In 2009 at Union Rescue Mission downtown we served an average of 389 additional meals per day, a 15% increase from 2008! We housed an additional 175 individuals per night, a 26% increase. At our downtown facility we housed an additional 21 families per night, a 126% increase, and we housed an average of 13 additional single moms per night, a 76% increase. Of all the parents with kids at URM, including single moms, single dads, and married couples, we saw a 154% increase. The number of children increased by 160%, an average 40 additional kids per night. The number of guest men was up 5% over last year, and guest women up 9%.
At our Hope Gardens Family Center facility in Sylmar, we had a 37% increase in the number of families (average 8 additional moms per night) and a 32 % increase in the number of precious children (average 14 additional kids per night) from 2008.
The numbers and increases are incredible, but the picture of the many families living in tent like structures, called EDARS, in our chapel, community rooms, and conference rooms is an even more amazing sight to behold. The volume of people who get in line for one of our 9 meals per day is also staggering.
More striking however, are the life transformations that happen here every day. 14 of our 5th Floor Project Restart families (two-parent and single dad families), many who were homeless for the first time in their lives, have now moved back out into society. They have overcome the trauma of homelessness, saved their money, many found employment, and are now in a place of there own again.
In the last year, 66 men have graduated from our 1 year, intensive Christian Life Discipleship Program. Of those 66 who worked hard to transform their lives, 46 (70%) are still doing well—active and sober; many are in school, job training, or have a job. This is the greatest percentage of success that we have experienced in this program, which is remarkable considering most recovery programs have only about a 10% success rate. It might be hard to find 46 out of any 66 “average Joe’s” or even men in a church who have not slipped up. This is true transformation.
I heard an encouraging story yesterday about one of our young ladies at Hope Garden Family Center. An experienced business professional contacted HG some time ago and asked if he could design and teach a job preparation class for our residents. The class is quite intense as it is three sessions, four hours each class and with role play business interviews at the class’s conclusion. One young mother attended seemingly only as a requirement. Her lack of focus and attention was obvious by her unwillingness to answer questions, her sullen look and body language. After the class was over, however, this young mother took the lessons to her room and to her heart. Part of the class is on re-building self esteem and requires memorization of Joshua 1:5-9.
During a subsequent visit by our volunteer to HG the young mother approached him with a smile previously not frequent on her face! She beamed: “I found a place. My own place to live with my children and we are getting ready to move in real soon! And I have two excellent job prospects!” … “How did you do on the interviews?” Our volunteer asked with a grin. … Her smile only grew brighter “Oh – after your class – those were easy!” It is a joy to see the Holy Spirit rebuild a life.
Our numbers are up and seem to be overwhelming, but the good news is that life transformations are skyrocketing as well.
Blessings, Andy B.