Stories of Success: Peter Takes Control

Stories of Success: Peter Takes Control

Peter and his granddaughter

Article by Emily Bressler


Taking Control: Peter’s Story

Peter served our country as a medic in the U.S Army. After he retired, he worked 20+ years in the plastic manufacturing industry in Walton, Kentucky. Peter would often visit Savannah with his wife and kids for vacation during his long career.

However, working long hours and constantly standing on his feet took a toll on his body. His knees and back pain made everyday tasks difficult, all while struggling with addiction.

His addiction was tearing his family apart and his wife told him that he needed to get help or else he would not live long enough to see his children grow up.

“Every time I got a pay check  I  would say,’I’ll pay that bill next week. I’ll pay that  bill next week.’ Eventually, my family had enough.”

In September of 2007, he decided that he wanted to start his life over again in a place that he loved visiting, Savannah. With a one way ticket in hand, Peter embarked on a trip that would change his life.

Peter knew that he wanted to come to Savannah to get sober. When he arrived at the Greyhound bus station, he was lost in this unfamiliar part of town. With help from a stranger, Peter got in contact with Salvation Army. From there he was referred to Union Mission for housing and substance abuse treatment.

“One of the hardest things was that people never believed me when I told them I was homeless. They said that I had clothes on and was clean, and they didn’t think that I could possibly be homeless. I had to let them know that the only reason I looked so good was because I was staying at Union Mission.”

With his determination to make a better life for himself and with the support from Union Mission, Peter was able to end his addiction. After the completion of the substance abuse program, Peter moved from the shelter  to Union Missions’ transitional housing program.

“I never would have thought that I would be homeless. Things happen and some things were out of my control. My disability took over, and I couldn’t function the way I used to. And I had a problem on top of it. But I got rid of my problem.”

His family saw the changes in his life and was able to see that Peter was truly a new man. Almost one full year   from the date that Peter came to Savannah, his family drove down from Kentucky to pick him up and take him back home.

Exactly 10 years has passed since Peter utilized the services offered by Union Mission. He is doing extremely well in Walton, Kentucky. He is married to the love of his life, and they live together happy with their three  dogs.

Union Mission exists to help people like Peter  retake control of their lives and leave homelessness behind. Thank you for sharing hope and help in  our community.

Help Bring Hope to the Holidays

Your donation can help someone just like Peter 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.

Thank You For Being a Hope for a Better Tomorrow

Pat Youngquist | Executive Director



Each year, hundreds of men, women, and children come to Union Mission looking for a beacon to light their way to a new life. Here they find safe beds, hot food, and the help they need to rebuild their lives. Many of them tell us that we are the first place that truly gave them a hand up out of homelessness and into a better tomorrow.

Thanks to your generosity, Union Mission has been able to offer hope to people in need for 81 years.

We have grown significantly from our opening in 1937. Reverend George Akins, the founder of Union Mission, would not be able to fathom the expansion of his soup kitchen. Today, Union Mission provides emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, behavioral health services, support for people living with HIV/AIDS, and employment and educational services.

Our programs allow for individuals and families to access tools that are essential to lifting themselves out of homelessness and toward a better tomorrow.

The services we provide empower the people in our community with hope for a better future; a future that includes happinesses and success.

We instill hope that one day they will be able to utilize the skills they learn in our Culinary Arts Training Program in a brilliant future career. We inspire hope that one day they will be able to give back to their community just as you gave to them.

Thank you for gifting us the opportunity to provide hope to those who at times have felt so hopeless.

Graduates Full of Hope: Culinary Arts Program Spotlight

Graduates Full of Hope: Culinary Arts Program Spotlight


Culinary Arts Program Graduates

Graduating Class #82

Article & Photographs by Emily Bressler

Graduates Full of Hope Union Mission partners with The Landings Club, United Way, and The University of Georgia to offer a free 8-week job training program. During this program, participants engage in hands-on culinary training that will help them obtain employment in the restaurant and food service industry. After completing the program, the students will receive a ServSafe Certification, job placement support, and life skills supportive services. Anticipation and excitement are felt through the air as the graduates from class #82 line up before walking into the graduation ceremony. One of the graduates spoke to another saying,

“I’m so nervous that I’m going to get up and trip while walking across the stage.”

The graduates each proudly walked across the stage to receive their certificates as a wave of relief washed across them knowing they succeeded in completing the program. Before entering the 8-week Culinary Arts Training Program, the graduates had a wide range of experience in the kitchen. Anthony, a recent graduate, has been cooking at different locations all across Savannah for the past 15 years. Elizabeth, another class member of #82, says that her experience in the kitchen was limited.

“It is something that I thought I could use to get me further in the workforce.”

However, with their certificates in hand, all of the graduates have big plans for how they will apply their new abilities and knowledge. Even though they attended the same class, their goals are very different. One graduate plans to provide meals to grade school students, another wants to be a chef on a cruise ship, and another graduate wants to specialize in seafood preparation. The possibilities are endless.

One topic that the graduates all agree on is that their dream job would not be possible without the wonderful instructors that they had during the eight week course. “I loved all of the chefs. Their smiles are what kept us going”, says Teal. Larry says, “What got me was that it felt like [the chefs] enjoyed what they were doing so they helped me learn better.”

Union Mission would not be able to host the Culinary Arts Program without support from United Way, The Landings Club, University of Georgia, and the entire community!