Phil on Veterans

Recently, my wife, Caryl, and I were sitting in a Florida airport waiting for a flight back to Spokane when a group of twenty to thirty uniformed soldiers deplaned and started walking down the terminal.  As they walked, people rose all along their path and started clapping – a full uproarious applause with hoots and hollers.  We could still hear the applause after they were out of sight, and I can still feel the emotion of that moment.

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Update on Sean Stevens

Sean Stevens graduated from the Men’s Recovery Program in 2011 and is working as the donations driver for the Union Gospel Mission Thrift Store in downtown Spokane. “I get out and talk about the Mission every day, talk about God with everybody.” The “what’s not to love” was evident in his enthusiasm. Just before he delivered the key note address to the 2012 UGM Graduates at the June celebration, he sat down to bring us up to date on what’s happening in his life.

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Me-Dependent vs. God-Dependent

In the waiting room of the law office where she now works, Gigi Leger described her old approach to life: “What I struggled with and what sent me into a downward spiral is feeling I had to be me-dependent, that I owed my daughters a certain standard of living that I had to provide, and I had to own anything that could go wrong. What that ended up meaning was me living beyond my means, trying to control everything, trying to be the sole-provider, operating in crisis mode because I was making a lot of bad judgment calls and then failing dismally and really beating myself up about it…I felt like I had to do it all on my own.”
Gigi graduated in June from the Union Gospel Mission’s recovery program at Anna Ogden Hall. During her program, she completed a business practicum at Casey Law Offices and was subsequently hired as a legal assistant. A single mom for most of her adult life, Gigi was used to managing on her own. The most difficult part of recovery, she said, has been admitting that she needs help.
Barely over 5 feet tall with red hair, Gigi has a lot of spunk and is quick to laugh at herself. Even when she was at her lowest, she said, she wouldn’t admit she needed help. “Of course, I was like, I don’t need an 18-month program. I just need to get a job. I just need to get back on my feet.” During the orientation for Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall, however, she realized that while she could probably do that, “I can guarantee that inside of six months, I’d be right back where I started because something was fundamentally broken in me.”
Gigi decided to seek healing for what was broken and joined the recovery program. “I had ah-ha moments all the time. One of the biggest ones . . . and these things when they happen are like earth shattering almost, but they’re kind of no-brainers, too. Another resident was talking about how far they had come and how long they had been clean, and I remember thinking, I can’t do it. There’s no way that I will ever be strong enough to live the life that I’m supposed to lead. And then, just out of the blue, it came to me . . . I don’t want to say it was God talking, but clear as a bell, it was like, ‘Bingo! You’re right. You can’t, and you don’t have to.’ That’s the whole point.”
Gigi’s move from me-dependence to God-dependence centered on a favorite Bible verse – Jeremiah 29:11. “It was like a mantra,” she said: “God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. He knows what He’s doing. I’ve opened myself up to His guidance, and I need to trust that He does have plans to prosper me.”
While many pieces of Gigi’s life are falling into place – she has her own apartment, a job with a company she loves, and she’s reunited with her daughters – she also emphasized that God-dependence is a daily choice: “I’m the same person I was going in. I have the same human frailties. I have the same temptations. You know, that broken world is not going to go anywhere. It’s still there, but I know I have the tools to handle it now. I know what my frailties are. It’s sort of like being God-dependent has put a beacon on those pot holes. I know where they are, but I also know where to find the answers. I know where to find my strength. It’s in the Lord.”

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Volunteer Profile: Autumn Banks

When asked how volunteering at the Union Gospel Mission has impacted her, Autumn Banks said, “It humbles me…When I look at the women, I see myself – one divorce away from homelessness, one beating away from being kicked out and one addiction away…so I see them as me. I truly do.

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Trust Fall

As you read this, a group of around 50 children are out at Tshimakain Creek Camp near Ford, Washington, having fun, experiencing God’s creation and learning through relationship what it means to trust. One of the activities on the camp’s challenge course, in fact, is called the “trust fall.” Children and their leaders take turns standing on a four-foot platform and falling backward into the arms of their cabin mates. Four feet is higher than it sounds when all that stands between you and the hard, rocky ground is eight, squirrely, 11-year-old boys. Can you trust them? Will they catch you?

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UGM Idaho Hires Key Staff

The Union Gospel Mission is pleased to announce the hiring of JoAnn Zajicek (ZI-check) as Director and Debi Pauletto as Community Relations Director for the new UGM Center for Women and Children in Coeur d’Alene.

JoAnn has degrees in nursing and public administration. She said she believes God has been grooming her for this role her whole life. “I grew up in a tumultuous home, where fighting, addiction and family dysfunction were the norm.” She can relate to the turmoil homeless women experience and is excited to be part of a ministry focused on the life- transforming work of Jesus Christ.

Debi Pauletto has spent the last three years in relationship development with UGM’s champions. Before assuming her role in advancement, Debi was the Director of Anna Ogden Hall for nearly a decade. She describes her life’s mission as “helping women experience their full value as daughters of the King.”

Executive Director Phil Altmeyer said, “We as a team are excited to welcome JoAnn and Debi to their new positions. Their hiring is a confirmation of all we’ve been praying for. Please join us in making them feel welcome.”

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