Richard Rozman, 62, is a wealth-management advisor and manager in Manhattan Beach, California, and host of the radio program “The Rozman Experience,” which addresses volunteerism and philanthropy. He is a frequent donor and volunteer at Union Rescue Mission.
Richard Rozman loves to talk about Mother Teresa. “People would often ask her,” he says, “‘How do you keep serving the poor, the sick, and the dying with such vigor?’ She would always answer, ‘Whenever I meet someone in need, it’s really Jesus in His most distressing disguise.’”
Richard understands her answer. As a volunteer, he often rubs shoulders with men, women, and children experiencing homelessness at Union Rescue Mission. “You have to believe in God when you come to Union Rescue Mission,” he says. “He’s in the faces of those whose lives are transformed here.”
For more than 10 years, Richard has volunteered his time to work in URM’s kitchen, cooked turkeys at Thanksgiving, sponsored fundraising golf tournaments, taken guests to basketball games, organized hundreds of volunteers from companies he’s worked for, and he’s even looked for ways to connect URM graduates with jobs.
But it’s been a lifelong passion for Richard. He grew up with a special place in his heart for people experiencing homelessness. His father was homeless and used to ride the rails during the Great Depression. And later, when he owned his own service station in Los Angeles, he would employ local men who were homeless and needed change.
“It was quite interesting to watch that,” Richard recalls. “So now when I see someone experiencing homelessness, I remember my dad. That was Dad’s legacy. And that’s why I chose to volunteer my time at Union Rescue Mission.”
As much as Richard appreciates the opportunities he has to give back as a volunteer at Union Rescue Mission, he knows that the men and women he meets here give him so much more. “They have something to teach me about courage, strength, perseverance, and hope,” he says. “They’re not here because they want to be here. They’re here because of circumstances that would have caused most of us to fold our tents before we got here. When I see what these people overcome, I know there is hope for everyone — including me!”
As a result, Richard is deeply grateful for the chance to volunteer at URM.
“Life is short,” says Richard. “Most people act like they’ll be here forever. But we have an end. And what will people say at our funeral? What legacy will we leave? When I leave, I just hope someone benefited in some way because I was here. I am so blessed to have the chance to do this.”
Someone Cared and I Changed
When you’re an addict and your life is in ruins, you think no one cares. That’s how I felt anyway.
I was a drug addict for much of my life. So was almost everyone around me, including my dad. I started smoking weed in elementary school and by age 15, I was smoking crystal meth. Soon it was all I cared about — and I couldn’t quit.
It cost me jobs, cars, relationships, apartments, and by the age of 27, I was living on the streets. I believed I had to get high just so I didn’t have to face how bad my life had become.
At the same time, my father was getting clean and sober at Union Rescue Mission. When he graduated, he asked me to come. I didn’t go. In fact, none of his family attended his graduation. He felt no one cared — and I believe that disappointment killed him. Four days later, he died of a heroin overdose.
I ended up going to jail three times that year. I was tired and ready to change. Like my father, I came to Union Rescue Mission. But would anyone care?
At the Mission, I worked in the kitchen, in the maintenance department, and I participated in vocational classes taught by caring volunteers. Step by step, they talked to me, shared their lives with me, and encouraged me. They told how much they admired and respected me, and I started to feel like a new person.
I can’t tell you how much they meant to me. I knew they had successful lives outside the Mission, and they didn’t have to spend time with someone like me. But they did — and their compassion and encouragement gave me something to live up to. I guess it worked, because today I’m not only clean and sober, I’m the Volunteer Manager at Union Rescue Mission.
The whole experience taught me something. I changed because people cared enough to write checks to support Union Rescue Mission or volunteer their time to help women and men like me. I changed because they believed in me. But I’m not alone. Everyone who leaves this place transformed says the same thing. Our lives changed because of people like you. Thank you.
Your Gift Doubles to Help Souls in Need
Growing numbers of people on Skid Row desperately need hope and a helping hand. They need YOU. And now, a generous friend of Union Rescue Mission has offered to match every gift we receive before June 30 — up to $200,000!
Your gift today will be doubled to help hurting men and women, and remind them someone
cares. You can provide TWICE the help — and receive twice the blessing!
There are many excuses to avoid helping people experiencing homelessness. But I think the real reasons are fear and a belief that people on Skid Row can’t change. So why try?
Rick Rozman, whose story is featured above, knows that’s not true. He has seen that with care and encouragement, people change every day at Union Rescue Mission.
Changing lives isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s messy. But every caring gift you send — every minute you invest as a volunteer or mentor — helps change a life.
This year, I hope hundreds more people like you make the commitment to stop making excuses and start caring. Together,we can end homelessness in Los Angeles forever.
Rev. Andy Bales, CEO