When I give a tour of Union Rescue Mission, it always includes a tour of our hall of incredible history.
I quickly take people to an article about how, in 1934, Union Rescue Mission faithfully stepped up to feed 42% of all free meals provided by charities. In that year of the Great Depression, Los Angeles had a population of 1.2 Million people and we served 134,000 meals.
I share all this to give people context for how we stepped up again in 2010, during what we now refer to as The Great Recession. In 2010, Los Angeles had grown to 3.6 million people, 3 times that of 1934. That same year, URM fed 1.4 Million meals, 10 times that of 1934.
Along with these stats, I share we only housed men in 1934, but in 2010 we housed single women and 450 families! We accomplished all of this, including a 48% increase in guests under our roof, despite donations dropping 21% from pre-recession levels. It was our most challenging year ever, until this year.
This year, the number of guests taking refuge at URM are up 55% and giving is down by more than 22%.
Women and children outnumber men by a wide margin, with over 750 women and children compared to 550 men.
We have provided shelter to 970 families so far with two months to go! This is more than double the level in 2010!
Donations are currently $3.6 Million below our budgeted amounts, with only two months left in our fiscal year. This deficit will continue to increase if we don’t receive some hoped for generous gifts and grants by June 30th. If we are not able to cover these deficits, our ability to meet the many needs we see will be greatly reduced. We will not be able to continue our policy of never turning away a woman or a family with children. We will have to leave them on the streets to suffer unbearable consequences – but our hearts won’t let us leave them out there. My heart won’t let me.
Much of our ‘stepping up’ began two years ago when I was out on our water walk. Any time it reaches 85 degrees or higher we take 2,000 bottles of cold water to the 2,000 thirsty precious souls on Skid Row.
On this life-changing walk two years ago, I found a frail, desperate older woman on the sidewalk behind our Mission. I asked what she was doing. “I am waiting to see if I can get a bed.” I looked in her eyes, felt the heat of the sun and the sidewalk, and considered what would happen to a woman on the streets of Skid Row that night.
90% of women on the streets report being sexually assaulted while experiencing homelessness. I have to admit, I am personally haunted by this reality. “Please come with me, we will make room for you, even if it is a cot.” We already had a policy of never turning a family away.
Since that day, our policy was expanded and we have never turned away a single woman.
That is why this April 1st, when 7 of 8 city and county sponsored winter shelters closed, our number of people on cots grew to an all-time high of 300 and the number of single women at URM reached an all-time high of 468.
We are between a Rock (our budget & Revenue), and a soft place (our hearts of compassion).
With you, this year, we’ve done the impossible. We’ve served 55% more guests, including record numbers of women & children, but our giving overall has declined.
We plan to continue ‘stepping up,’ in fact, we plan to do more! We are going to blow a hole in the wall to our back parking lot and set up a structure with restrooms and showers in order to make space for more single women in need. To do this, we are going to need another miracle!
With your sacrificial gift, through your generosity at this critical time in our history, you can save lives. We need to raise a seemingly impossible $6 Million these last 60 days of the fiscal year ending June 30th.
Please consider what you can do to help URM serve so many people in need. Your gift will enable us, together, to make sure not one precious woman or child will be turned back to the streets of Skid Row.