World AIDS Day: Celebrating Success


World AIDS Day: Celebrating Success!

Danielle Jordan, Emergency Services Intake Coordinator

30 November 2016

Each year, community organizations around the globe set aside December 1st to celebrate World AIDS Day. This year, Union Mission will take part in the festivities while adding its own spin.

First established in 1988, World AIDS Day began as a way for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The idea was to use the day to gather support for those living with the disease and honor those who had been lost. Union Mission will use this year’s event not just to commemorate those who have died, but also to celebrate how far we’ve come in the battle. Union Mission’s Phoenix Project works year-round to provide housing and social services to those living with the disease, and the passion of its staff members drives the effort. There are currently over 1,400 people living with HIV in Chatham, Bryan, and Effingham counties. While programs like Phoenix Project continue to work tirelessly to prevent the disease through education, they have good reason to take a day to focus on progress. Because of medical advances, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis no longer suggests the dire fate it once did.

Celebrate World AIDS Day!

William Solomon works as an HIV Health Educator at Phoenix Project and he views World AIDS Day as a day to celebrate. Although he takes the challenges of an HIV diagnosis seriously and recognizes the hardships it can often bring, he wants everyone to know that Union Mission’s World AIDS Day event will be a celebration of life and the advances made in HIV healthcare.

“In 2016, anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS has a chance not just to live, but to be alive. That’s the difference in the past and the present. We have more tools in our fight.” – William Solomon, HIV Health Educator, Phoenix Project

This year’s event will take place on December 1st at Savannah Gardens, located at 515 Pennsylvania Avenue, and will last from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public. Families are welcome and encourages to attend. Local vendors and social service organizations will be available to provide information. There will be free food and music.

Please join us for a celebration of how far we’ve come in the fight against AIDS!

A Family’s New Beginning: Khadijah’s Story

A Family’s New Beginning: Khadijah’s Story

Khadijah and her son

Photograph by Maggie Lynn


A New Beginning: Khadijah’s Story

Trapped in a cycle of violence, it can be difficult to see a way to a brighter future. As a single mother with no family support, the road can be rocky enough to make you feel trapped. But Khadijah was willing to do whatever she needed to do to build a better life for her son. Thanks to your generosity, Khadijah found hope and a brighter future here at Union Mission.

Abandoned by her abusive mother at a young age, Khadijah’s childhood was violent and unstable. She was later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and hospitalized twice for bouts of depression so intense she attempted suicide.

When her son, Marquise, was born, she knew he deserved more than a life of violence. She left the gang-filled Chicago neighborhood of her youth in hopes of saving her son’s life.

“I can’t have him grow up here,” she remembers thinking. “He’s not going to make it.”

A family friend invited her to Savannah with the promise of help for a better life. But her safe haven was only temporary and soon, Khadijah was on the street with her 3 year old son, leaving behind what they could not carry on their backs.

She walked from Middleground Road to Bull Street looking for shelter but was forced to spend the night on the streets. The next morning, she used a library computer to find somewhere she and her son could get the help they so desperately needed. She found Union Mission’s website and was inspired by the stories of success she saw there.

“I saw the story of a mother and her sons who had been successful,” Khadijah said. “I knew this was the place for me.”

Khadijah and her son came to Magdalene Project, Union Mission’s emergency shelter for women with children. With access to Union Mission’s unique wraparound services, she was able to find a job within two days of entering the shelter. Now she’s working, learning to save and to budget, so that she can build a better life for herself and her son. She is looking forward to a life of hope and independence thanks to the investments you’ve made in Union Mission’s programs.


Now she’s living in her own apartment and her life has changed thanks to the skills she was able to build at Union Mission. Those skills, she says, are as important to her future as the shelter has been.

“Right now, I’m working to save – save, so we don’t go back again.Even though everybody comes here for different reasons, Union Mission is able to help you. You show us how to get to where we want to be so we won’t need the support of anybody. “

With the help of Union Mission, Khadijah is building a future of hope and independence for her family. Your generous support of Union Mission today will ensure that the help Khadijah received is available to those still in need of a helping hand.

Help Bring Hope to the Holidays

Your donation can help someone just like Khadijah rebuild their lives and leave homelessness behind. Your gift today can change lives and bring hope to the holidays for someone looking to come in from the cold.

The Power of a Helping Hand: Arlene’s Story

The Power of a Helping Hand: Arlene’s Story


Photograph by Maggie Lynn


The Power of a Helping Hand: Arlene’s Story

What would happen if you lost everything and had nowhere to turn? After leaving prison, battling mental illness and addiction, Arlene needed a place to rebuild her life. Thanks your generous support, she found help and hope here at Union Mission.

Arlene grew up in an abusive family and was determined to have a better life for her children. By the age of 25, she was married with four beautiful children, owned her own home, and had a job in medical research. She had, as she says today, attained the American Dream.

But her life wasn’t as ideal as it seemed. After years of domestic abuse, Arlene divorced her husband, sold her home, and moved to Georgia for a fresh start . A newly single mother of four, she was unable to make enough money to support her children.

Her mental health deteriorated and she began to self-medicate, first with alcohol and then with drugs. In the depths of her mental illness and addiction, Arlene stole a purse and was sentenced to 15 years with no possibility of parole. While in prison, she received badly needed mental health treatment.

Released from prison after 15 years, Arlene came to live with her daughter in Savannah. After her long incarceration, she struggled to reconnect with her family, and her community. Her deteriorating mental health made it difficult for her to continue living with her daughter and soon, Arlene was homeless.

Living in an emergency shelter and once again receiving mental health care, Arlene found Union Mission – a light at the end of her dark tunnel that shone thanks to the generous support of donors like you.

“I ended up getting place to live and that changed my life,” Arlene said. “There’s no way you can think about finding a job or trying to improve the quality of your life when you don’t know where you’re going to lay your head.”

With her homelessness ended, Arlene has taken what she was given and passed it on to others in our community. She is now a Certified Peer Specialist, working at Gateway Behavioral Health to provide peer support to people recovering from mental illness.


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

Arlene said that she believes “if we hold hands, we can all rise together. “ Your gift helps people like Arlene rise above their challenges to a better future.

Help Bring Hope to the Holidays

Your donation can help someone just like Arlene rebuild their lives and leave homelessness behind. Your gift today can change lives and bring hope to the holidays for someone looking to come in from the cold.