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At Union Gospel Mission, we want more for our neighbors experiencing homelessness than just a job, free meals, or temporary respite from extreme weather; we want to help them find healing from trauma and freedom from self-destructive habits. Ultimately, we want to help them return to society as contributing members, dependent on God, and walking in their strengths. In UGM LIFE Recovery, part of this process is discovering career interests and developing job skills that can sustain a career that brings joy and satisfaction.

In 2009, UGM implemented the business practicum model as part of our long-term Recovery program. Since that time, more than 400 local men and women have completed a UGM Business Practicum—a 240-hour internship—with one of 129 different businesses in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. More than 90 percent of those individuals have gone on to permanent employment, either with the business where they did their practicum or another business.

 

“We want people to recognize that they were created for meaning and purpose, that they have a valuable contribution to make to the world.”

- Phil Altmeyer

 

Executive Director Phil Altmeyer described how the business practicum fits into UGM’s purpose: “We want people to recognize that they were created for meaning and purpose, that they have a valuable contribution to make to the world… If we’re going to end homelessness, we need to get people back to work.”


 

JUSTIN

Justin completed his business practicum with the City of Spokane streets department in 2021 and had the opportunity to speak with City Cable News 5’s Jeff Humphrey. “I’m getting a lot of hands-on experience," he said, "working with the team. Just building new work skills…doing stuff I never even considered doing in the past.”

Justin

 

“I’m getting a lot of hands-on experience, working with the team. Just building new work skills…doing stuff I never even considered doing in the past.”

- Justin, UGM Men's LIFE Recovery

 

Just two years prior, Justin was what some might have considered “a hopeless addict.” Before coming to UGM, he remembers waking up in the back seat of someone’s car, messed up on Speed, Ativan, weed and alcohol—anything to escape the pain of his traumatic past. Today, he's stable, housed, and has reconnected with his children. “I’d like to be a stable father figure, an example for my kids," he told us in 2021. "I didn’t meet my real dad until I was 18, so I’m trying to stay in contact with my kids so that’s not their story.”

Impressively, five former UGM residents have done their business practicums with the City of Spokane, and three of them have been hired on full-time.

 

SARAH

Sarah was placed at Northwest OB-GYN for her business practicum where she then accepted a full-time position in their billing department. Mitchell Long, Chief Executive Officer at Northwest OB-GYN, said of Sarah, “I’ve never seen a success story like we’ve seen with Sarah, here. She is amazing.”

Sarah

 

“I’ve never seen a success story like we’ve seen with Sarah, here. She is amazing.”

- Mitchell Long, Chief Executive Officer at Northwest OB-GYN

 

 

TRISTAN

Salvation-Army-TristanLast October, Tristan chose a business practicum at the Salvation Army food bank. He was the second UGM resident to be placed there in recent years. The staff was so impressed by his heart for people and his amazing work ethic that, at the completion of his practicum, they offered him a full-time, permanent position as their vehicle coordinator. 

"We love Tristan!" said Salvation Army's Community Programs Manager, Cheryl Ward-Thompson. "He is a wonderful asset to our organization. Tristan has been doing a great job for us, and Doug did too! I had/have people from other programs here, but the gentlemen that have come from UGM have by far been  some of the best. Dependable and hard working. Everyone needs a second chance at something during their lifetime, if we can help with that, great! That’s what we want to do."

 

Everyone needs a second chance at something during their lifetime, if we can help with that, great! That’s what we want to do.

- Cheryl Ward-Thompson, Salvation Army

 

In addition to these, the following local businesses have partnered with UGM multiple times to provide job training and experience through a business practicum: Able Label, DAA Northwest, Carpet One, Caramel Kitchen, Berg Companies, Northwest OB-GYN, Omega Pacific, Skils’kin, Buck Knives and many others.

20190926-2L7A4527Brad and Stephanie Hunter, owners of Caramel Kitchen, exclusively hire their employees from the UGM Center for Women and Children in Coeur d’Alene.

 

A UGM Business Practicum is so much more than a gateway back into the workforce; it's an opportunity to gain new skills and pursue new interests in an uplifting environment. UGM Business Partners come alongside men and women in Recovery, encouraging them in that journey as they take their first steps back out into society. Knowing there is a community outside of UGM's "four walls" that believes in them and wants the best for them helps establish the course for lifelong recovery.

 

 

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