The Mission – October 2014

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When I was a kid, Thanksgivings were never a big deal. There was never that much to be thankful for. We were so poor, our Thanksgiving dinners were made only from whatever food other people gave us.

But it wasn’t just Thanksgivings that were hard. We had so little money, we rarely lived in the same place for more than a year. We often moved from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. The few clothes we owned, we had to wash in the shower because we couldn’t afford a washer. I didn’t have many friends because I dressed so poorly.

I also grew up around a lot of violence. I often watched my mom’s boyfriends beat her. Sometimes they threatened to kill me. And a lot of other kids teased me for being fat.

I grew up embarrassed and angry, and I took it out on the world. I got in fights, I threatened teachers, and I robbed people for money. The only things that made me feel better were weed and meth. I was completely hooked by the age of 15 — and my only ambition was finding my next high. By the time I was 20, I was so angry and lost, I lived like a dog.

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But then I ended up in a different shelter — Union Rescue Mission.

That decision saved my life. It saved me from drugs. It reconnected me to God and faith in Jesus Christ. It gave me structure to do something with my life. And the program helped me face all the pain of my childhood and all the ways I’d messed up. Talking about that stuff really hurt. But I had to do it. And when I did, I felt all my old anger slip away. And I experienced joy for the first time.  First, Rosie Perez, who works at the Mission, befriended me at a time I thought I had nobody. Then Alex Cornejo, their Volunteer Manager, became my friend. I immediately saw something in Alex I wanted — joy. He was the one who persuaded me to join their Christian Life Discipleship Program.

I spent last Thanksgiving at the Mission, and I helped cook several hundred turkeys for all the guests who came here that day. It was one of the most amazing days of my life. I saw thousands of people sitting at tables, eating good food and enjoying one another. And I learned something. Thanksgiving wasn’t about me and what I didn’t have. It was about giving joy to someone else.

So this Thanksgiving, that’s what I’m thankful for.

Click here to watch Alejandro’s story in our latest “Stories From Skid Row” Video!


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All year-round at Union Rescue Mission, your gifts offer hurting souls safe shelter, nutritious meals, long-term care — and even the help they need to find their way home. Thank you!

But right now, our busiest time of year, we’re experiencing an unprecedented food crisis, due to California’s ongoing drought and a rapid decline in food donations. We need your help!

Your gift of $28.92 will provide 12 holiday meals!

It still costs just $2.41 to provide a holiday meal to a hungry man, woman, or child. This season, we expect to serve more than 170,000 meals. Your gift of $28.92 will help feed 12 people, $57.84 will help feed 24 people, or any amount you can send will help.

So please give generously. Thank you! To put your gift to work even faster, go to


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Notes From Andy

An Honored Place at the Table

Alejandro has been through a lot in his short life — far too much. When he came to Union Rescue Mission, he was angry, lost, and desperate for some place to belong. But then some of our folks took him under their wings, loved him, and adopted him as “family.” Now, he’s the most likable young man you’ll ever meet.

I think his description of what happened last Thanksgiving says it all. For the first time, he experienced a real “family” Thanksgiving. And he learned the joy of giving. That’s what our Thanksgiving celebrations are all about here at Union Rescue Mission. We welcome thousands of people from Skid Row into our “home” and treat them like honored guests. We feed them good food, love them, and cherish them — just like we do with our own families at home. Just like you treat your family.

In fact, it’s what we strive for every day — thanks to generous family like you. Just as there’s an honored place at our table for the precious folks on Skid Row, there’s a special place for you, too. Thank you!



The Mission – September 2014

URM 2014.09 September Newsletter (14URM09NL)_Pkg.inddCulinary school taught me how to create good food,” says Darren, the 49-year-old lead cook at Union Rescue Mission. “But the one thing they couldn’t teach me was how to make soul food. I don’t mean African-American cuisine — I mean food cooked with love. My mom taught me how to do that.”

Over the past year, Darren has helped serve more than 1,300 meals a day to hungry guests on Skid Row, and every meal is served with passion, love, and compassion.

“I love to serve,” he says. “It comes from my upbringing. Our house was always the go-to house for the less-fortunate kids in our neighborhood. Mom taught me that food is a ministry.”

Last year, when Darren found himself out of a job, he found an opening at Union Rescue Mission that combined his two greatest passions — serving food and ministry to hurting people.

“When I first saw what’s happening on Skid Row, I was stoked,” he recalls. “I remember thinking, you mean to tell me I can get paid to cook AND serve these people? You’ve got to be kidding! I love every minute of this.”

Each morning when Darren arrives in the kitchen, he starts with a five-minute cry for the people he’ll serve that day, followed by the theme song from Rocky for inspiration and prayer with his staff.

“I love people on Skid Row,” he says. “I want to serve them the best meal I possibly can. And that’s soul food. Food made with love. And I tell you, every day I see miracles in this place.”

But Darren says the greatest miracle he’s witnessed was serving almost 4,000 meals at URM’s Thanksgiving celebration last year.

“I think I worked 85 hours the week before Thanksgiving, just to get everything ready. We had no idea where we were going to get all the food,” he recalls. “But just like Jesus when He miraculously fed 4,000 people, we found it. I worked 15 hours straight on Thanksgiving, but it only felt like three.”

Darren says his greatest reward is seeing people blessed by the food he serves. “Nothing’s more important to me than the people we serve who’ve come here to put their lives back together,” he says. “Working here is one of the highlights of my life, to get paid to work on Skid Row and serve soul food to these special people — and serve it with everything I got.”


URM 2014.09 September Newsletter (14URM09NL)_Pkg.inddUnion Rescue Mission will serve more than 170,000 meals this holiday season and more than 4,000 guests at our Thanksgiving Celebration alone! It’s never too soon to start getting ready.

Great meals don’t just happen and they require far more than fancy techniques and perfect ingredients. The best meals are created with a heaping measure of love. And that’s Union Rescue Mission’s recipe for success at our annual Thanksgiving Celebration. Above is a brief peek at some of the other essential ingredients that go into this special day.


URM 2014.09 September Newsletter (14URM09NL)_Pkg.inddThis Thanksgiving season, the Mission will serve more than 170,000 meals! In the past, thanks to hundreds of volunteers and generous donations from local markets, each meal cost only $2.08. But due to California’s ongoing drought, food donations have dropped and prices have increased, forcing the cost of each meal to rise to $2.41. In order to continue serving so many meals to hungry people on Skid Row this Thanksgiving season, we need your help now!

So please send the most generous gift you can today. Your gift of any size will be a huge help. Thank you!



Notes From Andy

I love Thanksgiving. It’s always been my favorite holiday of the year, especially at Union Rescue Mission. But this year, I’m looking forward to our Thanksgiving celebration with concern, as well as hopeful anticipation.

Thanks to California’s severe drought, food donations to URM have plummeted and food prices are skyrocketing. I’m sure you’ve noticed our cost to serve a meal here has risen from $2.08 to $2.41 per meal — meaning our budget for food this year will rise by more than $264,000!

And it’s likely to increase even more in the months ahead. I’m sure you’re experiencing the pinch of higher food costs, as well. So this could be a tough Thanksgiving season for all
of us. But I want to assure you that our commitment to serve “soul food” to all our guests, and our mission to transform lives, will never waver — not as long as generous, caring people like you stand with us and rise to meet this challenge.

As Chef Darren says, “. . . food is a ministry.” And “soul food” is food served with love. Well, YOUR love is what makes this “soul food” possible. So thank you for everything you do on behalf of hurting people on Skid Row.



Dream with URM this Upcoming Year!


We’ve just completed fiscal year 2013/2014 at Union Rescue Mission and when I say “we”, I mean you and all of our partners, providing the resources, lifting us up in prayer, joining our volunteer team, and spreading the word of the excellent life changing work happening here on the streets of Skid Row as well as out at our Hope Gardens Family Center in the Valley.

These are some of the accomplishments your gifts made possible this past year:

• Grew and strengthened our Jobs program for graduates & guests at URM
• Established a Thrift Store (opening soon) as the first of several social enterprises we will use to train grads, hire grads, and provide a sustainable income for URM
• Installed Air Conditioning for URM guests for 1st time in 20 years in new building
• Doubled Return on Investment for URM fundraising events
• Completed renovation and opened up Concord building at Hope Gardens Family Center which significantly increased our capacity to help families in need
• Substantially increased URM Cash Reserves
• Hired two instructors for our Learning Center and obtained a grant from The LA Dodgers to upgrade computers and “Dodgerize” this important area of our program

These accomplishments, along with our everyday work of housing nearly 800 precious souls and serving over 2000 meals per day, would not be possible without your active involvement, participation, and sacrificial financial gifts. Thank you!

This is what makes me excited about the future, knowing you and Our Lord stand with us as we take on what seems to be an impossible task. The task of caring for and reaching many whom the world has cast off. One of our chaplains, John Russell, preached in chapel recently that the kingdom of God is like a shade tree, a big shade tree that invites people forgotten by the rest of the world into the shade. I realized as he shared that this is URM, a big shade tree that invites the least and the lost of this world back into the shade, into a loving environment, into a life changing environment. Thanks for making this work possible!

After 123 years of faithful service, we are not finished providing that shade, in fact, we are just beginning! Our overarching goal for the next 3 to 5 years is to: Decentralize Skid Row by expanding our services in outlying communities while measuring and sharing the outcomes of our life transforming work.

Specific plans for the coming year include:

• Strengthen our team by providing appropriate staff pay increases for the 1st time since the Great Recession.
• In an effort to decentralize services we hope to reach a capacity of 80% downtown, while reaching a capacity of 95% at Hope Gardens Family Center.
• In an effort to look after children until they graduate from high school and move to college, we are investigating long-term restorative housing for families who after graduating Hope Gardens do not have the means to move on their own.
• We will partner with Biola Professors to better measure and improve life transformation among our program participants.
• In an effort to further strengthen recovery we are investigating an offsite men’s and women’s recovery program. I believe we will soon have the means to make this a reality, possibly in fiscal year 2015/2016.
• We will continue to build our network by adding at least 1 key partner, like the incredible partnership with Pacific Coast Church of San Clemente, which mentors our men in recovery and holds Iron Man Conferences here at URM. We may enter into a local partnership with PCC helping them and another church establish a shelter in Dana Point in the future.
• We will establish partnerships with churches/agencies to engage neighborhoods which are producing most of our guests and the people on Skid Row. We want to strengthen young people and families, help them develop resilience to homelessness, to stem the flow into Skid Row.
• We will open our 1st URM Thrift Store in Covina in 6 weeks to train and hire graduates and provide a sustaining income for URM. We are hoping to find adjacent housing for our URM and Hope Gardens graduates who will be employed at The Thrift Store
• We will launch a race/walk to raise awareness and funds to alleviate homelessness.
• We will build reserves to 3 months of operating, and begin Phase 1 of a Capital Campaign to make improvements, i.e. new elevators downtown, and pay off mortgage of Hope Gardens. Though we plan to just begin this in fiscal year 2014/1015, my hope and belief is that this may be accomplished by fiscal year end 2015, and no later than fiscal year end 2016.

These are some planned bold steps, as we maintain our vital work on the streets of Skid Row while branching out into uncharted territory, but we know our God is faithful, and we know you will continue to stand with us as a vital partner.

We know none of our work could be accomplished without our Lord’s blessing and your generous gifts of love. Could you give your stamp of approval and your willingness to be part of the team that makes this happen by providing a generous financial gift today?

Bless you,


The Mission – August 2014

Aug 2014 CoverAugust 2014 Sidebar

I was a single mom with four young kids, and I desperately needed a job. But I had been a drug addict for more than 10 years. I had been arrested several times for shoplifting. And I had just left prison. I wanted a second chance, but who would hire me?

It was my fault. Since the age of 18, I’d been on my own and I wanted to party, drink, and smoke weed. But I wasn’t irresponsible. I held good jobs. But then someone introduced me to “primos” — weed mixed with crack cocaine. It was love at first cough. Nothing else mattered.

Before long, I was smoking every day, all day. It got so bad, I couldn’t hold on to a job, so I started shoplifting. I hated myself for it, but I just couldn’t stop smoking. By the time I was 30, I had four kids and I knew they deserved better.

So when I went to prison in August 2004 for shoplifting, I turned my life over to God and determined that I would change my life. When I got out in May of 2005, I knew I needed a job to support my kids. But what hope did I have?

That’s when God led me to Union Rescue Mission. URM was more than just a shelter. They taught me how to write a resume, how to interview, and how to dress appropriately. They made me believe in second chances and even helped connect me to potential employers willing to give people like me a new start.

But little did I know it would be Union Rescue Mission who would hire me, and I’ve been here ever since! Today, I work in our Gifts in Kind department, helping the Mission secure everything we need — cleaning supplies, hygiene products, food and kitchen utensils, clothing, baby products, blankets, gym equipment, and so much more. And now I’m also helping find everything we need to stock URM’s new thrift store in Covina, which I know will help even more people like me.

Union Rescue Mission gave me confidence when I didn’t have any left. They gave me a second chance when I didn’t deserve one. They believed in me, supported me, and equipped me to live a brand-new life. And that means everything.

URM Thrift Store

A Thrifty New Venture

by Jeri Little, Vice President, Micro Enterprise

Caring people like you have been transforming the lives of hurting people at Union Rescue Mission for more than 120 years. But most of our guests today need more than a transformed life to escape homelessness — they also need a job.

With that in mind, URM is opening a new thrift store in Covina, which promises to provide jobs for some of our guests, and offer many other benefits, as well. Beyond this new thrift store, however, your gifts enable us to do much more to equip our guests to find employment. Thanks to you, our guests learn how to write resumes, get connected to job training opportunities, learn how to present themselves in interviews, and are even able to connect with valuable mentors and potential employers.

For more information about URM’s new thrift store in Covina, please contact Troy West at 626-915-3417.

August 2014 URM

The streets of Skid Row are harsh any time of year. But when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, life here becomes even more cruel. Right now, outside our doors, people are already suffering from life-threatening, heat-related illnesses. They desperately need your help.

Yet every summer, donations to Union Rescue Mission drop way off, and right now this lack of funding, coupled with increasing food costs, is threatening our ability to meet the needs of precious souls who need our help this summer.

You can make a huge difference right now. Your gift today will provide not just water, but also cool shelter, nutritious meals, and another day of hope — in Jesus’ name — to these precious people who need your help the most this summer. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!


Notes from Andy

The Way Home Is Through a Job

Everything we do at Union Rescue Mission is designed to enable people experiencing
homelessness to leave here prepared to live a successful life. And a key part of
that mission involves preparing people for a job. You can transform someone’s life
and find them a place to live, but if they can’t pay for it, they’ll end up right back
on the streets.

That’s one of the reasons we’re opening a new thrift store in Covina, which I hope
is just the first of many we open all over LA County. Other nonprofit organizations
like ours, nationwide, have proven time and again how thrift stores can provide
valuable work skills, jobs, and a sustainable income for people once
considered largely unemployable.

And that’s where you come in. Your financial gifts to URM do far more than provide meals and shelter. Your gifts help transform lives and help prepare men and women experiencing homelessness with job-preparedness training, work skills, and even job opportunities with employers all over Los Angeles.

A life transformed, followed by a job, followed by a home. That’s our strategy. But you’re the one who makes it happen. You are the Mission.



The Mission – July 2014


It’s not hard to understand why James holds tightly to Jesus’ parable of The Prodigal Son (Luke 15), the story of a young man who disgraces his family by living a wild life far from home and finally hits rock bottom — destitute, alone, and with nowhere to live.

“That’s my story,” says James, a 45-year-old native of Korea. “It’s hard to get disowned by a Korean family. But I was. And when that happens, the break is pretty powerful.”

James is the youngest child of a tight-knit Korean family. His parents had high expectations for him. “In the Korean culture, you respect your elders and do as they say. And my parents expected me to be someone,” James says. “The problem was, I just wanted to be average and normal.”

So James did the unthinkable. In high school, he rebelled against his parents, pursuing a life of parties and drugs — including heroin.

“I felt a lot of shame and fear,” he says. “Heroin made me feel like everything was OK. But then my life became unmanageable and dark for almost 20 years.”

He finally hit rock bottom in 2013. “I had burned all my bridges with my family. I had sold everything I owned, I weighed 100 pounds, and I realized I had no one else to rely on and no place to go. I actually had to sleep on the street,” James recalls.

That’s when he came to Union Rescue Mission. “When I got here, I was tired, ashamed, and hopeless,” he says. But everything started to change when James met URM’s Chaplain McIntire. For the first time, James felt like someone loved him and cared about him.

“Chap believed in me,” James says. “He gave me hope and something to live for. There was no way I was going to let him down. Love is a powerful thing.”

Today, James is drug-free and working as a coordinator for Chaplain McIntire. But his story is still unfinished. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the son returns home to a loving, welcoming father. Will James’ family embrace him when he returns?

“I still carry some guilt and shame. I caused a lot of disruption in my family,” he says. “But I also have peace I never experienced before. I’m no longer James the failure. I’m James — child of God. Now I just hope my family will forgive me and welcome me back.”



The Love that Lifted James

By Mike McIntire, URM Chaplain

When James first came to Union Rescue Mission, I knew he was Korean and very out of place. We see very few Asian men come through here because many believe that coming to a shelter like this will bring shame upon their families. So I knew it was a big deal for James to be here.

So I immediately sat down to talk with James and shared that I’d like to be his chaplain and to work together through his struggles.

As a chaplain who works with addicted men at URM, I know that nearly all addicts are trying to cope with some kind of relational trauma in their lives — molestation, abandonment, abuse, neglect, etc. James was no different. He felt like he had deeply hurt his family and had been running from them ever since. And if relational trauma was the problem, I had to model a healthy relationship with him.

James arrived broken and hopeless. But I told him I loved him, whether he wanted it or not, and I would find a way to make him believe it. I was determined
to never do anything that would bring any more shame to James and to help him regain his honor.

Over the next year, James opened up more and more. And as he learned to trust me and believe I truly loved him, he began to change and to believe he was a man worthy of respect again. Today, he has hope that he can rebuild his broken relationships. And one day, I believe he’ll be a man who’s capable of reaching other hurting men with the same love and care he received here.


The Horrors of Heroin

Overdose deaths in California have doubled since 1990. They’re now the second-leading cause of accidental deaths in California for people 15-34 years old, second only to traffic accidents.
— Los Angeles Overdose Prevention Center

Heroin essentially rewires part of the brain, so when users try to give it up, they crave it even more.
— Fox News, LA

Heroin addiction is on the rise nationwide and in Southern California. It can be a deadly high, and young people are the most vulnerable . . . The number of heroin deaths increased by 250 percent between 1999 and 2009.
— ABC Local News

Police seizures of heroin in Los Angeles have almost tripled in the past three years.
— Department of Justice

In 2007, there were an estimated 373,000 heroin users in the U.S. By 2012, the number was 669,000, with the greatest increases among those 18 to 25. First-time users nearly doubled in a six-year period ending in 2012, from 90,000 to 156,000.
— Huffington Post

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug
addiction, please give us a call at (213) 347-6300 and we can connect you with someone who can help.


Your gift today will provide shelter, meals, and the real help hurting people need to live transformed lives.

So many reasons lead to the desperation found on Skid Row; addiction and poor choices, trauma and abandonment, the lost of a job or death of a loved one are just a few. Everyone on the streets of Skid Row is broken and hurting. But just like you and I, they are made in the image of God and need a second chance at life.

And because of generous people like you, these same hurting people find that chance for new life at Union Rescue Mission. They begin to live life the way God always intended — filled with joy and gratitude.

Your generous gift of $25, $35, or more will help provide nutritious meals, safe shelter, and the real help these precious people need to put their lives back together and return to their communities healthy and whole. So I urge you, please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

For more information, or to put your gift to work even faster, go to


Notes from Andy

Instruments of God’s Love 

They’re coaches, mentors, friends, and God’s instruments of healing and love in the lives of our guests struggling with addictions and homelessness. The eight chaplains who work here at Union Rescue Mission and at Hope Gardens Family Center, including Chaplain McIntire in this newsletter, are the very core of our Mission. I get tears just thinking about the work they do here every day.

One thing I’ve learned after more than 25 years of ministry is that the only way to truly end someone’s homelessness is through personal relationship and trust. Our guests need more than a roof or a meal. They need someone to believe in them, encourage them, cry with them, stand alongside them. They need someone to love them.

That’s what our chaplains do. That’s what James experienced when Chaplain McIntire took James under his wing. Not all our guests are ready to respond to that kind of love, but we nevertheless offer that love to our guests every day.

In that way, our chaplains are really YOUR hands and feet. They channel YOUR love, embodied in all your gifts to Union Rescue Mission, and offer that love to our guests. Thank you for being instruments of God’s love with us.



The Mission – May 2014

Frank Sontag is the host of “The Frank Sontag Show,” the largest Christian talk program in the U.S. The program airs 4:00pm-6:00pm, Sunday-Friday, on KKLA radio. Rev. Andy Bales is a frequent guest on “The Frank Sontag Show.” KKLA is also home to Union Rescue Mission’s “Amazing Stories from Skid Row.”

As a talk-show radio host for more than 25 years, Frank Sontag has interviewed countless numbers of individuals in all walks of life — many of them are celebrities and those who are rich, powerful, successful or influential. But his heart beats for Jesus and the “invisible,” precious people on Skid Row.

“I visited Andy Bales at Union Rescue Mission yesterday,” Sontag says. “When I left and walked back to my car, I looked at the hundreds of people living on these streets and I felt the very powerful presence of Jesus. I see Jesus on these streets. There is so much potential to serve the people here and to love them in the name of Jesus Christ.” As a child, Sontag says he was “raised in a difficult area of Cleveland.  So I know . . . poverty and violence.” Maybe that’s why he’s always had a heart for those who are underprivileged, struggling, and experiencing homelessness.

Sontag has frequently volunteered to serve people experiencing homelessness on Skid Row for more than 20 years. But it wasn’t until he visited Andy Bales and Union Rescue in 2013 that he realized it was time to get more involved. Continue reading »

Are We Really Reducing Harm?

I understand that the Housing 1st push to provide Permanent Supportive Housing along with The Harm Reduction Model (allowing drug use in the privacy of one’s unit within Permanent Supportive Housing) is being touted From Washington D.C. to Los Angeles as the latest silver bullet to end homelessness, but has anyone considered housing options for those who want to remain sober and reside in a sober and safe environment?

Continue reading »

The Mission Newsletter – February 2014


Right now, thousands of people in Los Angeles are experiencing the cold reality of homelessness in winter. But weather’s not the only kind of cold. I spent years running from God, like Jonah, hiding in the cold, dark belly of the whale.

I grew up in an economically poor, but spiritually rich, family. Most of the men were preachers and ministers. But I chose a different path. Continue reading »

Washing The Feet Of Skid Row – Thanksgiving Outreach 2013


“Wait till you see my feet… you won’t be smiling no more!” the man chuckled with his lips curling into a smile.

The wrinkles on his face betrayed his young age. The volunteer laughed warmly as she started to remove his discolored, worn-down sneakers — if you could call them shoes. Beyond broken in, the darkly crusted laces puffed out a cloud of dust as she began to untie them.

She pulls off his grey socks — once white — and she carefully places his feet into the washing bin. He flinches, unused to the touch of clean water swell around his toes, but finally begins to relax — restfully placing his interlocked fingers onto his belly.


Armed with gloves, soap, and a lot of love, she gently washes away weeks — maybe even months — of grime and grit. There isn’t any hesitation in her motions as she calmly continues to pour pitchers of water over the crooks and crannies of his feet. Focused, her eyes gleam with grace the stranger in front of her is probably not used to. Grace on Skid Row is always at a premium.


They continue to engage in conversation as she dries his feet off with a fresh towel. This was her first time volunteering at the Mission and he has been around Skid Row for one too many nights. If you had removed the wash bin, you would have thought they’d been friends for ages — the authentic tone in their voices erased the reality of the circumstances.

“Can I pray for you?” she asks.

He shyly mumbles some words I couldn’t overhear, and it was probably for the best — sacred moment are better left untainted. She lifts up some words of prayer and stands to retrieve one of the UCLA podiatrists on call. Equally as friendly as the volunteer, the physician and the supporting medical students begin to ask questions to ascertain the overall health of the man’s feet.


While running through a battery of different tests, the medical students offer the man useful tips on how he can maintain better foot health. With each piece of advice, his furrowed brow lifts with more and more understanding. They offer fresh new socks — a luxury — and direct him to the section where he would be given new shoes.


Many of these unique stations were trickled around our parking lot, as our Thanksgiving Outreach tries to give those living on the dangerous streets of Skid Row a comprehensive list of items necessary to get through another day. To the left of the foot washing station, other volunteers were handing out toiletries — shampoo, toothpaste, and the like, much to the delight of those in line.


For those needing legal counsel, a group from Loyola Marymount University set up a booth to hear the struggles of the homeless with so little hope left in their pockets. The lawyers-turned-listeners each carried a packet of tissues, as tears would frequently roll down the faces of those airing out their troubles. The lawyers repay those tears with hope and many left those tables with a definite change in their countenance. Someone had heard their story, and they were equipped with the knowledge to do something about it.


A Persian group from Palos Verdes was eager to serve Skid Row’s denizens a filling meal of chicken, salad, and fruit. Like clockwork, this group would take the meal ticket provided to each person in line and produced a box filled to the brim with food, sending a few back inside to reload when needed.

Today was not the day people would go hungry.


As the event was coming to a close, I couldn’t help but notice the booth at the center of our parking lot. Sitting behind the table sat two men, twirling pencils in their hands. In front of them were stacks of blank papers accompanied with the sign — Cartoons.

They had spent the whole morning volunteering their time drawing caricatures of anyone who would want one. Young and old would line up, and each would seek me out to take their picture — to capture a screenshot of their joy. Sometimes it isn’t enough to just give people “necessities”, but giving them something as superfluous as a caricature goes a long way.


Something about offering your gifts, whether if it’s legal advice, medical work, cartooning, or even just giving up your Saturday morning, made me contemplate the true meaning of being thankful. And much of that was present — thankfulness was present in the servants and the served.

None of this work would be possible without the good work and donations that people like you cheerfully give to Union Rescue Mission. This day was just one of 365 days that helps make the Mission a light in the darkness.

The Government May Have Shut Down, But Union Rescue Mission Continues To Run!


If you have been watching the news, the United States Federal Government has been shut down. But Union Rescue Mission (URM) continues its operation because we do not rely on any type of government funding. For over 122 years, we have relied on funds and gifts-in-kind procured from generous individuals, foundations, businesses, and churches. We are also blessed to see thousands of volunteers gift their time for the countless needs of the Mission.

Each year URM provides more than 750,000 meals, 250,000 nights of shelter, and 15,000 free health and legal clinic sessions to the precious souls living on Skid Row. For the men who want to rebuild their lives we offer our Christian Life Discipleship Program: an intense, in-depth 12 month plan focused on transforming their entire lives—to ultimately become independent and successful members of their communities.

Especially in this uncertain time, it will take all of our resources to continue to offer our comprehensive service and life transformative programs.
As the end of the shutdown is not in sight, we expect more and more people to come through our doors – but we pray and hope that we will continue to receive the private donations needed to help the broken and lost people of Skid Row.