Needed: Volunteers for Meal Service at Hope Gardens Family Center

We are in need of volunteers to help prepare and serve meals to the women, children, and senior ladies at Hope Gardens Family Center located near Sylmar, CA. If you are interested in helping and meet the criteria below, please contact Monique Johnson, at

Shifts:   Monday-Sunday

  •   9am-1pm
  •  1pm-4pm
  • 4pm-7:30pm

Age Requirement: 14 years and older

Volunteer(s) must be able to drive or coordinate a ride to property, as there is no bus access or shuttle service.

We need up to 3 volunteers per shift.

If you would like to serve, contact Monique ( to confirm your service and schedule a shift date. All Volunteer Activities must be scheduled/confirmed in advance. Thank you!

Special 2015 Sales Event – URM Thrift Store


The Union Rescue Mission thrift store is humming along as we roll in to 2015.  It continues to provide needed resources to combat homelessness in LA and create jobs for URM graduates and community members alike.  As we begin 2015 we wanted to celebrate its success and say thank you by hosting a 2015 Special Sales Event!


32 in. Flat Screen TV raffle (tickets given with any sale)

Free soft drinks and kettle corn

Items up to 50% off


Saturday January 10th from 9am to 6pm


URM thrift Store

280 E. Arrow Hwy

Covina, CA 91722

Please join us for the fun and bring your friends!


Christmas Treat for the pets of Skid Row!

Last weekend, the pets of Skid Row received a Christmas treat! Hollywood Grooming, a mobile pet grooming company, came to URM to brighten the day of Skid Row residents – and their pets! Offering grooming services to dogs and cats, Hollywood Grooming brought smiles to the faces of pets and their owners as they helped them out with something they might not otherwise be able to afford. They also partnered with Pet Express to provide free leashes, collars, food and treats!









Nearly 40 dogs and cats were beautified during the event! Pets are a part of many people’s lives, including people who are experiencing homelessness. We are so thankful to Hollywood Grooming for recognizing this, and coming to Skid Row to bless so many people!

The Mission – December 2014

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I love gardening. Every day after work, instead of grabbing a beer, I grab the hose and tend to all the plants in my garden, examining each one, admiring the veins and the complexity in each leaf — each one a gift from God. It’s so peaceful and serene. And it reminds me how far I’ve come in my life.

It was my grandmother who taught me how to garden when I was kid.

She also raised me, taught me how to cook, and gave me my values and morals. She was the center of my world and I thought she’d live forever.

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But one day in 2004, I got a call at work. When my aunt told me my grandmother had died, it’s like everything around me stopped. I didn’t know how to handle it. So I bottled up all my feelings inside — feelings of hurt, sadness, grief, and frustration. Then, as the days rolled by, all those feelings started growing into anger and rage. 

I never talked to anyone about it. Instead, I turned to alcohol. I’d start drinking after work. One drink turned into two drinks, and two drinks turned into too many drinks. And the more I drank, the angrier I got. And violent. I started getting into fights and going to jail on battery charges. I also had two DUIs, in 2006 and 2010. But I couldn’t stop drinking.

One night, however, I found myself drunk, sitting at a train stop on the Green Line. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I screamed out loud that I needed help. And that’s when I went downtown and walked into Union Rescue Mission.

I immediately started anger management classes to get that under control. Then I took 8 months of classes to deal with my last DUI and get my driver’s license back. And I went back to school and studied microenterprise at Pepperdine University.

I also opened up for the first time about my grandmother. My chaplain helped me realize that she’s in a better place and that helped me let her go. I spent three years at Union Rescue Mission. In short, I grew up and today I’m moving forward with my life. I’m working for Toyota, I have a wife, and I’ve even opened my first bank account ever. I guess if I have a New Year’s wish, it’s to establish enough credit to buy a new car in 2015.

Looking back, I see now that Union Rescue Mission, like my grandmother, taught me how to garden — the garden of my own life.


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Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog

Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog is a wonderful way to give someone experiencing homelessness the gift of hope this holiday. And when you purchase a gift on behalf of a loved one, you can also send them an e-card to let them know you’ve made this special gift in their honor. Please visit our online Gift Catalog today at


SignUpPageThe season of Advent and the days leading up to Christmas are a wonderful time for thoughtful reflection and joyful anticipation as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This holiday season, please sign up to receive Rev. Andy’s Advent series of daily devotional emails. Each day from November 20 until December 25, you’ll receive scripture and messages focused on the joy of the season. To sign up for these special email devotionals, please visit


Notes From Andy

Instruments of God’s Love

In her excellent book ‘Pursuing God’s Will Together’, Ruth Haley Barton writes, “One of the first lessons we learn about discernment — from Jesus, anyway — is that it will always tend toward concrete expressions of love with real people rather than theoretical conversations about theology and philosophy. Such conversations are valuable only if they eventually lead us to more concrete expressions of love for the real people who are in need around us.”

To me, that’s what caring people like you and your support of Union Rescue Mission — are all about. You don’t just talk about homelessness, you take concrete steps to do something about it. And in 2014, your faithful support led to a number of concrete expressions of love for those in need on Skid Row. You helped us expand Hope Gardens to house even more moms and kids.

To expand our jobs program and start a thrift store to help more men and women find employment. To open space to provide older men on Skid Row with permanent
shelter and care. And to improve our Learning Center to help more men and women achieve their academic goals. Working together, taking concrete steps, we’ll continue to make a real difference for people experiencing homelessness in 2015.



It’s the Grand Opening of our Thrift Store!

URM 2014

We are super excited to announce the Grand Opening of the URM Thrift Store and we’d like to invite you to celebrate with us!

Please join us at 280 E. Arrow Hwy, Covina CA on Saturday, November 1st, for the grand opening of the newest thrift store in town! To celebrate our kick off, the grand opening will include Free Refreshments for the first 200 customers (Kettle Korn, Specialty Cookies, and Ice Cold Beverages) and we’ll have a store-wide Treasure Hunt where we will mix in free items with the other merchandise on our racks and shelves. Plus, we are giving YOU a 15% discount on all your purchases and each customer will be given a raffle ticket to win an assortment of Great Prizes (iPod Touch, XBOX One, and Gift Cards)!

Make sure you don’t miss out this great event!

Store hours 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The official ribbon cutting will begin at 9:00 am 

About Union Rescue Mission

Union Rescue Mission is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people experiencing homelessness. Established in 1891, URM is one of the largest rescue missions of its kind in the United States and is the oldest in Los Angeles.  It provides a comprehensive array of emergency and long-term services, including food, shelter, clothing; medical and dental care; Christian recovery programs, transitional housing, legal assistance, education, counseling, and job training to needy men, women, children and families.  For more information, please visit







Updates about the Mission’s Learning Center!

LAD2Recently, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) and Andre Ethier granted $100,000 to the Mission to support the renovation of our Learning Center – soon to be called the “Andre and Maggie Ethier Learning Center”!

After the room was cleared and permits processed, 50 volunteers from various Dodger departments, Dodger RBI players, and Habitat for Humanity of Greater LA joined LADF for a paint day. Since then flooring has been laid, cabinetry installed, signage designed and much more!

With a little over 3 weeks to go, all final inspections and installations are underway (finishing cabinetry, installing ceiling slats, window treatments, dividing wall between classroom and general work space, built in seating and computer workstations).

We hope for a ribbon cutting ceremony after the post season, potentially early November, when Andre and Maggie can join us to introduce this new space!

This remodel will allow the Mission to have a functional, comfortable and inviting space, providing inspiration to hundreds of homeless men and women. And thanks to the significant support of the Dodgers and several vendors this project is truly becoming a dream come true! A sincere thanks to the following partners who are transforming this room even beyond our initial vision:

  • Dodgers Stadium Operations – Steve Ethier and Tom Beacom – project leaders
  • Dodgers IT – Ralph Esquibel – donated 24 complete workstations and technical support
  • Dodgers Productions – a Go-Pro is capturing the entire process to add to the overall video
  • Habitat for Humanity – introduction to our designer and the Habitat Restore
  • Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising – initial design concept
  • Ecovations – Darren Moore –  project designer and contractor
  • Kimberlina Whettam & Associates – permit support
  • O’Bryant Electric Inc – electrical materials and labor
  • MS Rouse Company, Inc – flooring installation
  • Morrow Meadows Corporation – electrical materials and labor
  • Nahib Youssef – Structural Engineers – permit support
  • Design Materials and Encore Commercial Flooring – flooring materials and labor (Nike flooring similar to Dodger clubhouse)
  • Sherwin-Williams – paint and supplies
  • Interior Services | Draperies, Blinds & Shades – window coverings
  • WB Signs – signage, décor

Aaron Valencia’s Ford Roadster Giveaway


Aaron Valencia’s story started a lot like a lot of stories we hear at the Mission. His dad slipped out when he was a kid, and at an early age he was a victim of child abuse, and exposed to meth and heroin.

By age 15 he got kicked out of his house – strung out on drugs. The vicious cycle continued till he was about 19, where he decided he was sleeping at a park one last time. He awoke facing a liquor store he had just robbed and was nearby the local police station. If he could make it out of this situation he swore he would to go to rehab.

Once a junkie always a junkie – or that’s what he thought. He never met anyone that had actually gone through rehab. But one day, sitting on a bus stop, he made contact with a man who had gotten help from a rehab center in Norwalk. He wrote down the name and headed over – changing how the rest of his life would play out.

Initially, Aaron planned to get clean so he could get back to a healthy weight, but something clicked for him while he was there. He would leave the world of drugs, and eventually homelessness behind.

Through hard work and perseverance, Aaron has now become a custom car builder/humanitarian and founded the “Lost Angels Children’s Project” which focuses on children and youth experiencing homelessness. Earlier this year, he decided he wanted to create a car project to give back to the children struggling on Skid Row. He started researching online and found that Union Rescue Mission’s goals and his were one and the same.

“The kids [of alcoholics and drug users] tend to have it the worst… my program is to try and make the time that they are in [URM’s] care the best possible.”

Aaron is building a 1931 Ford Roadster that will be given away on August 30, 2014 at the 2014 Ventura County Fair/Ventura Nationals Hot Rods & Motorcycle Show. (Please see the attached flyer and photos) He is selling tickets for only $20 each with a goal of raising $50,000 and donating 50% to URM and the other 50% to the Grace Resource Center.
Tickets are being sold at several locations (please see below), and URM’s Christine Calderon ( is selling some as well.

It’s preferred that the winner or representative be present during the give away. If winner is not present Aaron will continue to contact the winner by phone, email and social media for the next 3 days to claim the prize!













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Exit Through the Thrift Shop

Union Rescue Mission Thrift Store

Many of you have been crucial partners in our work to fight homelessness in Skid Row, and have heard the many stories of Life Transformation that have written within these walls. But most of our guests today need more than a transformed life to escape homelessness — they also need a job.

With the opening of our new Thrift store in Covina, we are trying to help our program participants take the next step. We believe by getting them a job that they can truly exit Skid Row through the Thrift Shop.


How Can You Help?

1. Donate

When you donate your new and gently used goods to Union Rescue Mission Thrift Store, you know it is going to have a positive, long lasting impact. In fact, it is going to transform lives. Your donations, big and small, all add up to hope for men, women and children experiencing homelessness. 

We are now accepting clothing, accessories, furniture, furnishings, household/kitchen items, jewelry, art, and many other new and lightly used items!

To schedule a pick-up, call 626-915-3417
Donation drop-off at URM Thrift Store From 9:00am until 4:00pm (Monday – Saturday)

2. Shop

Every item you purchase from the URM Thrift Store goes directly back into the lives of the people who are struggling with homelessness. From the man who walks into the Mission deciding it is the final time he will quit a life of drugs, to the mother and child who are running away from years of domestic abuse, your purchase will go a long way to see that they are all embraced by the love of Christ.

Early Bird Special
Every Tuesday receive a 25% Discount from 9:00am until 12:00pm.

URM Thrift Store 
280 E. Arrow Hwy
Covina 91722
Phone: 626-915-3417

Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday 9:00 to 6:00
Closed Sundays


What I See Right Outside My Window…

This is the view just outside my office window on Skid Row in Los Angeles…

Heroin is being sold and used. The same with crack cocaine. And a new, legal “spice” is being smoked – causing violence everywhere on the street every day.

I’ve never seen so many precious people on Skid Row nor seen this level of mental illness, violence, and desperation. We need to take some bold steps.

Last year, your year-end gift helped us strengthen our jobs program & just last month 7 graduates were hired through Toyota by DTZ & affiliated companies!

We need your help again, and your partnership! Union Rescue Mission will always be committed to serving the precious people on Skid Row. In addition, we want to add services in outlying areas to decentralize Skid Row and help people who have worked hard to get clean and sober stay that way. If we can raise sufficient funds to close out our fiscal year ending June 30th, we will have the resources and momentum to begin this strategic shift. Every gift given by June 30th will be matched/doubled!

We hope to;

  • Build partnerships with several key churches that can not only be involved with guests at URM, but ultimately address homelessness in their local neighborhood with our help and support.
  • Begin an off-site(away from Skid Row) recovery program for single women
  • Investigate and implement an offsite men’s recovery program
  • Investigate long term restorative housing at Hope Gardens for the sake of our precious children experiencing homelessness
  • Launch social enterprises and Master lease apartments in outlying areas adjacent to jobs for our men and women graduates
  • Ascertain the neighborhoods sending people to Skid Row and partner with agencies to strengthen families and build resilient children to reverse this flow into Skid Row.
  • Along with this decentralized focus, we hope to strengthen our sustainability by investing in our staff with a greater focus on nurturing our future URM leaders, paying down debt, and building reserves

Our everyday life saving and life changing work and these bold initiatives will only be possible with your continued partnership.

Thank you!


P.S. Every gift you give until June 30th will be matched/doubled by other generous friends. We deeply appreciate and value your partnership. 

Hearts for Hope 2014: A Garden of Hope


Union Rescue Mission partnered with the Hearts for Hope Committee on March 8th to hold our 5th Annual Hearts for Hope Gala. Held at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, this year’s event was a rousing success raising almost $400,000 for our Hope Gardens Family Center.

Honored as “Hearts for Service” honorees were Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the Guggenheim Partners and the Graduate School of Education and Psychology Mental Health Clinic of Pepperdine; all who are long-time supporters of URM.

The evening of entertainment featured recording artist Joy Enriquez, wife of Grammy Award winning producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. Also gracing the audience with her “Calipopicana” sound was Malibu singer-songwriter Kylie Hughes and one of Hollywood’s top warm-up comic, Robert G. Lee. Some of the notable guests on hand was daughter of legend Muhammad Ali – and Champion boxer in her own right – Laila Ali, New England Patriot Andre Carter and his wife Bethany, and Aeriel Miranda currently on ABC’s Pretty Little Liars and the CW’s Tomorrow People, along with a host of individuals and special guests all with a profound heart for helping those who are experiencing homelessness.