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.