June 2020 Newsletter

Joy in the Midst of COVID Captivity

As the COVID-19 virus grips our world, our day-to-day freedoms have been temporarily restricted. The word “captivity” is being used to describe this long season of sheltering in place. Businesses closed, schools halted, workplaces emptied. While the world stays home, our precious Mission guests stay here!

The apostle Paul was imprisoned and, at times, held captive by chains in primitive conditions. Surely he did not “enjoy” his captivity, but his joy leaps off the pages of the book of Philippians. The noun “joy” or the verb “rejoice” is found 15 times in this short epistle!

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:4. He also says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” in verse 4:11.

Like the apostle Paul, we are rejoicing here at the Eugene Mission, even amid our shelter-in-place circumstances. Reasons for our joy include:

  • Partnering with Lane Community College’s culinary department to prepare food products for outreach and our guests.
  • Being able to bless Relief Nursery, Community Supported Shelters and Hosea Youth Services with food boxes, prepared meals and even diapers.
  • Celebrating “Nana” Lynette and grandson Mason, who have been at the Mission for two years, as they recently obtained housing through ShelterCare.
  • Witnessing our Life Change program men becoming stronger than ever in their recovery as they live, serve and learn together as a band of brothers.
  • Seeing our general population guests, because of staying on campus together 24/7, building new relationships with each other and with our staff.
  • Delivering practical needs and demonstrating love to those still on the streets through our outreach vans.

I am personally rejoicing with thanksgiving for our incredible Eugene Mission staff. They have labored tirelessly, putting the needs of the vulnerable above themselves. And, they have done so with joy!

And finally, as Paul says in Philippians 3:3, “I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now.”

You – our supporters, donors, partners, and volunteers – how thankful we are for your faithfulness, friendship and fervent prayers, especially in this season of COVID captivity.

With His joy,
Sheryl Balthrop
Executive Director

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:12-13

Shelter In Place Brings Challenges, Blessings

As pandemic-related restrictions enter week ten (but who is counting?), the Mission has 250 guests and staff practicing social distancing, observing heightened sanitation, wearing masks and gloves, sheltering in place and continuing to thrive.

We have formed meaningful community partnerships, appreciated drop-ins by board members, volunteers and supporters (social-distance-style through the fence) and we have laughed and enjoyed the beauty of the spring season. We continue to experience good health with weekly health screenings.

Has it been challenging? Yes. But we also see many silver linings and moments of beauty, generosity and joy. We are experiencing incredible support from our greater Mission community and that encourages us beyond measure.

This issue celebrates a sampling of these silver linings.

Life Change To The Rescue

“The Life Change men have been real champions,” says Denver Harris, Program Manager for Life Change. “They have not had a day off since the Eugene Mission went into lockdown!”

Despite the Mission campus closing to all outside guests for the first time in 64 years on March 23rd, our purpose continued. The Life Change men have filled the equivalent work of our volunteer army by adapting to meet the needs of these unprecedented days. The community service hours required of Life Change members are now “Mission service” hours!

Every day, the Mission campus is a beehive of activity as Life Change men perform facility maintenance, janitorial duties, warehouse management, food preparation, meal service, grounds keeping, painting and donation pick-ups. “This program is awesome,” says Jackson, age 25 and half-way through his fourth month.

Despite extreme staffing shortages, Life Change stepped up to create a special Easter Sunday with 270 individual quiches and gift bags for all. The Life Change team prepared a beautiful meal and served everyone with generosity and kindness. They even did the dishes!

We have seen these men lean into their new daily duties with amazing attitudes and work ethic. A shining silver lining!

Operation Mobile Outreach

In addition to providing shelter to an average of 400 human souls each night, we served over 300,000+ meals to guests and day-visitors in 2019. Imagine the heartache of locking our gates in a global pandemic!

To address the need for continued support, the Eugene Mission mobilized “Operation Mobile Outreach” to bring clothing, hygiene supplies, bottled water and snack foods to those who cannot access Mission resources on-campus. The silver lining comes from the residential guests who are helping with this. Every week, those guests sheltering in place work with Mission staff to inform potential needs and pack the vans accordingly.

These wonderful guests with “lived experience” who are staying sober and working hard alongside Mission staff are a testament to the direction of relational programs at the Eugene Mission. A huge platter of purpose is being served daily in the lives of our guests and staff as we work together, if not shoulder-to-shoulder, then six feet apart with masks and gloves.

Thought for Food

Along with COVID-19 has come both food shortages and surpluses owing to significant supply chain disruptions. The Eugene Mission has tremendous capacity to inventory, freeze and store food thanks to three gigantic freezers and three massive walk-in refrigerators. Harkening back to Genesis 41:56, “…Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt.”

While we cannot feed all of Egypt, we have formed significant and meaningful partnerships to address food insecurity in Lane County. The culinary team at Lane Community College’s Center for Meeting and Learning has volunteered to cook ingredients from the Mission’s storehouses in their huge catering kitchen. This capacity-building collaboration has allowed the Mission to scale food production beyond the needs of residential guests.

Chef Tim Hill is coordinating the effort with Beth Sheehan at the Mission to thaw and cook hundreds of turkeys and to create stacks of lasagna, enchiladas and countless racks of granola bars to be distributed at mobile outreach tables and the food box delivery efforts of Relief Nursery, Southtowne Rotary, Community Supported Shelters, Hosea Youth Services and others. We are honored to be a part of this important and compassionate collaboration. Another huge silver-lining!

The greatest among you shall be your servant.
– Matthew 23:11


It was 75 degrees and sunny Friday, April 17th at the Eugene Mission. With plenty of room to spread out, we had a fantastic “socially distant” steak and chicken BBQ with roasted potatoes prepared by a group of residential guests while Marshall Eck kept a chef’s eye on the preparations. Guests threw around a football, sat and visited, listened to music, enjoyed a great meal and…snow cones!

Mission chef Tino Mendoza has been cooking from an early age with recipes he learned from his mother and native Oaxacan roots. Tino coordinated a fantastic Cinco de Mayo celebration with fajitas and black beans for 250 happy bellies.

Meanwhile, in the Mission kitchen, our new Food Services Manager Phaedra Jackson planned a special Mother’s Day brunch for our 44 moms and a Memorial Day BBQ for the entire campus. The silver linings just “keep on keeping on!”

Remember the Eugene Mission in your Estate Planning

Planning for your future? Leave a legacy! Please remember us in your will. For those wishing to designate Eugene Mission as the beneficiary in a will or other instrument.

Please Reference: Eugene Mission,
FEIN #93-0563797.

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