Michael McCarthy | Board Chair




We live in a fast paced world, often filled with snap decisions and short attention spans. We simply scan headlines and don’t always have the luxury to sit down and reflect. I want to bring to the community’s attention a headline with a compelling backstory.

Union Mission’s new Litter Clean Team program derives from last year’s visit from Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, who was the keynote speaker at Union Mission’s 2019 Raising Hope event. The Mayor shared the story of his “There’s a Better Way” homeless initiative with a room full of local thought leaders and now the rest is history. It’s a reminder that good things happen when we take time for inspiration.

At Union Mission, we are always looking at innovative ways to address homelessness. It’s a complicated problem and there is no one perfect solution, but rather many small actions that help our community’s homeless in different ways.

With this momentum in hand, Union Mission is excited about the 2020 Raising Hope event with a keynote speaker that, like Richard Berry, will present a template of what other communities are doing successfully. Michelle Norris, who will be featured as this year’s keynote speaker, is the Executive Vice President of External Affairs and Growth Strategies for National Church Residences. National Church Residences is our nations largest provider of affordable senior housing. Whether for seniors or others in need of affordable housing, the issue requires public, government and business sector support.

Union Mission works hard to play an effective role in advocating for the homeless and for effective policy changes that will benefit the homeless and the community. In spirit of advocating change, we will host various receptions in the days leading up to the 2020 Raising Hope event with Michelle Norris for the Mayor, City Manager, Elected County and City officials, community service providers and business leaders to share another story of community success in dealing with the challenging issue of affordable housing and homelessness.

I am blessed and humbled to be the incoming Chair of Union Mission’s Board of Directors in 2020. Union Mission is one of the leaders in the conversation around homelessness and affordable housing in our community. I am proud to represent an organization that is making such an incredible impact here locally.



Michael Traynor | Board Chair




The holidays are an ideal time to take inventory and reflect on our blessings as we look forward to the coming year. As my term for Board Chair comes to a close in December, I am proud of what has been accomplished by the staff and Board of Directors on behalf of our clients and community. Union Mission is a relevant, fast-paced, nimble non-profit that displays leadership in the areas of homelessness and affordable permanent supportive housing. Our stewardship of your investment in Union Mission offers a brighter future for our clients than would otherwise be possible.

For 82 years, the generosity of our donors has kept the light of hope burning for our clients. The support we receive from you provides a safe place to sleep, meals, transportation, mental health services and a helping hand for men and women and children – all of whom have no place to call home.

In 2019, we saw men overcome decades of drug addiction through our supportive services, graduates of our culinary program become gainfully employed and mothers transition from homelessness to home-owner. There is not a secret sauce for the changes shared here but rather talented staff, volunteers, committed Board members and your donations that fuel the resurrection of a life, one client at a time. Your partnership with Union Mission means hundreds of men, women and children have the opportunity to find hope in 2019 and beyond.

As you prepare for the holiday season, I hope there is an opportunity for you to reflect on your blessings and how you can fund blessings for those that you may never meet. Your gift transforms lives (see chart below) including your own life, as you become part of something meaningful to a life less fortunate than yours. Fueled by faith and the desire to make a difference, your gift is a thoughtful legacy.



Michael Traynor | Board Chair




The June 2019 issue of the Beacon magazine,  a  quarterly  publication   of Savannah Morning News, was dedicated to shining a light on the Coastal Empire’s challenges with affordable housing and homelessness. The magazine had in-depth coverage on topics ranging from housing prices and income to mental illness and living wages.

We live in a beautiful place termed a “Destination City” that is diverse with a thriving economy. However, some would argue that Savannah is in a crisis stage with 44% of its residents not being able to find affordable housing.

According to the Chatham County Housing Coalition, the fair market rent for a 2-bedroom in good condition is $996/month. An individual would need to make an annual household income of $39,840 to avoid a cost burden. At the current minimum wage in Georgia, that would take and individual 106 hours per week to afford rent. The numbers don’t add up (see chart below).

While our community is having a con- versation about affordable housing, the reality is people are experiencing home- lessness due to the lack of adequate supply. There are 35 homeless camps serving 250 individuals experiencing homelessness and unfortunately, Sa- vannah has a limited amount of shelter beds to accommodate the high demand.

As a response to  the  current  lev-  els of homelessness, Union Mission partners with people to end their homelessness through housing and supportive services. In 2018, we served: 286 clients in our Emergency Services Program, delivered Commu- nity Mental Health Services to 132 individuals, and provided stable hous- ing for 277 residents in our Permanent Supportive Housing Programs.

This is why the work of Union Mission is so critical in our community and the people that we serve. I am proud to Chair the Board of Directors at Union Mission and advocate on behalf of all those trying to transform their lives and re-enter into the workforce.

I  welcome  your   comments   on  this article and/or the most recent edition of Beacon  magazine. You can find an online version at www.savannahmorningnews.com/beacon 


Michael Traynor | Board Chair




In my last Chairman’s Column, I referenced the importance of an  organization-even  as established (1937) as Union Mission (UMI) – taking inventory and revisiting the elements of their Mission/Vision/ Strategic Plan. Since there is much wisdom in the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, here is Union Mission’s Strategic Plan presented in a Venn Diagram.

You see  the  intersection  of  “What  UMI is Deeply Passionate About”, “How UMI Utilizes Its Resource Engine” and “Where UMI Is Best in Class”. Union Mission is an aspirational organization focused on how to be Great, not just Good. However, a key component of Great, is to remain focused with piercing clarity on how to produce the best long term results for the Savannah Community, while concurrently exercising discipline/restraint in not dabbling in areas not a core competency.

In summary, UMI’s Mission/Vision is to provide a hand up to clients with the epiphany and desire to PARTNER with us in our 90 Day Program of  housing and supportive services. The Resource Engine that fuels  success  is  UMI’s  ability to attract the right people (5 Cs)  as employees who then enhance our culture/reputation/brand/leadership thus generating emotional goodwill in the Savannah Community. If Union Mission can concurrently maintain a sustainable business model via managing expenses/ generating revenue, our sustained cash flow will allow us to have substantial impact, even a GREAT IMPACT in Savannah while helping so many.


Michael Traynor | Board Chair




It is healthy for an organization, regardless of how established, to take a step back, pause, and take inventory of its mission, vision, values and community impact.

Union Mission, its staff and board, did just that in 2018. Out of this thoughtful reflection was revealed a new line of sight. The Strategic Planning Committee of Union Mission is a compilation of Board, Staff and Community Leaders. The Committee was chaired by Pat Monahan (Governomics) and included Pat Youngquist (Executive Director), Mark Toth (Director Strategy & Development), Josua Rine (Director of Operations), Gaye Reese (United Community Bank), Terry Enoch (SCCPSS), and Philip Solomons (Past UMI Chair/Community Volunteer).

At the heart of this committee’s conversation was the overly pragmatic nature of the previous mission “To Prevent and End Homelessness”. Is this achievable? Was there a more effective way to frame and communicate Union Mission’s “Sweet Spot”? The answer was yes and this led to Union Mission’s new Mission, Vision and Values Statements.


MISSION: Partnering with people to end their homelessness through housing and supportive services.

VISION: To be the partner of choice to those seeking to move from homelessness to stable housing.

VALUES: Encouraging faith and restoring hope through a caring and compassionate partnership where people can thrive and lives can be rebuilt.


Union Mission utilizes temporary, transitional and permanent supportive housing as the portal from which we deliver a robust blend of client centric supportive services. Our work is conducted when the homeless determine it is time to change their life. When they determine they need a partner to move from homelessness to stable housing, Union Mission is there as that partner. We will do so in a fashion consistent with our values.

Union Mission is about a hand up, not a hand out, the client “Epiphany” is critically important to our Mission and their success. It begins with a 90 day program that leads the homeless to employment, stable housing and a hopeful future.


Together, We Can Change Lives

David Paddison | Board Chair



With news that homelessness is on the rise in our community, it can be hard to see how the support of one person can make a difference. The problem seems vast and it’s difficult to see how the resources of one person can truly make a difference. But when we all work together, our whole community is changed.

Every day at Union Mission, the lives of the homeless and hurting are transformed, thanks to your generous support. For 80 years, Union Mission has provided a hand up out of homelessness because individuals and businesses across Savannah have committed to sharing hope with those struggling to leave homelessness behind. Your help makes change possible for people just like Shane, by helping to provide the programs and supportive services that transform a life of dependence into one of dignity.

To continue to shine the light of hope, Union Mission must raise over $700,000 in donations each year to secure the match needed for nearly $2 million in grants and contract funding provided by private foundations, state, local, and federal agencies. Your donations enable Union Mission to provide emergency shelter, food, mental health care, and workforce development training to help clients permanent end their homelessness.

Thank you again for being a source of hope to those still struggling here in our community. Your investment in Union Mission means a future of change for those we serve and a brighter future for our whole community. Through collaboration with community partners and with the support of donors like you, Union Mission continues to be a place where lives can be rebuilt.