At 61 and struggling financially, Michael never dreamed he’d be a full-time dad again. But his daughter, 8-year-old Michaeyla, needed him. So in 2017, he packed up his car in Florida, picked up his daughter, and moved to Los Angeles to start over.
“I already have four older kids,” Michael says. “So when Michaeyla was born in 2008, it was totally unexpected. I wasn’t afraid of it, because I come from a big family.
“But about the time she was born, the economy fell apart and I lost my job and my home. Then Michaeyla’s mother left because of drugs, and I had to give Michaeyla to her godmother to raise while I tried to work various jobs. I finally got tired of it. She’s my baby child and she was growing up fast. I wanted to raise Michaeyla myself.”
Starting over in Los Angeles
At that time, Michael felt that Los Angeles would be a good place to build a new life for himself and his daughter. But after he arrived, his plans quickly fell through. Facing homelessness and with his life savings disappearing fast, he came to Union Rescue Mission in November 2017.
“Bringing Michaeyla to Skid Row was a big concern,” Michael says. “There’s nothing nice about this area at all. But I figured this was my best shot to make it, for both of us.”
Over the next several months, the staff at Union Rescue Mission grew more and more impressed with Michael’s joyful spirit, work ethic, and his skills. “I worked as a building maintenance technician my whole life,” Michael says. “So I just started helping out all over the building, painting, that kind of thing. I guess they liked what they saw, because three weeks ago they offered me a full-time job here.”
“If it weren’t for Union Rescue Mission, we’d probably be on the streets.”
A Special Girl — and the Chance to Succeed
Michael finally found the long-term stability he needed and the chance to start over with Michaeyla. “I owe it all to this place,” he says. “If it weren’t for Union Rescue Mission, we’d probably be on the streets. We always had three meals a day, a safe place to sleep, and clothes. And they really helped Michaeyla do good in school.
“Michaeyla is a special little girl. She’s smart for her age and I want to make sure she has a good future. I know I’m getting older. That’s why it’s so important I have this time with her, and it’s why I’m so grateful for the people who donate to Union Rescue Mission. They’re giving my little girl every chance to succeed.”
Michaeyla: Standing on Her Daddy's Shoulders
“When I first came to Skid Row, I never saw any place like this. It was so crowded and kind of scary. It’s not easy living here, but I’ve made some really good friends, and the School on Wheels program always helps me with my homework and takes kids like me to do fun things, like movies, horseback riding, and museums.
I really like museums, because someday I want to be an artist. I especially like painting.
“I love everything about my dad. He’s always there for me whenever I needed him. I know a lot of kids who don’t have their dads, but I do. And I know he loves me. I’m really glad he’s my dad.”
YOU PROVIDE A FIRM FOUNDATION FOR FAMILIES AT UNION RESCUE MISSION
Union Rescue Mission is the only mission in Los Angeles that accepts single mothers and single fathers with children, intact families, and even families with teenaged boys. Without your support, many of these families would have nowhere else to turn. Most have no history of drug or alcohol addiction — they simply got trapped in a perfect storm of personal and economic losses that led them into a free fall all the way to Skid Row.
But thanks to you, these families experience the safety, stability, and long-term support they need to heal and to rebuild their lives so they can escape homelessness forever.
“A Stepping Stone to Get Back Everything We Lost”
“Being a dad is the most beautiful thing in the world,” says Kevin, a single father of two daughters, Miranda, 15, and Tahila, 12. “But it’s been hard.”
“I’m grateful to Union Rescue Mission for opening up this place for families like mine. This has been a stepping stone to get back everything we lost. And I’ve taken full advantage of it. I thank God every day for my daughters, and now for the new apartment we’re moving in to. God has blessed me with more than I could have ever hoped for.”
After Kevin lost his job and home, he struggled to rebuild his family’s life. When he finally ran out of options, he and his daughters moved to Union Rescue Mission — the only mission in Los Angeles that offers shelter to single dads with kids. Today, as Kevin prepares to move into new housing and start a new job, things are finally looking up.
“I’m grateful to Union Rescue Mission...”
“Back on the Road to Self-Independence”
When Ralph and his 14-year-old son, Tokoyo, lost their home to flooding, Ralph struggled to put the pieces of their broken lives back together. When they ended up homeless, Ralph discovered how hard it is for a single father devastated by homelessness to find shelter and long-term help — especially fathers with teenage boys. Fortunately, he found the support he needed at Union Rescue Mission.
“Union Rescue Mission got us back on the road to self-independence,” Ralph says. “Here we got good food, good prayer, good help, and good feelings. I got a positive attitude back, and we finally found transitional housing. My son and I struggled for a long time. But we found people who cared here at Union Rescue Mission. If it wasn’t for them, we’d be out on the streets. So I thank God for this Mission every day.”
“...we found people that cared here...”
Thank you to all that participated in our second annual 5k Walk. It was a smashing success! For photos and event updates, please visit urmwalk.org.
COME SERVE KIDS AT UNION RESCUE MISSION OR HOPE GARDENS
Children and youth devastated by homelessness at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens need more than a safe bed and a hot meal — they need lots of hands-on loving care and attention. They need YOU!
We’re especially seeking caring individuals who will love and support our kids at Hope Gardens and at our annual Christmas in July event.
We’re seeking volunteers to hold, rock, sing, read, play, and love kids ages 3 months to 5 years. We also need volunteers to help children and teens after school complete their homework and to provide help and guidance on particularly challenging subjects.
Union Rescue Mission – Christmas in July:
Every July, Union Rescue Mission hosts more than 200 kids of all ages in a winter celebration full of games, prizes, face-painting — and a snowball fight in the heat of summer! Come down and hang out with the kids!
It’s an unimaginable tragedy. Every day, it seems Union Rescue Mission is squeezed even further to care for the increasing numbers of families who find themselves devastated by homelessness for the first time. For many, Union Rescue Mission is their last resort — we are the only rescue mission in Los Angeles that aids single men, single women, single moms with children, single dads with children, two-parent families with children, and families with teenage children.
We are determined to never turn away anyone who needs our help. But we’re facing significant challenges as we offer food and shelter to more people than ever before.
For many, Union Rescue Mission is their last resort.
NOTES FROM ANDY
A Better Future for Hurting Families
I hope you read the story about Michael and Michaeyla in this issue of The Mission. Their story brings up so many emotions for me.
My own father grew up devastated by homelessness, traveling on freight cars and living in tents, garages, and sheds while my grandfather looked for work during the Depression. My dad was one of my greatest heroes. Yet despite all the great things he accomplished in his life, the shame and pain he felt from his childhood haunted him up to the day he died.
I can’t help but wonder how his life would have been different if his family had received help from some place like Union Rescue Mission. What encouraging words would have helped my dad? What kind of support would have offered him healing and a helping hand?
That’s what motivates me and Union Rescue Mission to help precious families like Michael and Michaeyla. It’s why we’re the only mission in Los Angeles County that houses single moms with children, single dads with children, two-parent families with children, and families with teenage children. We will never turn any family away who needs our help.
Your support is a miracle for families like these. Thank you.