Skip to the main content.
Donate Need help?
Donate Need help?

4 min read

Safe Shelter and Opportunity: Meet Tyler, UGM Lead Resident Assistant

With the turn of the season, our attention shifts towards staying warm and preparing for the onset of frigid weather. Simmering soups in the kitchen, coats and hats in the foyer, and the lingering scent of woodfire smoke are like barometers of their own telling us that the cold season is upon us.

At UGM, the evidence of the fall season is an uptick in activity inside our shelters and offices. The needs increase and our compassionate community jumps into action, not forgetting those who go without our simple luxuries of shelter, food, and clothing. For many, particularly those struggling with chronic homelessness, meeting their own needs is a great challenge. But there’s always hope, and it all starts with a safe place to stay and an opportunity for a second chance.

Tyler-1

Last week, I sat down with a coworker who was once a recipient of your generosity at our Men’s Shelter. Now working as our Lead Resident Assistant, I knew I could gain a better understanding and an up-close look at the UGM shelter experience for our guests. He gave me a glimpse of what this place means to so many—what it means to him.

 

What was your perception about UGM or homeless shelters in general before you came here?


My perception was that shelters were a place where you ended up if you failed in life or were incompetent and unable to be successful without the help of others. After my experience at UGM, I encountered others [like me] who had ended up in a vicious cycle.

 

 


Describe the relational environment of the Men’s Shelter.


The relational atmosphere at UGM is one of love and care. All walks of life enter through the East door every day, and everyone has a story. Staff and clients share genuine relationships and care for each other’s well-being.
 
UGM offers individuals in need a second chance. They are provided with a place of purpose and an opportunity to start over. For those like me who want to give back, UGM offers a Christ-centered work environment allowing you to experience God’s work of transformation firsthand. 

 


 

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you working at UGM.


No day is ever the same! I see individuals come to the shelter in crisis and I see complete transformations. 

Tyler-Helping-1

 

But I’d say a typical day is introducing myself to new people who come in and identifying why they’re here. Finding out a bit of their story and seeing if maybe they’re going through the same thing I went through, or if they’re just here to take a break from being out on the streets. 

A lot of times, Joe Marsh and I make rounds together. He has knowledge of the medical field and mental illness, but he’s never been in a place of addiction. That’s why I think we make a really good team because I had that side, and he has the other side. So, a lot of times he’ll get that other information and then he’ll have those clients, if they’re struggling with addiction, sit down with me afterward and I’ll tell them, “This is what the program entails, and you’ll have to be vulnerable and you’ll have to dig deep. All that stuff.” There are a lot of clients that come in and they’re like, “I didn’t even know you guys had programs. I thought this was just a place to get a meal and a place to rest my head.” And UGM offers so much more. 

 

“A lot of times, when the guys come into the shelter, they’re broken, and they’re beat down. But when they leave here, they’re always better than when they arrived.”

 

 

What would you say is the most unexpected part of your job?


A special part of my job is to see previous clients return to the shelter and give a life update and share how we helped them, and what they did to move forward in life. Just seeing that transformation. A lot of times, when the guys come into the shelter, they’re broken, and they’re beat down. But when they leave here, they’re always better than when they arrived.

downtown

 

And it’s so unexpected how deep the mental health crisis is today. You’re starting to see younger and younger people with addictions than ever before. When I was here in 2018, there were some young kids, but now there are just so many more struggling with mental illness and addiction. I think that COVID had a big thing to do with it just because everyone was isolated. But drugs are changing—like the fentanyl crisis. I guarantee you could go downtown Spokane and anyone would be able to help you find some. The younger generation is being influenced by people who are already stuck in that cycle. 

 

 
Is there a meaningful encounter you’ve had with a resident or staff that you’d like to share with our readers?


My time at UGM has been very impactful in my life and my recovery. It is difficult to pinpoint one encounter, but I will say that when I thought no one cared about what I had been through or who I was, every day I was greeted by my name. And that really took me off guard. I was like, “I just checked in a few days ago, why would someone know my name?” If you think that no one cares and then someone knows your name without you meeting them—it was really impactful for me. That was Dean Whisler. He probably met with so many people, but he remembered me, which was really cool. And Joe Marsh too. One influential individual at UGM told me to treat everyone as if they have a broken heart because chances are, they do.

 

“When I thought no one cared about what I had been through or who I was, every day I was greeted by my name. And that really took me off guard.”

 


Is there a scripture that currently motivates you or has stuck with you?


“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

For me, especially going through this program, I think addiction is a spiritual issue. You’re filling that void because you’re missing something. You’re missing the Lord in your life. We’re all born with that hole in our heart, and without Jesus, you’re just trying to fill that void. But you can never fill it unless you have His love.

 

 


Thank you, Tyler, for giving us perspective and reminding us why shelter at UGM means more than a place out of the elements, but a place of care and opportunity toward a new path in life. We are grateful for the ministry God has given you to reach those who’ve walked a similar path as yours.

 

New call-to-action

Honoring Mothers in Recovery

4 min read

Honoring Mothers in Recovery

The 18 to 24-month-long UGM Life Recovery program requires vulnerability, persistence, and commitment from the men and women who participate....

Read More
UGM Camp: The lasting impact of faith and friendships

4 min read

UGM Camp: The lasting impact of faith and friendships

Preparing for UGM Camp The 2024 UGM Camp season will be here soon, and we are prepping in anticipation of all the children who are about to be...

Read More
Pursuing Lifelong Recovery: Generations changed by a UGM family

8 min read

Pursuing Lifelong Recovery: Generations changed by a UGM family

The UGM Life Recovery program prepares individuals to break cycles, create healthy relationships, and balance responsibilities. Rachel commenced in...

Read More
More Than a Roof: Partnering to help the unhoused find home

More Than a Roof: Partnering to help the unhoused find home

The cycle of homelessness, abuse, and addiction is not halted simply with the provision of a roof and four walls. Although food and housing are...

Read More
In Their Words: Two Men Share Their Stories of Recovery

In Their Words: Two Men Share Their Stories of Recovery

Tyler and Mike recently spoke at UGM's phase promotion event, where they were honored for completing phase 4. "Just a few years ago I was lost and...

Read More
The Gift of Song: How a UGM chapel provider offers more than a church service

The Gift of Song: How a UGM chapel provider offers more than a church service

“We tell people we’re not here to perform; we’re here to worship,” says His Song president Joel DeVries. His Song is a men’s gospel singing group...

Read More