Union Gospel Mission serves the homeless

The oldest locally operated charity has found success helping the homeless.

Union Gospel Mission, which has been in operation since 1888, provides food, shelter, and other help to the homeless, all while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A successful exit implies that former clients either found housing, a job, or were able to get some kind of government benefits. The national average for homeless clients who succeed from a place like UGM is 20 percent. However, UGM frequently sees up to 40 percent of those they help exit successfully.

UGM’s Men’s Facility Operations Manager Samuel Smith credits the mission’s focus on Christ for its success.

“This place is different and that has to be because of the gospel, because that’s really the only difference that we have,” he said. “Some places have more funding, some places have more rules, but they don’t have this redemptive focus.”

UGM serves more than 250,000 meals every year and provides housing for as many as 300 residents a month. The bulk of the work at UGM is done by volunteers.

TCU associate professor of economics Dawn Elliot volunteers with UGM. With students from her developmental studies class, she teaches a financial literacy course at UGM to help people get their monetary issues under control.

“It is the ultimate level of deprivation: the inability to provide secure housing for yourself and those that you love,” she said. “So I guess I’ve always been predisposed personally [to helping the homeless].”