“When Gerald died on April 8 because of the coronavirus, just days before Easter, it hit me like a spear to my soul,” says Rev. Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission. “We prayed for an Easter miracle that he would live. Instead, the Easter miracle he experienced was waking up in glory.”
The Power of One Changed Life—Thanks to You
Gerald first came to Union Rescue Mission in April of 2015, seeking help for a devastating meth addiction. “I had already given up on life,” he said in a 2018 interview. “I was like a walking dead person.”
Over the next five years, he gave his life to Christ, completely turned his life around, and quickly became a beloved member of the URM community. The journey wasn’t easy, however. First, he had to unravel years of hurt and shame.
“I was spoiled growing up, so I never listened to anyone,” he said. “I spent most of my adult life hanging out, playing pool, hustling, and smoking marijuana. My friends and family tried to get me to work, but I wasn’t interested.”
Eventually, Gerald started using drugs and devastated his life. He even lost his entire inheritance after his parents died in 2010 and 2011. Broke and unemployed, he started borrowing money from relatives, but never repaid them. When he was on the verge of homelessness, his family turned their backs on him. Guilt and shame overwhelmed Gerald.
“I didn’t want to end up on the streets, so I came to Union Rescue Mission,” Gerald said. “When I took a hard look at myself, all I saw was ugly.”
After Gerald found faith and new life at URM, he was so grateful that he devoted his life to serving others. Every week he rallied other men together to attend church. Because he did so well, he was hired as a driver for Union Rescue Mission, repaid his relatives, and reconciled with them.
For five years, Gerald’s light shone bright. In late March, however, he developed symptoms of COVID-19 and went into the ICU. Tragically, he never left. After Gerald died, his cousin called Rev. Andy to thank him for giving Gerald a new life, a new community, and for restoring him to their family.
“When Gerald died, it wasn’t the end,” Andy says. “He woke up in glory, breathed new air, and found it celestial. I pray that his comeback story gives others hope and that it drives us all, together, to serve others like he served and to always be there for everyone who is in need.”
Your gift will reach people devastated by homeless, like Gerald was. You’ll welcome them into a loving community where their immediate needs are met and they find life-changing tools for true healing.
IN A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER, YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE
As we all face unprecedented economic and life-threatening challenges this summer, compassionate people like you are more critical than ever before.
Before the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported that LA County is home to the largest population of food-insecure people in the nation. Nearly 30% of low-income people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Since late March, however, hundreds of thousands have either lost jobs, or been furloughed, and record numbers of men and women, mostly families, are applying for diminishing food assistance.
Many of these same people, including families with children, were already just surviving paycheck to paycheck, but now they are on the verge of ending up on the streets for the first time.
Over the past few months, Union Rescue Mission has been one of the remaining facilities still serving meals to people experiencing homelessness, especially on Skid Row. Because of the increased demand for food, URM had to limit portions to ensure there was enough for everyone. The increased cost for food and need to extend our lunch hours have put extra stress and strain on our staff and finances.
Meals are just one of the many lifesaving—and life-transforming—services that Union Rescue Mission offers to people devastated by hunger, homelessness, and addictions. Thanks to you, we also provide shelter, safety, counseling, medical/dental care, the opportunity for someone to change their life, and always, the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
When you give to Union Rescue Mission, you make a life-on-life difference. You bring meals and services, hope and healing, to people in desperate need of a new beginning!
MEALS AND MORE IN CHALLENGING TIMES
As the supervising chef at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens, every day I get to see the power of a simple meal in someone’s life.
It’s never easy serving more than a thousand meals a day to men, women, and children devastated by homelessness. But right now, in the midst of a pandemic, it often feels overwhelming.
We’re facing so many more challenges than we ever did before. Food costs more. Because of social distancing, we can’t serve everyone at one time anymore. We have to serve in shifts. Then, when we serve people out in the community on Skid Row, they can no longer come in to eat; we have to take the food to them outside. At the same time, we have few volunteers now, so there’s much more work to do.
Yet, despite the challenges, I love the work I do here—not just because I love cooking, but because the food we serve here makes a difference. We’re not just serving meals; we’re investing in people’s lives.
I wish you could see for yourself the moment when someone’s eyes light up because of a meal YOU made possible. I wish you could experience for yourself the sense of family you make possible here. That’s why I’m personally so grateful for people like you. In challenging times like these, you really are doing something amazing through your support for Union Rescue Mission. Thank you!
Make someone’s eyes light up! Give a meal as the first in a series of steps she or he will take toward complete life transformation. A meal really is life-changing!
WHAT IT TAKES TO END SUMMER HUNGER
As LA feels the full weight of economic distress, many people are turning to URM every day for meals. It takes hundreds of pounds of food to provide meals to everyone. Here are some of the items needed to make sure hungry people are able to eat in a typical summer month: hamburger, milk, coffee, flour, rice, lettuce, beans, and assorted frozen vegetables.
Your support helps provide food along with shelter, healthcare, job training, and life transformation.
THANK YOU FOR PROVIDING HELP AND HOPE FOR OUR HURTING CITY
$3,245,000 NEEDED BY AUGUST 31 FOR CRITICAL NEEDS.
Record job losses. Devastating unemployment. Life-threatening illness. Growing hunger and homelessness.
Los Angeles is reeling through a summer like no other—and the hardest hit are men, women, and children already suffering on the streets or those who are devastated by homelessness for the first time ever.
Union Rescue Mission has been hit hard as well. The need right now is unprecedented. The cost of food is rising. Providing safe shelter sometimes includes isolation. Managing the increased need with no volunteers is harder. Most of all, bearing the grief we feel for lost friends is heartbreaking.
This summer, more men, women, and children need our help than ever before. If we are to meet the growing needs, your continued support is vital.
Everybody loves a good comeback story—and there aren’t many bigger comeback stories than Gerald’s.
When Gerald came to Union Rescue Mission in 2015, he was broken by a terrible meth addiction, as well as the overwhelming shame and guilt he felt after he had alienated his entire family. Five years later, however, he was one of the most beloved members of our URM community. He not only reconciled with his family, but he was a big part in helping other guys at URM transform their lives, too.
After Gerald got sick from COVID-19, he continued to inspire us to take care of ourselves and fight back against this monster disease. When he went into the ICU, everyone fell to their knees in prayer and faith in God. When he died, we were all heartbroken. Yet Gerald wasn’t done. His inspiring comeback story appeared all over the world. Through Gerald’s life and death, the life-changing message of Jesus inspired people from Los Angeles to England to Australia.
This story, however, isn’t Gerald’s alone. It’s your story, too. Without your faithful support, Gerald’s story would never have happened. You helped transform one man’s life, who in turn glorified God throughout the entire world.