January 2018

Thousands of individuals, churches and businesses came together to be part of God’s miracles of provision and transformation, big and small, in 2017. Here are just a few of the highlights – including a few bonus items we didn’t have room for in the print edition! 

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Strengthen and Solidify

2017 was a year of strengthening and solidifying ministry work throughout UGM. Frankly, it all started by identifying some weak areas and strategizing how to improve.

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November 2017

Over the past several years, Union Gospel Mission has seen an increase in the number of young moms with children coming to our shelters.

“Helping young moms in crisis is vastly different than helping single women,” said JoAnn Zajicek, Director at the UGM Center for Women & Children. “You have the abuse, the addiction, the unhealthy coping mechanisms, but you also have women trying to be good mothers when they haven’t been parented well themselves. Sometimes you have children raising children. They desperately want family and, consequently, are often drawn into unhealthy relationships. We have to teach them how to stay present in discomfort, how to do the difficult work of being a single parent without numbing or running away.”

Barely 18 when she came to the Center, Martha is an example of the new face of homelessness.

Growing up without a father, Martha started partying at 13. “It was just my mom raising me and that’s just not the way that God designed it so when we step out of God’s design, then the enemy has so much room to move and destroy and kill and steal. So there were a lot of things stolen from me definitely.

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The Gift of Mothers

Tasked with raising five boys, my mom was an expert at energy management. She knew we needed to keep busy. She played baseball with us, worked alongside us in our daily chores – weeding the garden, pushing a mower over our hilly acreage – and taught us the value of hard work – inside and out. We took turns in the kitchen with her, learning to cook. I was the caramel expert in our house while my brother Steve mastered fudge. Her mantra was simple: You work; then you play. When we fell into bed at night, we were tired.

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“A great way to share God’s grace”

Ronnie Hazard was retired, widowed and living alone in a big house in Leavenworth when she asked God how she could serve him best. He put it on her heart to serve at a women’s shelter, and the nearest one she knew about was the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane. She sold her house and moved to her new home in Coeur d’Alene in a span of three months.

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September 2017

In the 37 years since he joined the Navy out of high school, Jody Littleford has worked. Hard.

Launching and landing aircraft on a carrier. Loading, driving and unloading trucks. Building displays. Construction. Electrical work. Plumbing. Fiberglass repair on boats. All physically taxing jobs.

Jody didn’t mind that. “I love working, actually.”

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Volunteer Spotlight: Jon Garcia, Men's Shelter

A Spokane resident since the 1970s, Jon Garcia loves to soak in the beauty of the Inland Northwest while walking his dogs. Traversing various state parks, Jon often came across trash from abandoned homeless camp sites. He made it part of his routine to clean up the areas and worked with the park rangers to keep people from camping there illegally. After a few years of getting people to “move along,” he felt God nudge him and give him a different goal: “I needed to stop sending the homeless away and start telling them about Jesus instead.”

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What is the Loving Response to a Homeless Person?

Editor's Note: This column was originally published in The Spokesman-Review on September 10, 2017.

An abbreviated version of this quote by author Thomas Merton has been popping up on my Facebook feed: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”

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July 2017

"I'm going to give my kids a different life. And I get to do that because I chose life over death." - Jocelyne

Addictions don’t cause homelessness.

You may question that statement if you’ve been around homeless shelters and seen the toll addictions take on people’s lives – destroying their bodies, stealing their resources, isolating them from loved ones.

But to get to the root causes of homelessness, UGM recovery counselors have learned to delve down to what’s hiding under the addiction.

Research shows a strong link between what are now called “adverse childhood experiences” – abuse, neglect, abandonment, domestic violence – and self-destructive behavior in adulthood.

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We are in the Heart Business

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” - Proverbs 4:23

The heart. What an important, complicated, mysterious thing. 

Physically, we know it’s the hardest-working muscle in the body, beating 100,000 times and pumping 2,500 gallons every single day – our lives depend upon its proper functioning.

Spiritually, the Bible uses the heart to indicate both the center of the emotions/the intellect/the personality and that which is hidden or inaccessible. It encompasses our connection with God, the spiritual, the unseen – the seat from which flow both love and trust. As is the case with the physical body, our spiritual lives depend upon its proper functioning.

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