“So at one point we were drunk and fighting, and he tied me up and poured lighter fluid on me and lit me on fire. My chest caught fire, I remember seeing flames. And then he realized what he did. He took a towel and put it out. And I needed to go to the hospital because I just was all blistered. My nose was black. My eyelashes still on this side, they’re always going to be curled weird. The cops pinged his phone, like a state-wide, because it was a big deal. He ended up only going to jail for 9 months, and I took him back when he got out. Like I didn’t even care, just it was familiar.
“Discipline has been huge in my recovery. So I hear people say like, ‘Oh, I’m just not motivated or I wish I was motivated.’ Motivation is so temporary. Like you can stay motivated for maybe a week, but it’s going to run out. You cannot do your life on just being motivated. None of us are motivated 100% of the time because we’re human and we lose that. But, and this is something I learned at Anna Ogden too is our thought processes and the power we have over our thoughts, I can choose what I’m going to do. I can choose to train for a half marathon even when I don’t want to. Even when I want to stay in bed, I can choose to not. (She laughs) And that’s power. You know, that’s really a lot of power. And it goes with my whole life.” – Emily, Spokane
“We’re all hungry. And God’s provided food for all of us. And that’s the one thing that I should never withhold. I mean I can’t help you with money. I can’t help you with marriage counseling. I can’t help you with all these other needs. But for some reason, I’ve always been able to help with food. So you know, I’ve always found that if people are fed, they’re more receptive. If you’re hungry and you’re consistently hungry, you’re edgy, you’re crabby, your brain’s not working fully, you’re not motivated to work. I mean how can you work if you’re hungry?”
“Compassion is a spectrum, and I think it is compassionate to deal with people’s basic needs. But I think so often our compassion is an expression of our own unwillingness to take the time to actually do what will long term help somebody. If I drive by somebody panhandling on the corner, it is far easier for me to reach in and put a dollar into the hat than it is to say, ‘Would you come and have a hamburger with me down the street? I want to find out about you as a person.’ And that gives me the opportunity to actually develop a relationship…Street people are notoriously poor in terms of relationships with people outside the street population, and it’s those relationships that are probably going to move them forward into a better life in general.” – John Repsold, Mosaic Fellowship, Spokane
“The average person has a hard job. This is what I mean by that. I go out to speak at groups all the time, and I ask them, ‘When you think of homelessness, what images come to mind?’ And I always hear dirty, drug-addicted, smelly and cardboard signs…all those kinds of phrases. And they’re right. They are kind of dirty, kind of smelly, and they do hold cardboard signs. And then we call them a human being. Right? The homeless person. Why can’t we just admit that whenever we think of homelessness, those are the images that come through our minds?
“Part of my goal was to build relationships with these men, to buy into their lives, to find out what they’re battling or what they need encouraged in. How I can help them. I was looking at a lot of men who were battling depression or just being lost. No glimmer in their eye; they’re just existing. It just tore my heart.
“What I started to do was to build these relationships and allow the trust to be built, and now I’m seeing so much fruit coming out of these men. I’m seeing men come here, they’re broken, and seeing men restored back to their families. I’ve seen men be fathers and husbands again. I’ve seen men stay clean and sober. I’m seeing God work powerfully.” – Joe, Union Gospel Mission, Spokane
Photo by Marshall McLean
“Graduation, it’s a weird thing for me because I never graduated high school, so it’s kind of a big thing to actually be part of a graduation. I remember, I finished high school, so I was actually sitting in the audience, and I watched my girlfriend graduate. It really sucked sitting out in the audience when all my friends were graduating, so this to me is a really big deal. I’m looking forward to it.” – Keith, graduating from UGM LIFE Recovery in June
Photo by Jessica Morgan
“While I was pregnant, we were living in Spokane, and during that time, I was flying a sign (panhandling). I was sleeping under bridges, and my boyfriend would stay up while I was sleeping to make sure nothing happened to me.
“We have three meals a day here, and I know I have a warm place for me and my son, a safe place, and I think that’s what the important thing is.
“When I came here to UGM, I learned that God is a loving God. He is a forgiving God, and He is full of grace. He has given us a second chance.” – Michelle, UGM Center for Women & Children, Coeur d’Alene
“Being out on the streets makes it really hard to sleep because I’d always need to keep my guard up. Often, I’d walk half the night just to find a place to sleep. I was always packing everything I owned on my back. I did panhandle, but that would only go so far. When I got desperate, I would rummage through dumpsters which, many times, would be baking in the sun all day. I never looked anyone in the eye, my head was always down. I was ashamed by my appearance and how I smelled.
“Thanks to Union Gospel Mission, I have hope. I have self-esteem, and I have a future.” – Ron, UGM Men’s Shelter, Spokane
“I know where the guys have come from. I have been where they are. I walked through the east door just like they did, I felt the emotions they feel when they first get here. I think that’s one of the best things about it, because I came from where they are, it gives them hope that they can accomplish anything they want.” –John, Men’s Shelter Day Desk