Lives Changed

New Lives, New Hope

Read the stories of how lives are changing here at TCUGM, and remember that these life changes are made possible by donors like you.

man loading laundry in a large washing machine at TCUGM


Before coming into the Mission, I struggled trying to restore all I had lost - work, a decent place to live, and my kids. I was heartbroken, and I knew I was destroying myself by returning over and over to drugs and alcohol. I felt trapped within some very steep walls that I had built around me. What’s so odd about all that happened is I had been an honest, hard-working guy who took good care of my family. These past years felt more like being lost than just hitting a rough patch in life.

I prayed sincerely and asked God for help. I came to the Mission and soon found a job, but I had carried my problems with me. I started smoking marijuana again and I lost my job - again! I heard about the Mission’s New Life Program and how it addressed spirituality and building a relationship with God. That interested me, especially when they explained how I could begin to understand why I continued to put myself through this cycle and what I could do to end it and find peace.

I knew I was carrying some emotional junk with me that was more complicated than the drugs. When I was a child my mom went to prison and my sibilings and I were separated and scattered to different family members. My dad remarried and his new wife didn’t seem to like me much, or even at all. I always felt I was in the way. She would say mean things about my mom, which I hated to hear, and my dad wouldn’t help me.

I ended up with my grandparents, but I was sad and bitter. I started using harder drugs, and my life went downhill fast. I ended up on the streets in winter, and was freezing (literally) when I felt like God said to me, “This is all coming to an end now.”

God was always part of my life, but now I have asked Him to lead my life. I’ve stopped all drug and alcohol use and have started thinking clearly - what a difference that makes! In the past I would bottle up many things - emotions, stress, and a lot of shame from past experiences. If anything was troubling me I would bottle it up or try to push it away with drugs. Now I don’t have all the lingering, nagging thoughts and I’m able to open up and talk to people. In the New Life Program I can ask questions, tell my story, discover what happened, and realize how God has been with me every step of the way. I’ve learned to forgive myself and not worry about the past or the future.

My goal is to further my education and I already have my financial aid filled out. I’m looking at becoming an industrial mechanic, or even getting my chemical dependency certificate so I can help other people in situations similar to mine.

The pain of my family falling apart and being separated from one another hurts less today. Part of that is my changed outlook, and part is believing God restores the humble and poor in spirit. Today I believe He will renew my relationship with my own two children, and that we will, one day, enjoy holidays together. It’s been a long time, I’m working toward it, and I’m ready!

I'm thankful for being alive. —JAMES


Thirty-six years ago, Dennis moved to the Tri-Cities to be closer to his family, where he found a new church home and a good job. Over time, his weekend shifts in restaurants began to make it difficult to attend church. He eventually stopped attending altogether, cutting himself off from the support of friends he had there. At the same time, stress from his job contributed to an increasing alcohol dependence.

Dennis knew he was in trouble and left his job without any plan moving forward. Trouble turned into free fall, and in Dennis’ words, “falling feels like freedom for a little while.” His savings ran out last year. Dennis did not want to be homeless and came to the Union Gospel Mission in early April 2020. Now he sees that his fall led him to an opportunity to seek God again, to allow God to position him for a much brighter future.

Dennis likes The Mission’s three Rs - Rescue, Recovery, and Restoration. He has seen them work in his life and appreciates how the Mission uses this process to lead men and women at the shelters to stronger outcomes.

He and his case manager have mapped out a plan for budget, transportation, and housing. Covid-19 shut down his new work place, but Dennis’ attitude is that even in this setback God is working for good. He has begun using his skills in the Mission’s kitchen and receives lots of appreciation from our well-fed guests. Every day Dennis reminds himself that God loves him and that his life is now hidden in Christ. Though Dennis may not know exactly what the future holds, he does know Who holds it!

Dennis says that TCUGM will always be a part of his life even after he leaves. He is grateful for the chance to rediscover grace and be able to use his gifts for others in need while making new friends in the process. Please pray for Dennis - that he finds the right place to live and is able to plug into a local church body where he can continue to grow with fellow believers in freedom and grace.

They made me feel like I was somebody. I felt cared for. —TRACIE


Ricardo Paz grew up in a family that saw its share of struggles. Originally from South America, Ricardo, his siblings, and their father came to the United States to find a new life away from crime and poverty. Ricardo never knew his real mother, and while his father did his best to take care of them, life was admittedly hard.

When he turned 18 Ricardo left home and quickly found himself in trouble. Life went downhill further and he found himself homeless. He was miserable but had heard about the Union Gospel Mission; one year ago Ricardo got off the streets and came here. Despite the rough exterior, our staff discovered the young man was open to receiving help and support, so they invited Ricardo to join the New Life Program.

The Mission has become a lifeline for Ricardo; today he feels part of something and says it feels great. His life has become so much more positive since discovering God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Each day waking up to know that God loves him and that He will never give up on him has made all the difference in the world for Ricardo.

Ricardo is making great strides in obtaining his GED and he attends a local church with several of his fellow new Life Program members. He took advantage of the Covid-19 shelter-in-place, knocking out all of his New Life Program expectations, and graduating on May 1. Now Ricardo will work with one of the Mission’s caseworkers to find stable work and safe, affordable housing. Until then, he knows he is in the right place, surrounded by people who love him, amazed that he has more hope than he does despair, and he gives all the credit to God.

He still wonders about his family, and looks forward to reconnecting with them when the time is right. He feels that God is preparing his heart with love and forgiveness, so that when he does reconnect with his father and his siblings, he will be strong and reflect the change that only God can make through His Son Jesus.

We hope to celebrate Ricardo’s graduation with all of you once we get past the Covid restrictions. Stay tuned and we will rejoice together in the changes that God makes in all our lives.

Instead of being condemned and going back to prison, I feel like maybe I might be able to have a life now. —DANIEL


Tracy came into the shelter angry with herself and her circumstances. She had been living with her son and his girlfriend but it became an ugly situation. Having nowhere else to turn, Tracy became homeless – she felt like she was trapped in cold steel.

Afraid of what she might have to face at the Mission, Tracy determined that she would be tough and stay to herself when she first arrived here. The scowl on her face showed someone who had put up walls and who wasn’t going to let anyone get close to her. She sat in her chair very proud and looked almost ready to fight. She wanted nothing to do with Christ or chapel service and made that very clear through her words. Honestly, we were surprised that she ended up staying with us.

After Tracy had been at the shelter for about a week, she started opening up to other clients, talking to them, and responding more to staff. She no longer would walk around with the hood to her sweatshirt pulled over her head as a barrier to avoid having conversations or relationships. With her hood off, Tracy changed to a ponytail instead of covering her face wither long hair.

She also began to ask questions about prayer and the Bible. She wondered what God had to say about what she was going through. I noticed her heart changing the more she received answers to her questions about life. She began reading her Bible and seeking answers herself.

Then, one day while Tracy and I were talking she said she wanted to pray and ask Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. We started talking about her new life in Christ and what that would look like. She was no longer just attending chapel, but participating in it! She was actively bringing her Bible and the joy of the Lord shone on her face. She was free from the bondage that held her down. She knew this and felt it spiritually and physically.

Tracy is so much more hopeful than she was the day she joined us at the Mission. She has been thinking of her son and his need for Jesus as well. She is praying now and trusting God to restore her family. She is hoping to get involved in a church, wants to go back to work and provide for herself, and to get her own home. Tracy is rejoicing in the blessings that God has given her and trusting that He will restore all things and make them new!