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 – 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 »

The Reality of the Streets

It breaks my heart every day to see so many hurting people living on the streets of Skid Row. But I just can’t help but fall in love with them! To reach out and build trust, we provide emergency services, such as meals, shelter, and health care, in hope that they will give life a second try and consider joining one of our Life Transformation Programs.

Please take a moment to meet Joe, who has been living on the streets for almost 40 years. Each and every day we have the opportunity to meet people just like him coming in for a meal, a shower, or maybe just a chance to relax in our courtyard. It is thanks to the support of generous people like you that we can reach out to our neighbors on Skid Row, encouraging them with kindness and God’s love to rebuild their lives.


Andy Bales, CEO


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Stories From Skid Row: Robyn


People are often surprised to learn that many of the guests who stay with us each night do not have substance-abuse or addiction problems. The fact is, a majority of the women we meet are escaping some form of domestic violence. This is the case of Robyn and her 9-year old daughter Le Dai; after suffering in an abusive relationship for nearly 11 years, Robyn is now hopeful about her future and thankful for each day she is alive.

We hope you will take a moment to check out Robyn’s amazing story of determination, strength and hope – the latest release in the ground breaking series Stories From Skid Row.

URM on CNN! One Inspirational Teenager!

Many inspiring individuals have found refuge at Union Rescue Mission, including 17 year-old, Kenneth Chancey. Currently staying on the Mission’s 5th floor, this high-achieving and diligent young man is determined to change his circumstances.  He’s got his eyes locked on the road to a brighter future, starting with Harvard University.

Taken from the story – Click here for the full story

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Kenneth Chancey, 17, walks down the littered streets of Skid Row, one of the roughest areas of Los Angeles. Drug deals are made around him. A man screams at his girlfriend. The stench of the place is overwhelming.

Chancey keeps his head down and tries to tune it out. “It’s kind of horrible,” he says, as he escorts his 14-year-old sister, Stephanie, through it all.

But Chancey is on another journey too, one that not many of his friends know about. An honors student and star football player, he hopes to go from being homeless to becoming a Harvard grad.

Check out the Kenneth Story from Skid Row

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Stories from Skid Row

Over the last year, Union Rescue Mission has produced a series of short documentaries titled Stories from Skid Row.  These short films are a behind the scenes look at the lives of individuals who are being served, as well as the staff and volunteers at URM.  Stories from Skid Row provide a glimpse into the issues surrounding homelessness and the work being done to combat this serious problem in Los Angeles.

We will continue to produce the series throughout 2009.  Please share these with your friends and family. There are several way for people to view the films and keep up with the latest stories.  Click on the logo below for information.