In 1922, 22 churches of different denominations came together during the Great Depression. There was one unified goal...to provide FOOD, SHELTER and HOPE. UGM has seen many changes throughout the years, but what still remains are those humble same three main goals. There has always been a need for our services, and in recent years, the need has grown in all three categories. Our on-site meal program serves tens of thousands of full, hot meals annually. Many of our neighbors in need are from food-challenged households. The majority of these households have children, or are seniors or vulnerable adults on limited incomes. These clients simply cannot afford groceries, or worse yet, are homeless and have no shelter, let alone, nowhere to keep or prepare food. Thus, they rely on the meals served at the Mission - it is truly what stands between them and hunger. (Also, our UGM open food shelf is contributing thousands of meals a year as well.)
SHELTER: We operate the Martin Inn, located right above the UGM. The Martin Inn provides low income transitional housing. We work with other housing entities to fill these rooms and to get these clients referred so that they may access the assistance needed to find permanent housing.
HOPE: One of our most important services we have offered over the years, and it's still at the forefront of our services. We believe strongly that everyone has the right to dignity. Many of us take for granted something as simple as having our basic needs met. Things many of us, as individuals, take for granted are huge barriers of those facing hardships. Have you ever truly been hungry, or miserably cold, with no place to call home?
The Union Gospel Mission has provided hope for our neighbors in need for 100 years now. We do this through our on-site dining in dignity meals, and various other UGM programs. Also, we provide a safe, welcoming refuge and a place for folks to come together and not be alone in this world.
We give out hygiene products so that they might be clean and be able to lift their heads with dignity. We provide outreach and referrals so that our clients can access the help they may need as individuals, with different need/skill sets. And, last, but not least, we offer good Christian values by providing a hand up, not a handout. We have church services, bible studies, various support groups. We provide hope so people, even during the darkest of times, know there are many people that care. Hope... it does take a village - it takes us all of working hand in hand.
The UGM van is our life line in the ability to being able to run regular routes to collect food items and dry goods donated from various local sources. Our old van was worn out and had become unsafe, creating the need to have it replaced. Many thanks to everyone that participated and helped to make our new van a reality! And to those who filled the van with food!
There is a great need in the Duluth community for the services of UGM. Functioning primarily as a soup kitchen, UGM is the only such service in the city committed to providing multiple hot meals during the week, covering breakfast, lunch and dinner on a varying schedule. Last year the Mission provided over 93,000 hot meals to those in need of them. This year has been challenging due to "the virus". We continue to serve full, hot meals curbside. We are concerned what the fall and winter months will bring. The demand for our services has not waned and neither has the will of the small staff of employees and volunteers of the UGM!
The Mission also operates a food shelf which is kept filled with the items we are able to collect with the van, and the UGM also has just completed winter clothing and blanket collections and subsequent distribution of hundreds of items to those in need of warm weather gear.