Guests Know the Power of Friendship and Hope
Dominique and Mike
Dominique came to the Eugene Mission earlier this year to work on his health and sobriety. Mike found himself struggling with homelessness after a divorce that left him depressed, unemployed and significantly overweight and unhealthy. Dominique and Mike became friends while covering the breakfast shift in the Mission kitchen. Mike could be seen daily strapping on a pair of donated running shoes and heading out on a jog while Dominique set personal fitness goals and used the weight room furnished with functional and donated exercise equipment.
Soon, the two could be seen together in R3 classes, discussing daily workouts and comparing times as each ran from the Mission to the river trails and up Skinner’s Butte. Mike and Dominique’s “running club” soon grew into a friendly challenge of “personal records” and a shoe from the warehouse was spray-painted gold as a trophy. Mike has lost close to 50 pounds and improved his overall health while both enjoy their friendship and healthy competition.
Deana, a two-year guest of the Eugene Mission, has secured housing through Homes for Good with the help of Mission navigators. Deana identifies as an alcoholic who lost her apartment due to interruptions in her ability to work. After couch surfing with friends and hotel stays, Deana ran out of money and options just as the snow of February 2018 began to fall hard and thick. “I kept seeing signs for the Eugene Mission that said ‘Hope,’” she says. “I thought there was no hope for me but somehow that kept me going.”
Over the course of her stay at the Mission, Deana was able to attend sobriety support meetings and seek medical care for cervical spine degeneration and glaucoma that has left her legally blind and partially disabled. Deana stayed in a special respite dormitory and worked with the Oregon Commission for the Blind to secure a walking cane and dark glasses that help with her compromised vision. “It was the requirement to be sober that got me to where I am today. I am very devoted to my sobriety,” she says. “That and the safety, love, appreciation, guidance, comfort and respect I was shown every day.” Way to go Deana! We knew you could do it!
Crisis Accelerates 2020 Vision & Transformation
New and growing programs offer guidance and Hope
June 2020 was a particularly busy month for the facilities and guest services team at the Eugene Mission. After re-purposing administrative offices and classrooms to de-densify sleeping and gathering areas and undergoing a complete campus re-configuration, the space once occupied by the Men’s Center day room was transformed into the new entry point for guests to the Eugene Mission.
Maintenance Manager Luiggi Rossi has worked tirelessly with a team of Mission staff and guests to repair existing bathrooms, install a new women’s bathroom, replace water heaters, arrange beds and chairs and construct a welcome kiosk complete with computers and security cameras. On June 6, 2020, Marshall Eck and Eugene Mission staff stood at the gates of the new-and-improved Eugene Mission Rescue Shelter to welcome a small crowd of waiting people.
“We really want folks to come in for 14 days, to hunker down, to relax a bit, get some nourishment in their bodies and then really think about the next steps for their life,” says Marshall Eck, R3 Program Director. “The services here will no longer be just for day-use. Because as a former meth addict, if I had left to go out, I would have used. Once those 14 days are over, we’ll start looking at life skills and we’ll ask you to come to an orientation where we will show you options for the next steps.”
Over the course of the governor’s stay-at-home orders, the Eugene Mission remained open and accessible to registered overnight guests (at full capacity) to observe pandemic precautions. As Lane County entered Phase 2 re-opening, Mission staff worked to prepare for coordinated entry for new guests.
The experience of sheltering-in-place in a shelter has informed our future format and we have re-opened as the new-and-improved Eugene Mission. The modification of daily operations for 15 weeks has provided a unique opportunity to strategically “re-boot” our service model for the future. Our new approach addresses the root causes of homelessness by sharing Hope and by offering programming tailored to the specific needs of each guest. Our approach replaces transactional “hand-out” services with relationship-based activities, classes and life-skills training.
As we welcome new guests, we continue to observe pandemic precautions with de-densified sleeping areas and common areas, regular health screenings, masks and heightened sanitation. The significant change is the new “Path Off the Streets” for our unhoused neighbors. This path begins with access to a fourteen-day stay in our low-barrier Rescue Shelter. The shelter can be accessed at our west campus gate at 2nd and Chambers Street via a 9 a.m. check-in (or lottery) time. A Rescue Shelter guest has the opportunity for continued shelter and services if the guest seeks admission to our transformational programming.
(Please note there is a separate check-in procedure and program for mothers with children that can be accessed at the Eugene Mission Mothers & Children’s Center.)
“After your initial 14 days, we have two programs available,” says Marshall. “The first is R3 (R-cubed), which stands for Rescue + Revitalize + Restore, and what we are really looking at is to keep your wheels turning in the right direction. It’s a plan that will work for anyone regardless of ambulatory issues, or age, or short-comings or whatever you feel is an obstacle in your life. We want to go at that obstacle with you and see if we can get you over it. It’s going to take willingness. We are going to pour into you just as much as you pour into yourself. We are going to work with you to stay off the streets and eventually out of any shelter needs.”
There is a path for anyone who is willing work on themselves and who is safe to be a part of our community here at the Eugene Mission. Our programs are welcoming and provide a personalized plan based on the individual’s goals and social, vocational, mental and physical health challenges. The individualized plans support our guests in addressing barriers.
Rescue + Revitalize + Restore (R3) is a transformational and relational program that the Eugene Mission has been visioning to implement for over a year. The experience of a closed campus created a natural and organic opportunity to launch elements of the program that include working alongside guests with intentional activities. As Oregon entered Phase 1 and 2 of re-opening and the Eugene Mission continued with its plan to officially launch the R3 program for all our residential guests, we received the good news that it will be funded with significant help from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
Marshall Eck, our new R3 Program Director, has been with the Eugene Mission for six years as the Food Services Manager. Marshall was often the first person new guests encountered when the kitchen opened at 6 a.m. for breakfast. “Judgement never helps an addict see a clearer picture,” says Marshall as he contemplates his new position and his own journey, now 14 years clean and sober. As the new R3 Program Director, Marshall is excited to engage with Mission guests and to “love with accountability and to challenge without breaking them.”
But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
Indeed, for many guests of the Eugene Mission, Marshall was the initial touchpoint that encouraged people to come inside and to begin their path off the streets. “Force doesn’t work with addicts,” he says. “They have lived in it so long that it becomes their normal.” Marshall will be working with an experienced team of navigators, including Tony Davis who has worked in the Men’s Center day room for well over a decade.
“I work to talk to every man every day and find out where he is at. To let him know this is just a season,” says Tony. “When a brother walks through that door, I want to show him the love that he needs. He may have had a bad day. Living on the streets is tough. You’ve got to meet the men where they are when they come in here. We try to show them compassion and let them know there is hope and that we are here for them.”
Tony and a team of Mission guest navigators will work with both men and women as they enter the new Rescue Shelter and transition into R3. Tony’s goal is to meet every guest and to know their name and their circumstances as he walks alongside them in their new journey. “I’m thankful,” says Tony. “Thankful that I can serve here. God led me here when I was going through a tough time in my own life. Working here has taught me about the power of love and compassion.”
Life Change, now in its ninth year at the Eugene Mission, is the second transformational path for guests. Life Change operates in its own residential building on campus and is a structured relapse prevention program. “It is incredible to see these people come in that are so broken and so lost and so disheveled, and then to see them walk out of here a year to 18 months later with their shoulders high, with money in their pocket, with a vocation, a job, housing, a vehicle, hope and even with plans to pursue education,” says Denver Harris, Men’s Life Change Manager. “It amazes me every single time.” Denver volunteered at the Eugene Mission for 23 years before joining the Life Change staff four years ago.
“Life Change is a 12-18-month residential program that is free of charge to those who demonstrate a serious desire to heal and grow emotionally, spiritually, socially, physically and mentally,” says Denver. “The goal is that upon graduation, program members will be able to reenter society with employment, sustainable income and housing. When they come in here, they have forgotten how to love themselves, they have forgotten how to love others, they have forgotten how to love God. We are a place to get whole and healed and we get there by demonstrating that love time and time and time again.”
Details of the Rescue Shelter, R3 and Life Change can be found on the Eugene Mission website: eugenemission.org under the Find Help menu. The Life Change program is currently a men’s program as we work to secure sustainable funding for a women’s Life Change program with the necessary element of providing childcare.
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?
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.
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