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

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.

Skid Row’s State of Emergency

We were thrilled when Los Angeles recognized the State of Emergency of Skid Row and prioritized the issue of homelessness. It is absolutely an epidemic right now. The time is past due to allocate resources to the problem.

Unfortunately, the money just hasn’t shown up. I know it makes us feel great that we’re talking about a plan, or proposing a budget, but that doesn’t help the people dying on the street tonight. This emergency was declared six months ago and we’re still talking about what we’re going to do next year or over the next five years.

We’ve gone from 44,000 people experiencing homelessness to 47,000 people, an increase of almost 6%. Of that 3,000 more people, 40% are single women. Now, more than ever, we need to find a place to shelter these vulnerable people, yet more and more shelters are closing their doors. We lost over 2,000 shelter and transitional beds county-wide.

Since last year, the numbers on the streets have increased and over 40% of that growth is single women. We are going backwards.

At Union Rescue Mission, women and children outnumber men for the first time ever and we’re sheltering over 1,000 people each night. Since 2013, there has been a 55% increase in women experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. We need more options now so women are not stuck on mean streets of Skid Row or anywhere in our city. My heart won’t rest as long as women and children are on the streets. We, Union Rescue Mission, will not rest as long as women and children are on the streets. With your help, while others talk we will continue to step up.

Please consider giving a gift during our Matching Gift Challenge and make an impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness that have come to Union Rescue Mission. Any gift you give will be matched 100% by our anonymous donors.

URM 16.06 2512-1 June Newsletter 16URM06N_Pkg_FA.indd

The Power of Resurrection

7As we wrap up the Easter Season, I find myself reflecting back on our celebration of Easter, better known as Resurrection Sunday, at Union Rescue Mission. On March 27th I was asked once again to deliver the annual message at our Sunrise service on the Union Rescue Mission rooftop. The message-He is Risen-He is Risen indeed.

It was quite an honor to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on our rooftop, but to tell you the truth, we celebrate the power of the resurrection every day at Union Rescue Mission. It is celebrated through scripture on our walls, through songs and messages in our chapels and bible studies. Most importantly, we celebrate the power of resurrection through the transformed lives of our precious guests.


I eagerly get out of bed every morning and battle Los Angeles traffic to get to Union Rescue Mission as quickly as I can in order to participate in and see the life saving and life changing work that occurs inside the walls of this amazing place. I feel I have the best job in town.

Little ones saved from hunger and the streets break into the biggest smiles and hand me Hearts of Love they have drawn and colored in.

Join us today and help more people experience the power of resurrection, escape poverty and find their way home again. image1

God bless you,



Rev. Andy Bales

Union Rescue Mission needs you to finish 2015 well!!

We are about to enter into our 125th year of serving people experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

This year will be a very special one, as we are moving ahead in adding 13 units at Hope Gardens to assist 13 more moms & their children in overcoming homelessness. These 13 units will serve a special role as they will be a safety net for children of moms’ who may take a bit longer or may not ever overcome the obstacles keeping them without a home of their own.

Other plans for Hope Gardens include paying off the $3.6 million dollar mortgage, making the elevators operational in all buildings & we may build small homes on vacant land & more units for our Senior Ladies.

At Union Rescue Mission we are ready to retrofit all 3 elevators & make other needed capital improvements.

Next year’s plans also call for a URM satellite out of Skid Row as we continue our strategic plan to multiply hope, regionalize services, & bring an end to the tragedy that is Skid Row.

We are off to a good start on all of these new plans but none can proceed without a good finish to 2015.

This good finish is complicated by El Niño & the now cold weather that has come early & the expected cold & wet storms predicted in our near future.

We’ve added 140 cots downtown & these cots have been utilized for 223 days in a row.  With the worst of the storms on the way, we may need to add 250 more cots or even find a satellite location now rather than later to get everyone out of harms way. These are added costs not planned in our budget & that is why we need your help.

We need to not only meet our budget of $3.7 million in December alone, but we need to surpass the budget to keep up with the added costs of serving our precious guests in our cold & wet weather cots. Welcoming them at this critical moment could quite possibly put them on the path home to a transformed life.

Take a moment to give a life saving life changing gift of any amount at by December 31st to help URM finish 2015 strong & roll into 2016 with great momentum.

Every gift given by midnight December 31st will be matched/doubled.

Thank you, Andy B

Why I still believe in Rescue

11RESCUE those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

12If 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?

Proverbs 24:11-12

Some Missions are dropping the word Rescue from their title. A marketing executive recently suggested that Union Rescue Mission consider the same. He felt the term painted a picture of an old school mission providing only 3 hots and a cot along with a Gospel message. A former associate viewed the term as paternalistic and archaic, but I dare to disagree.

Union Rescue Mission will keep the important word Rescue in our name. No mission has proven to be more innovative, guest affirming and non paternalistic over the years than URM.

Over 29 years ago I joined a mission in Des Moines, Iowa and one of the first things I did was to make the chapel voluntary after the meal rather than compulsory before the meal. Attendance not only held steady but those in attendance were no longer physically hungry and had an increased appetite for spiritual food. History shows that happening at about the same time at URM in LA.

URM refers to all who live here as guests.

URM invites guests to reside at the mission 24/7/365-to be in guest area, or rest in their bunks-no coming in at night, leaving after breakfast and wandering the streets all day.

Guests keep their bed until they find a more permanent home-no 30 or 60 day revolving door. In fact, we are on pace to have 824 guests move into permanent housing this year. This number does not include our recovery programs, which would put the number closer to 1000.

We affirm our guests dignity by inviting them to stay free for 15 days then choose recovery or join Gateway program and pay a part of their own way, set up a personal savings plan, keep their valuables in a locked storage area under their bunks, volunteer throughout URM, maintain sobriety and participate in our clinics and jobs program. We have great respect and high expectations of our guests.

Our hope for everyone is a life transformed, followed by a job, followed by a permanent home. That is the focus of our intense recovery programs. However, we’ve set up sober permanent housing options for single men and women and soon families just in case a return to a job and complete independence is not possible.

URM is Christ and guest centered; each day we strive to listen to Our Lord and our guests and to do even better.

I know Rescue sounds like there is one rescuer and one to be rescued, which may sound paternalistic and there is a need for humility on the part of the rescued.

But humility isn’t a bad thing. It may save your life.

Awhile back, I was body boarding at Newport Beach in big waves. I didn’t realize at the time, but I guess a riptide was carrying me out to sea. A bright yellow life guard boat pulled up and told me to get in the boat. I declined. “I’ve got this. I’m a strong swimmer.”

Lifeguard, “No you don’t, you’re heading out to sea. You have no chance unless you had swim fins on. Get in the boat.”

I humbly(humiliated) climbed in the boat.

When I got back to the beach, my wife and kids were laughing at me, reliving the moment when they realized it was their big tough dad being rescued by the handsome young life guard. I was indeed, humiliated, but I was alive, and from then on, wore a pair of swim fins. :)

It is difficult to walk in the doors of a rescue mission. It is a place of last resort. It is difficult to ask for or accept help. It absolutely requires a level of humility, brokenness, to be rescued, to be restored, to get your swim fins, so to speak, for life’s big waves. It definitely helps when the rescuer is also humble, understands your predicament and welcomes you while affirming your dignity. There is no shame and there should be no shame in asking for help.

3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

4 RESCUE the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

-Psalms 82:3 – 4