The past year presented many challenges for all Americans. As the nation was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic and rising tensions about racial disparity, we also experienced increased unemployment, political strife, economic downturn, loneliness, and isolation.
Despite this backdrop, Central Union Mission remained steadfast in providing Christ-focused critical services to men, women and children who are experiencing hunger and homelessness. The Mission continues to operate without pause, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Every day, the Mission works diligently to keep everyone in its facilities healthy and safe, and despite the odds, we have succeeded. There has not been one case of COVID-19 at the shelter since the pandemic began. All praise and glory belong to God for His protection.
During a typical year, the Mission serves the homeless community in the following ways:
Combatting homelessness by providing over 62,000 bed-nights of safe shelter; 3,960 counseling sessions to address addictions and mental illness; preparing and placing 121 formerly- homeless men in jobs; and 2,500 hours of instruction in workforce development, English literacy, math, computer training and preparation for a GED or a diploma. We also provide medical, dental and legal assistance.
That work continues, although it looks slightly different now, thanks to COVID-19. Even during the height of the pandemic, the Mission continued to work with shelter residents providing counseling, addiction recovery, workforce development, apprenticeships, and social work support. These classes were in-person when possible and virtually when necessary. The unusual circumstances, as a result of COVID-19, allowed students to devote more time fulfilling their academic and career preparation goals.
Preventing family homelessness by providing over 290,000 bags of groceries and 40,000 items of clothing and household goods to needy families and individuals, therefore allowing families to devote their limited resources to rent, transportation, medical expenses and more.
The number of people seeking and receiving emergency groceries increased three-fold since the beginning of the pandemic. It went from 333 to 1,000. The situation hit African-American and Hispanic communities particularly hard. Many who lost their jobs were employed part-time, did not have benefits, and single incomes supported multiple family members. In addition, nationally, African American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than Caucasian deaths; likewise, the infection rate among Latinos is significantly higher than their proportion in the population. Studies credit these disparities to the overrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos in essential jobs such as food service, building maintenance and healthcare. These jobs are also predominantly held by Hispanic workers, which has made them particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, resulting in its rapid spread in their community.
Uplifting children by providing new backpacks and back-to-school supplies to 400 students and Christmas gifts to over 1,000 kids; hosting family book clubs and early childhood education classes for 181 people and parenting classes for 80 attendees.
Due to COVID-19, the Mission had to cancel their 2020 summer camp experience which normally hosts 400 inner-city youth. Praise God, we will be having campers this year!
Caring for the Elderly by providing groceries, hosting luncheon fellowships, distributing COVID tests and ensuring necessary services for as many as 3,000 isolated, low-income seniors.
While distributing emergency groceries is the top priority during the pandemic, all in- person gatherings for seniors have been cancelled since April.
Providing Healthcare by serving shelter guests with over 310 appointments in the Mission’s fully equipped and staffed medical, dental and mental health facilities, and also serving 222 family members with health screenings, consultations and referrals.
Serving Veterans by providing hundreds of days of service to veterans ranging in age from 25 to 75 with food, shelter and care. To support their recovery, the Mission recently hosted a virtual town hall meeting on suicide prevention, which claims a shocking 28 veterans per day in the United States.
Restoration & Transformation Program
The Restoration & Transformation Program helped men rehabilitate from life-consuming addictions and dysfunctions to being on positive and healthy paths that will prepare them for independent living. They took part in an intensive program of classes, Bible study, discipline and responsibility.
Family Ministry Center
We are expanding services at the Family Ministry Center to provide even more life-transforming support for men and women who are living in poverty and are at-risk of homelessness. The Family Ministry Center responded to a significant increase in families that were impacted by the pandemic and had no safety net to fall back on. We provided emergency groceries for families throughout the DC metropolitan area. The Family Ministry Center is currently serving 5,750 people per month.
As we transition out of COVID restrictions, we continue to expand a wide array of social services, educational programming, job training, healthcare, legal aid and more
Throughout the pandemic, our Lambert House transition home has served as home base to ‘essential workers’ who come and go each day while they work in critical jobs inside and outside the Mission. To meet this critical need, with the support of generous donors, the 24-bedroom building underwent a much needed renovation. Structural repairs such as installing a new roof, remediating water damage, and replacing windows, light fixtures, toilets, counters, sinks, cabinets, flooring, and carpets has all been completed. Refrigerators, microwaves, ranges, and HVAC systems have also been replaced.
With renovations recently completed, the Lambert House has become ‘essential housing.’ Living in apartments, guests have been able to limit their contact to a small number of people and therefore minimize their exposure to the larger shelter community. Such precautionary measures have enabled the Mission to succeed in keeping everyone in its care healthy and virus- free.
The Lambert House will continue to serve as transitional housing for those graduating from the Restoration & Transformation Program and for others who are employed after completing the Mission’s workforce development programs.
Ministry during the pandemic has tested our leadership, staff and those who seek out the Mission for support. This trial has affirmed that through faith in God, and perseverance, one can face any adversity.
Providing Emergency Shelter to those in our Care
We are keeping the doors to the shelter open at a cost of $79,078 per week. This covers the 33,400-square-foot building, utilities, beds, showers, services, and food. It pays for the kitchen staff who prepare up to 500 hot meals a day. It also pays for the dedicated leaders who counsel guests during this time of hardship and the staff who maintain a safe, clean and orderly environment. This also pays for our COVID-19 prevention measures, such as cleaning supplies, protective masks, and infrared digital thermometers.
Providing Emergency Food for those in Need
The number of people seeking emergency assistance since the beginning of the pandemic has more than doubled. The Family Ministry Center now provides groceries for 5,750 people each month at a cost of $26,668 per week. This covers the cost of operating the refrigerator trucks needed to collect food from grocery stores, restaurants and businesses; safe storage of perishables and dried goods; packaging groceries for guests; maintaining a 20,000-square-foot warehouse, and the staff that keeps the operation going throughout this crisis.
Comprehensive Family Resource Center
Expanding on our Family Ministry Center base, this new program/facility will exponentially expand the services we are providing to families, especially women and children, affected by poverty. We will have a special focus on recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 by providing job training and placement, education, social services, housing assistance, help for veterans and senior citizens, addiction treatment and a variety of other services. This five-year, $10 million project will provide a critically needed, co-located service center for some of the poorest women, men, families and senior citizens in the DC metro area. Providing these services in one location creates ‘one-stop’ accessibility and a continuum of services that offer comprehensive family care and transformation in a safe, caring environment.
If you’d like to partner with us, please contact Rev. Deborah Chambers @ 202-534-9965 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Current prayer requests
Thank you for lifting us up in prayer! Please see our current list at this link: www.missiondc.org/get-involved/pray-with-us
Current volunteer needs
We are excited to return to normal operations in regard to on-site volunteers! All volunteer opportunities are detailed on our website at https://www.missiondc.org/get- involved/volunteer/ or contact Deborah Chambers at email@example.com.
MISSION V.I.P. (Volunteer in Place) opportunities are designed to allow individuals or church organizations serve the community while also remaining socially distanced. The Mission recognizes the importance of following safety protocols as you or your group participate in important work.
Some ways you can Volunteer in Place include:
Sign up to receive an email about special needs and engagement opportunities by emailing Marc Obrien. firstname.lastname@example.org
Host a virtual or in-person service
If you and your team are interested in providing an in-person or virtual service consisting of any of the following, please contact Rev Ron Stanley at email@example.com or by phone at 202- 745-7118 ext. 223.
The outcomes reflected in this Ministry Update would not be possible without your unwavering support. Thank you for all you do to make this work fruitful for the Glory of God.