December 2020 Newsletter

Promises Fulfilled

About 700 years after the prophet Isaiah, the promise of a savior who would deliver His people from destruction and death was fulfilled with the birth of Jesus Christ.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).
[Matthew 1:22-23]

This prophesied birth and the divine gift of His presence and sacrifice is indeed the greatest fulfilment of promises and a cause for celebration.

This Christmas season the Eugene Mission is celebrating. We are celebrating the fulfillment of His promises in the lives of our guests. We have seen Isaiah 61 in full display this past year and what it looks like in regular, everyday terms when God’s people “proclaim good news to the poor,” “bind up the brokenhearted” and “proclaim freedom for the captives.”

2020, though challenging, has been a year of great encouragement. We have seen our guests’ physical and mental health improve. We have partnered with our guests as they have acquired exciting new social and vocational skills to prepare them for independent living. We have walked with our guests as they, in His power, have broken free from the chains of abusive relationships, addiction and past trauma.
Not only are our precious unhoused guests leaving the street behind, but they are also leaving pain, isolation and destructive behaviors behind. The future for many of our guests looks bright.

This holy season we rejoice. We lift our hearts and voices in celebration of the work He has done in the precious lives of guests here at the Eugene Mission.

Thank you for being a part of both the gift and fulfillment of promise!


Sheryl Balthrop
Executive Director

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
[Isaiah 9:6]

Life Change: Putting Recovery In Reach

Alex and Jackson share a moment of laughter as they work side by side in the Mission kitchen. Behind the ubiquitous facemasks of today, they smile brightly, and it shows in their eyes.

Each has a unique story and path that brought them to the doors of the Life Change Program at the Eugene Mission where they now live together as brothers in recovery. Alex grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and Jackson in Southern Oregon. They are close in age and share a common struggle: hopelessness brought on by alcoholism.

“I would drink until the wheels fell off,” shares Jackson. “I was drinking in my car the day after I left rehab. I knew I would end up in prison if I didn’t get help. I already had two DUIIs.”

The Life Change Program at the Eugene Mission is a 12- to 18-month residential addiction relapse prevention program that is structured and intensive. When Jackson arrived at the Mission, he had lost everything.

“I called my parents and they brought me here. I had already been to rehab four times. It’s a tough deal. A tough deal,” says Jackson contemplatively. “I’ve needed a chance to put some time between me and that last drink, that last high. A 30-day program just wasn’t long enough to set me up to live sober.”

Life Change Program Manager Denver Harris has both worked and volunteered at the Eugene Mission for a collective 23 years. Denver has his own lived experience with addiction and shares: “Seeing hundreds of addicts go through this program over the years, it takes 30 days just to stabilize somebody. A hardcore addict who has been at it day in and day out—binge drinking—it takes thirty days to get them to a place where they can write legibly and put sentences together—form paragraphs. It takes 30 days just to get them stable enough to begin recovery and a path to being sober-minded. Not just abstinent but sober-minded.”

Jackson, now in his ninth month of Life Change is hopeful.

“I’ll make it this time,” says Jackson. “I’ve learned so much in this program.”

Alex arrived at the Eugene Mission in April while the Mission was observing pandemic precautions and the governor’s stay-at-home orders. Alex’s circumstances warranted an accelerated entry into the Life Change Program.

“I was a chronic alcoholic,” shares Alex. “I was drinking from the moment I woke up every day. For the last year and a half, I drank my life away. I was suicidal. With all of the political unrest, I was paranoid, and I had nightmares. Alcohol just amplified that.”

Alex is soft spoken and serene. He smiles easily and is articulate and thoughtful.

“Physically, emotionally and mentally I was so far down,” he says. “I was spiritually lost. The Mission changed all of that.”

Alex becomes animated as he talks about growing up in Nairobi and attending high school at an all-male boarding school. When he arrived in the U.S., he was an athlete who loved to run and coach soccer. After a decade of coaching soccer and mentoring young athletes, his casual drinking spiraled out of control.

“I hit rock bottom,” states Alex. “I shut everyone out of my life. My family, my friends. For two months leading up to coming to the Mission, I didn’t talk to anyone. It was horrible.”

Alex’s favorite activities in Life Change are the Bible studies and physical education classes led by community volunteers.

“These are men I hope to be like one day,” says Alex. “Wise, understanding and loving.”

Alex is thriving with improved nutrition, a return to running and a renewed ability to sleep without nightmares.

“The Life Change Program has meant everything to me,” says Alex. “If I had one word to describe my experience, I would say ‘Hallelujah.’ It is possible to find Hope again when you think all is lost. It is a beauty I find difficult to describe.”

As the season of Christmas approaches, all of us at the Eugene Mission are grateful for the community of donors and volunteers who support our programs and our work to help restore the lives of our guests. Merry Christmas! Thank you!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
[John 1:14]

R3 Courses Teach Life Skills

R3 stands for Rescue + Revitalize + Restore and is a program with a series of tracks designed to address a range of barriers while setting goals unique to each individual guest. Every guest at the Eugene Mission has an individualized action plan and a daily schedule that includes Life Skills in addition to any outside work shifts, medical and legal appointments.

Culinary Skills Training

In the Mission kitchen, the culinary team is excited to roll out multiple classes on a training track to work in food service and hospitality. With the recent gift of a new commercial grade wood-fired smoker, and a barbeque, the kitchen crew is leading workshops on meat preparation and “smoking.” The end result will be new skills and delicious meals for the entire Mission. Additional classes on this track include food safety, knife skills and floral arrangements for holiday tables!

The Mission campus has been a beehive of activity with 35 new classes which kicked off last month. As we continue to build out the R3 class offerings, we welcome you for a pandemic-informed tour. Most classes are offered 1x weekly for a duration of eight weeks and include like-skills courses and activities which highlight instructors’ personal interests, vocation and talents. You can read more about R3 at

Eugene Mission Learning Center

The global pandemic and precautions thereof created an opportunity to strategically re-boot our service model for the future by providing an opportunity to implement it now. We are currently in the process of renovating one of our buildings to provide computer labs for guests with children to attend online school and additional space for R3 classes and workshops. This renovation has been made possible with a significant gift from PakTech Corporation including a challenge match currently underway to complete the project. If you would like to join our renovation efforts to install a culinary training school, therapeutic day use area for guests with children and classroom spaces, please contact Beth Sheehan at

Job Seeking 101

“Job Seeking 101” is one of the classes offered in the new R3 program and is taught by community volunteer Colleen Coulbourne.

Colleen is a business owner, a Rotarian and Mission volunteer who became involved during the pandemic working with her Rotary Club alongside Mission guests on various projects in the Mission warehouses. Colleen was impressed by the hard work of Mission guests who were eager to contribute and who were currently unemployed.

“How do you find a job at my age?” asks Chuck, a guest in Colleen’s workshop. “I’m 67 and with the pandemic, there aren’t a lot of opportunities, especially for people my age.” Colleen plans to work with her class to identify skill sets and explore new avenues of employment.

Virtual Barrel Drive!

Given the unprecedented year we are all experiencing, we are conducting our annual  “Warm Up” Barrel Drive virtually! You can find our Wish List at “Ways to Give.” If you feel comfortable hosting a live barrel drive at your business or house of worship, please contact

Given the winter months, warm coats, gloves, hats, hand-warmers, folding umbrellas, wool socks, rain boots, durable shoes and men’s and women’s sweat pants and jeans are in high demand!

Thank You!

As this year draws to a close, we want to let you know how thankful we are for you! We are encouraged by the faith, love and hope demonstrated by your support of the Eugene Mission in this unprecedented year of COVID-19 and wildfires.

Your monetary gifts have kept our lights on, paid for staff to provide consistent care and support and made it possible for us to continue the extraordinary 18-month Life Change addiction recovery program. Your support has helped us launch our transformation R3 program for each of our residential guests staying at the Eugene Mission and rise to meet the daily challenges of pandemic precautions.

We thank God for you.

We are so blessed that you are part of the Eugene Mission family. We look forward to continuing to serve the least and lost together.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling