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Meet Willie

Your support is giving Willie a second chance and he can’t thank you enough!

“I Feel Like I’ve Got a Purpose.”

After many years of working for a major manufacturing company, Willie was laid off. Not only did the job loss destroy his livelihood, it also shattered his self-esteem. “I began feeling I was worthless,” he says. “And my life spiraled downhill.”

No longer bound by a daily routine, he began shirking his responsibilities, neglecting important relationships and drinking to fill his time. When his unemployment payments ran out, he lost his home. 

He stayed with friends or in motels when he could. But for several months, “I lived in homeless camps… in abandoned houses… even underneath a bridge,” he says, recalling painfully frigid nights. 

Finally, walking the downtown streets, he noticed City Union Mission on the hill. “There was a cross on the building and it was all lit up.” And he felt God calling him to our doors.

“God said, ‘You need to stay here and get your life cleaned up,’ and that’s what I’ve been doing.” 

The compassion of our staff made him feel welcome and at home. “And the more I listened to the Bible classes, I started to enjoy them and knew I needed God in my life.”

In addition to growing his relationship with the Lord, he studied hard and earned his high-school diploma. He participated in our trades camp where he gained experience installing drywall. And now in our new vocation development program, he’s learning to drive a tractor trailer and is being recruited by a trucking company. 

“I plan on being an over-the-road driver, buying a house and reconnecting with my daughter,” he says of his future plans, well aware of what could have been: “If not for the Mission, there’s no question in my mind I would have overdosed or frozen to death.” 

Willie is beyond grateful for this second chance in life – and says it’s thanks to the love you’ve shown for a neighbor like him. “I feel like I have a purpose… goals… and a new direction. I can be a good member of society.”

Willie, whose story is shared on this page, was one of four Christian Life Program participants who served as beta-testers and successfully completed the newly-implemented Smart Schools curriculum. After devoting 20 to 30 hours per week to the study of topics ranging from U.S. Government to British Literature, Willie received a fully-accredited high school diploma. At age 44, he represents the first of what we hope will be many men who will take this important step through this vital program at the Mission.

Click here to download the Summer 2021 issue of Light Newsletter