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.”
Watch how Tiffany works through losing everything to experiencing blessings and joy at Hope Gardens Family Center. urm.org/stories
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 urm.org/NewYearsWishes
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!
“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
Because 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.