October 2021 Newsletter

How Saying “No” to Some Things Allows the Eugene Mission to Say “Yes” to the Most Important Things

Sheryl October HeadshotAs the West Coast grapples with the burgeoning suffering on our streets, we are often asked why the Eugene Mission retains policies that are perceived to “limit our services.” The erroneous assumptions behind the question become clear with an explanation of our Hope-based, relational approach.

Why don’t you expand your services by accepting government funds?

The restoration of an individual to healthy community is best addressed in a nimble, individualized, profoundly relational manner. Often the elements a hurting, unhoused person needs most are: Hope, recovery, mentorship, life-skill and vocational training and behavioral supports. These relational elements are crucial for growth, independence and restoration. Generally, publicly funded initiatives do not currently favor a relational, structured approach. Also, our local government bodies do not fund entities with faith commitments.

To those concerned that guests are missing out because we do not pursue public funds for Mission services, we wish to provide reassurance. Our guests receive more intensive and more individualized supports than are provided in secular-funded options. The effectiveness of our faith-guided approach to lovingly restoring guests to healthy community speaks for itself.

Why do you require sobriety for guests when so many of the unhoused struggle with substance-use disorders?

We grieve the terrible suffering experienced by our precious neighbors in the throes of addiction. We recognize the difficulty of unsupported cessation and welcome guests “as they are” into our low-barrier rescue shelter provided they do not pose a safety risk to themselves or others.

The unavoidable truth, however, is that continued substance abuse is a barrier to rejoining healthy community. Accordingly, the Eugene Mission is a sober facility and the use of illicit drugs and alcohol ceases upon entry. We support our guests’ recovery with medical referrals, support groups and classes, peer supports and an intensive 12- to 18-month Life Change relapse-prevention program. We are committed to supporting our guests on their courageous recovery journey.

The way we serve is permanently changing lives for the better. We are seeing extraordinary growth in wellness and independence. In God’s power, we are changing the trajectory of homelessness.

May it be to His glory,

Sheryl Balthrop
Executive Director

R3 Fall Kick-Off

Fall Kick Off

There is a characteristic autumn nip in the morning air as we set tables for the Labor Day barbeque at the Eugene Mission. The long weekend suggests the end of summer for most, and a return to school and classes.

The coming week also marks the beginning of the fall “semester” of classes for guests in the R3 Program (see below) and the culmination of summer workshops and field trips. Fall classes at the Eugene Mission are part of the relational programming that is characteristic of the R³ Program and the Life Change Program. All guests of the Eugene Mission are enrolled in one of these two programs.

As Eugene Mission Culinary Director Phaedra Jackson begins working with a group of guests to set up tables and prepare a special meal, skills learned in the culinary tract are on full display.

Ron Peters, a senior citizen and guest, has made mountains of potato salad from scratch.

“Potato salad is one of my favorite dishes,” says Ron. “It’s really important to get the spices just right.”

Ron has been staying at the Mission and working with his R³ program navigator to establish senior benefits and a savings plan for future housing. Kitchen shifts are part of Ron’s chosen R³ schedule and, today, praise for his potato salad has him beaming.

“The guests were really engaged in the spring and summer classes,” says Kelsie Champ, R³ Program Director. “After a year of COVID interruptions and periods of quarantine, people are really ready for activities and classes.”

Most guests and staff are now vaccinated by choice and, while precautions and daily sanitation efforts continue with vigilance, there is levity in returning to some semblance of normalcy.

“Our field trip to the Raptor Center was awesome,” shares guest Chuck Denny, referring to a trip to Eugene’s Cascades Raptor Center in August. “Getting out is really important for morale. I have some issues with social anxiety and these field trips are really good for me.”

The Raptor Center trip included a short hike into the woods and a private show with eagles, osprey and owls. Thanks to the generosity of a sponsor, lunch at a local restaurant was included as part of the adventure.

Raptor Center

“The field trips are intentionally put together to provide an opportunity to interact with one another in the development of healthy relationships, and to experience recreation that is sober and uplifting,” explains Kelsie. “Many of our guests have become profoundly isolated due to trauma
and addiction.”

Kelsie has been working with staff and volunteers on the logistics and content for the upcoming suite of classes and outings.

“They will be led largely by staff for now,” Kelsie explains. “We are working to build out more volunteer opportunities and instructors, as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”

R³ classes run in eight-week cycles and guests are required to participate in at least one class. Classes include life-skills subjects such as “Personal Wellness” and “Strength.” The latter focuses on healthy interpersonal boundaries and social anxiety. These skills prepare guests for a future of sustainable, independent living.

Optional classes in spiritual development include “Exploring Ephesians” and “Goliath Must Fall.” Both are led by longtime volunteers from Northwood Christian Church, who provided fellowship to guests throughout the long season of COVID. Discussion groups explore “giants” such as anxiety and addiction and how faith helps overcome significant barriers in mental health.

Many classes reflect staff and volunteer passions and interests. “Bird Watching PNW” is a class offered by Warehouse Manager Shane Richardson. Shane is an outdoor enthusiast with a background in geography, who will lead classroom workshops followed by field outings to local parks.

“Not all of our classes are focused exclusively on core life and vocational skills,” explains Kelsie. “While good content is important, the classes also provide an opportunity for social engagement and hobby development, while also creating daily structure and accountability. Many of our guests have lived for years without any structure or schedule. We are helping them get back to that again.”

You can read more about the R³ Program at eugenemission.org. We invite you for a tour and discussion by contacting miket@eugenemission.org.

R3 Program

R3 stands for Rescue + Revitalize + Restore and is a relational residential program for all guests of the Eugene Mission who are not in the Life Change inpatient treatment program. The R³ program is focused on overcoming chronic homelessness by addressing the barriers that brought our guests to our doors.

R3: Healing Through Relationships, Not Transactions

Wellness Class

Homelessness is a complex issue with roots that include addiction, mental illness, trauma, disconnection from family and community, along with deficits in vocational or life skills. These complex intrapersonal dynamics are also met with an extreme shortage of affordable housing options, including supportive living options for those struggling with addiction and mental illness. 

Transactional services such as handing out socks, providing food, money and camping supplies – while good intentioned – lack any kind of lasting connection or integration. 

Through years of experience with both residential and day-use services, the Eugene Mission has identified the profound social isolation in our unhoused neighbors. Every homeless individual has been the recipient of countless pairs of clean socks and free food that counterintuitively allows them to remain in a “subsistence existence.” 

In the R³ Program, we get to know our guests individually, including knowing their name, their circumstances and their personal story. Rather than handing things to them, we come alongside them in a relational manner, working with them rather than working for them. We have found that guests get better and feel better with the dignity of purpose-filled days, industry, schedules, structure and authentic friendships. 

The goal of the R³ Program is to work with Mission guests to identify the personal issues and unique barriers that resulted in their homelessness. Guests enter the Eugene Mission through our low-barrier Rescue Shelter. 

This initial step is a 14-day continuous stay to avoid the temptation to continue using drugs and alcohol. Additionally, guests are screened for COVID-19 and offered the option to be vaccinated. At day 14, guests are transitioned into the R³ Program (or the Life Change addiction relapse-prevention program) and assigned a navigator (or coach). 

Once in the program, Eugene Mission staff work with community partners and volunteers to provide medical and behavioral health services, recovery support, life skills training and vocational education. 

Sobriety, self-reliance and accountability are the primary principles of the R³ Program. All guests of the Eugene Mission are currently enrolled in elements of R³ based on their unique circumstances, employment status, benefits, social and physical challenges. 

For some of our guests, independent living may take months or years to achieve due to bad debt, legal issues, intractable addiction, mental instability or extreme poverty. While working through such barriers, our guests are supported in their mental health and sobriety, leisure activities, faith development and in the navigation of services, agencies and benefits. 

Huerta de la Familia Green House Project

Community service is an important component of the Life Change Program, with project hours logged weekly.

“It provides an opportunity for teamwork, problem solving and contributing to something outside of yourself,” explains Denver Harris, Life Change Program Director.

Currently, the Life Change men are working together to build a greenhouse for Huerta de la Familia’s community garden program.

“The Life Change men have been such a blessing to us,” shares Garden Program Manager Gatlin Fasone. “We have been working with Life Change for three years now and they are skilled, happy, consistent and dependable.”

The Life Change men arrive with a range of skills including construction, farming and organizing tool sheds.

“The greenhouse project is exciting,” shares Gatlin. “It will allow us to grow food from warmer climates and provide culturally relevant crops for many of our families.”

The project is coming along nicely with a goal to complete the greenhouse by the end of the month.

Let us love not merely with words or speech but with actions in truth.
[1 John 3:18]

Ways To Give

  • Financial support for the Eugene Mission as we work with guests to overcome addiction and housing barriers
  • The Eugene Mission accepts donated vehicles in good working condition
  • We are in need of a tractor for maintaining our 7.5-acre campus
  • Herbs de Provence for holiday meals
  • Ground black pepper
  • Rubber spatulas and whisks for our culinary program
  • Fresh salad greens
  • Please remember the Eugene Mission in your estate planning, will, or instrument. FEIN# 93-0563797

Contact: beths@eugenemission.org

Prayer Requests

Please pray for our guests, staff and volunteers who are working together in our R3 and Life Change Programs. We pray for wisdom and discernment in all of our efforts together.

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