Volunteer Spotlight: Gloria

Volunteer Spotlight: Gloria


Making A Difference

Every Friday, the doors of the Union Mission warehouse open to clients in need of an outfit for a job interview or household items like pots and pans to help ease the transition to their new apartment. They come in ones and twos, sometimes nervous or hesitant, but they leave with a smile and the tools to move forward with confidence. The team that provides this vital support is made up entirely of volunteers, led by South University student Gloria Richmond.

“We are so grateful to have the support of a volunteer leader like Gloria,” says Director of Development, Laura Lane McKinnon. “She shares so generously of her time and herself with our clients, giving them not only access to additional supportive services but a sense that our community is here for them and helping them towards success.”

Gloria, dressed for a hard day in the warehouse, sharing why she supports Union Mission.

Photograph by Maggie Lynn, Community Outreach Coordinator

Gloria, the President of the South University Psychology Club, brings not only herself but her two sons and many members of the Psychology Club each week to sort donations and assist clients with getting the items they need. She also led a Hanger Donation Drive to help get the clothing area of the warehouse organized, making donated clothing easily available to all Union Mission clients. Her dedication to the work of Union Mission and to helping those in need is inspiring to staff and client alike.

Life is about helping others”, Gloria wrote when asked her why she supports Union Mission.

Life is about helping others”, Gloria wrote when we asked her why she supports Union Mission. Gloria lives those words each week here at Union Mission and we are truly grateful for all she’s done to help prevent and end homelessness here in Savannah.

If you’re interested in joining Gloria and becoming a Union Mission volunteer, please email us at volunteer@unionmission.org .

Hope and Help: Amanda’s Story

Hope and Help: Amanda’s Story

Homelessness has many causes. For Amanda, it was the diagnosis of a serious illness that left her unable to work. A waitress all her life, she had never made enough money to save. With no savings and no support, she was homeless within three weeks of losing her job.

She lived in her car until it broke down. With no money to afford repairs, she lost her car – the only shelter between her and the streets. Desperate, Amanda moved into a tent, a situation which drove her to depression and thoughts of suicide.

“It was 30 degrees outside,” she said. “It had been raining for four consecutive days. My ribs were broke from falling down a hill to use the bathroom. I had on the same clothes I had on for four days. “

Her faith sustained her during these dark times and that same faith prompted her to look for help. Despite feeling she was at the point of no return, Amanda reached out to Union Mission for a helping hand.

“I knew it was hopeless,” she said. “Nobody’s gonna help me. I couldn’t help myself.”

She met with LaMonica Graham, the manager of Union Mission’s Permanent Supportive Housing program. Ms. Graham reached out to the Homeless Authority to help find Amanda transportation and a bed for the evening. Amanda was given medical treatment for her broken ribs and when she was able, she moved into the Barnes Center, Union Mission’s permanent supportive housing for women with disabilities.


With the support she received from Union Mission, Amanda has rebuilt her life and left homelessness behind for good. She is a proud and active member of the Beulah Baptist Church in Savannah. Thanks to the generous donors and community partners who support Union Mission, the help Amanda received is still available to those working towards a brighter future for themselves and their families.

Back to School: Lending a Helping Hand


Back to School: Lend a Helping Hand

Kayla Butsko, Development Intern

15 July 2016

With fall semester’s college classes soon to begin again, my peers and I have started the frenzy of back to school shopping. I have a huge list of “need to gets” including textbooks, school supplies, sweaters, new sneaks, a camelback, a cute tote, etc. As we all start making our back to school purchases, it is hard to think that many children don’t have access to the same essential school supplies and materials that most families do.

Basic school supplies, like pencils, notebooks, binders, paper, and also uniforms are all crucial to academic achievement in school. However for homeless families, other immediate physical needs like food and housing are prioritized, and these needs outweigh the need for school supplies. It was not until this summer working with Union Mission that I had given much thought to this issue.

Interested in lending a helping hand?

These items will help homeless and at-risk children start the school year on the road to success.

Schools offer a stable place for homeless children whose families often live transiently. The school-aged years are critical to a child’s social, mental and emotional development. Helping students succeed in school prepares them to succeed in their adult lives. According to the Institute for Children and Poverty, homeless children are nine times more likely to repeat a grade and four times more likely to drop out of school, proving that there is an immense need for helping them succeed.

Union Mission is grateful for our ongoing partnership with Macy’s and their generous support of families that are experiencing homelessness. On July 30th, Union Mission will be at Macy’s Oglethorpe location to support their back to school drive. When shopping the sales on uniforms and school supplies, pick up extra items with homeless children in mind.

Although seemingly small, the impact of giving even a few back to school items is huge, and makes a positive difference in the life of a child.


Finding Home Again: Willie’s Story


Grace and Giving Back


Grace and Giving Back

Dylan Carter, Summer 500 Intern

08 July 2016

Part of my Summer 500 internship here at Union Mission is spending time working with all of Union Mission’s programs. Two weeks ago, I had the chance to work at Grace House, helping the staff meet the needs of their clients. I learned a lot about all three Emergency Services programs: Magdalene Project; Grace House; and Beyond Grace.

One thing I learned is how many different types of people are helped by Union Mission every week. Grace House helps single men who are homeless but Magdalene Project is much different because it only provides service to a single mother with children. Beyond Grace is a transitional housing program which means men who have been helped by Grace House and need additional time after the 90 day Grace House program to find stable housing can transition to Beyond Grace. While they live in Beyond Grace, they maintain stable employment and continue to meet with the case coordinators who assist them in working on the issues that led to their homelessness.

Dylan Carter, Summer 500 Intern

Photograph by Maggie Lynn

One of the jobs I assisted with while I was at Grace House was giving clients their mail. Providing a mailing address for people who are homeless is important because they need a safe place to receive vital documents, like social security cards, and because it helps them as they look for work or reconnect with their families.

“I feel like the Emergency Services programs really represent what Union Mission is all about – they really reach out a helping hand to those who are working to leave their homelessness behind. ”

I also was able to assist with client intakes. After receiving the client’s permission, the case coordinators taught me about how a client enters the Union Mission Emergency Services programs. An intake is the process in which the case coordinator learns all about the issues that led to the client’s homelessness. The intake covers a lot of topics such as mental health, physical health, and employment status.

I feel like the Emergency Services program really represents what Union Mission is all about – they reach out a helping hand to those who are working to leave their homelessness behind. I had a wonderful experience working with the Grace House staff and I’m so glad I got a chance to learn more about how Union Mission is helping here in Savannah.


Health and Homelessness


Bring Them Home: Helping Homeless Veterans

Bring Them Home:

Helping Homeless Veterans

Union Mission Team

Text: Andy Webb, Maggie Lynn,

Photo credits: Roy Mosby

There are over 200 veterans homeless on any given night in the greater Savannah area, according to estimates from the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless. The factors contributing to veteran homelessness are similar to those shared by all homeless across America – lack of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care – but some are unique to veterans. Many veterans who end up homeless find themselves displaced because of the lingering effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or substance abuse. These impacts are compounded by lack of family or social support, isolating veterans and leaving them few places to turn for help.

“22 veterans commit suicide every day, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Veteran Affairs. Studies have shown that a majority of vets do not receive treatment until 10-15 years after separation from service.”


Veterans continued to be overrepresented in America’s homeless population, making up eight percent of America’s homeless. Veterans are also twice as likely to become chronically homeless, experiencing more than 3 episodes of homelessness over a 365 day period. When veterans do become homeless, they are likely to stay homeless longer than non-veterans, with an average length of six years versus the four years for non-veterans. While the majority of homeless veterans are male and elderly (between the ages of 51 and 65),  the face of veteran homelessness is beginning to change. More and more, homeless veterans are young, female, and heads of household.

While the face of veteran homelessness is changing, the issues they struggle with remain the same. In addition to mental health and substance abuse issues, veterans face other challenges in their struggle to leave homelessness behind. Often the professional skills and training they receive during their time on active duty do not translate well to an all civilian workforce. This, combined with frequent moves that make it challenging to build and grow a professional network outside the military, place service members at a disadvantage when seeking employment at the end of their military career.

Helping homeless veterans means going beyond just housing. To meet their specialized needs, programs that support veterans must provide a comprehensive array of support services to coordinate the mental health care, housing, and employment support which enable them to rebuild their lives. While government funding exists to support such programs, it is extremely limited and community support is crucial to ensure that groups helping homeless veterans are able to continue reaching out to support those who have sacrificed so much. Bringing our service members home for good means providing the resources they need to stay housed and to rejoin our communities with dignity.

Your generous support enables Union Mission to change lives here in Savannah.