Eugene Mission Reinvents Itself

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EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene Mission is giving thanks after a year of change. It cancelled its paper recycling program, then opened a new women’s center. It also started a program that’s changing the face of the Mission, from a homeless shelter to a wellness shelter.

Workers like Richard Allen prepare for the hundreds who come in daily for food and shelter. Allen says he knows just how they feel.

“I was homeless, homeless and living on the streets. It just seemed that every road that I took funneled me right to here,” says Allen.

He’s one of 22 men and 6 women who have committed to the Mission’s new year-long Life Change program that started in August. Part of the requirements include putting in four hours of work at the kitchen daily and learning skills and teamwork.

The majority of change happens at the Life Change men’s center, a place for healing, learning and growth. The Mission hopes to have 40 men and 18 women enrolled by the end of the year.

The Life Change program is changing the face of the Eugene Mission, a welcome change for Executive Director Jack Tripp. On an average night, 360 people will find shelter there. The only requirement is that they must be sober.

“This is truly the place for those who are homeless to get up and out of the homelessness to take that first step,” says Tripp.

Tripp is optimistic that those who seek comfort will come in time to seek change, but money remains a challenge. The current budget is $2.1 million. If they had $400,000 more, they could safely house 510 clients, 150 more each night.

Funding is on the Mission’s wish list along with toiletries, socks and food. In spite of not having enough, the Eugene Mission is giving thanks, and so is Richard. As he prepares for the Mission’s Thanksgiving day feast, he thinks about what’s next and he sees a bright future.

“I just hope to be where God wants me to be. I hope to be in the community serving them. Coming back here, serving the Mission,” says Allen.

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