Saved from Suicide for Sobriety

Prison might have been the best thing that happened to Don. “One day I was sound asleep and next thing I knew I was on my knees asking Christ into my life,” he relates. “I’ve been a believer since then.”

Don kept on his walk of faith for six years after his release. Then he found himself imprisoned by an addiction to morphine, alcohol and marijuana. “I started concentrating more on my drugs and my drinking and less on God,” he admits. For five years, Don put on a façade of sobriety. Finally, however, “It got to the point where I didn’t care whether I lived or died.”

One night while drinking alone, Don decided to end his pain by taking his life. He was just about to pick up the gun by his side when his sister walked in. “She said, ‘Not on my watch,’ and we headed down here to the Mission,” Don recalls. Don left behind everything he owned when he came to UGM, but he gained much more than he gave up. Just two days after he arrived, Don joined the New Life Fellowship program and took his first steps toward sobriety.

“My life has changed incredibly!” Don enthuses. “First and foremost, I’ve got a closer walk with God. I used to think that God turned His back on me and I came to the realization that I turned my back on Him. But since I’ve been here He’s opened up many doors.” After Don graduates from the program this month, he will stay at UGM for six months to save money, finish his degree and find work as a drug and alcohol counselor. “I see a future for myself.” In the meantime, Don says, “God has brought family that I’ve been estranged from for 30 years back into my life.” The father of eight and grandfather of 14, Don tells us, “For the first time in a lot of years, they’re proud of me.”

Dan Clem, Executive Director

NEWSNESS: It's what God has for us!

Please let me introduce myself: I’m Dan Clem, the new Executive Director for Union Gospel Mission of Salem. I’m humbled to serve the Lord with you and I’m very excited for this new year. A year of transformation. A year of promises. A year of new life.

To start the year off right, we celebrated our graduates from the New Life Fellowship program. These men and women have fought the good fight and remind us that “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are also starting the year with a new design. Our mission remains the same; we’re simply looking at things in a new way. In 2018, you can expect “radical hospitality” (kindness and gentleness first and foremost) for those we serve at our facilities, the launch of the campaign for the new Men’s Mission (over 300 beds!), better bargains at the Thrift Store and more timely, electronic updates. One thing hasn’t changed: as always, a new year at UGM is all about hope — 365 Days of Hope, to be exact!

Thank you for serving with us over these many years. Your faithfulness brings “newness” to many whom God loves.

Sincerely, Dan Clem

Melvin Slate, RH Program Coordinator

Restoration House builds a bridge back to society

Over the past four years, Melvin Slate has seen several hundred men through Union Gospel Misson’s Restoration House, a program for men transitioning from prison life back into the community. Each man has a unique story to tell and a God-given plan only he can fulfill, but they share a common bond. “A lot of our guys feel they’re unwelcome in society because of their history,” Melvin says. Melvin, as client services coordinator, manages the Restoration House campus, which shelters up to 45 men at any given time. Most men come to Restoration House because they have no other options.

“They come here to work on getting into housing,” Melvin tells us. “Because of their criminal histories, they have a hard time getting an apartment. A lot of them have limited income.” The maximum stay at Restoration House is two years, although most men find permanent housing in six months to a year. During that time, residents participate in a structured, Christian-based program that includes spiritual guidance, case management, ongoing accountability and professional development coaching. In addition, Melvin says, “We have curfews and we have the men do chores.”

Melvin has noticed that one key element is necessary for a successful transition into society. “Men have to realize that they can’t do it alone. They have to be open to talk to other individuals about their struggles.” He notes that this can be difficult, as men are typically taught to work things out for themselves. Donors and volunteers go a long way toward easing the stigma experienced by many at Restoration House because of their criminal history. “You really make a difference,” Melvin says. “Knowing someone cares really helps them to overcome a lot of the barriers that they’re facing. It touches them deeply.”

The Smiling Trinity

Meet Marlie, a UGM volunteer

Marlie was out of her comfort zone on her first day as a volunteer at UGM. In fact, she was “deer-in-the-headlights nervous. I was afraid I’d do or say the wrong thing or slow the serving line down.” She admits that she did all of those things at first but she kept coming back because she wanted to be “the hands and heart of Jesus to those in need.”

There was another, more unusual, reason Marlie wanted to serve: “I was afraid of the homeless and of my own judgments, all of which were in direct conflict with my faith,” she tells us. “I’ve learned that fear melts whenever I make eye contact with someone walking a different path.”

Marlie didn’t know anyone when she arrived at UGM, but today she says, “The co-workers, the men in the program, the people who visit for lunch — we all share a oneness.” More than anything, Marlie says, “It’s impossible to quantify the genuine kindness, appreciation and wisdom freely offered from those on the receiving end of a meal. It turns out that I’m the one receiving the hands and heart of Jesus every week. I’m the one who’s blessed.”

If you’ve ever considered serving at UGM, Marlie urges you to put aside your fears and “just do it!” It’s a great way to kick of 365 Days of Hope. Immediate needs include: Sorting donations at the Donation Center, Meal Servers, Children's Chapel Leaders and Receptionist at Simonka Place, Meal Servers at the Men's Mission. Fill out a volunteer application online or come into our office. For more information about these and other volunteer opportunities, contact Hannah at 503.967.6388 or hberry@ugmsalem.org.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.