You’ve heard it said before: UGM would not be what it is without people like you investing their unique giftings and resources to reach our neighbors experiencing homelessness. We have discovered that partnering with the community is the only way to successfully tackle the enormity of the modern-day homelessness crisis. Our volunteers, donors, business partners, and even Thrift Store shoppers all work together to create the life-changing opportunities offered at our four shelters.
Partnering through time and talent
Meet Linda Bates: Linda had a long and successful career as an optometry technician, and for most of it she was also volunteering her services at the UGM Men’s Shelter. “When they bought the new building [on Trent Ave. in 1990], they brought any optometrist and their technicians who wanted to participate in the enlargement of the eye clinic together. So, when my doctor came, I would come with him. Then, after I retired, I came every week on my own.” She retired in 2005, but continued coming in every week until December 2022—17 years past retirement!
She says she still remembers the first day. “We spent the first evening neutralizing donated glasses.” From there, she and the small team expanded the UGM eye clinic into what it is today. For years, Linda's job was to field questions and direct the patients to the proper specialist or services. She also did pre-testing and fittings for glasses.
Speaking of her 32 years in the clinics, Linda says, “I’m amazed at the diversity of UGM. Because they have resources in so many different areas to help people get on their feet. One of my favorite stories is two or three gals from Anna Ogden Hall came in and did an eye exam, and this one gal needed reading glasses so I got them for her, and she said, ‘This is great! Now I can study and get my GED.’”
“I’m amazed at the diversity of UGM. Because they have resources in so many different areas to help people get on their feet.”
Linda is in her 80s now and ready to lead a quieter life. Having raised three sons of her own and expanded her family through a second marriage, she and her husband now have 22 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. We celebrated her years of generosity with a party at the Men’s Shelter clinic, where staff had the opportunity to thank her for providing life-changing care to thousands of suffering men, women, and children.
“No matter if I saw five people or twelve people in one day, I always came away with a good feeling in my heart. There’s always something that comes up that is such a positive for these people.”
Linda's tip for you:
Linda says that a highly impactful way to support some of our guests is to donate prescription glasses you no longer use. “We suggest you keep your last pair as a backup, but anything beyond that can be donated.” Bring them to 1224 E Trent Ave., Spokane, WA 99202.
Partnering through treasure
Meet Mike McCloskey: Mike is the founder and CEO of Eclipse Excavation and is a third generation UGM partner. Through the hard work and generosity of the McCloskey family, our entire community has been richly blessed.
Most recently, Mike has chosen to lead his company in giving three separate and unique gifts to Union Gospel Mission: they funded the UGM Youth Outreach lunch box project, made a significant contribution to the Crisis Shelter for Women and Children, and provided $5,000 toward Christmas shopping gift cards for the residents at the Men’s Shelter.
The UGM Youth Outreach lunch box project allowed us to partner with Spokane Public Schools to assemble and deliver ingredients for over 2,000 lunches to 200 homes in our region for low-income students over winter break. The contribution toward the Crisis Shelter has gone toward providing warm meals and clean beds to moms and kids needing a safe place to stay this winter. And the gift cards made it possible for us to give each guest a personal Christmas gift without knowing exactly what they needed. With their gift cards, each guest was able to go shopping for themselves and/or their loved ones. This can be especially meaningful to our Recovery program participants during the time they’re temporarily restricted from pursuing employment in order to focus exclusively on their recovery.
We asked Mike why he has chosen to carry on his family’s legacy of contributing financially to the work being done at the Mission: “We’ve only been in business about a year and a half and God has opened up so many doors for us. If it wasn’t for God’s will and His path, I don’t think my company would be around. We’ve been so blessed, we wanted to give back to the community. Every time we give—I kid you not—the Lord returns it to us multiplied. God has shown us so much cool stuff, and I’m excited to see what’s to come.”
“Every time we give—I kid you not—the Lord returns it to us multiplied.”
About the current homelessness crisis, he added, “You just drive down the streets and it really hurts my heart to see kids who don’t have shelters. We helped with the backpacks and the lunch boxes for them. Truly, my heart goes out to the women and children. They need tons of help.
“I look at other organizations in the Spokane community and they let the homeless do whatever they want. I don’t see their hearts changing for the better. I think we’re just sustaining their habits. Versus UGM, where we’re donating money and we know they have to be clean and sober. They’re giving them a second chance. They’re going from living like this to recovery, and they’re helping them get a job.”
Mike's tip for you:
Mike says that if you’re interested in getting involved at the Mission, “You need to tour UGM and see that they’re changing hearts.” Take a tour, get your business involved, or sign up to give monthly.
However you choose to pitch in, when you partner with UGM, you’re joining a community that is helping end homelessness one person at a time.