We Were Alone.
People with strong support systems don’t usually end up in
The men, women and children coming through Union Gospel Mission’s
doors are the products of divorce, family breakdown, abuse,
generational poverty and addiction. Within our shelters they find a
new kind of family – unconditional love and belonging combined with
But they can’t stay here forever.
Their long-term success depends upon their building a solid base
of support outside UGM. They need to surround themselves with healthy,
MENTORS = AUTHENTIC FRIENDS
Three years ago, Patty Worth was living in a tent in California.
Three years before that, she lost her dad. A friend suggested
coupling psychiatric medication with alcohol to get over her grief. “I
never was a drinker, so within three years, I lost my home, and I was
living in a tent.”
Patty eventually moved to Washington where her addiction landed
her at the UGM Crisis Shelter.
Getting sober took several attempts. “I got wasted at the shelter
and ended up in ICU…I gave it all to God that day.”
Sober does not equal cured.
Patty transitioned to Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall and
recently completed the program. She has been sober for over two years,
has a job at the UGM Thrift Store and is getting ready to move into
her own place.
For the past several months of this journey, Julie Ingram has been
walking alongside Patty in the role of mentor.
“Julie is one of my number-one fans,” Patty said. “She is there
for anything and everything that I need. She’s my mentor, but she is
Patty and Julie’s relationship has developed naturally.
“I think I am a good sounding board for Patty,” Julie said. “I
give her different perspectives on things, calm her down when she is
stressed or frustrated, encourage and praise her growth.”
Doesn’t everyone need someone like that in his/her life?
Patty thinks so. “[Julie] has been very much of a blessing in my
life – spiritually, emotionally, physically. I appreciate how her
family has accepted me as a part of their family. I just feel very
loved, and I love her very much. She’s very dear to my heart.”
One size relationship does not fit all.
Ten years ago, Brent Magarrell was a mover and a shaker in
corporate America. By his own admission, however, he had the emotional
maturity of a child.
“I was not in a healthy enough place – particularly emotionally –
to even know what I was feeling, much less, share that. I was damaged
in a way that I would not admit, and I did not have any skill or
experience in even knowing what it was like to be angry, knowing what
it was like to be fearful…I could do all these wonderful things with
computers, but that particular skill of identifying how I felt and
letting it go is something I had never done in my life.”
Brent’s repressed feelings led to depression and addiction.
When he was told he had stage-three cancer, he realized he had no
idea how to cope.
“There is huge emotional grieving that needs to be done when
you’re going through something like that because…all of a sudden, you
go from some level of thriving to – on a good day – concentrating on
breathing and having a bowel movement, and if you do those
successfully, that’s a good day. That totally changes your whole
view…There was so much pain and fear and loss of what I could’ve done
or what I should’ve done, that I didn’t have the skills to process…I
could not get in touch with my emotions.”
Like Patty, Brent has finished the first four phases of UGM
Recovery and is preparing to move out. At the core of what he’s
learned, Brent said, is the importance of being intentional about
“It is a need that I believe God built into us. We are made to
connect with Him and with others. I cannot be a healthy person. I
cannot follow what God wants me to do, how he made me, without those
Brent’s mentor, Shane Sorey, is one of those relationships. The
two of them are committed to developing an honest, authentic
friendship, where both are free to share their struggles and
brokenness. That’s something, Brent said, that “doesn’t come by every
“You don’t hook up with a person that you can be honest, that you
can share your life secrets, your past pains, your future goals,
dreams and aspirations and do it in a supportive way and have
interdependency to where it’s not, ‘Hey, this person is there for me,
and I suck them dry, but I don’t give anything back to them.’ No, a
healthy relationship has interdependence.”
Healthy, interdependent, authentic relationship – that’s what the
UGM mentor program is all about.