The Mission Newsletter-June 2011

Growing Up on Kid Row

How your generous support is helping kids at Union Rescue Mission find hope and safety from the nightmare of Skid Row.

Los Angeles’ Skid Row is an apocalyptic wasteland filled with people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, women selling themselves, broken bodies, and broken minds. Old trash and used needles carpet the sidewalks, and the air is rife with the stench of urine, crack smoke, and unwashed, sweaty skin. Life is cheap on these streets, where assaults, rapes, robberies, and even murders are just part of everyday life.

It’s said that people don’t live on Skid Row, they die on Skid Row. Yet for nearly 100 children living at Union Rescue Mission, it’s home. Most of these kids live in families that simply got hit too hard by the Great Recession, lost jobs and homes, ran out of resources, and had nowhere else to turn. Union Rescue Mission is the only Mission in Los Angeles that helps everyone — single moms with kids, single dads with kids, two-parent families, and families with teenagers.

As a result, since December 2007, the number of children living at Union Rescue Mission has risen a tragic 216%. Last year alone, the Mission rescued 450 families, along with 900 children, from the streets.

“I thank God that we’ve been able to rescue so many precious families and help them get back on their feet,” says Andy Bales, President and CEO of Union Rescue Mission. “But really, no child should have to live here on Skid Row. Experiencing homelessness is hard enough for kids without exposing them to things that could really scar them for life.”

While the children are safe and cared for inside the Mission, they must still ride busses to school and walk to local markets and libraries — and witness things no child should ever have to see. That’s why Union Rescue Mission’s goal is to move every mother and child away from Skid Row and into safe facilities like Hope Gardens Family Center, which offers mothers the long-term help they need to get back on their feet, and offers their children safety, tutoring, a quality education, and the chance to play like kids in an environment free from drugs, violence, and predators.

Because no child deserves to live on Kid Row.

Let’s Save Kids from Skid Row

Imagine being a child who just wants to hang out with friends in the neighborhood, maybe ride a bike down to the corner market for some candy.

Well, this isn’t possible for the kids living at Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row. They need their parents’ protection just to go to the store a block away. That’s the reality for nearly 100 beautiful, smart, talented kids living here at the Mission, where we’re surrounded by violence, drug use, prostitution, and 600 registered sex offenders. When they leave the safety of these walls, they see, smell, and hear things kids should never experience. Some of our kids once witnessed a man getting stabbed to death.

That’s why one of the greatest passions of my life is trying to get every mother and child out of Skid Row and to the safety of someplace like our Hope Gardens Family Center, where there are no predators, violence, or drugs. At Hope Gardens, our children breathe clean air, play like kids, learn at a great school, receive tutoring … and get the peace, safety, and hope they need.


Andy Bales, CEO

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