Vision 2021: Choosing Relationships Over Transactions
As we ring out 2020 and welcome in the new year, we join throngs of people around the world in hoping that 2021 is not fraught with as much uncertainty, chaos and tragedy as last year. We cannot help but rejoice, however, in hindsight at what 2020 brought us. We celebrate that God is faithful and good every day in all circumstances and that nothing surprises Him!
He gave us wisdom and endurance in planning and reconfiguring not only Mission operations, but also our service model. God brought warm unity and perseverance to our staff and bolstered persistent loyalty and commitment by our volunteers.
But the most profound blessing has been witnessing guests’ new-found hope, strength, growth and even their broad-faced smiles and laughter.
How can this be when the pandemic still lurks, our guests are experiencing long waitlists for housing, most volunteers are “on hold” and our lean staff is working tirelessly?
It is because of these difficulties that the Eugene Mission shifted in 2020 from the last vestiges of a “transactional” model so common to social service agencies. We have now wholly implemented a full-fledged “relational” model. Handouts (transactions) may offer immediate help, but they don’t offer long-term hope. When relationships are built, hope abounds, growth is possible and real progress is made.
We believe that God created every person in His image. As God’s image-bearers, every person (housed or unhoused; addicted or sober; staff, volunteer or guest) possesses unique talents and gifts that God has given them to steward. Without corresponding expectations, the transactional approach to charity denies intrinsic human dignity and ability.
Person by person, Mission staff members and volunteers partner with our guests to discover and develop each individual’s unique giftedness. We walk beside our guests and tailor campus life skills, curriculum and activities to assist them with their sustainable restoration to community. We know their names, we listen to their stories and we work hard – together. At the Mission, by building real relationships, we aim to honor the image of God in our guests.
We look forward to 2021 despite the circumstances that surround us. We know that by tapping into our guests’ God-given passions and gifts, He restores their hope, dignity and empowers their future. We see God at work, and we rejoice!
Grace is a beautiful baby with bright eyes and a sweet smile.
“She’s almost sleeping through the night,” says her mother Ingrid, who looks a little tired this morning.
Dominique takes her gently and secures Grace in a jogging stroller for a morning walk. Ingrid lingers at the breakfast table enjoying a few moments to herself.
“The Mission has been wonderful for us,” says Ingrid with gratitude. “This has all been a lot.”
On July 6, 2020 at 9 a.m. sharp, as Lane County entered Phase 2 of Oregon’s reopening plan, Ingrid was the very first guest to enter the Eugene Mission’s new Rescue Shelter. She was five months pregnant and had been living in her car and worried about the growing pandemic. Dominique, Ingrid’s husband, was waiting inside for her and wrapped her in a warm hug.
“There are good people here,” he assured her. “It’s good.”
Dominique arrived at the Eugene Mission as the pandemic roared across the globe and “non-essential services” including addiction support groups hit pause to observe pandemic precautions. In response to the official statewide directives, the Eugene Mission secured its campus to residential guests and staff after notifying the public and all agencies serving the unhoused.
That same week, Ingrid learned she was pregnant. Dominique, having just completed an intensive outpatient treatment program at Willamette Family, connected with Program Director Marshall Eck at the Eugene Mission and checked in to ride out the pandemic in an atmosphere that would support his new and tenuous sobriety.
“I knew I needed to be in a situation where I would be supported,” he says. “I was just out of treatment and support groups were getting cancelled.”
Dominique was one of the first guests to enroll in the transformational program called Rescue + Revitalize + Restore (R3). Every residential guest at the Eugene Mission is now enrolled in either R3 or the intensive addiction relapse prevention program known as Life Change. Dominique’s individualized plan includes continued work on his sobriety while enrolled in a warehouse job training program at Food for Lane County.
Ingrid’s initial two weeks at the Eugene Mission were spent in the new Rescue Shelter. The initial 14-day continuous stay is a time to help guests stabilize and assess what their primary needs are. For Ingrid, it was establishing identification and health benefits including prenatal care. The initial 14-day stay is also a time to assess any risk of COVID-19 exposure to the guest population.
After moving into the Women’s Center, the guests around Ingrid decided it was time for a baby shower!
On a sunny, late-summer afternoon, the Women’s Center staff and guests gathered on the patio decorated with balloons and baby quilts and enjoyed cupcakes and giving gifts. Many were purchased by guests or selected from an array of new baby items in the Donation Resource Center warehouse. Several weeks later, baby Grace was born — beautiful, healthy and loved.
During a challenging year of pandemic precautions and raging wildfires, baby Grace has been a joyful presence at the Mission. Grace is named for the “love and mercy given to us by God,” says Dominique with a smile.
“I’ve squandered a lot of years,” he says. “My wife motivates me, my baby motivates me and I want to thank God for this opportunity.”
Dominique and Ingrid are planning to move into housing in the spring with employment, sobriety and money saved while staying at the Mission. For the rest of us at the Eugene Mission, baby Grace is a daily reminder of new beginnings.
Happy New Year!
New Low-Barrier Rescue Shelter
“It breaks our hearts when someone is really ready to set aside alcohol and drugs, but they can’t pass a drug test,” says Marshall Eck, R3 Program Director at the Eugene Mission. “Many use right up until the minute they are ready to quit.”
As the Eugene Mission began a coordinated entry of new guests in July 2020, the Rescue Shelter opened. Low barrier means guests can enter in any condition as long as they are safe to be in community. The Rescue Shelter requires an initial 14-day continuous stay so guests have an opportunity to stabilize, rest and be screened for COVID-19.
“Most of our new guests spend their first days sleeping,” notes Marshall. “They are safe, they are warm, and they are rundown.”
The Rescue Shelter is a dedicated wing with an entry gate at the 2nd and Chambers corner of the Mission’s seven-and-a-half-acre campus. Check in time is 9 a.m. with COVID-screening and registration paperwork.
The initial stay is capped at 14 continuous days, which addresses any temptation to step out and use.
“After your initial 14 days, and a clean drug test, there are two programs available,” explains Marshall to a group of young men considering the Eugene Mission.
“The first is R3 which stands for Rescue + Revitalize + Restore, and what we are really looking at is to get your wheels turning in the right direction,” he says. “We are going to work with you to stay off the streets and eventually out of any shelter needs.”
Men who enter the Rescue Shelter with an interest in overcoming intractable addiction may consider exploring the 18-month residential relapse prevention program called Life Change. This program is currently available for men, with future plans for a Women’s Life Change which includes childcare when sustainable funding is secured.
In its first six months, the new Rescue Shelter has seen numerous people enter, stabilize and transition in to both R3 and Life Change.
You can read more about the low-barrier Rescue Shelter and our transformational programs on our website eugenemission.org.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
[2 Corinthians 5:17]
Moving Out and Moving On
“It’s really cold in Wyoming but I’m loving it,” shares former Mission guest Michelle Keith in an email to Mission staff. Michelle has moved from the Eugene Mission and is working as a memory caregiver in northern Wyoming. Onward movement to healthy community makes for numerous “see you later” conversations as our guests walk out of our doors and into housing.
It is a good thing.
Michelle found herself homeless a little over a year ago when she lost her job and was unable to pay rent. Michelle battles depression and the hopelessness of her situation felt overwhelming. After weeks of “couch surfing,” Michelle checked into the Eugene Mission to get her affairs in order.
Shortly after Michelle’s arrival, the COVID-19 crisis escalated, and the Eugene Mission secured its campus to residential guests to observe pandemic precautions. That meant a pause on volunteer shifts at the Eugene Mission—a force the equivalent of 12 full-time staff members! Help was needed with daily operations and Michelle signed up to volunteer in the front office answering phones and helping with clerical tasks.
“My aspiration is to complete my degree in accounting,” shares Michelle, who loves numbers and spreadsheets.
With access to a reliable computer, Michelle was able to reconnect with friends and begin job seeking. An opportunity arose for a caregiver position that included a private apartment and a full-time swing-shift position.
“My time at the Mission allowed me to find myself again,” says Michelle tearfully. “The new way the Eugene Mission works with guests is amazing. It is a tightknit community and I felt loved and supported. I’m excited for my future. I am going to finish my degree.”
Way to Go Michelle. We knew you could do it!
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Please continue to pray for the health and safety of our guests and staff during these challenging times. We pray for continued financial support of the Eugene Mission as we work with our guests to overcome their barriers and challenges.
- Hardwood for our commercial smoker (apple, maple)
- Aluminum foil
- Art supplies of all kinds
- Athletic shoes
- Baby wipes
- Bicycle locks
- Coffee creamer packets
- Laptop computers in good working order
- Warm hats, gloves and socks of all sizes