. We found an unused, cleaned up EDAR unit, and placed it in our 5th Floor Conference room. The expectant couple was thrilled to lay their heads down in a safe place and get some much needed rest.
I am sure that this young couple felt deserted, abandoned, and alone in the world when they came to our doors. Even as they entered I am sure they felt some fear and trepidation, but as they entered, because of the commitment and courage of our Board of Directors and staff, they were embraced with the love of Christ. Today, the young husband is figuring out ways to have his employer bless the other families with food donations and anxiously asking about a parenting class he can attend so that he can be a good father to his first born. Pray for this little one. She is very special. She is the reason we stepped up in a time of need.