The Mission – August 2015


“For most of my life, the world viewed me as trash,” says Gary, 57. “But God used Union Rescue Mission to make me a treasure, and to show the world what He can do with someone like me.”

Gary grew up in poverty, the son of a struggling mother who had difficulty providing for her family. “We never had what the other kids had,” he recalls. “They dressed nicer than we did. I guess that affected my self-esteem.”

By high school, Gary was snatching purses, burglarizing homes, stealing cars, and gambling on the streets. Then his brother introduced him to crack cocaine. He was immediately hooked, and his life spiraled even more out of control. Between 1998 and 2012, he was constantly in and out of prison. And when he wasn’t in prison, he wasted his life away on Skid Row.

“I wanted to change,” he says. “I would see other people get clean, but I didn’t t

August2015NL_inside2hink it would ever happen for me. Then one day around 1999, the Lord spoke to my spirit: ‘Satan’s trying to destroy you. But I got you.’”

It took 10 more years to see the fruit of God’s promise. In 2009, Gary surrendered his life to Jesus Christ in prison. Before long, he was leading Bible studies and preaching in chapel services, and he even felt God’s call to one day go into ministry.

When Gary was released from prison in 2012, God led him straight to Union Rescue

Mission. “I needed a place to stay and I wanted to be in a stable Christian community,” he says. “The Mission fed me, gave me clothes, all of that. But the most important thing is,

they raised me up in the Word of God, and they gave me purpose and direction. The chaplains here modeled for me what ministry is all about.”

Soon Gary joined Central City Community Church, where he now serves as an assistant to

the pastor. He even got married for the first time in February 2013, and in July 2014, Union Rescue Mission hired Gary full-time to drive a truck for their new thrift store in Covina.

“I’m a truck driver,” he says. “I pick up used items that we sell at the thrift store. But it’s more than that. I know what I’m doing is going to benefit others and to God’s glory. So I drive my truck with joy, because I know I’m a part of this incredible ministry. I’m a part of something glorious and honoring to God.”


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Real Jobs for Real People — Thanks to You!

by Glynn Coleman, Employment Skills Specialist 

Many of the men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission have a spotty employment history, a lack of marketable job skills, and a history of felonies that can hurt their chances at gaining full-time employment and becoming self- sufficient. These precious people need more than meals and shelter, they need jobs. Real jobs.

And that’s where you come in. Your financial gifts and support 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.

Thanks to you, our Employment Program has already helped more than 100 men and women find sustainable employment that has not only helped them support themselves, but often their families, as well.




Summer heat on Skid Row is dangerous for the men and women who call these streets home. They desperately need your help. Yet every summer, donations to Union Rescue Mission drop way off, threatening our ability to meet their needs. Your gift today will provide cold water, cool shelter, nutritious meals, and another day of hope to precious people who need your help the most this summer. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

— Anytime it’s 85 degrees or hotter, we pass out cold bottled water on Skid Row. Water Walks take place Monday through Friday at 2:00 p.m. Text the word WATERWALK to 51555 to receive notifications for our next Water Walk.


Because of You!

Annette’s Story

In 2013, I ended up homeless with my two small children. It got so bad, we had to live in a tent for awhile. Then we came to Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens helped me give up alcohol and drugs, helped me get closer to God, and they helped me in so many other positive ways. Today, I’m still living at Hope Gardens, but I have a job now and soon I will move into my own place with my children. All I want is to be able to support my children, and thanks to Hope Gardens and generous friends like you, I’m able to do that now.




Notes From Andy

More than Meals

Struggling men and women who come to Union Rescue Mission seeking help need more than meals and shelter. They need more than sobriety. They need jobs. Real jobs.

I know one guy here at the Mission who came to us after a 20-year addiction. He’s clean, sober, and ready to go home. But he’s scared. What will happen to him when he leaves? He worries that if he can’t find work, if he can’t support himself with dignity and self-respect, he may end up right back where he started.

Thankfully, he’s now participating in our Employment Program and going to school. He knows we will provide him with the skills, the support, and the connections he needs. And we will walk with him every step of they way until he finds a much-needed job. But really it’s you. Your financial gifts to URM help provide men and women experiencing homelessness with 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.



The Mission – April 2015


Holly’s father was an alcoholic. Her mother didn’t want to raise children and spent increasing amounts of time away from the family. So from the age of 8, Holly was left in charge of her five other siblings.

“I remember telling Mom I just wanted to be a kid,” says Holly, a 39-year-old single mother at Hope Gardens. Holly says she never remembers being kissed or hugged by her mother — and she never heard the words “I love you.”

“I was so hungry for affection,” Holly recalls, “I started looking for a boyfriend when I was 11. I wanted a boyfriend who would love me.”

By the age of 13, Holly started running away from home, staying with friends’ families or living in vacant buildings. Then she discovered alcohol. “Drinking made me feel invincible and like I had it together. Like I could conquer the world. That I was attractive to men,” she says. Unfortunately, the men she attracted were mostly abusive. And alcoholics like herself. “You accept the love you think you deserve,” she says. “And I didn’t feel like I deserved more.”

By the time she was 36, Holly had six kids — all taken away from her and placed in foster care. In 2010, however, she tired of the abuse and alcohol. And she turned to God.

She got sober, got her kids back, and tried to rebuild her life. But in 2012, she and her kids were homeless.

A case worker persuaded her to go to Hope Gardens.

“Hope Gardens was this beautiful, green, healing oasis that sheltered me and my family after this horrible storm of my life,” she says. “For the first time, I felt like me and my family were safe. The staff here were so loving. It felt like family. What family is supposed to feel like.”

Through counseling and various classes that provided her with parenting and financial- management skills; through mentors and caseworkers that kept her on track; through chaplains and Bible studies that kept her focused on God — Holly says she got the parenting and nurturing she never got as a child.

Today, Holly says she’s becoming the “godly woman” she’s meant to be. She’s been sober for three years, she’s working, and her family is now preparing to move into their own apartment again.

“I’m so grateful God brought me to Hope Gardens,” she says. “I have a new apartment, but Hope Gardens will always be home.”


You Give Families Hope Today

by Zach Stratton

The transformation of Holly and her family is truly inspiring. But as a donor to Hope Gardens and Union Rescue Mission, you should know that your support transforms hundreds of families just like Holly’s every year. And that’s a powerful thing.

It’s also vitally important. The growth of family homelessness in Los Angeles is tragic. Thousands of young mothers and children face overwhelming barriers that prevent them from a better life — domestic violence, mental-health issues, addictions, emotional and sexual abuse, lack of education, joblessness, and many more.

Many times they’ve spent months or years moving from couch to couch, shelter to shelter, even living out of cars. These young mothers are so stressed keeping their families going day to day, they have no energy to think about tomorrow.

By the time these families come to Hope Gardens, they’re exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many times they arrive without hope. They need more than shelter and three meals a day. They need a chance to rest, so they can begin to heal and rebuild their families.

And that’s what you give them. You also provide them with classes in financial management, healthy relationships, and parenting. Counseling and therapy to heal past traumas. Education and job training. Case workers like me, who help them find jobs, and housing, and create a long-term plan for their lives. Finally, you give them the chance to reconnect with God and grow spiritually through chapel, Christian discipleship classes, and prayer.

Right now, your gifts are helping to support approximately 60 mothers and more than 100 children. And over the past year, you’ve helped transform the lives of as many as 200 mothers and over 400 children.

They say it takes a village to raise a child — or a family. And Hope Gardens is a kind of village — a village of precious families, a village of caring caseworkers, chaplains and staff, and a village of compassionate people like you. There is no “us and them” in this village. There is only us. Mothers, children, me, and you. And it’s a village that doesn’t exist apart from your support.

Zach Stratton is a case manager at Hope Gardens Family Center. For more information about Hope Gardens, please call 213.347. 6300 ext. 7101 or visit our website at 





Because of You

by Enrique

I struggled with a drug addiction for most of my life. By 2011, it got so bad I was on the streets. When I came to Union Rescue Mission, they helped me get closer to God and taught me how to follow His instructions in the Bible to live a better life.

I’ve learned that I need to stay disciplined in all areas of my life. One discipline that helped me is running. I ran my first L.A. Marathon in 2012 and I’ve run in every one since. Today, everything is going better for me and my family. I am grateful to God there is a place like Union Rescue Mission.



Notes From Andy

Transforming Families Today — and Tomorrow

My heart just breaks. The number of children experiencing homelessness in the United States is at an all-time high. In fact, at least 10,000 families are struggling here in Los Angeles alone.

Probably 70% of these precious moms, like Holly, are victims of divorce and domestic abuse. Others struggle with inadequate educational or work skills, and long-term unemployment. Regardless

of the reasons, however, many of these beautiful young mothers are now tragically living with their children in cars, garages, sheds — or worse.

But everything changes when they come to Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens not only provides them with safety, food, and shelter, it gives them the necessary skills they need to thrive. It helps them with relationship issues, provides educational opportunities, offers mental-health care, and trains them to become better mothers to their children.

As a donor, your gifts provide resources for completely transforming mothers and children so they will never again experience homelessness in their lifetime. You give them everything they need to take care of their families today, so for the first time they can begin to dream about tomorrow. I pray God will bless you for it!



The Mission – January 2015



The day is etched forever in Phillip’s mind. The wound will never go away.

Phillip grew up in the projects near downtown Los Angeles. One day when Phillip returned home in the afternoon, the house was empty.

“Your family’s gone. They got evicted,” a neighbor said. “They’re not coming back.” He was abandoned — and he was only 8 years old.

“My mom left me,” Phillip, 53, recalls. “That hurt so much. I wanted to close my eyes and never wake up. I was so upset, but I didn’t know how to ask anyone for help. I never had a home after that.”

At first, Phillip slept in stairwells or outside a local school. His only warmth came from the sweater he wore. Sometimes authorities would take him to juvenile hall or place him in foster homes, but he never stayed long. He preferred the streets, sleeping in abandoned cars, in a laundromat, or in storage rooms . . .

But the lack of parental guidance took a toll.

“No one ever gave me direction,” he recalls. “So when the light turned red, I just kept going. When the iron was hot, I touched it. I played with fire and got burned. I didn’t know any better.” As he grew older, he took to living in alleys, on dead-end streets, under bridges, or in the doorway of the Los Angeles Times building. He remembers the security guard there who would wake him each morning with 40 cents to get a cup of coffee. “I loved that guy,” he says. “He treated me like a human being. He was my only friend.”

To cover his emotional wounds, and to numb his anger and fear, he drank, devoured downers, and finally turned to heroin. “Heroin became my life,” he says. “At first, it covered me like a blanket. But it turned into a blanket of misery. My whole life was lonely and ugly.”

Two years ago, after more than 40 years on the streets, Phillip admitted he needed help and came to Union Rescue Mission, because “I got tired of myself.”

Over the past two years, Phillip has received the guidance and love he never got. He regularly sees a therapist and chaplains led him to Jesus Christ. “The word for me right now is ‘change.’ ‘Healing’ and ‘change.’ Every day, I ask God to help me let go of my past and to heal my body and mind,” he says.

“Everyone asks me, ‘Phil, you’re the happiest guy on earth. Why?’ Well, I found God. And I never had a home or a family before. Now I do. The chaplains say I can stay as long as I need. I think I will.”


Because of You

Brian Mitchell

I was homeless and addicted to drugs for years after I lost a son, a wife, my home, job, and car, all within a month’s time. I just couldn’t bounce back.

Then I came to Union Rescue Mission in February 2009 and God miraculously intervened in my life. I ended up going to college to study graphic arts and was later hired to work as the Mission’s graphic designer. Last year, I was hired by my church, and today I have a beautiful apartment, a puppy, and I’m taking care of my disabled mom. I’m also engaged to be married — and I’ve never been so happy or excited.

I will never be able to repay Union Rescue Mission or their donors for everything they’ve given to me.


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Tonight, more than 58,000 people here in Los Angeles will have no place to call home. Many of them will bed down in alleys, under bridges or a bush in a park, or on a sidewalk. It’s been said that people don’t live on the streets of Los Angeles — they die on them.

Your gift will provide safe shelter and warm beds. It costs just $24.84 to give a hurting man, woman, or child a safe, warm night of shelter. Your gift to Union Rescue Mission today, however, will help provide even more — you will give them access to life transforming programs and other necessary resources. So please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!

To put your gift to work even faster, go to



Notes From Andy

Shelter Shortage

Right outside our front door today there’s a small, makeshift memorial, with flowers, candles, and a handwritten message that reads “Rest in Peace, Ray.” He died last night on that very spot of the sidewalk. I don’t know how he died, but I can’t help but wonder if he’d be alive today if he’d found safe shelter here at Union Rescue Mission.

There are more than 1,900 women and men, like Ray, trying to survive on the streets of skid row, and that number is growing. Right now, our guest program is completely full every night — and for the first time in my history here, we’re referring people to other agencies because we’ve run out of space. It just breaks my heart.

But we’re not giving up. We’re already looking at different solutions that would enable us to offer safe shelter and beds to all those who need them. We simply have to find a way. These are precious people made in the image of God. They need our love. And it’s our love for God that compels us to do this.

Thank you for sharing this great love and work with us.



The Mission – December 2014

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I love gardening. Every day after work, instead of grabbing a beer, I grab the hose and tend to all the plants in my garden, examining each one, admiring the veins and the complexity in each leaf — each one a gift from God. It’s so peaceful and serene. And it reminds me how far I’ve come in my life.

It was my grandmother who taught me how to garden when I was kid.

She also raised me, taught me how to cook, and gave me my values and morals. She was the center of my world and I thought she’d live forever.

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But one day in 2004, I got a call at work. When my aunt told me my grandmother had died, it’s like everything around me stopped. I didn’t know how to handle it. So I bottled up all my feelings inside — feelings of hurt, sadness, grief, and frustration. Then, as the days rolled by, all those feelings started growing into anger and rage. 

I never talked to anyone about it. Instead, I turned to alcohol. I’d start drinking after work. One drink turned into two drinks, and two drinks turned into too many drinks. And the more I drank, the angrier I got. And violent. I started getting into fights and going to jail on battery charges. I also had two DUIs, in 2006 and 2010. But I couldn’t stop drinking.

One night, however, I found myself drunk, sitting at a train stop on the Green Line. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I screamed out loud that I needed help. And that’s when I went downtown and walked into Union Rescue Mission.

I immediately started anger management classes to get that under control. Then I took 8 months of classes to deal with my last DUI and get my driver’s license back. And I went back to school and studied microenterprise at Pepperdine University.

I also opened up for the first time about my grandmother. My chaplain helped me realize that she’s in a better place and that helped me let her go. I spent three years at Union Rescue Mission. In short, I grew up and today I’m moving forward with my life. I’m working for Toyota, I have a wife, and I’ve even opened my first bank account ever. I guess if I have a New Year’s wish, it’s to establish enough credit to buy a new car in 2015.

Looking back, I see now that Union Rescue Mission, like my grandmother, taught me how to garden — the garden of my own life.


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Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog

Union Rescue Mission’s Gift Catalog is a wonderful way to give someone experiencing homelessness the gift of hope this holiday. And when you purchase a gift on behalf of a loved one, you can also send them an e-card to let them know you’ve made this special gift in their honor. Please visit our online Gift Catalog today at


SignUpPageThe season of Advent and the days leading up to Christmas are a wonderful time for thoughtful reflection and joyful anticipation as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This holiday season, please sign up to receive Rev. Andy’s Advent series of daily devotional emails. Each day from November 20 until December 25, you’ll receive scripture and messages focused on the joy of the season. To sign up for these special email devotionals, please visit


Notes From Andy

Instruments of God’s Love

In her excellent book ‘Pursuing God’s Will Together’, Ruth Haley Barton writes, “One of the first lessons we learn about discernment — from Jesus, anyway — is that it will always tend toward concrete expressions of love with real people rather than theoretical conversations about theology and philosophy. Such conversations are valuable only if they eventually lead us to more concrete expressions of love for the real people who are in need around us.”

To me, that’s what caring people like you and your support of Union Rescue Mission — are all about. You don’t just talk about homelessness, you take concrete steps to do something about it. And in 2014, your faithful support led to a number of concrete expressions of love for those in need on Skid Row. You helped us expand Hope Gardens to house even more moms and kids.

To expand our jobs program and start a thrift store to help more men and women find employment. To open space to provide older men on Skid Row with permanent
shelter and care. And to improve our Learning Center to help more men and women achieve their academic goals. Working together, taking concrete steps, we’ll continue to make a real difference for people experiencing homelessness in 2015.



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,


Backpack Drive For the New School Year!


*From the desk of Rosie Perez, Development Team Manager at the Mission

Hi Friends,

The new school year is right around the corner and as parents we always make sure to equip our kids with all the school supplies needed to be prepared and ready to learn. We often make a day of school shopping and let our children pick out cool pencils, colorful folders, backpacks etc.

For many of the families who are experiencing homelessness or have low income, providing backpacks and school supplies for their children isn’t always as fun and can be a struggle. From now until August 15th, Union Rescue Mission will be asking for help from others to host backpack drives. All backpacks and schools supplies received will not only help provide for the kids living at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center, but we hope to reach out and help the community outside our walls!

We hope you will consider partnering with us to help several children in our community!

Just a few ways to participate in hosting a backpack drive:
• Church Groups
• Kids sports activity groups – little league, football, cheer etc.
• Ask your place of employment to host a drive
• Use social media to get the message out to others to help

Every bit counts. Together we can make a difference!

Contact Mina Yun ( // 213-673-4845 for more information!

*Please use this Backpack Drive Flyer to help spread the word!

The Mission – June 2014



“All my life, i wanted to be part of something, to feel like I fit in somewhere,” says Ruthie, a 57-year-old former crack addict who spent 16 years living out of a tent on Skid Row.

Death and alcoholism decimated her family when Ruthie was young, so she spent much of her youth in foster care back in her native North Carolina. “The trouble started when I was 15, when I started drinking, smoking marijuana, and popping pills,” she recalls.

She managed to get married at age 23, but tragedy struck again a week later, when her husband was brutally murdered. She tried moving to Los Angeles to start over. Instead, she fell into a life of more alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. In the mid 1980s, with three small children, she moved back to North Carolina, where she got married and had one more child.

But on March 7, 1992, Ruthie watched helplessly as her husband and three of her children died in a house fire.

“I heard them screaming,” she says. “That was the worst thingI ever witnessed. The second worst was when they put dirt on them in their graves. From then on, every night I could see it and smell it all over again.”

Unable to cope with the trauma, Ruthie left her surviving child behind and ran back to Los Angeles, where she spent the next 16 years living in a tent on Skid Row and smoking crack. “Crack made me forget about everything. I didn’t have to hurt no more or cry no more,” she says. But the drugs and the streets took a toll on Ruthie’s health, and in 2009, she’d had enough. She joined a drug program and got clean and sober. Two years later, as part of a work therapy program, Ruthie returned to Union Rescue Mission, where she would live as a guest and work in the kitchen.

“That first day I walked through the door here at the Mission, I saw a sign that said, ‘The Way Home,’” she recalls, with a light in her eye. “I knew right then I found what I’d been looking for my whole life. Working and living here at the Mission, I’m surrounded by people who know my name. They look me in the eye and it’s like they’re saying, ‘You matter, Ruthie. I love you.’ The first time someone said that to me, I almost cried. I belong here.

“Union Rescue Mission has changed my life, and with God in my back pocket, I can’t lose. I found my way home.”



Skid Row Through Ruthie’s Eyes

I moved to Skid Row in 1993, when there were tents everywhere. These streets can be rough on a woman. But I was lucky. I quickly found a man and stuck close to him for protection. A woman needs that out here to survive. We got us a tent and spent 16 years down here. It was wild. Every day, we had to step over human waste. There were people walking around naked, people having sex right there in broad daylight. I saw people get beat, stabbed, or cut up over a nickel. I saw women get raped or beat up and left bleeding on the sidewalk.

For a long time, we never saw any cops down here. It was every man for himself. There were no rules except watch where you step and mind your own business. I learned how to wash my clothes in a bucket and take showers wherever I could. And I learned that as soon as it got dark to get in my tent and stay there. For 16 years, I did whatever I had to do to survive. But I survived.


After years of decline, the number of people on Skid Row has tragically skyrocketed over the past few years. Today, as many as 2,000 precious men and women — made in the image of God — now call these dangerous sidewalks and back alleys “home.” For the past 122 years, thanks to thousands of caring people just like you, Union Rescue Mission has transformed the lives of countless hurting souls on these streets, leading them back to health and wholeness — and home.

It doesn’t take a lot to help a hurting man or woman escape Skid Row and get back on their feet. But today, thanks to an extraordinary matching grant, your generous gift of $25, $35, or more will help provide TWICE the food and shelter, and a fresh start at life for people experiencing homelessness.

So 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

Act Today — and Make a Difference

Remember these lyrics from a popular 1980s TV show? “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name . . . you want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You want to be where everybody knows your name.” That song always reminds me of Ruthie, here at Union Rescue Mission. Here she found home and people who care about her. Now her infectious joy lights up our Mission with hope. The streets of Skid Row inflict horrific damage on the men and women, like Ruthie, who live here.

Loneliness. Despair. Defeat. Depression.

And apart from true life transformation, most will never recover.

But life transformation takes more than offering people food, shelter, and safety. The folks on Skid Row need those things, of course. But more than that, they need to know they belong somewhere. They need community and family. They need love and friendship, and to know they matter . . . to be where everybody knows their name. That’s where life transformation happens. And, thanks to caring people like you, that’s what Union Rescue Mission is all about.



Hearts for Hope 2014: A Garden of Hope


Union Rescue Mission partnered with the Hearts for Hope Committee on March 8th to hold our 5th Annual Hearts for Hope Gala. Held at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, this year’s event was a rousing success raising almost $400,000 for our Hope Gardens Family Center.

Honored as “Hearts for Service” honorees were Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the Guggenheim Partners and the Graduate School of Education and Psychology Mental Health Clinic of Pepperdine; all who are long-time supporters of URM.

The evening of entertainment featured recording artist Joy Enriquez, wife of Grammy Award winning producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. Also gracing the audience with her “Calipopicana” sound was Malibu singer-songwriter Kylie Hughes and one of Hollywood’s top warm-up comic, Robert G. Lee. Some of the notable guests on hand was daughter of legend Muhammad Ali – and Champion boxer in her own right – Laila Ali, New England Patriot Andre Carter and his wife Bethany, and Aeriel Miranda currently on ABC’s Pretty Little Liars and the CW’s Tomorrow People, along with a host of individuals and special guests all with a profound heart for helping those who are experiencing homelessness.

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 »

The Mission Newsletter – November 2013


“Christmas used to mean presents, cookies, and Santa Claus,” says 11-year-old Kira. “But now I know it’s not about toys. It’s about the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God and He’s my savior. And I know He loves me no matter what.”

Kira is just one of nearly 80 children who live with their moms at Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center, a 77-acre sanctuary that offers transitional housing to families experiencing homelessness like Kira’s.

“She’s a good kid,” says Kira’s mother, Tifani. “She’s a firecracker, with a bit of a temper, but she says what she wants to say and she means it. I’m proud of her. She graduated last spring from 5th grade, and she was awarded the school’s Presidential Certificate for her good behavior and academic achievement.”

Kira came to Hope Gardens, along with her mother and two sisters, on Easter Sunday, 2012, after they escaped a dangerous situation where they were living.

Unfortunately, Tifani was unemployed and had no place else to take her children, until she learned about Hope Gardens.

“I like Hope Gardens,” Kira says. “The people here take us to the park and the swimming pool. Sometimes we have barbecues. I’ve even seen three families of deer since we’ve been here!”

While summers are Kira’s favorite season, she also loves Christmas. “Last Christmas was really fun here,” she recalls. “We had a party and we got to make cookies and gingerbread houses, and we even got to sing karaoke! My favorite Christmas song is ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus.’”

Then she starts singing . . . “Happy birthday, Jesus, it’s that time of year. All the lights on the trees say Christmas time is near. Another year’s behind us, you helped us make it through. So, happy birthday, Jesus, this song is just for you.”

            “Over the years, I’ve pretty much gotten everything I wanted for Christmas, she says. “But I don’t want any presents this year. Ho

pe Gardens is helping my mom start her own business so we can move into a new house. That’s my Christmas wish.”


No Better Christmas Present

by Tifani

All my life, I’ve loved singing Joy to the World at Christmas. How can anyone sing

that carol and not feel happy? It always reminds me that God and my kids are my true joy.

But my life hasn’t always been filled with joy. I got married when I was 21 and we had three beautiful daughters, including Kira, whose story is in this newsletter. But despite our kids, we spent 13 rocky years fighting and quarreling until I couldn’t take it anymore.


After we divorced, the girls and I struggled financially. I finally got a good job working as a bus driver. But then in the span of a couple years, my mother and father died, then two of my uncles and a nephew passed away, and I fell into a depression. I found it hard to keep working.

Life was so difficult for me — but it was especially hard at Christmas. Instead of feeling joy, I just cried.

Then we started having problems with our apartment manager, who was breaking into our home and was making my daughters feel afraid. The police wouldn’t do anything about the manager, so I had to leave with my kids. But I didn’t have the money to move into another apartment, and we had no place else to go.

Thankfully, when I called emergency services, they referred us to Union Rescue Mission and their Hope Gardens Family Center.

We’ve been here since April 2012. They say every gray cloud has a silver lining, and Hope Gardens has been that for me. Not only have they provided me and my kids with meals and shelter, they’ve given me the chance to go back to school. And today I’m in the process of starting my own private bus business.

This Christmas, Joy to the World means something special again. I may be down, but I’m not out. I have my kids, we’re safe, and we have a future. I may not always feel it, but joy is a real possibility again. I know it. I feel it. And there’s no better Christmas present than that.



It’s hard to imagine what happens to a child when they experience homelessness. Devastated and embarrassed, they often emotionally withdraw. And some kids will never be able to let go of that pain.

No matter what time of year, homelessness is painful for children. But Christmas is especially difficult. They have no home, no tree, and no gifts. There’s no excitement or anticipation of Santa Claus coming down the chimney. It’s heartbreaking to witness that kind of sadness in kids at Christmas.

That’s why we work so hard to bring the kids at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens a little joy and hope this time of year. Our Christmas Store ensures parents have gifts for their kids. We throw Christmas parties, we let the kids decorate trees throughout the building, we take them out to look at Christmas lights, and, of course, we tell them all about Jesus and His own experience being homeless. Children take great comfort in knowing that Jesus understands what they’re going through.

As we enter Advent and the Christmas season, please remember all the special kids experiencing homelessness today who are made in His image. After all, when you care for these precious children, you care for Jesus Himself.