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


Intern’s Corner: Health and Homelessness

Intern’s Corner: Health and Homelessness

The most serious and immediate impact of homelessness, being without shelter over one’s head, another very real impact of homelessness is lack of adequate nutrition.

Not everyone is privileged to shop for food at their local farmer’s market, Whole Foods or the “organic” section of the grocery store. Due to the way our food industry is run fresh, organic, produce is most often much higher priced than packaged and processed foods. Those who are homeless usually have no way of preparing fresh produce, therefore must rely on packaged convenience foods. Although canned and packaged food donations are always appreciated, they often lack the nutrients that fresh seasonal veggies and fruits have. Nutrients and antioxidants have two main health benefits, firstly they help protect the body from oxidant stress and diseases and secondly they help the body fight against these by boosting its immunity. Understandably we function best when we are fed a healthy diet; therefore those suffering from prolonged stress are most in need.

This is why Union Mission is thrilled to have just begun their newest community partnership with Local FarmBag. Local FarmBag is a subscription service that delivers fresh seasonal, produce to Savannahians weekly. Since they have partnered with Union Mission, they have donated crates upon crates of fresh veggies and fruits to UMI’s temporary shelters. Most recently, Maggie and I helped bring in a delivery of zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots; all of which will be incorporated in meals for Grace House (a shelter for men) and Magdalene Project (a shelter for women and children).

Just think of all the ways clients’ lives can benefit from other community partnerships that could help them with living in a healthier manner! If you are interested in helping end the struggle that those homeless face in trying to live healthily, please reach out to Union Mission and email us at

Intern’s Corner: Welcome Kayla and Dylan!

Intern’s Corner: Welcome Kayla and Dylan!

Union Mission is fortunate to have the benefit of intern support throughout the year. Through our five program areas, Union Mission is the grateful recipient of the time and talent of smart young students. Starting this summer, we’ll be sharing their experiences with you in our new weekly column, The Intern’s Corner.

Our two interns this summer, Kayla Butsko and Dylan Carter, will take turns updating you on their experiences here at Union Mission, sharing what they learn and how they feel about working to prevent and end homelessness here in Savannah.

“I am thrilled to be interning with Union Mission as part of the Community Outreach team this summer,“ said Kayla. “I just finished my first year at Vanderbilt University and am double majoring in Human and Organizational Development and Economics. Having lived in Savannah my entire life, I had been previously exposed to Union Mission; however I was only aware of Grace House. After my first day I quickly learned Union Mission offers so many other services besides their shelter and housing program – they truly dedicate their efforts to help all aspects of clients’ lives.”

Dylan joins Union Mission as part of the Summer 500 program that gives rising seniors the opportunity to intern with organizations across the city of Savannah. In addition to being a Top Teens of American participant, a Boy Scout, and a church usher at Tremont Temple Baptist Church, Dylan attends Savannah Early College High School where he is dual-enrolled at Savannah State University.

“I didn’t know much about Union Mission when I started working here,” Dylan said. “Today is my first whole week interning here and I have to say I’m really learning a lot. Not only did I learn the history of Union Mission and the various programs they have to help the homeless, but I have also picked up skills I can use outside in the workforce.”

Dylan and Kayla look forward to updating you on their experiences here at Union Mission. If you have questions or want to send them a message of encouragement, please comment on our Intern Corner post every Friday on Facebook. We look forward to a productive and amazing summer working with these two talented students!


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