Holidays at a Homeless Shelter
What did Christmas look like in the past?
“I never had a Christmas… I did growing up, I had Christmas ‘cause
my mom made it. But as I got deeper and deeper into my addiction, I
didn’t care. Now, Christmas to me is totally different because it’s
about Christ.” Lisa is one of many who have spent a holiday season at
the Mission and away from home.
So, Christmas at Union Gospel Mission has perhaps been better than
in the past?
“Oh, sure! Because I learned to get everything out that kept me in
addiction… now it’s a lot brighter.”
THE HOLIDAYS YOU CAN’T BE HOME
In many ways, spending the holidays away from home is a mixed bag
for residents. Chris, a former guest, explained that last Christmas at
the Mission was his first away from family, “It’s very humbling to go
Jessaca from Women’s Recovery agreed, “At first, it’s sad because
you’re away from your family; and I’m married, which makes it extra
hard. But you get to see all the blessings that come here. And people
are dropping stuff off just to be like, ‘I’m thinking about you and I
At the Men’s Shelter, Shane felt the community makes up for being
apart from family. “The advantage is you’re around brothers in Christ
here, who keep you accountable.”
In the past, many of the men and women at the Mission spent
Christmas lost in their addiction. Accountability helps prevent
relapse during what can be a difficult or painful time of year for
those coming to our shelters.
“I struggled around Christmas time. I was just drunk all the time,
and I didn’t care,” Lisa says.
Andrea, another Women’s Recovery participant, said, “I always
provided for my kids, but it was unstable.” Andrea described the
contrast between past holidays and Christmas spent at UGM. She said,
“Christmas isn’t here yet, but just the taste we’ve already gotten,
it’s probably gonna be the best Christmas we’ve had in years.”
“THIS IS HOME.”
Despite his disappointment being away from family at Christmas,
Chris felt he was right where he needed to be to remain in recovery.
“It is good…it’s necessary for right now. I have to give this up to
get what I want, and that’s fine.”
What is it like not spending the holidays at home?
Lisa contemplated the question. “Home…well, to a point, this is
home. I do have a ‘home’ out there, I see it, and I go there, but…I’m
sitting here looking at that tree, thinking, this is home.”
The people, the generosity, the love, the accountability: these
are what make UGM special during the holiday season and throughout the
year. And you, the community, make the season brighter.
Thank you for partnering with UGM to create a place men, women and
children can call “home” and for making the holidays an extra special
time of year for all of our residents.