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Union Gospel Mission 081416

Aug 9, 2016|

AN INTERVIEW WITH BILL RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNION GOSPEL MISSION ABOUT THE WORK THEY DO WITH THE HOMELESS AND THE OPERATION OVERCOAT EVENT AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is microscope and Entercom radio Portland public affairs program Hungary blocks them and for almost ninety years the union gospel mission in Portland has been transforming the lives of men. Women and children facing homelessness abuse and addiction and today on the Cisco would like to welcome Bill Russell executive director of the union gospel music bidder built. Hey are you going to undergo an M curfew for a few months pickpocket. It's a it's always great to feel them match possible thanks for being on again we you wanna talk about operation overcoat in just a bit but first how we could serve with a little history of the union gospel mission. Absolutely union gospel mission was put together by a really a remarkable group of forty. Churches back in 1927. And they were looking at downtown and an old town. And they realize that the cultural gaps really prevented any of forty churches from being effective. And being what they're supposed to be a source of love and forgiveness. To the people of old town Portland so they started union gospel mission. And it did begin operations. Down an old town in January 1 1928. And ever since then we've Kyra ahead are calling card it has. Feeding the hungry. You know you reach out to people who have really obvious needs and you want to make sure that they're fed. And in a safe housing situation so we've been a combination of shelter beatings and then recovery. A place can be an entire reed director lights and certain 1928. The good long time you know good things kept. But do you find that most people that are in need of help are in the downtown area. It used to be important outweigh head to downtown still is a magnet. For people who. It's really want that have people around them but not. Be roasted or in a situation where Morita. Demanded of them and they can possibly meet at the moment. But no. A lot of indeed does it sit estimated that there are thousands homeless people along the spring water trail. It and you know the cities that he's September 1 deadline to get off the trail so. But the challenge. But that there all the publicity now. Yes certainly has been in the news lately. Yeah it it is cliff that is the number one issue in Portland then and there are some reasons why but certainly that these two visual. Almost camping all across the city is the reason why it's bubbled up at it it's an issue for everyone. Seaman working with the union gospel mission for a long time right gaps where there are 27 years so how is the homeless situation now compared to years past. Alicia worked better. I think Q. Dead it's bitter about the same and raw numbers since 2009. In the differences people are in hiding anymore they're not too. In the bushes they're out on the street at and there are some advantage to that. But what we all want our place it with the housing market projected. Two be unattainable to the people at the very bottom. Maybe the next decade or or twenty years we have to come up with solutions of where people can live. Up until they can kind of merge into affordable housing. Pricing mostly single men and women or families are kind of a culmination Canada. Fortunately it's it's every one match. Doug the homeless the percentage of homeless poor women has grown and out pace men over the last several years. But there are a lot of homeless women with children who weren't hiding. And and for the reason that that is obviously they don't want Child Protective Services taken their kids away. And so while the single man or woman might be more visible war economy into an organized programs for all. Particularly almost moms with kids. Might peacefully net domestic violence situation. And there are a lot harder defined and so we also need to be. Coming up wit attainable solutions for them as well. Where can a woman with children go. She can look force saved. Program house saying we have the life change better for women and their children in Beaverton. And number one then that come in there. We run about twenty women and twenty kids at a time and we've taken in about a hundred. A year to kind of get on their feet and get redirected and Angolan. Safe healthy direction and we and we provide recovery and and mental health counseling while they're there but it is a challenge because I know every day while he might have forty in this sentenced today. There is probably. 12100. Who needs that and so you know if mighty who wishes and dreams and prayers were answered. We would have room for a thousand women with their kids not just twenty. How to people who need assistance find you. Are they find this through referral. The are referred by. Family is up by their parents but they're pastors that they have one. Black people and you know solve social service workers have him in emergency rooms sometimes through the courts. Oftentimes it's someone is struggling. With they drug addiction and and there are a hospital learned detox center. And date pursuit patent peace recovery. They'll be directed to us. And you know we've been around again since we've been around since 1927. It won't work thought of when people get desperate and we have numerous stories of people. When they hit that point where they check can't do this anymore. I can't live like this anymore where the first places they came to their mind was union gospel mission and so they came. That's great the trimmed and the other finding you know yeah. But you the founder of the life change program right. I'm a co-founder. Actually a number of us it's been a very collaborative effort and we ought to have putting your faith based version of the only a few street in the that's a very successful program in every system that works giving tie breaks to people in prison the cowboys what do we took them. The concept of our party works and it work together as a team and it's very peer driven and what we took that it applied it to the homeless and it's been a great experiment. And it really does work that I learned when I was a deputy prosecutor. Then that every one released from jail or prison today. 77%. Will be rearrested in the next five years. It's not a very good statistic it's not something we wanna believe. And similarly every one who is reaching out for help. With heroin addiction crack addiction meth addiction or alcohol problem. Today we know about 70%. Lower relapse. In the next five years after leaving program. So we want something that's gonna turn that around I'd had a tickle ever eliminate chronic relapse but. We are running a flip side we have about 70%. Of our program graduates. Do not relapse they are not in chronic relapse sir either employed. They're an active internship program Murtha Daryn Colledge. And and that's a great thing so. You know it it works it works very. Happy without it the question is how come we expanded. How we get people to come to it. And I stay in it an experience that we great choice and satisfaction. That happens when you that we need change. It is Hugh as we don't know what changes not an easy thing to do it's an important thing to do they'll. Yeah why do you why do you think collecting program has such a success rate. I think we start with the end didn't mind so that people don't come in here and live in irresponsible life they begin. I'm working the very first day they get here and that's true Whittier manner a woman. Woman to win then command and their assigned twenty hours a work week. They tracked toward. Mental health counseling in and deep. Abuse are covering a lot quicker than guys do and twenty is a lot from them but I it's you know they command. And we defer the counseling a few months and they committed start working forty hours a week first day so I think one of the big hurdles to get it to coming in. Is continue to work or are you want heavy prescriptions were. Or something out of that fact that you know we we really have designed a place that maximizes. The ability to work there are very simple jobs people can do. But particularly for men men draw their value. From employment and getting things done and so if you just sitting in the classroom waiting for the future happened you don't have a lot of confidence in yourself. In your not practicing what the way you're gonna hold. A year from now or three years from our five years from now so we wanna start with the ended minded saying let's get to work at. The week and work on your presenting issues the reason you became almost the reason you became addictive or work on. And we'll have time to work on not the mornings and evenings and in this system really does work. Give a specific individual story to tell us. Oh yeah. I I mean I think I think at amazing stirred serious young man who is gonna. High school student in the local area and a very good athlete went into the army. And he did not take to the army very well he didn't like taking orders. And that not not a lot of people do what you gotta look that face on before you going into the military. And so he ends up bleeding with them and other than honorable discharge. And just had some trauma and ended up on drugs under a bridge of Portland just a total waste of time and talent and he. He kept flounder around and not really going anywhere. And his mother was praying for evidence France or same and you can you know what you Wear an excellent guy you gotta get out of that. He came in any work the whole system in and me it took him two or three times to kind of locked in. To recovering but he finally when he did he. Has done an excellent he has met the girl of his dreams after graduation he's working in a bank. They have a child he used an amazing guy. He runs marathons if you word of yet you would never ever believed that he was a homeless drug addict on the street and it's just. An expression that if you. Stop thinking in a broken thinking pattern and you allow yourself to believe. In your creator in the way you were created. And that life was designed to be pleasurable. And good and productive. You can track out of a worthless lifestyle it just something that is incredibly valuable and it's there for the taking that you got to work. Work to it it's not something you learn which in a minute you can't throw a switch. I can't throw god desperate anybody and make a while they've got to work through it. And and certainly faith in the power gone it's important but. It it also involves the effort actions and works of a person to get well and get right lip right. And it may take a couple of tries right. Yes it does I mean that we we don't just believe that so we'd serve the god of this second chance but also. The last chance in the fat tips from the notre. You know he got some people muck it up pretty well before they start track and well. But you know our society. And it ends families are resilient and it may take a few years for you re earn trust. Forgiveness can happen in this second it's it to gift giving it. But trust this something that's earned overtime and so we really look at trust building and how a person can be restored Bautista there their. Family but also to the community had two career and did things that that need to be underscored. We're talking to they would Bill Russell executive director of union gospel mission. No one of the missions of signature of movie called a fund raising events. No we're bay itself homeless outreach. Operation over coat tail was brought up by the church founder of northwest medical teams brought Doug drawn post. Enron one basic you know you ought to technique which is doing. Make it bigger and it and drawing in the homeless who might be across the river or out Beaverton. And really make it worse coming to we always saw this problem. That it's you know this month of August and next month since September and even in October. The weather in Portland tends to be stunningly good and it's that the best months of the year. Our August September and October. And then all of a sudden somewhere between the first of October and Halloween this somebody throws a switch. And that the rain starts and it can get cold about it and it may not stop much. Until. Sometime next bricks so. Ron says why don't you do a massive clothing giveaway end and score up at work with groups. Businesses and and every one. Played really developed winner clothing. And then invited everyone down at a street fair clothes off third avenue which we do and a giant Barbara Q&A street fair. And make sure everyone's got the winner clothes that they're gonna need it in in a few weeks so we always told that on the last Saturday in September. And it is a big deal. Some years we've had. 2200. You know ball homeless people they keep in mind that the enough point in time count. The number of land sheltered homeless people in Portland about 19100. So there's there's a group of people and their some of armor are dirty shelter or in it but they don't have what they need to get through the winner. And so this is that chance to make sure everyone gets what they need they get a voucher or ticket before they had her. That's good for a pair of pants or peril work boots or co operation over coat. They needed to happen and and then every one gets barbecued lunch and there's other products and services and here. So we're we're real happy with division. Ron and created for us from the way he helped found none event and we've been good stewards of it since the first time we did which was back in the year 2000. That's coming up on some timber Tony fourth this year. It is and I'm excited I am always excited to see who columns and there's always an amazing story. That happens out operation overcome. One year there was a woman who was. Struggling with that mental disability. In it was kind of disoriented. She was walking around operation over con look with beat invitation. To her mother's wedding. Which would that evening. Near Seattle Washington so keep in mind we're interacting with the young woman. At 11 in the morning at operation overcoat whose mother's wedding that she got an invitation to this up and Seattle that night and by the end of the day we have found a safe couple to get her up to the wedding and get reconnect dead. Back to a family stage yet lost touch went. Released through mental disability. In it was such a thrilling story end and she came because this is the safe place where people care about her. And trust. Was quickly built enough that we're able to to devise a way to get her up to the wedding so. You know that kind of stuff that's something like that happens virtually every year and so that people can come down a volunteer and to be part of that or or donate to that are. We're just walked by and see what goes on it's really quite a sight we shut off northwest third between burns side includes. And we shut out coach between third and fourth we created giant LC. Streets here. It's got live music and and again all sorts of boots. And giveaways and a giant barbecue lunch. You do. We've been stored about some. Businesses and churches and other groups duke got coat drives for us people still have time to kind of looks through their winter coats and say you know. I can use this code a year and a homeless person might really need any. Warm dry kind of weatherproof coat on and indeed get it to us and we had known band. And make sure there are ready to be viewed it and take and at operation overcoat. He's still looking for donations. We are. We can always use cleans fox we could always she's clean clean underwear. Even though homeless don't like to use donated re used underwear. I'm in and then as you know coach rose to premiums sleeping bags goes so fast. So anything like that they can call us bad 503274. PM. 2744483. You can give that I wanted that are work. Very needed. Clean socks clean underwear coats. Would it be easy to drop stuff off at there unit gospel mission. Yeah you just pull up I usually front 92. Four during the day if you pull up heading to help on third just pull up on the right side of the road between kuechenberg and side. And knock on the door there's always someone there who can run out and helped grab somebody your car. That you wanted to donate. Are you looking for volunteers in general and maybe specifically for operation over cup. Yeah I have to look at the book at best subscription rate to the the volunteer counted operation over cooked. They can call 2744483. Jiri confide those streets. An ounce for Bernard Bernadette who served volunteer coordinator for the event. And actually can you complex you know. Great. Can you talk about some of those services that you provide to for homeless people. Yeah I mean every every day there is some kind of service. I would say except. On Sunday and were closed on Monday as well but Tuesday through Saturday. I'm starting early in the morning with breakfast. Or. Other portable meals and then going through to the currently in the evening where we have a hot last nutritious meal at about 1045. In the evenings at 730. It it'll say it is keeps slipping over. It did gay room it's a prominent feature if you drive by on third avenue east conceal large flying cued up most days. Coming into our daily room people. That there is an act of clothing room and there are it and there are snacks there meals that are Serbs during the day. And what we really wanna do is get to know people. Across the nation's studies have shown that I think people are looking for most cash even more than food. Is relationship it is connection it's to be known. And it's very lonely out on the streets and so when you have a group of people who are very good. At learning your name it caring about you know remembering who you are it it goes a long way to create an attractive play and so. What we really wanted to do was encourage that person. When that moment comes to track toward. Recovery alassane. Transformational housing and a programming. That will get them off the street and in a safer better situation. And at least for some people I walked in. Little while ago until the mission this morning. There's a woman I've seen out there first 1516. Years I know her name. She's mentally ill and whether or not she ever comes to a moment or an ability. To change consume mental illness is pretty profound. I want to and in Portland wants us. And our team to be kind to her and make sure she gets what she needs to get to the day. To know her name and care about her value her as a person and and that's what we do and that's where the lines are long. That's awesome that's just that that's that's love. In an idea. So well how can listeners help get involved and help out the gospel mission. Well again. It. Dropping by items for operation overcoat and it's great time of the year for that again clean Cox queen and her worst coach sleeping bags anything like that. Getting involved as the volunteer. Call 503274. 4483. We have an event that called volunteer encounter at its regularly held. Where all the volunteer options are laid out in the degree way for people to engage in the problem. Rather than just thinking about it. And then about 30000 people across the Portland area support us financially every year. By sending an eight track or going online which is very convenient way to give. Our our web address is www. UGM. Portland dot ORG where dot org. And you can you can see all the options really it even if you have a loved ones. Who needs to get into a place. That will change their lives there's an option based on our web site to lead to apply for an get in the life changed so how are her people wanna connect for us that they can connect on the web site. But certainly the most amount of people 30000 port wonders a year support us with went. Tons and we need that just to turn on the lights and and to keep the team moving here and to be able to move. Services directly into those who wanna escape homelessness. Look into the website right now there's a big red donate button yet that's Craig thought definitely the most prominent are there is to let the well the last minute or so we have your bill let's talk again about operation overcome women Wear and what we can expect. Okay last Saturday of September which is the 24. It is in downtown Portland. We will have a crew setting up to. Early in the morning we divert traffic we close down the street if you wanna get up early and gets up and down on the island the 24 come on down UB part of this setup crew. Look had a piece huge barbecue tents where vital items of winter clothing or given away boots. Also the medical teams that'll be it'll be down here a number of services care Oregon. Will be signing people up for health care and number of services. That will be here and then throughout the day they'll be music they'll be volunteers make incher. People get those close to closing items they need and it'll be a Crete street fair which lab do you have to be part of that. Elise condone and then check it out. Yeah absolutely you can come the week before to help and closing and get suite which we do shut down the day room in the mission that we before. Just so we can staged a clothing out to the event. Awesome September 24 president for operations for. Awesome Bill Russell executive director of union gospel mission control information today are low and microscope is an intercom reveal Portland public affairs program I'm Gary blocks of if you have a nonprofit or public affairs organization that you'd like to let others know about you can email me my email address is macro Scopes that inter com dot com. Remember Entercom sort of an even if you can always go to this station's website click on the community link and submit your information there. If you'd like to hear this program again you can visit our website at microscope PDX dot com thanks for listening about the scope and enjoy the rest of your weekend.