From June 2020

Photo by Jessica Morgan

“Due to the color of my skin, I was to keep my head low and try to be invisible…In my twenties, I really didn’t talk to people because I felt that I had little to no value to someone else.

“I pressed into the Lord, and I began to see myself as having value and importance. I also discovered that I had a voice. …

“It brings my heart joy to know that God is using me to mentor people. I don’t always have the answers, but I know someone who does – God. Each day, I get to work with and pray for those who are troubled, grieving, fatherless, motherless, homeless and oppressed. I hold them accountable, and I allow others to hold me accountable – to call out my blind spots.

“So, now, when I look in the mirror, I do not see a black man with little to no value. I see myself as God sees us all – ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’”

– Lee, UGM Director of In-Kind Services, high school football coach, mentor and former professional football player


“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.

Photos by Jessica Morgan

“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

Emily’s story of abuse, addiction and life recovery is featured in a blog post by UGM: