Work is a key ingredient in the effort to break the cycle of homelessness, abuse, and addiction. And while you’ll find current and former residents working throughout the ministries and enterprises of Union Gospel Mission, we know only a handful of the people who come to us for help will get their permanent job at UGM.
So, we depend on more than 100 Business Partners to give our residents the chance to build their skills, confidence, and work history to obtain and succeed in real-world employment.
We asked UGM Director of Ministries Joel Brown to share how local businesses partner with the Mission to help break the cycle of homelessness, abuse, and addiction in the Inland Northwest.
'Just get a job' isn't the answer
Joel says, "Through trial and error, we at UGM have found the reasons men and women fail to gain or keep employment are often the same reasons they get stuck in addiction: faulty beliefs. Those underlying issues are one reason 'just get a job' is an insufficient answer to the problem of homelessness.
"In his introduction to the Genesis Process used in the recovery program, Michael Dye states:
'Trying to control an addictive behavior without changing the faulty belief systems that support it is an exercise in futility. Every behavior, good or bad, is supported by your beliefs. The Bible tells us in order to change what you do, you must change who you are. In other words, change comes from the inside out. Recovery means changing your life by dealing with your beliefs, identity, behavior, and relationships with God and others.'
"One of our primary objectives in UGM Vocational Advancement is to influence men and women to begin to dream again and to find their identity and confidence in who the Lord says they are. We work to identify and begin to change their faulty beliefs associated with work. Finally, we encourage them to pursue a career that corresponds to their passions rather than just pursue another job.
Getting back to work is a process
"In the third phase of the LIFE Recovery Program, participants take a class called Work Net. There, they delve into the fears they have regarding work. Many fear that their past life, criminal history, or lack of skills will prevent them from obtaining employment of any kind, let alone enter a career of their dreams.
"In the fourth phase of the program, the men and women are enrolled in a 240-hour, unpaid Business Practicum. The goal of the practicum is to help them practice and attain skills, work as part of a team, address deeper recovery issues (restraining negative beliefs), and regain confidence to re-enter the workforce. In addition to the valuable work experience, candidates receive critical work references and are frequently offered employment at the location of their practicum. Thus, practicums create a win-win situation for employers and participants."
The partnership of businesses and organizations throughout the Inland Northwest is indispensable in getting people back to work. More than 100 UGM Business Partners provide job training and experience through the Business Practicum model. Businesses also partner with UGM by participating in career fairs, providing speakers for the Engage! Work Seminar, and giving financially to help individuals re-enter the workforce successfully.