Raising Hope: A Journey from the Streets to Success

Dr. Bertice Berry, author and speaker

NEWS

Raising Hope: A Journey from the Streets to Success

On Thursday, April 20, Dr. Bertice Berry, inspirational speaker and best-selling author of “I’m On My Way, But Your Foot Is On My Head,” will step on stage to share her inspiring story as this year’s keynote speaker at Raising Hope, Union Mission’s annual spring fundraising event.

The sixth of seven children, Berry grew up poor in Wilmington, Delaware. Told by a high school teacher that she was “not college material,” Berry was nonetheless gifted with the support of another instructor who believed she was destined for more. With help and hope, Berry applied to college, eventually graduating Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University in Florida. She would go on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Kent State University.

Far from the poverty of her youth, Berry was now the teacher inspiring hope in the hearts of young adults. Sbe began teaching at Kent, her lectures becoming so popular the school had to find larger lecture halls to accommodate the ever-increasing number of students.

“A colleague said to me, ‘You’re funny,’ and I said, ‘No I’m not, I’m a scholar,” recounts Dr. Berry.

It was then she realized using humor in her lectures to address such difficult subjects made a profound impact. From there, Dr. Berry became an award-winning entertainer, lecturer, and comedian, even winning the coveted national Comedian of the Year Award. Soon her schedule came to include over 200 appearances a year.

Today, Dr. Berry lives with her five adopted children in Savannah, where she has taken a very active role in supporting organizations that benefit those in need – a support that has not gone unrecognized. In 2011, Savannah Technical College President Dr. Kathy Love along with Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson dedicated a new Student Enrichment Facility to Dr. Berry and presented her with the Bertice Berry Change & Transformation Classrooms.

 

In addition to her community involvement, Berry has graciously donated all of the royalties from the sales of her books to organizations that help families in transition, raise funds for scholarships, and provide resource information to low-income families. She understands that people need more than just encouragement to move forward, but believes motivation and purpose are the foundation of change which will get individuals on the right journey.

“When you walk with purpose,” Dr. Berry says, “you collide with destiny!”

Raising Hope will be held on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah. The evening will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Dress is business casual and tickets are $125 a person or $1,100 for a table of 10. For patron tickets and sponsorship opportunities, contact Laura Lane McKinnon at (912) 236- 7423 ext. 1148 or lmckinnon@unionmission.org.

 

Building a Brighter Future: Greg’s Story

Greg

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

STORIES OF SUCCESS

Building a Brighter Future: Greg’s Story

Working your way out of homelessness is not an easy task, and nearly impossible alone – especially when you’re also dealing with problems with the law and drug addiction. Too often, these challenges lead to a cycle of homelessness that can be hard to overcome. Thanks to your support, Greg was able to find a helping hand to break the cycle of homelessness and rebuild his life.

Greg was someone who found himself stuck in this loop of hopelessness, ending up in prison time after time with nowhere to go when he was released. Living in small town far from help, Greg couldn’t find the resources he needed to break this vicious cycle. Over 30 years of homelessness and addiction, Greg cycled from marijuana to cocaine and crack. Despite a strong aptitude for cooking, he was unable to find and keep a job without access to a strong support system.

“I thought once I quit doing drugs everything would be ok. But the drugs weren’t the root of the problem. The root of the problem was I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t care about who I was, and didn’t know who I was supposed to be,” Greg explained.

“I thought all missions were a place to eat and sleep, but no; the two I’ve dealt with, there’s so much more inside the mission,” Greg said. “If you get into the programs, they offer a way out, show a way out and then they walk you through.”

In the Culinary Arts Training Program, Greg developed his cooking skills and obtained a ServSafe Certification. This certification helps give him an edge in the competitive culinary field in Savannah, where Greg hopes to find steady employment.

“I like to cook and I’d like to stay in the mission.” Greg said. “I’d love to be able to go back to my hometown and work some type of mission. To start some type of mission to help the other people there, because there’s not much help there.”

 

 

With the help of Union Mission, Greg is ready to rebuild his life after 30 years of homelessness. He’s looking forward to giving back to the community that has given him his second chance. Thanks to those who give generously to Union Mission, the help Greg received is still available to others working to leave homelessness behind.

Help Create a Brighter Future at Union Mission

Your donation can help someone like Greg choose a life of hope and help them leave homelessness behind. Your gift today means a brighter future for those we serve, their families, and our whole community.

Give Today

Union Mission Offers New Workforce Development Resource

NEWS

New Resource for Workforce Development at Union Mission

Danielle Jordan

Finding a job can be difficult when you’re homeless. Just gaining access to the most basic resources, such as email, can be an almost insurmountable barrier. Union Mission is working to help tear down those barriers by opening a new computer lab for use by homeless men and women seeking employment.

Regular computer access is crucial to employment success in our highly connected world. Not only are most applications submitted online, but individuals must also have regular access to email accounts to ensure responses are made in a timely manner.

“Employers no longer want paper applications,” said Union Mission Employment Coordinator, Crystal Thomas, “Everything is digitized, and we teach them how to do that.”

Union Mission clients working in the new computer lab

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

The new lab, complete with five computers and a printer, was funded through a generous grant from Wells Fargo. Clients will be able to build resumes, submit job applications, and create email accounts. Additional, the students of Union Mission’s Culinary Arts Program will be able to use the computers to take their ServSafe certification tests.  It’s multi-purpose space that employees and clients alike are excited to see arrive.

Volunteers will be a crucial part of the new computer lab’s success, helping clients to develop their resumes and apply for jobs. This volunteer support makes all the difference to those searching for jobs. Beyond assisting with resumes, volunteers provide encouragement to those still developing their employment skills.

“It makes them less discouraged when they walk out of these doors,” Thomas said.

In today’s dynamic job market, computer skills are crucial. With more volunteer support, Union Mission hopes to be able to expand the computer lab’s hours and provide classes to those in need of basic computer competency skills.

“It’s like the proverb—teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime. We want to give you a skillset,” Thomas said.

 

Union Mission Resume Development Volunteer and clients at work in the new computer lab.

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

The addition of the computer lab is already making a difference. From finding employment to building greater computer literacy, the tools this new lab provides to homeless men and women will create both short and long-term change in their lives. Thanks to those who give generously to Union Mission, the new computer lab will benefit our community for years to come.

Choosing Change: Stephanie’s Story

Choosing Change: Stephanie’s Story

Stephanie

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

STORIES OF SUCCESS

Choosing Change: Stephanie’s Story

Drugs. Disability. Domestic violence. Each is a cause of homelessness – all three together can lead to a life of hopelessness. Thanks to those who give generously to Union Mission, help was available when Stephanie was ready to choose change.

Stephanie had a major stroke at the age of 18, just three months after graduating high school. As she recovered, she struggled with the physical and emotional pain of her disability. Her violent marriage and many failed pregnancies only compounded her pain.

To ease her suffering, Stephanie began to use drugs. On the streets, her disability made her a target for assault and the injuries she suffered would lead her right back to using drugs to dull the pain. This vicious cycle consumed her life.

 

Stephanie can still recall when she hit the darkest part of her road. In and out of prison, in and out of violent relationships, struggling with drug addiction and a positive HIV diagnosis, she lay in the dark and said, “Lord, this life is not getting me nowhere.” The next day, a woman was found dead on her doorstep and Stephanie knew it was a sign that she had to get help and change her life for good.

She reached out to her mother who helped her find her first drug rehabilitation support. Once she finished her in-patient recovery, she was accepted as a resident at transitional housing in Union Mission’s Phoenix Project. This program for people living with HIV/AIDS provided

Stephanie with more than just shelter. Through Union Mission, she also received food, counseling, and HIV medication management. She credits this comprehensive support with giving her the strength to cope.

“They have really helped me by helping me to help myself,” Stephanie says.

With the support of Union Mission, Stephanie now has a life filled with hope. She is four years sober, married, and she and her husband have purchased their first home.

Stephanie and her husband

Your support ensures our life-changing programs continue to be available to help people like Stephanie as they rebuild their lives and change our community for the better.

Help Change Lives at Union Mission

Your donation can help someone just like Stephanie choose a life of hope and help them leave homelessness behind. Your gift today means a brighter future for those we serve, their families, and our whole community.

Give Today

Holiday Help: How to Make a Difference

NEWS & UPDATES

Holiday Help: Making a Difference

Union Mission Team

13 December 2016

The holiday season is a time for helping hands, for thinking of others, and sharing the reason for the season. Local non-profits, like Union Mission, are always grateful for the support and the generosity of Savannahians means that those who often go without are able to enjoy a holiday of hope.

Dedicated volunteers serve Thanksgiving at Union Mission.

Photograph by Roy Mosby, Union Mission Volunteer

The work done by dedicated volunteers can make real change happen in our community. The selfless support offered by church and community groups is inspiring. However, there are ways to ensure that the help you’re offering is help that will really change lives and benefit those in need.

Here are a few ways you can make a real difference this holiday season:

  • Connect with a local organization who works with the groups of people you’re interested in helping. Often there are programs already in place that would welcome extra volunteers or supplies. By joining their team, you ensure your support is really reaching those in need and is being used in ways that will help address their needs most efficiently. For those interested in helping the homeless, the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless [CSAH] is happy to direct you to an organization that could use your support.
  • Volunteer before or after the holidays. While most organizations gets lots of support around the holidays, help is needed all year-round. Volunteers and donations can make just as big an impact in July as they do in December.
  • Look beyond the basics. Most people looking to offer holiday help think of serving a meal but often they have the skills to do much more good. Teachers, lawyers, artists – all have special skills that can make a real difference in the life of someone who is struggling.
  • Advocate. Help create change by using your voice to promote support for those in need. Providing a meal or a pair of socks can help a person for one day – advocacy work that helps create more affordable housing or better support programs can help many, many people and can change their lives forever.

Donations and support help every day of the year.

Photograph by Maggie Lynn, Community Outreach Coordinator

The work of ending homelessness takes places 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are lots of ways volunteers and donations can make a difference and we encourage everyone to get involved. The three foundations of change are volunteering, donating, and advocating. But make sure to get involved safely and responsibly – contact a local organization you trust and ask how you can join their team!