“I was still homeless,” Maria says. “I still felt so much hurt and shame. I mean, I was living on Skid Row, the worst place you could ever be. But inside Union Rescue Mission, I was the happiest I’d ever been.”
Raised by a single mother with 10 children in a small apartment, Maria grew up with a lot of “chaos.” By 13, she felt desperate to escape. So, against her mother’s wishes, Maria moved in with her 19-year-old boyfriend to start a family of her own.
Against all odds, their marriage lasted 25 years, and they raised four boys together. But over the years, Maria’s husband grew increasingly abusive. “The last straw was the day he beat me so bad, my face was bruised and bloody, and he stabbed me three times,” Maria says.
“I was so out of it, I never knew where I was or what I was doing.”
Dazed and Confused on the Streets
Maria’s husband went to jail for eight years. But Maria was left in a prison of her own — a prison of trauma, shame, and bitter memories. She turned to crystal meth for relief. “Meth made me forget. Meth made me feel like I was invincible, like I could do anything,” she says. But it was a lie. Before long, she lost her job, her apartment, and her children. Soon, she ended up on the streets.
To survive, she stayed high every day. “I was so out of it, I never knew where I was or what I was doing. I slept in cars or alleys without any blankets. I wore abandoned clothes I found in the alleys.”
But even as she wandered the streets in a daze, all she could hear were the voices of her kids calling for her. She kept wandering, looking for them — until one day, she woke up from her daze and realized she needed help. So she came to Union Rescue Mission.
A Better Future
She says that the counseling she received at URM helped her heal from the trauma she endured. The relationships she developed with staff helped her stay accountable as she moved forward. But mostly, she says, volunteering to work in the kitchen gave her a sense of purpose — and hope for the future.
Before long, Maria found a new job through URM’s Employment Center, saved some money, and finally moved into a new apartment.
Today, Maria is happily remarried, but she continues to volunteer in the kitchen at Union Rescue Mission. “I want to give back to those who helped me get my life back together. Whoever gives to URM is a blessing. Women on the streets, like I used to be, need places like this.”
“I’m only 23, and I’ve been homeless for six or seven years. Usually I would be in an abandoned house or an abandoned car, or just on the streets. Skid Row is definitely somewhere where you don’t want to see your kids or where you don’t want to be yourself.”
“I just felt hopeless. I’m just another woman on the streets. Who’s gonna have an open door to someone who’s doing things that I have to do to survive?”
“My luggage, my clothes, it’s all I got. Oh, and my blanket and my chair. I sleep right here on the floor. Nowhere to shower. It’s hard to find a bathroom…I’m not alright. I’m not! I cry every day and I say to myself ‘I wish someone would come and sweep me off the streets.’”
“It was horrible. My brother and I slept on cardboard boxes. It was hard to fall asleep because I was so scared.”
“In some ways, summer was the hardest…it’s so hot. Our skin felt on fire. The soles of our shoes wore out from the heat. We walked everywhere, carrying all our stuff, so we were constantly dehydrated. It was a constant struggle to stay cool or find water, because when people see you’re homeless, they often don’t want to help you.”
THANKS TO YOUR GENEROSITY, THOSE DEVASTATED BY HOMELESSNESS HAVE HOPE AND A FUTURE
YOUR GIFTS AT WORK:
NEW SPRUNG STRUCTURE SAVES WOMEN’S LIVES ON SKID ROW
No woman should ever have to spend a single night on the streets of Skid Row. Yet this year, the number of women devastated by homelessness in Los Angeles has tragically increased 35%! Many of these precious souls are vulnerable to unspeakable abuse and are often paralyzed with shame and hopelessness.
But today, there’s hope. Thanks to you, Union Rescue Mission will soon open the new Sprung structure in our back parking lot, a permanent shelter for up to 120 vulnerable, precious women on Skid Row.
This much-needed new shelter provides each woman with her own designated bed, a storage locker, showers, heat and air conditioning, meals, long-term support — and crucial safety from the life-threatening streets of Skid Row. Union Rescue Mission is the first and only mission on Skid Row to offer this level of aid and support to these women who desperately need our help.
GIVE TODAY AND HELP SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE
It’s hard to imagine that thousands of hurting people — most tragically women — call the nightmarish streets and back alleys of Skid Row home. It’s even harder to imagine the horrors these women endure day after day, night after night. Hunger, thirst, violence, sexual assault, fear, soul-killing hopelessness — and sometimes death.
Yet thanks to caring people like you, more precious women are finding new hope and transformed lives at Union Rescue Mission every day. Your loving care gives them the hope and courage they need to give life another try.
It costs just $16.10 to provide a precious woman with one day in our new Sprung structure, which includes food, showers, counseling, and a safe place to sleep at night. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!
You can help get more precious women off the streets with your gift to provide shelter and care.
NOTES FROM ANDY
Leading Precious Women Home Again
The streets are no place for a woman like Maria. Life for these women is brutal, as they live in constant fear of sexual predators and the gangs who prey on them. Yet right now, the number of women devastated by homelessness living in cars or parks, under bridges, or on sidewalks is an epidemic. And it’s getting worse.
These are precious single ladies who have lost their homes, who have been deserted or abandoned by family and friends, who have been assaulted and abused, who have lost their kids. Their depression, grief, and mental illness are overwhelming.
But this summer, I can rest a little easier — all thanks to people like you. Every night, nearly 400 of these precious single ladies will sleep in safety under our roof, including 120 in our new sprung structure. Even more, they are receiving the real help they need to live in dignity, find permanent housing, and thrive. Thanks to you, we surround them with love and a caring community. We rebuild their trust. And we help women like Maria find home again.