There was a large expanse of green, well maintained lawn, recently mowed. In the background was a building three stories high that almost covered the width of the property. It had all the architectural features of a building that was constructed in the 30’s. As it turned out it was built in 1938 as a home for the elderly. Attractive and inviting even for a large building.
I grabbed the front door knob but it was locked. To the left was a door bell. I looked through a metal grill protecting a glass enclosure and rang the bell. They spotted me and let me in. Security is important.
After brief introductions I was escorted to a conference room upstairs. As I passed several rooms I noticed an odd device on the floor—beige in color, about the size of a small round soup pan with a wire coming out the back and going under the door. Some doors had two or more on the floor. Curiosity sparked my interest. What are these things? Turns out they are noise devices so you can’t listen into conversations on the other side of the door. Confidentiality is very important.
Beaverton is the location of the Union Gospel Mission LifeChange for Women and Their Children. The facility houses as many as 40 adult women and their children. Residents can also be single. There is no charge for them staying here while they are going through the program.
One of the current success stories is Shae. She started using drugs introduced by her boyfriend and her mother at the age of 11. She has been in jail, homeless, and living in the woods. Her two children a boy and girl were put in foster care. She heard about Union Gospel Mission and took hold of their lifeline. As a result her life has changed dramatically.
She gives credit to Jesus, and to the loving support she has received from staff members and other women in the program. She kept repeating that she is now learning about tools for having a positive life—information that will help her to make good choices.
This is the first time she feels safe without anxiety and fear. Because of her progress and commitment she now has custody of her daughter and son. The children are daily going to school, and receiving counseling and biblical guidance. One of her goals is to be an electrician. She is coming up on a one year anniversary in the two year program.
Shirley, a pseudonym, has been an alcoholic for many years. For her, this is the first time she feels secure. The attractor to this program was that God was part of the equation. Shirley is the mother of two adult children who are supportive of their mother’s reaching out to receive help. Her one year anniversary is coming up this May. Like Shae, her commitment is for two years; and possibly beyond that as a mentor to those coming into the program. She shared that she didn’t like who she was. Now she receives positive reinforcement and the ability to make better choices.
Women in this program receive education, which includes computer skills, work education, college, help creating resumed, and most importantly being self-sufficient and healthy. While in the program they do work in the office, kitchen, custodial, grounds-keeping, and parenting skills.
What do they need from you? Donations of clothing, new or used but clean. They could use you. Volunteers, they stressed, are much needed and they are greatly appreciated. Donations, of course, are there lifeline. They receive no government support. This program only operates because of private donations from individuals whose heart has been touched to help women come “out of the woods and darkness and into the light.”
Got some free time? Like helping others? You can contact Union Gospel mission at (503) 802-2271.