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

3 min read

“Today, I’m Free”: UGM alumni discuss the road to recovery

For individuals dealing with overwhelming personal issues such as addiction, domestic violence, or a criminal record, UGM LIFE Recovery can be the chance of a lifetime. Located at three of UGM’s four shelters in Spokane, WA, and Coeur d’Alene, ID, the 18 to 24-month-long residential program offers guests the chance to exit survival mode, discover the underlying causes of harmful behaviors, and focus on healing. We interviewed the 22 newest alumni who were honored in the 2023 LIFE Recovery Commencement on June 27. 

 

Where were you at before UGM? 

 

ScottScott: “I was in Montana doing small town boy stuff, drinking, partying, and it just got too much. I was losing a lot of things in my life and decided it was time for a change.” 

Sunnie: “I was unpresent, I was toxic and unhealthy.” 

Tracy: “I was broken, on the brink of destruction. I had nothing going for me. I had no hope, no joy, no true friends.”

Danny: “I was living in my car, hopeless, addicted to meth for 20 years.” 

 

 

“I was a pretty serious alcoholic. I drank a fifth a day

for over ten years. I needed to quit that to become a

better father for my daughter.” 

 

 

TristanTristan: “I actually lived on a front porch, basically my whole life revolved around chasing the next high. My mental state was not good at all. I knew that I had to get sober, that I had to change my life, but the thought of that was so terrifying because I knew I would have to give up the only thing that helped me to numb my feelings.” 

Italia: “I was lost, addicted, and didn’t see a way out.” 

Allen: “I was morally, spiritually, financially devastated. Completely.” 

Bennie: “I was a pretty serious alcoholic. I drank a fifth a day for over ten years. I needed to quit that to become a better father for my daughter.” 

Dotti: “I just could not stay sober.” 

 



What was the most impactful part of the program for you? 

 

SabraSabra: “I learned how to have boundaries. I dug in and got to the root of a lot of problems that kept me stuck in my chaotic cycle that I’d been stuck in most of my life.”

Sunnie: “I learned to be a better friend, a better mom, a better daughter. I learned that it’s okay to not be okay.” 

Tracy: “I found people around me that truly care. I found a bit of joy, a bit of belonging, and a lot of grace.”

 

 

“I started to finally see change, and that was

invigorating. It was motivating. It was powerful because

I never thought that I could escape this.” 

 

 

Italia: “I found genuine people who wanted to connect with me and my son and be on the sidelines cheering us on.” 

BennieBennie: “You get to recognize that you’re not alone in your struggles. Other people have gone through the same experiences that you’ve gone through—just maybe from different angles—and that allows you to get past things.” 

Allen: “It gave me freedom that I get to live in every day. That I’m not alone, first and foremost, and the freedom to combat the addictions that I had.” 

Dotti: “I felt God from the people who were here. They are so loving and they touched my life profoundly and God has healed me profoundly.” 

Michael: “I started to finally see change, and that was invigorating. It was motivating. It was powerful because I never thought that I could escape this.” 

 



What is different about your life today? 


Sabra: “I am in my own apartment, paying my own bills. I have a great job at UPS. For the first time in my life, I am completely independent. I never thought that I would ever be able to do that. I am living a whole new life today. I’m deeply involved in Narcotics Anonymous. I stayed very involved in my recovery. I go to church. I stay busy, living life because I feel like I missed out on life a lot because I’ve been so stuck. For the first time, I feel free.” 

Tracy: “I never saw myself with this much potential.” 

 

 

“I feel I’m the freest I’ve ever been.

This is who I am. Raw and real. Not perfect,

but it’s who God made me.” 

 

 


DottiDotti:
“Right now I’m in Aftercare Housing and starting a full-time job in the medical arena which is where my heart is, reaching out and helping others.” 

Tristan: “Now I feel confident with being able to move forward into my problems head on and not fearing failure… taking steps forward instead of giving up. Now I look at those mishaps as learning opportunities.” 

Italia: “I am a changed woman. For me to continue and to pursue college, that was something I didn’t see myself doing. I pursued my EMT certification at Spokane Community College and now have a job lined up with AMR.” 

Bennie: “I have my own place. My daughter spends weekends with me. I got a good job, making more money than I’ve ever made. I don’t think about drinking anymore. Things are looking up.” 

Michael: “I feel I’m the freest I’ve ever been. This is who I am. Raw and real. Not perfect, but it’s who God made me.” 

 

Commencement-Group-Email-photo

A hearty congratulations to all who pressed through the difficulties, embraced the challenges of life in community, and allowed healing to take place. This isn't the end; it is a brand new beginning.

At Union Gospel Mission, we recognize that lasting life change comes from the heart. By providing a safe place to stabilize, tools to form a new life plan, and time to fully heal and rebuild, we’re providing a path to lifelong recovery. Your partnership makes it possible for us to offer this life-changing opportunity to anyone hungry for change.

 

 

View all the testimonies from the 2023 LIFE Recovery Commencement here: 

UGM Life Recovery Commencement. Learn more. >>

Gratitude In Action: A heart-to-heart message from Phil Altmeyer

2 min read

Gratitude In Action: A heart-to-heart message from Phil Altmeyer

Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I’ve always marveled that one of the things God wills for our life...

Read More
Restoring Dignity: Davenport Hotels Partner with UGM

3 min read

Restoring Dignity: Davenport Hotels Partner with UGM

Establishing A Partnership In 2022, ‪UGM Vocational Advancement Manager Matt Moznette reached out to the Davenport Hotels hoping to establish a ...

Read More
Embracing Life’s Twists & Turns: A Path of Hope in Recovery

7 min read

Embracing Life’s Twists & Turns: A Path of Hope in Recovery

Completing the 5-phase Life Recovery program marks the beginning of a life of recovery outside the walls of UGM. Individuals embark on a lifelong...

Read More
Tristan’s Pathway to Recovery, Phase by Phase

Tristan’s Pathway to Recovery, Phase by Phase

Tristan was living on a front porch. Over the course of eight years, his life had progressed from one devastation to another. “It started back when...

Read More
I am no one's Savior.

I am no one's Savior.

UGM Aftercare Manager Mike Doggett walks with residents as they transition out of our programs and back into society. He knows that if they can...

Read More
Recovery: a story of brokenness and healing

Recovery: a story of brokenness and healing

Editor's note: This is the third post in a special Advent devotional series, focusing on Isaiah 61:1-3. You may also want to read the introduction, "...

Read More