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4 min read

Breaking Ground For Hope: Community gathers in the LC Valley

On February 23, the LC Valley community gathered to break ground where the future UGM shelter will stand in Lewiston, Idaho. As the sun shone down on all who attended, a spirit of gratitude and hope filled the space.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

 

 

Years in the Making

The journey toward building a UGM shelter in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley began 22 years ago. Local resident Rich Copeland served on the UGM Inland Northwest board and believed that there should be shelter in the area.

Future-Home

Executive Director Phil Altmeyer explained, “[Rich] saw families reunited. He saw life change. He wanted to see a shelter in this Valley because this Valley had nowhere for homeless people to go.” Prior to his passing, Rich purchased and generously donated land to UGM for the cause.

 

“He wanted to see a shelter in this Valley because this Valley had nowhere for homeless people to go.”

 

 

In 2017, a group that was providing meals to those in need in the area asked UGM leadership if they would bring a shelter to the LC Valley. Since then, UGM has wholeheartedly committed to establishing a shelter in Lewiston by selling Rich’s donated land to purchase the current property. His faithfulness will endure for generations, impacting lives throughout the region.

 

 

Community Seeking Lasting Change

On February 23, 2024, more than 150 individuals gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony. The response from the community was beyond expectation as the number of guests exceeded the number of chairs. Local leaders shared about the history of the project and cast vision for the future.

MarkBrewster

On behalf of the churches in the LC Valley, Pastor Mark Brewster said to UGM, “We are thankful that the Lord of the harvest sent [UGM] here…You were obedient when He sent you here and you came. We are thankful for the way you have cultivated that partnership over the years.”

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’” (Matthew 9:36-37)

 

 

Partnering to Resource the Valley

Raised in the LC Valley, Shelter Director Jeremy Stevens has a personal connection to this special community. He is preparing to relocate back to the area with his family, eager to serve those in need who are without access to a high-barrier shelter. “I am persuaded time and time again that Jesus’ heart is toward these people…the orphan, the widow, and the poor.”

Jeremy&Bonnie

Jeremy represents the heart of UGM with a deep love and genuineness, saying, “We’re here to help people know the love and power of the gospel and to be completely transformed by it…to support, to partner with, and to resource this community.” 

 

“We’re here…to support, to partner with, and to resource this community.” 

 

 

In attendance were local mayors, Monika Lawrence (Clarkston) and Dan Johnson (Lewiston), who have welcomed UGM with open arms. We are grateful for their leadership in addressing homelessness and addiction in their communities. 

 

 

A Life Transformed at UGM

Brianne Trout walked up to the podium to share her story, serving as a beautiful testament to the life change that Jeremy spoke about. We were honored to hear about Brianne’s experience growing up in the LC Valley and completing the UGM Women’s Recovery program in 2018.

Brianne

“My story began in my late teens with a legitimate prescription to narcotic pain medication and quickly led to meth…It was the threat of losing my kids that made me realize I needed something different.”

After initially completing a 30-day program, Brianne walked away from the experience detoxed from drugs, but weighing merely 64 pounds. “I still had deep wounds that needed healing.” She traveled home and immediately made her way to the UGM Women’s Recovery in Coeur d’Alene, ID.

 

 “During my time at UGM, I felt safe, I felt loved, and I felt accepted.”

 

Once there, Brianne began the process of holistic healing. “We spent months digging up and uncovering past traumas and wounds. We learned tools and information that I [still] apply every day.” As she moved through each phase of the program, she felt true hope that her life could be transformed. And it was, day by day.

UGM seeks to prepare individuals like Brianne to become God-dependent, contributing members of society by caring for the whole person. “During my time at UGM, I felt safe, I felt loved, and I felt accepted,” Brianne shared. “Today I am a mom, a friend, an employee, a daughter, and the list goes on. My identity is not what I have done, but it is that of a child of Christ.” Being cared for with grace and intentionality by staff, volunteers, and donors has shown Brianne how loved she is by her Savior, changing her forever.

 

 

Bonnie-SingingChild of God

Together, Brianne and Bonnie Stevens (Jeremy’s wife and former UGM employee) chose the song ‘No Longer Slaves’ to include at the groundbreaking. Bonnie’s voice rang clear, filling the property with the eternal hope and promise of Jesus. It was a reminder of the healing that is offered to all who will walk through the shelter’s doors.  

“From my mother's womb You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I've been born again, into Your family
…I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”

 

 

Breaking Ground, Sowing Seeds of Hope

UGM board member and Lewiston local, Mike Fosbury, summarized our time together perfectly: “What a day. A dream come true for the Valley.” It is our hope that all were filled with hope and confidence as they learned more about the life-changing work that UGM has participated in since establishing in 1951.

 

 “What a day. A dream come true for the Valley.”

 

As the shovels and hard hats were brought out and given to local leaders, Mike prayed that God would bring hope out of this ground for the Valley.

 

The following participated in the groundbreaking:

Phil Altmeyer, Mike Fosbury, Steve Ellisen (UGM Director of Development), Mike Drew (UGM Board President), Mark Brewster, Dan Johnson, Monika Lawrence, Reece Hewett (Kenaston), Rex Anderson (Fusion), Brianne Trout, Jeremy Stevens, and Rich Copeland Jr.

Groundbreaking

Thank you to Kenaston Corporation for preparing the grounds for the ceremony. Phil expressed UGM’s gratitude for their support, saying, “In choosing Kenaston as our builder, I have been so impressed with their flexibility, their heart to work with us.”

 

 

Making a Way Forward

As Jeremy stood before all who gathered at the groundbreaking, he said, “What I’m looking out on is [a group of] future volunteers…people that will give to this Mission, that have a part, that have blood, sweat, and tears.”

Crowd-1

Shelter construction on the 92-bed shelter for men, women, and children is beginning soon, yet there is more fundraising to be done. With one million dollars left to raise, UGM continues to seek financial support from the community. UGM will continue pressing on faithfully and believing that God is moving through every part of this project.

Thank you for welcoming UGM to the Lewis-Clark Valley and for praying for the many lives that will be changed at the Mission.

 

 

We extend our gratitude to the following event partners:

 

CrossPoint Alliance Church

First Baptist Church

Bumper Crop Coffee

Lewiston Tribune 

KLEW News

 

 

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