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Union Gospel Mission 120615

Dec 1, 2015|

AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNION GOSPEL MISSION ABOUT THE WORK THEY DO WITH HOMELESS MEN AND WOMEN AND WHAT’S GOING ON FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is microscope and Entercom radio Portland public affairs program and you're blocks of the union gospel mission has been feeding the hungry restoring the addict and loving our neighbor since 1927. The union gospel mission provides meals clothing and care to the homeless and people need. Union gospel mission is home to life changed a recovery program to help men women and children healed and transform their lives. And this among the show would like to catch up with everything that's going on at the union gospel mission like to do the show once again Bill Russell bill is the executive director of the union gospel mission pay their bill. Big gay Dolan are. Free and happy holidays because it and it's hard holidays. You know like it to be hard on all of expressed. Having worked down here that you need gospel mission for over a quarter century it is particularly hard. For the homeless out of the streets there it is just a hard time. We'll spend a little bit cool correctly cold. Last couple weeks anyway. Yeah we've been scramble with. Emergency night shelter and you know I talked to a guy yesterday and he had spent the night outside he resisted coming in daily shelter. Yeah I think it has to do he said it's hard to achieve this the I tell you that he's had. Guys been out for a long time he knows how to get by habit you have the first few nights but it seems like at Portland. There was get a cold snaps. You know somewhere between Halloween and Thanksgiving and sure enough we got it right at Thanksgiving. It's just like clockwork. So well you've been with the union gospel mission for a long time and so you probably know a lot of the history. Yes they do that you Kia was started in 1927. I wasn't there that long. Is CD nine bets. We did in old town for a long time we bought a building inning here between berg insight into each on third avenue in 1938. K you know we've been expanding this side. This site ever impact that. A lot since since two the year 2000. So you've been in that building for but gosh what a long long time and. Yeah it yet that's the building that was it was right across from Ericsson saloon and eriksson's was kind of a magnet. I saw I mean there was. There were sailors coming in on it ships the railroad concept just up the street. And loggers and miners would all come into town looking for entertainment and the old town became the place where you can pass out on the street in defeating Dick Cheney hide or robbed no one would. Bother you but you know there's always risk out here and it aid the DNA this is pretty firm bear when we dug down and to excavate. And lay the foundation for the new building we have brought up a quarter of certain burns side. There was little Bobble dumped in the historical people want a good look at it tended to. Most prominent bottles and that downpour opium and whiskey so drugs and alcohol have shaped this neighborhood since the 1890s. And it's become that neighborhood and it just becomes a magnet for. People who were down at the bottom and so that with a great collection of social service agencies we have here. Has kept this being kind of defender of that world. There's been a lot of change in that neighborhood in the pro district and an old town. Yeah I can affect only. Yes it has and I think they're good changes. I've seen since 89 when I came here. A number of property owners who are residents went old town blocks in the Pacific power winning and yet Condo owners who were investing nearly or over a million dollars in a property which they care about the neighborhood and then more recently went university of organs setup the campus down here and Mercy Corps moved. Right on the Al west and the dirt side bridge just to the south by Saturday market. We had an infusion of workers. So where Bible for workers at Northwest Natural Gas could just get off the Mac's single at a park on site. Now we have more people in the neighborhood walking through. And it creates a different element. And so before it was just small businesses mixed with social service agencies. And in and out without a fairly easy mixed to navigate. Now we have property owners and workers. The working class people who come through here and it just changes a little bit. Looked set to shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the services they union gospel mission offers. There we've always fed the hungry I mean since 1927. That's been our first calling card we wanted to show people love and care tangible and so we provide. Basic proficient food clothing warped sleeping bag emergency night shelter. Consider the basics and debt from bear what we really wanted to do is. Invite people into a process of transformation. Not everyone is capable. Of getting off the streets post particularly the profoundly mentally ill. They just can't seem to navigate the kind of things that will bring about transformation. And so we don't. She never throw rocks at that or anything like that we wanna be there for them to be eight trusted friend. And in a long term. In the in the long term relationships but for everyone else we really want to encourage them to go through. The necessary steps if if a person is drug or alcohol addicted we wanna invite them to commit to residential recovery or we want to refer them. Cal patient recovery so they can deal wit that issue that is pushing them constantly down to the bottom rung. And into a really hard life on the street in the people who are just in an economic. Situation where either through massive medical bills or something they get pushed out of the top. We want to help prefer them to their resources that are gonna get them off the streets as soon as possible. Where most of your clients come from what how to leave due out of the discover the union gospel mission. Well most of our clients are from the local area. But we're also regional recruiting better for example we have a women in children's center out in Beaverton at a number of those women come from rural Oregon. Where there are no residential setters for women and their children that are transformational. And so you know we have turner broke women from down as far as winning is great passer over and eastern. Or get him in it that are coming to us. The woman who started and founded our senator. We brought it in 2012 she's over ban and opening up another one. And affiliated mission there's so we hoped to see more open that we hope to grow our because there. Far too many women try to navigate life. In the unsafe situations where they're living whether kids in the car or edit on a borrowed couch or whatever it's been a horrible grows. About the growth of homeless women or women at risk and danger. So. People come from all over but I think our biggest draw are just people locally. Instance we've been around since 1927. People tend to think about when they get desperate. Poor people who love them refer them to us and and we really depend on caring parents. Or or principle of people who are struggling. Just say hey you know union gospel mission as a life change program and that is an outstanding place to live. There are the guys would like to call at the wrists because for a lot of them it is absolutely the best place I've ever lived. Let's let's talk about life change what is the elections programs. Let's change. Starts with up up phase for both men and women of stabilization where you come in and you just start. A regular routine you get rest and get nutrition which start war game. Sees you feel valuable and solar water comes in the electric have to be able to work twenty to forty hours a week and they have to be able to have they can't be under such heavy medication. That they can't engage in the transformative process they have to be alert able to work. And then what we do is we start adding to work therapy spiritual transformation. Addiction recovery. And other life skills training so that one person leads they have all the components of life they have basic life skills to thrive there detection recovery and relapse prevention. Taking care of and they have a spiritual life supportive community through that spiritual life. That the actually stirred. Partnering with to go to church as the go to groups a while before they leave here so that they have friends outside of the mission when they leave. Can you say then the required to work out where they work. We provide jobs for everyone in here we have a thrift store out tiger right across from the tiger. Cinema as that other than one staff person is run entirely by people who are in recovery which in our residents and their fabulous and people stop by there just to talk to the people in and see that I hope and encouragement. And then you'll see our trucks driving around town picking up food donations or thrift donations. And that we have are our women's center all the facility maintenance needs to out do the cooking debt debt particularly the women cheered and edit our mission here. All of a number of our homeless service functions are helped out by her recovery residence and I love that because. Oftentimes the best person to reach a personal mistreated someone who used to be on the street and can deeply empathize with them so there's a certain percent for people who were read outreach workers in and fax from overstaffed used to be like to address that's used to be on the streets in and you know we don't take a a client provider based on that we take more for relational base on that. So we don't do things for people we wanna do things when people are not really seats are our way of connecting. And bill you kind of created a life change programs into. I was one of the co creators are used to be a prosecutor. And it's that I thought they did what a good job that once it's important to take dangerous people off the streets. But I thought there were a lot of people to prosecute and there are I didn't see a lot of people in the early eighties who were. Reaching into corrections. And reaching to people who were pre corrections out on the street saying hey you've got to change. If you're chronically criminalized or chronically addicted. We just living irresponsibly. There's got to be a change process and most of us learned. Success keys in her home in high school and then college and most of our residents were separated from their families here and bounced around of Foster care. Or they just didn't have a safe it would be better if they did. They isolated from that family it in the formative years of high school and college that in complete high school they didn't go to college they were drug and we're using at that time and end with that you miss so much of the information you need and the skills you need. To successfully navigate life's a week chemical rockets hit let's redo this and let's get it right this time. And then in the mission downtown serves men only is that correct. Yeah I know we we are men and women home less. And we have a number of women accessing us for the homeless but for residents we only have immense life change and homeless services at the downtown site we recruit a woman out of the tent city not too long ago issues that are very unsafe situation. And we invited her to come in and live with us that are women's setter and so some women's staff took her out there she is deriving out there she is so grateful to be off the streets and has received therapeutic place we have it. You know what we have got theirs we have a mental health professional on site that we have spiritual. Transformational partners out there. Just tell purse center in intertwined life and find joy. And so you know between that team out there and insular team are women who used to be out on the streets there there is empathy and then there's the knowledge and skill set to see them transform and I'm so glad this young woman is off the dangerous streets and in our place up beaver complete all of our women and their children that they have children. Our together out that the Beaverton site. Tell us about the happy knowing it's. But I don't know what that means that they're. I don't have a list of of information here that says the happy hoyas is something new here at the women's shelter. It's just happy women and children were just just living life. I don't know who wrote that that is true yeah I really like that I I go out there every Monday morning and I love hanging out with the kids and there'd shifted the bottom when you give kids a place to thrive if you give him. The I'm taking place. And so I love that all we opened the way we used to just have women only and no place for children. And while we open this Saturday it allowed women to reconnect with their children of Britain admit this laughter at this. Fine. Just the amazing personalities. And you're so grateful that there are a place where they can thrive. And not be afraid or abuse it it is fabulous. We're talking to they would Bill Russell executive director of the union gospel mission. To build a few months ago the mayor implode declared homeless state of emergency. Yeah I mean I think that makes sense. I kind of road. But what might have been seen as a little bit in the snoopy a response to that in New York audience saying we've been experience is that this emergencies since 2009. And it's it's got too involved and and I really appreciate. Burials not running for reelection. And and a guy we've known for a long time Ted Wheeler is an I don't know it's gonna be elected brits tend to have the right thinking that it's got to be a government. Social service abroad business partnership. To deal with the state of emergency. Big government simply doesn't have the funding to create enough programs and enough housing. To get everyone out of homelessness it doesn't work that way and never will so we need a broad coalition. And we need patients are I think one thing that that I'm excited or. Is union gospel mission is getting mobile action here. And rather than just inviting everyone in the region to come to us in old town we're developing outreach to the homeless. In. Almost camps that are that have formed all over the city. It used to be where old town trying to Palestinian neighborhood that experience homelessness. And you have for a long time homelessness is that it's been expanding most of listeners can tell you. Where the homeless are strong along through dinner neighborhoods. It's been how long the spring water trail for years and now camps are just springing up and so we have to get mobile to reach out. And deal with the what you call it a state of emergency but at the Stater reality that we have a lot of displaced people. In the Portland housing market at between beats. The planning policies. Sitting near the growth apparently in not having the room to increase housing and the economy where we don't have enough housing. There are a lot of people who can't afford good housing. There are a lot of people living with their parents and and when you go to the lower and the economy it is impossible. Section eight waiting list serve our. Years long. And so it that there's no easy solution to this we're gonna have to work through it. What are some of the main contributing factors to homelessness. I think I think the top two or mental illness and substance abuse. But I also think. In this economy. The lack of affordable housing does oppressed people and unsafe situations particularly single women. Who were victims of abuse who are trying to find this safe place to live up. And I think some people are probably being forced out of there. But they may have a good voting situation now they're being forced up his printer going up and yeah. A lot of the people with support structures who are in that situation where they can't brats they live with frail but again if you don't have Palin's support structure. If your family either far away war not the existing Europe Foster can't. Then you really are looking for some kind of cobble together living situation. And I think from the entry level of the rental housing downturn that. The mission in the tent city there need to be in between steps of places that are safe. Dry warm but not what we typically think of as as lonely and housing. They're that there needs to be some in between banks and other cities are looking. Pat micro house saying they're looking at using our these quartet encampment. To get people into a safe well run dry place that. Out last this housing market I think Portland doesn't need. Seriously to confront it's basically of doing business. Because the housing forecast is grim for a long time. And the economy is turning around are you seeing any of that. Maybe affect your bureau clients. Yeah I mean it's easier to get a job. But again what we're talking about how to market the housing market talk of a turnaround short term with the economy there's just not the room to. To grow there aren't enough housing starts there's an enough multifamily. Housing starts so. We're gonna look at two different things Serb yes in terms of people who are being driven economically. Down we've seen less Sadat in the last year that we saw 200920102000. Elevenths so it's actually the last three years have been pretty good now. This is shifting gears just a little bit we are and smack dab in the middle of the holiday season right absolutely tell us about Christmas at the union gospel mission. Well we have several Christmas events. Armed downtown here we have a ruby premium Christmas event put on by Beaverton foursquare church on Saturday December 12 and what they'll do is to force feedings of about a 10210. People this is an exquisite deal. And and program. I mean they. Really do a great job and it's a bit it's been doing for years in the homeless really look at look. Love it and that'll be again a week from Saturday and then as we roll toward Christmas Day. There are other programs got on a Christmas morning itself. We have a huge brunch. It's supported by a lot of volunteers. We usually have him headaches at all the curving and it runs from ten to two and a gale will probably have about 657. Other people come about. And you know everybody gets a goodie bag and that it's festive and there's good music. So we have a lot on our women's setter we have of a party for the women and children coming up on Saturday December 12. MLB again and exquisite meal are really good time I am a alteration and Garrett I have for ever impressed by the generosity. And the desire. Of the Portland community. To get good things. To the homeless and hungry. At Christmas and so we get a lot of help with gaffes but if people want to give us hams or food or funds to do these great programs course we always appreciate the help. And if somebody is able to help well how can they do that where they don't. I they could come does three northwest third one of the best ways to become a volunteer is to go to our web site which is UGM. Portland. Dot worked so used GM like union gospel mission UGM Portland dot ORG. And the air there's a volunteer link quibble amazing volunteer director. CJ and she will get your. You don't make sure that you get applied for a get children orientation get a volunteer also online you can give financially you can donate any conceal these events so we're doing. Yet there's a big red Tony but not near home page literacy are afraid to coordinator Gary OK at the that I will do that day. Now look at the volunteers are you evil what do what will he be doing. Well I mean out of the women's that are we need to workers to work with the kids to. Committee meant to them and do after school activities we need repair workers upbeat pretend to come in and help with meals and they're that the landscape and there's tons to do out there in downtown. We have homeless breakfasts that are incredible. We will have tomorrow morning's 300 people here fraud hot nutritious breakfast. And you know it did it we'd take people in the door at 630 with breakfast ready so we need from you early birds out there. Who like to get up early to get outline appliance and tell TJ. You would love to come down and help cook any. Hot breakfast for the homeless in a 12 month on Wednesday or Friday morning we're looking for volunteers on. That's the great. Tell us about the to restore. Historic the only guy really do have a restore. It is a good operation I've always thought they entered number of people it's like. It takes roach coach like a hidden treasure if you're driving down Pacific highway stop off 55 heading toward Newburgh. It you come get on the tell you go past Fred Meyer in Atlanta swab and it can. It's hidden. Kind of like you're right across from the tiger cinemas by the teriyaki shop which at some people who go there regularly and they get incredible values. They think it's right there hidden secrets tips. Find out they're but it there's it's a lot of clutter and there. And any relief Beckett runs which he does a fabulous job and and again the light changed crew if you the way a little out of the Mets. Are working hard and they are just amazing people to get a basic market bit. They are learning life skills and retail skills by take in this thread of sorting that pricing it giving out on the floor in giving people need to bargain it's a real bargain and there's quality stuff about their sort. Our number one still plied him it is. Women's clothing and then we have furniture and I gotta say I really appreciate Michael Miller and the people are good well it's probably the best proof operation in the world they don't see it has serious competition because they have 200 scores and their fabulous stores but they've helped us. Get better at what we do so I just wanted to say we we take great coaching. We have good people and and we hope to grow that story and an open other stores and Arnold and optical appropriate. Serious competition because it would help that. I just want to throw on there we get help from them as well. It's great at every able to donate at the sort. This young people are also all the time we were actually one of the only thrift stores remaining that will come to your house and pick up your furniture. If pick up your household goods could give good. It felt some people try to use the trip score as a way to get rid of their garbage and what should we can't afford to do that are built huge just there's the debt. But it had a quality. It. The donation you can call the thrift store up 503. 6396. Or 88 and this stores open to stated Saturday. And years ago we we've all we've always been closed until a date for worship but. On Monday we close the store years ago to start community service were like his could go out help for people or do community service projects are come actually went up because of the principle of give an apple be given to you but Tuesday through Saturday that scored their you can call the store. That's 6396. Or eight date and arrange a pick up a pure usable that I read sellable. Donated goods or cars or things like that and will be happy dictate come and and they'll be put to good use and defines that we get from selling them will be used to help the good things that we do here. We definitely are doing good things that the union gospel mission for sure they. Bill Russell executive director of the union gospel mission thinks of him on the showed that experience it's always good to talk to him. Microscopes and Entercom communications and public affairs program my name's Gary and if you have a nonprofit or public affairs organization that you'd like let others know about. You can email me at macro Scopes @entercom.com. Remember intercom starts with a need for you can go directly to the station's website click on the community link and submit your information there. Also we like you this program again you can visit our podcast paged pat microscope PDX dot com. Thanks for listening to microscope and enjoy your weekend.