An Urgent Plea from CEO Andy Bales

Together, we are doing the incredible, vitally necessary, and nearly impossible work of saving lives and transforming all of the precious people who come to Union Rescue Mission!

The Mission — January 2019 2We are planning to do so much more! Our Sprung Structure—a 24/7 comprehensive shelter—will be in place by early June, enabling us to serve an additional 120 single women. At the same time, 15 new units will soon be completed at Hope Gardens, creating space for supportive transitional housing for 15 new families. This August, we plan to break ground on a satellite facility that will serve 86 families in the southern part of L.A. County!

None of this would be possible without you, one of our treasured partners in this work.

As we continue to serve 450 men each day while also working toward these new service expansions and maintaining our commitment to never turn away a woman or family, our operating cash flow is running very low.

We need your help—and now, if possible.

A bequest of over $2 million we expected to receive this fiscal year has slipped into next year, due to some complications. On top of this challenge, a generous foundation that has consistently donated over $500,000 to the Union Rescue Mission each spring for more than 25 consecutive years, has just notified us that they will not be able to provide the donation this year.

I’ve been reassuring myself and the rest of our team with the encouragement from God’s Word,

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

We want to continue to be the mission who will always step up and never turn away a precious human being who comes to our door. How could we turn them away, given the many dangers on the streets of our city, and especially the dangers of Skid Row?

Here is what a powerful advocate for people devastated by homelessness Mark Horvath, head of Invisible People, had to say about Union Rescue Mission:

“In all of LA County, the only homeless organization that responds at all hours is URM and their CEO Andy Bales. But URM is Skid Row and that is not always the best choice. In all of LA there is only one organization that helps homeless people 24/7/365. Only one!”

Please consider an emergency gift today – and help us continue to serve those in need.

Because of you, we never turn away a woman or a family who comes to our doors.

Your partner in Christ,

Andy Bales

Our Continued Prayer As URM Grows

Our Continued Prayers As URM Grows

Dear Family,

Wise friends have been telling me this for years and I’ve reminded myself many times;

You can worry, or you can pray, but you can’t do both!

I want you to know – I AM PRAYING!!

We have the biggest fundraising mountain we’ve ever had to climb these last two weeks of December!!

We’ve raised $1 Million so far in December BUT need $4.6 Million more in order to continue to be THE MISSION who never turns away a woman or a family with children who comes to our door while still serving nearly 500 men each night.

1,500 precious souls, including over 400 children, are counting on us reaching the top of this December 31st mountain.

We are the only rescue mission in Los Angeles welcoming single men, single women, moms with kids, dads with kids & two parent families with kids and we embrace more people with the compassion of Christ than the combined total of all other agencies serving our area.

This week, the LAPD found a young family on the street outside and brought them in. We helped mom & dad & 2 little girls, 7 years old & 3 years old, who had spent nearly a year on the streets get into their own place and the girls ran around the room shouting & dancing, “It’s a palace!! It’s a palace!!”

We plan to do so much more;

construction begins this week in our downtown back parking lot on a permanent structure to house 120 single women in a 24/7 comprehensive shelter.

15 added transitional housing units for 15 more families at Hope Gardens are only one month from completion.

Plans are moving ahead to begin building a satellite facility for 85 families in South LA County this coming August.

We can only continue stepping up to the need everyday and move ahead with our plans if we have a Christmas miracle of Giving through you!!

Please join in this miracle today by giving the most generous gift you can.

All gifts will be matched – so every dollar you give will enable two dollars to go towards the work of URM in serving Los Angeles’ homeless people!!

God can do this through you!!

Keep praying!! Don’t worry!!

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6 ESV

Thank you & God bless you,

Andy Bales

Urgent Plea from Rev. Andy Bales, URM CEO

Urgent Plea from Rev. Andy Bales, URM CEODear Friends,

With your help this year, we’ve been able to step up like never before in our history, serving 1,300 precious men, women and children every night, and we never turn away a family with children or a woman who comes to our door. How could we, with all of the dangers ever present out on the streets of Skid Row and our city?

We’ve filled our 4th floor with families, added a 5th floor wing for families (and already filled it), and now 11 families have spilled into our gym.

We have 13 dads, 87 moms, and 207 children downtown at URM, in addition to 350 single women and 500 men. And an additional 200 moms and children and 25 senior ladies are at Hope Gardens.

We’ve been able to step up like never before because of your strong support. We could not do it without you!

Our budgeted revenue has kept up with the need throughout this year because of your generous support. However, we’ve hit a bump in the road-as an expected $2 million bequest has been put on hold. Yet, we still need to meet our fiscal year end budget. We project a nearly $2 million shortfall!

So we are pulling out all of the stops. We had a successful inaugural 5K Walk on June 2nd.

I began my 2nd Annual Cycle to Save Lives Ride from Skid Row to Sacramento and have secured a $500K Match. Every gift given toward the ride and to will be matched/doubled until June 30th.

I hope you will give now to help us continue to step up to the incredible need.




Rev. Andy Bales, CEO

‘Rescue’ Is In Our Name & We Will Always Be About Rescue’s Mission is to embrace people with the compassion of Christ. We strive for an environment & have a comprehensive approach & teach God’s Word in order to transform the lives of our guests.

It works… 25% of our staff are former guests!

Together we follow God’s word in the command to Rescue.


Proverbs 24:11-12 ESV 

Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?


Psalm 82:3-4 ESV

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Recently a friend wrote about the term Rescue being a an Unsettling Word. It was stated “We’re finding that the word rescue is getting more and more pushback these days from younger Christ-followers. They say it produces an uneven power dynamic between the “rescuer” and “rescuee”; they believe that such terminology is problematic because it inhibits the path to healing and survival for the person being helped—whether it be victims of human trafficking, survivors of a hurricane, or homeless addicts strung out on meth.”

He continued;“For certain, a lot of the people now starting to come up through the ranks in missions do not want to identify with the image of a hero in a cape swooping down to pluck desperate and destitute people out of their misery and “fix” them. (Nor do they want to deal with the questions that brings up about motives.) Instead, they prefer to be seen as journeying alongside them, in their own brokenness, making their way together toward wholeness.”

I want you to know, if my loved one is being trafficked, I want a hero to rescue them. If I am ever swept up in a flood or a hurricane, I don’t want you to jump in the water & tread water & journey with me, and if you were to find me living on the streets, please don’t join me. Be my hero, offer me a place. Rescue me.

The license plate on my car is is a thanks to God & in honor of my wife, URSQDME.

Five years ago my wife Bonnie provided her kidney to me. She saved my life. She could have held my hand & journeyed through 5 years of dialysis, but she heard the doctors prognosis & she rescued me. She is a hero.

There is nothing wrong with heroes. If you do this rescue work, you are a hero. We need more heroes.

At Union Rescue Mission, we answer the call 24/7/365.

We not only never turn away a family with children or a woman who comes to our door, we rarely refer a man elsewhere as well.

When I received a call on January 1st from a mom with 6 young children that another agency put on the curb on a holiday after their 90 days had run out, I jumped in my truck (license plate URESCU2) :), and picked the mom & children up and all of their belongings, and delivered them to our 4th floor. They are now safe & sound at our Hope Gardens Family Center.

On a cold night in February, I was out of town, & received a call from a Facebook friend about a woman who was out in the cold & unable to walk due to blisters on her feet. I called our team and they went to her and joined my Facebook friend in pleading with the woman to come in. She refused. Our team and friend called the medics. The woman again refused.

Three days later our Facebook friend found her on the streets, cold to the touch. Deceased. We did our best to rescue her. It was life & death & merely joining her on the streets & journeying with her would not be enough.

I respect other’s opinions & the younger generation’s opinion, however, they’re not always right. There is nothing wrong with immediate action & rescue when needed. There is a time for journeying & a time for rescue.

Rescue, healing & restoration often requires a certain amount of humility. On our radio show this week, one of our Hope Gardens mom’s discussed her meth addiction & of living in a tent by a freeway with a man she didn’t prefer & during a rainstorm the tent began to slide down the hill. That moment brought her to what she described as a “gift of desperation” that drove her to seek help.

In March we had a successful gala, we featured one of our moms & her 6 kids that were rescued on January 1st. The Gala ran late. Sunday morning I was tired. I needed to rest. However, the next morning I received a call from a mom in a hotel in Pomona, 40 miles away. I began to hear her story, “I am in a hotel with my 18 month old & 3 month old daughters” I jumped in, “can you get to Union Rescue Mission?” I was determined to get rest & needed some rest.“No, our time at the hotel is over, we have to leave, and when we went out to MOVE INTO OUR CAR, it had been repossessed.”

I knew what I had to do. I fired up my truck & hit the road. I found this sweet 23 year former foster youth mom & these sweet babies & loaded them up to go to the mission.

Mom said, “I have my boys in Lancaster, (60 miles away), they are 4 & 3.“” Let’s go”, I said.

We picked them up at what looked like a drug/gang house-Later confirmed by a visit to the mission by the police. Then we drove the hour & 1/2 to Union Rescue Mission. I supervised the boys while mom took a nap.

“Please share my brother. You’re not sharing my brother! Mommy!! Mommy!! Mommy!!”

“Please let your mommy rest”

This was repeated many times.

When we got closer to the mission one of the boys asked me if we were going to mom’s house or my house several times. I finally answered, “we are going to a big house with a playground on the rooftop with lots of other boys and girls to play with.”

I’ve never heard the word mommy more times, nor answered more questions, & I didn’t get any much needed rest.”

Yet, I have never ever had a better day doing this amazing rescue work.

-Andy B

2018 LAHSA Homeless Count Released Yesterday

2018 LAHSA Homeless Count Released Yesterday

As you know, official 2018 LAHSA counts were released yesterday. After some time of reflection and prayer, I have come to the consensus that while the count suggests progress, & I applaud all of our Partners’ & teammates’ efforts, the epidemic of homelessness in Los Angeles remains:

• Children (under 18) on Skid Row increased 109% in the past year. The vast majority of children reside at Union Rescue Mission
• Women on Skid Row increased 35% in the past year. 350 single women stay at Union Rescue Mission
• Seniors (62+) experiencing homelessness increased 26% in Los Angeles.
• Homelessness remains visible on our streets: 3 out of 4 people experiencing homelessness are unsheltered.
• The percentage (75%) of unsheltered people remains unchanged and shelter beds actually decreased in both LA City & LA County
• 22% increase in homelessness among people aged 62 and older in the past year.
• 1 in every 3 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles is a woman.

URM has felt this increase as we have experienced:

• An all-time high of 307 total family members-moms (87) dads (13) & kids (207) are being served/housed currently at Union Rescue Mission downtown (Skid Row)
• With an additional 200 moms and children & 25 Senior Ladies housed at Hope Gardens Family Center in Sylmar

If there has indeed been a reduction of people experiencing homelessness, URM has certainly played an important role:

• 2,900 meals served daily
• 1,300 people sheltered each night
• 900 guests placed in housing annually
• 150 job-seekers employed yearly

We are the only mission on Skid Row that will NEVER turn away a woman or family with children who comes to our doors. And with the triple-digit increases on Skid Row, we are so grateful for our donors, volunteers, and staff who help ensure we are able to continue this service to so many precious souls on the streets. Thanks again, to our partners who have ensured the number of those experiencing homelessness has not skyrocketed to double digits, which is what we expected based on our experience and view of the streets as we travel through Los Angeles.

All this to say, while a glimmer of hope is good, before we pat ourselves on the back & declare a measure of success on any count (especially in trying to count people who don’t necessarily want to be found or counted), the margin of error is likely higher than 3-5 percent. There is still so much more to be done. We must remember that there are still 53,000 precious souls on the street.

Union Rescue Mission will continue to embrace people experiencing homelessness with the compassion of Christ & be a strategic partner with the city & county & business community and other service providers in addressing homelessness.

Andy B

Critical Year End Goal: $1 Million Needed by December 31

Dear URM partner,

I reached out to you with an absolute desperate plea in September; if we did not reach our budgeted revenue for July, August & September, we would have to cut back & no longer have Emergency cots on our 1st floor for up to 250 precious souls. We would also have to limit the number of families we could serve. I shared that our hearts wouldn’t let us do that, & your overwhelming unbelievably generous response allowed us to continue welcoming every single woman and family who has come to our door!!

Thank you!!

Instead of a desperate plea, I want to tell you all the good that we will accomplish together this month & next if we make our budgeted revenue for December, $1 Million by December 31st!!

We will be able to;

  • Put up and keep up a heated tent like structure to room for 200 women guests in our back parking lot, complete with 8 restrooms and 8 showers.
  • Add a wing for families on our 5th floor so we will be able to continue to welcome all families who come to our door.
  • Add 15 units of permanent supportive housing at URM’s Hope Gardens for families
  • Continue moving ahead with plans to break ground next spring & build a satellite emergency shelter for 81 families in Compton.

All of this while still continuing to shelter & serve over 850 women and children and 550 men 24/7/365.

This is a big mountain to climb and a lot to ask of you, our partners, but we cannot step back from this FEMA like/Red Cross like disaster.

Let’s continue together to be The Mission that steps up when others step back & steps up to the need even when it seems impossible.

Your co-worker,

Andy B


Hope Gardens 4

[Critical] Time is running out to save the lives of women, children, and families

[Critical] Time is running out to save the lives of women, children, and families

I am currently faced with an untenable situation.


If Union Rescue Mission does not raise the remaining $350,000 needed by September 30th, just over one week from today, I will have to balance our budget by closing our emergency shelter on the first floor and send 350 single women and men back onto the mean streets of Skid Row. We will also have to cap the number of families with children on our 4th floor and be forced to no longer be the one place in Los Angeles that never turns away a woman or a family with children. Last, but certainly not least, 10 of our URM team members will have to be let go. 


Like the rest of our team – I’ve prayed, worked hard to raise funds, and pulled out all the stops to close this gap – but getting there seems impossible. 

 Lives of Women and Children at RISK 3

I’ve tried to wrap my head around sending more than 350 precious souls back onto the streets of Skid  Row and telling 10 team members they will lose their jobs AND I JUST WON’T DO IT!! My heart won’t let me – it is not how God has made me.


So, I really need your help. If 2000 of you give or pledge $175.00 or 20,000 give $17.50 before September 30th – we will be able to cover the budget shortfall and we will not have to close our first floor emergency operation. 


If we are not able to raise the required funds, whatever amount we are short at 11:00 pm on September 30th, I will pledge to pay this fiscal year, and my Home will go up for sale the next day so that I can pay the pledge – that is how committed I am to the people we serve here at Union Rescue Mission.


I cannot remain who I am and make any other decision, come what may.

 The Mission – May 2017 2


Please consider what you would do to help – and make a gift at before September 30th. Thank you for your faithful support of both me and the mission.

Hope Gardens 4

Lives of Women and Children at RISK

Lives of Women and Children at RISK

For nearly 18 months, Union Rescue Mission in LA, with your help, has stepped up like no other Mission or agency in Los Angeles, CA, or maybe anywhere. Like no other time in our 126 year history. If you add all of the people served at all of the other missions and shelters in downtown Los Angeles, the number of people served would not compare to the numbers served at Union Rescue Mission.

Lives of Women and Children at RISK 1

We are the only mission/shelter in downtown Los Angeles providing immediate emergency shelter for single men, single women, moms with kids, dads with kids, and two parent families with children.

We’ve always had a policy of always making room for parents with children, but as the number of women on the streets surged more than 55% over the last few years, we decided we could never turn away a single woman either.

This has severely taxed our resources, but with 800 registered sex offenders surrounding us on the streets of Skid Row, our hearts will not let us send a woman onto the dangerous, even deadly, streets of Skid Row.

Some in our city and county, even other service providers might be able to live with the fact that so many single women and moms with children are left on the streets, to suffer the agony and devastation of homelessness; and all the terror that comes with it, but I am, we are, haunted by the thought of it. Our hearts will not let us say no. How could we?

Lives of Women and Children at RISK 2

Our fiscal year just ended. It was an exceptionally difficult year. Our guests increased 55% and our giving plummeted 23%. We suffered a $3 Million loss over the last fiscal year. You’d think we would ease up on continuing to step up to the need. We won’t. We’ve planned our budget and we’ve decided to continue welcoming all who come to our door.

Yet, I have some heart wrenching news to share.

If we continue struggling financially, and fall 15% short of our 1st quarter budgeted revenue ending September 30th, we will have to cut $1 Million from our budget, and cease our emergency year round shelter for single women and men, and put a cap on the number of families with children.

This would effectively end our policy of never turning away a family with children or a single woman & would leave more than 400 men, women and children out on the mean streets. There is absolutely nowhere else to turn. I am not sure my heart could take it.

At a time of skyrocketing rents & exponential growth in homelessness, this is no time to step back.

Lives of Women and Children at RISK 3

I hope you will agree, act now, & give what you can today. Make it possible to welcome all who come to us in need.

Hope Gardens 4

Between a Rock and a Soft Place

Between a Rock and a Soft Place 4

When I give a tour of Union Rescue Mission, it always includes a tour of our hall of incredible history.

Between a Rock and a Soft Place 2I 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.

Between a Rock and a Soft Place 1On 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.

The Mission - December 2016 1We 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.

Hope Gardens 4

Between a Rock and a Soft Place 5

State of Emergency – Update

We need your help. I need your help.

20140930_0300We have 500 more precious souls under our roofs at Union Rescue Mission than we did last year at this time. Incredibly, almost all of that increase has been single women and women with children.

For the first time in our 125 year history, women and children outnumber men in our building by more than 200! There are twice as many single women at Union Rescue Mission as last year. We have more families than during the Great Recession when our resources were pushed to the limit.

We made a choice long ago to never turn away a family from our doors nor ever leave a woman on the mean streets of Skid Row. Homelessness devastates children. What happens to women on the streets is horrendous. My heart won’t let me. Our hearts won’t let us.

20140930_0303Union Rescue Mission is now the only Mission that welcomes families with children.

Not only are we the only downtown shelter for families with children, we are also the only shelter for single women. Because of this commitment to families, community and government agencies from throughout Los Angeles County are referring them here. Union Rescue Mission has become Los Angeles’ emergency response to homelessness.

Our commitment to embrace all with the compassion of Christ has called us to welcome 1,300 guests under our roofs each night. Tonight, more than 260 children will go to sleep at Union Rescue Mission.

img_8055We are now at capacity as a Mission.

To properly care for 1,300 men, women and children, we need to add $580,000 to our budget. This would allow us to increase our staff and expand our resources. Without these additional funds, we will need to exit our guest men to make room for the women and children.

I do not want that to happen. I know you don’t want that to happen, either.

Please make a donation today to make a way for Union Rescue Mission to continue welcoming all who come to our doors.