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Don Shisler Union Gospel Mission

Don Shisler

Don Shisler joins the guys on FORTitude this week. They talk about his mission and his work with Union Gospel mission. He has a fascinating and inspiring story to share, so be sure to listen. 

Don got his start at UGM-TC as a volunteer in 1993 before becoming the President and CEO in 1995. He is currently in the second strategic plan of the 6-acre campus.

Don has served on numerous boards, such as Tarrant County Homeless Coalition, consulted with many Tarrant County organizations, such as Recovery Resource Council, as well as contributed to the Downtown Rotary since 1995. He also served as an officer and helped to launch the Near Eastside Neighborhood Association.

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Episode Transcription: 

He filled in for Jason Witten on a camera on a Campbell’s Soup by double on Campbell Soup commercial I
didn’t know that
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guns looking at his watch now we better get started
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I’m gonna shout out to our listeners in Belgium we can okay okay but we can welcome back to fortitude folks JW Wilson here with my co host Brenton pain. We are fortitude and fortitude, FW Is that still the case? Brinton? I think it
is. Oh, except for internationally renowned now from what I understand from the analytics we’ve gotten.
We’ve been informed that we have 20 listeners in Belgium and 90 in Germany. So if you guys will hit us up, we can throw you a shout out, man. We don’t know what you’re doing over there. But thank you very much.
We like the wooden shoes. Don’t they have those in Belgium? Belgium. They have some beer there. I’ve heard Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Audio video guy probably knows more about that than we do. So
he seems International. Yes. Here’s
my internationally in the soccer community. Britain we haven’t in studio today, a guy named Don schissler. Don is the CO president of a organization called Union Gospel Mission. And he’s a great human being. I’ve known him for a while. But what he does, we’re about to find out is extraordinary. So Don, welcome to the show.
Well, thanks for having me. I’m really honored to be here. Good. Good. We
hope you do. You’re right today. We’ll try not to screw it up too bad. I know where you live. So yes, sir. Yes, sir. So Don, back in the year 1993. Something happened in Sutton, you you decided to volunteer at a place called Union Gospel Mission? Yes. What caused that?
You know, I had a, I went through a couple of illnesses. I had a major illness, it was a joint disease, it inflicted around my hip and lower back area. And, you know, I was a single parent at the time, my parents were aging out and lost my father. And it actually I was in a room in a bed for two, three months, you know, going through this process, you know, fight figuring out what kind of surgery they’re going to do. Oh my god, they did a hip replacement. I had five different options and things like that. And, you know, I started reading and literature come to the house and there’s a church down the street, a friend of mine was pastor of harvest Baptist Church. And so soon as I got back up on my feet, I just, I’ve always been a Christian. And I just kind of recommitted my life and gotten in tune with the church there and got very involved and was part of the care group ministry and probably could have been on staff there. That’s kind of where I was lost me, but God deflected by the Lord’s hand on my lap. There’s a gentleman there, his name was Don Webb, he’s in my Sunday school class. He was the superintendent the Union Gospel. And he was always needing help and crying out was praying for and things like that. And he got where he would pick me up at my house and I’d go into work with him and sit in office while I was convalescing from a surgery and you know, I started doing in kind donation letters and then you know, it laid one thing to nugget feel a little better. And he put me on another Simon, you know, like, get the air conditioners going on know nothing about air conditioning, but got some books and decent people and had a couple of relationships with people that lived there, and we got it done. So that’s how it all evolved. I feel like it’s God’s hand on my life
went so well, Britain that in 95, two years later, they made you the president and CEO.
Yeah, I had no idea he was going to retire and move to Oregon. But he did. And they one may take his position. And I don’t know if that was a favor or not. There was a lot, a lot of wrong things. It wasn’t real popular back then. Yeah, was this and there was no money to operate that organization whatsoever.
What were the numbers around that time?
For is the money to operate, I think is around 300,000 a year and then numbers of people, you know, fours in the organization. It was a couple of 100
And then what about just homeless numbers just up round about
you know, I’d say 4000 Probably
4000 I’m like citywide. Yes, sir. Okay.
So, before we get into all that you’re doing your marriage elating Vicki, who’s lovely you have for a blended family kids. That’s awesome. And your grandpa, we know that. So you got a really cool way you felt you found your way into Union Gospel Mission. Once you’re there, you take charge and this things are going the way they’re supposed to go in this world. Bout UGM Why do you Do what you do. And you Jim and what? Why do you do this, Don?
Well, there’s a scripture in the Bible, Deuteronomy 1511 That really touched my heart when I first started there and it’s you know, we’re supposed to be open handed to our brothers in the land and to our, to the poor and needy is well, and there’s a lot of scriptures in the in the Bible, which that’s what I reflect on. I don’t get diverted too much from just that. And you know, it just, that’s where the blessings come from is serving the Lord and not taking our direction, taken his direction, and seeking that out and actually working with people for a change in their life and get them mainstream back in society. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of that you Sir, did you don’t have anything to do with money, right?
Did you have a lot of contemplation on that when you were laid up in that hospital bed, you kind of oh, I
had a lot of contemplation, but a lot of things. Because my mother was helping me with my children. Like, I was a single parent. Yeah. And so I was basically in my house in my bed like 23 hours a day by myself. So it sounds like our camera appellation.
Yeah. Our camera guy spends a lot of time in bed to another, another episode sleeping. Right. Alright, Dawn, let’s talk about the history of UGM. So well, before you arrived, 1888 Actually, rescue mission movement found Fort Worth that’s the official Bethel mission was what it’s called, when officially began in this town. Can you give us your summation of the history of that EGS
Charlie Byron was the director back in those days and interesting guy. He came in on the train from Scotland’s where you started from come down from New York. And now it’s, there was a major movement, because a Hell’s half acre, you know, it was a lot of saloons and bordellos, prostitution, things like that. And the stablished churches didn’t really want those kinds of people come to their church. So they were looking for an alternative and a lot of people assembling to that needed help. And it started with it Belfield, and it in. What’s interesting about that is when I was a little kid, the Boy Scout office was right down there and hills half. My dad, you know, he was a district commissioner for the Boy Scouts. So we used to go down there pretty frequently. And I just thought that was kind of interesting. Yeah. But it started out in 1909, there was a meeting at Cumberland, Presbyterian Church and got more formal in this one, they really introduced the name Union Gospel Mission, and it was formed from 10, downtown churches got together and did something collaboratively. What come out of that was no law, but not love, no creed, but Christ. And we still kind of use that too. I do, I guess real strong and powerful. And, you know, just preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, you know, trying to lead people to the Lord and taking care of the basic needs is worth starting off meals, place to stay at night, and ultimately, you know, finding jobs and placement and, you know, some sort of living situation, Charlie, we’re getting the same things today.
We’ll get to the specifics here, just in the sector. As we sit today, there’s a it’s a six acre campus lot of
well actually has grown, you know, we bought another two and a half. So we’re not eight and eight and a half, and we’re approaching nine acres
and acres, very good in less than new developments in the not too distant past, have gotten us where we are now, but basically tell us what UGM does, and how they operate.
Yeah, we’re all about serving the homeless, where they’re at. And, you know, relax, I preach the Gospel, Jesus Christ, we have three major programs and one for the man one for the women and one for the families. We have a wide variety of social workers, we’ve just taken on a new thing, it’s a we have a therapy there, we have two therapists, and, you know, back, we provide the food and services for that community down on Lancaster. And we do all this from the generosity of the community of fours, you know, we want to be a place that we can assemble everybody that can serve and work and help us alongside our staff as well as you know, the people in need come in at the same time, and it works real well and has for a long time and and that’s that’s the need for the nice facilities, you know, people want to come in and nice clean facility as well as I feel real strong about you know, we need to give our first fruits and not our discards to who we’re trying to help and, you know, you can see that through our campus that we have, you know, it’s It’s nice and safe, clean. And, you know, we try to take care of the people, we counsel with them, we set a case management plan, we help them adhere to that any kind of issues that come up, you know, we address that. And it’s a work in progress, it just oh, we have to have their cooperation. Alright, we can get there.
You say it’s a safe place, and no doubt, the Lancaster Street specifically outside that Union Gospel Mission. For those who have never driven down there, it’s, it’s, it’s something to see for sure. Because you see people on both sides of the street with tents and all their belongings, literally living there. It’s very unfortunate. You guys are part of that solution for a lot of those people. Some of those folks, not so much. I mean, can you explain to those who aren’t quite familiar with Lancaster, why how that situation exists?
Let me let me kind of let’s step back to COVID, you know, COVID hit for Texas. And that was something new, what he really didn’t know how to deal with is, it was quite an interesting task. For me personally go through that. As well as my style, I lost a third of my staff just within the first two weeks. And we were scrambling around trying to see how you know what the ins and outs what we’re supposed to do with this. So you know, we got into the mass, you know, putting up the plexiglass, the six foot this thing, a hand sanitizing all that we did every bit of that, just like they said to do, the city opened up downtown convention center and you know, siphoned off. So we could do the six foot disc thing. So it lowered the numbers that we had. And that’s where it started in. What I use that time for with my staff is vision. We started looking forward to the future because things were changing real rapidly. Yeah, especially every time you have a regime change in Washington, DC, you know, it changes up everything, you know, how the dollars funneled down and what their emphasis is, and all that kind of stuff like it? And was it
helpful when they relieved you the city? I mean, was that, wow, this is yeah, why can’t we do this every day is
we’re basically, you know, we did have some COVID there, but it’s very minimal. Yeah, no kind of widespread thing, like you saw on Dallas, Dallas laugh or anything like, yeah, so it’s very helpful. And we got a good crew. I mean, we all work together. Homeless Coalition press, turn notch of salvation, we all work together for a common goal. But coming out, this is a little bit different. There’s a lot more federal dollars in town. There’s a lot of vouchers to get people housing. And they have what they call Rapid Rehousing that the city pays for as well. So it’s, it’s a lot easier to get people just right off the streets immediately into place. But that didn’t fix their problem. And that’s what we’re in to serve is problems where they won’t lose their housing or because of bad behavior, mental health issues and revert back to the streets. We we want to be the solution.
explain explain that how you’re not just putting someone off the street into a home, you’re teaching them there’s way more than
that, they come in and they’re part of our program, that program lasts six months to a year or even longer. It just depends on the individual what they’re dealing with. There’s a lot of major things that takes some time and effort and we put that in there. We have the resources to do that. Well we collaborate with almost 40 agencies that we can plug into the any problem anybody has,
what would you say the biggest reason for successful person to get out of rare,
very simple, it’s a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s all it takes. And you’d be surprised most of them have had some sort of spiritual relationship in their life and a lot of them have had difficulty with churches or individuals in churches. So it’s his dragged him away, or a misunderstanding of doctrine. That’s why we had that alpha course. You know, it’s a basic course to educate them about living the Christian life and answer your questions and get them on the right path there and it works very well. When we first started that was Stanley moneykey said what I noticed it promoted community amongst ourselves you know, they can pray with each other they can I can share, you know, men kind of close mouth about their personal situations. I don’t think that’s too healthy sometimes. So I noticed a difference right from the start. And we’ve been doing it over 10 years now. And it’s just, it’s phenomenal. Right? Like say we had that graduation last night. We baptize three. One on was a little baby that was born there. It’s just just a beautiful thing.
Oh, born there at the mission.
Well lived at the mission they want to cook sure But I don’t know. What’s the difference between that and fix an air conditioner? I mean, stretch. probably scared me to death.
Yeah, no doubt. So you you’re not just taking a person walks in the door UGM that’s in the homeless place in their life. You’re not You’re teaching them skills, you help me with mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, all the things that encompass a human being, you’re trying to benefit them and teach them something so they can go out and get a place to live and sustain that not fall back in the homeless trap. So why are all these people want Lancaster on a daily basis? how come everybody isn’t inside what’s causing those people to Watergate?
What is left is people that are mentally ill, or abusing drugs is what’s left out there. And they don’t want any kind of restrictions on or laugh or had to do anything. And that’s what I’ve been working on of late. I’ve had some meetings with the COC about that in our neighborhood association, near Eastside Neighborhood Association, we had a meeting with the city, the place Homeless Coalition, different shelters last week with Bob McCarty and his office, giant construction, and we need a solution for that, you know, we own that property to the West Kentucky Street. And that seems to be the stage in place that they allow that camp and my thing is, it’s a public health issue. You know, like defecation, you know, there’s a lot of drugs, crime, crime, you know, and I get to take, you know, how the women being treated in those Tansen, what’s going on, it just drives me insane. You should not be allowed. There’s got to be a relative for that I’ve for years that put a lot of emphasis and vocally spoke up about it, you know, I don’t know how to solve it. But I know we need to try something. And what my suggestion is always man, let’s, let’s dedicate a plot of land somewhere. And if you’re going to camp, you got to camp here. And let’s have all the services agencies directed to that spot. And you can only stay there a certain amount of time, then you got to move on, or except that the help we’re trying to give you they’re not like that’s a fair number. What do that you get if you have a place like that, you got to have security landing, you got to have restaurants, you got to have medical, if you
get pushback on that. From folks. Everybody has
a different direction. Yeah. Especially when you? Yeah,
what’s the biggest hurdle for UGM? Donde to get this solution or any other solution? Is it? Is it money? Is it politics? Is it a
little bit of all that all that we do have a solution for it. And that’s what we’ve been working on the vision, you know, through COVID. And we have one thing we’re starting here at the first year is called Club 1401 is actually going to be a day center on Lancaster and sappers. We’re moving our case managers and therapists out there is gonna be a welcoming environment for people on the streets and those campers to come in. And we’re gonna start trying to build a relationship on them with them of trust, where they may be tempted to come in and be a part of our program, we’ll feed there three times a day, we’ll have ministry in there, we’re gonna try a little bit different on the ministry, it’ll be a little bit shorter services. Kind of like a Bible study or something is just a scripture and kind of explain a little bit in a prayer, in the most of time on the ministry part will be one on one with individuals. We welcome a lot of volunteers to come and be a part of this with us. And I’ve even bought a portable trailer. It’s a kitchen. We’re gonna start taking that kitchen and going out and doing this out in these camps are where people are gathering and we need people to help disciple and go out with us to try to bring them in. That’s what we’re going to try.
Is this where the vocational training will take place, you’ll have a different
area, that’s a different project. Okay. And that’s a big project and that is
beautiful. That’s on the screen behind you. Not that you need to look but that’s the that’s the future plans. What is that in
the community center, and it’s going to have a vocational training spot there. It’s round 28,000 square feet. We’re going to move our warehouse over there in southern Kentucky in Lancaster. And that’s where we bought that two and a half acres, right. And we’re going to try to lower the bar, not lower the bar but broaden the bar a little bit and we’re going community wide. Anybody needs our help for as our product that we have, you know, clothing, furniture, whatever it takes to set up an apartment, we’re going to pass that there too. And anybody that needs a living wage job, we’re gonna have a vocational training there to help them achieve that. And we’ve got a lot of collaboration with 10 Different agencies right now can Academy just all of them that around the route their Salvation Army, Presbyterian? MHMR is it everybody? Thanks. It’s a very good idea. It’ll work hand in glove with the program. Toby’s got to work prisoner night shelter. And because a lot of these, it’s going to be set up like a box store, like Walmart has are targeting Amazon. Yeah, we’ll do certifications and training there. And then they can take that and we’re working with those agents or those employment agencies to get our clients an interview. Yeah, to get a higher wage paying wage, we’re doing the same thing with Apartment Association, they built 1000s apartments in Fort Worth, Dallas, sir, they need maintenance. They need managers. And we’re gonna start training for those, you know, we have this these platforms, you know, teach you how to put a disposal enter in certain just different things, you know, and hands on training, and give them a certification, right partner Association been doing this for 20 years that I know, they’re gonna start doing it there. And then we’re just going to learn how to walk for we can run and just broaden this all we can, can Academy does the same thing across the street from us, they need more room, they’re going to use our facility, they’re more than welcome. They trained, teach these kids how to do electrician work, how to make eyeglasses, you know, the list goes on and on. They want to broaden that as well. It’s fantastic. Don’t do that across the street. So
you have proponents that say, just keep going, like will give you like, just keep doing this. Then you have people out there who are opponents and say most of the people who are homeless, they don’t want to be helped. So if you if we have 100 homeless people, what would you say the percentage want to be helped and those who are like, I just want to live my life the way I’m living it now.
I’d say 2020 25%. That’s their community. That’s the way they live. And if they change or not, that’s up to God.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But 75%
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of hope there. Yeah. We want to make sure we touch each and every one of them that want to get it. I can’t imagine being stuck in homelessness.
But that’s the key though, right? They have to want to, they have to want if they don’t, then they’re just going to be there and in Christ is the way right. Let’s touch a step back to the one behind you. The healing Shepherd clinic tell us what you can about the healing Shepherd clinic.
That’s a beautiful place and wonderful collaboration with JPS and Robert early good friend I’d say him leave but I need to meet that new Doctor duck and I’m going to try to do that for he leaves. Yeah. But it’s a a clinic with the model is less than $300,000 a year it takes to operate that I’ve got four employees over there. I have a front desk guy takes care of the files and stuff, Billy works the door. And I’ve got two registered nurses. And I have a nurse practitioner there that works. They will all work 40 hours a week. And then we complement that with volunteer physicians. And Dr. Allen Davenport is the medical director there and anyone that comes into the mission and wants to reside with us they have to get a fiscal Okay, so they go the clinic they get a fiscal we got to find out what they’re dealing with. Medically, they may been a long period of time for they’ve had any kind of meal per check or whatever Willis check. And it reveals a lot that place saves lives all the time. You know, people have things they have no idea what they have a lot of hypertension, you know, diabetes, all the major stuff, you know, COPD, yeah. All those kind of things.
Drug addiction, don’t.
If people have addictions that come in, we were aware of it and we try to get them in below Gregory Pine Street, which is just right down the street from us. Sometimes they’re a little white on that, but easily we can get them in within a reasonable amount of time. Once they go through that 28 Day Program. Then they’re released and come back in and go through our program. And in our program. We have a skill building program right now which is kind of like a work hardening you know, to get people up move And yeah functioning at a higher pace than what they’re used to, you know, they may help in the kitchen or out in the warehouse or do janitorial work around there. And you know that’s that’s the first step and then they start seeking employment you know launch from there you
know, you talked about the graduation Can you can you take us through maybe like a physical and emotional spiritual transformation that you witnessed that stuck out to you, you don’t have to use names or anything but just a particular you
know, one I’m want to share and it’s, it’s, it’s Launa that was at River Ranch, you know, we had a fundraiser there last month and one of the ladies working there came out to me gave me a big hug and I recognized her she’s been our program and you know, she came in broken alone and but you know, top personality kind of warmed up to all the staff we all kind of knew her and I had no idea I knew she graduated didn’t know where she went or what was going on. But she she actually works at River Ranch and is doing real well. They trigger real oil and it was a tearful not for us, we were all kind of we’ve been seeing her at a joy. And
so of all the places in this town where you could have had a fundraiser, you picked one where a graduate work
yeah, that’s just that’s just one store. You know, if my wife and I, we go downtown to go out to eat or a movie someone you know, people come up to sit have been in our program, and, you know, they share what’s going on with yourself. And it’s it’s usually very positive. Yeah, if not, I don’t come back. Let’s try it again, see if we can get it better. Second time. And a third, there’s been many, there’s been many. And some of the older guys a little harder, take a little longer, but they keep working. They’ll get there. Yeah.
How many people don’t UGM house and hold? Or how many can you slice
down right now and it’s because of the camping. And you know, we right now check that count for came over? We have about 330 people that interact daily at the mission are either in our program or come in the services and you know, we we’ve got some rooms, our maximum capacity is four 463 people for 60. What’s your annual budget, our annual budgets there, it’s around eight, eight and a half million, just for just for the Union Gospel Mission. Now we have a lot of other facets, you know, we have the vineyards on Lancaster, which is of fordable housing project, which has 104 units. The total budget for everything with halen chair Bricklin, everything’s not they made
19 million of all the three to 400 people he GMCs daily, what’s his what’s his their success rate of that many people?
There is there is it’s, it’s a little harder to figure out now we do keep real good statistical information. And the coalition is doing a lot better with that as well. I’d say it’s about a third of the people come in there, we can really launch and get back some sort of way. There’s two ways to graduate out of our facility. One is you can go through our program and totally to graduation. Or you can graduate by circumstance, you know, people get go on and start doing well. And then their family might accept them back. And yeah, I got a house you can stay in, or here’s the job or the like, we don’t count those, we just count the ones that go all the way through. Okay. We don’t try to inflate any numbers. Yeah, we count a family as one. We don’t count each individual. Parent, we just try to be real and honest and forthright about everything.
Speaking of stats don’t homelessness in Tarrant County. How bad is the problem?
Well, I looked on the Homeless Coalition website and the last time they updated was the end of September and I had 3800 on there. And their 2022 vision is to house 2200 more people. I don’t know where that’s going to happen because pretty much all the housing that I know of is maxed out. Sure. And that’s our biggest need in Tarrant County is affordable housing. And I’ve got another project I’ve been working on for it’s gone three or four years now. It’s called a crossroads. And that’s why we’re moving the warehouse to put it on the west side of our parking lot the EGM 68 more units and we’ve missed a tax credit for last two years by one point as pretty disheartening because those applications are brutal. Takes a lot of time and effort to do those. We have a consultant that helps me with that Ellen Roark and she’s she’s the best But we’re we’re looking out of the box a little bit a different way to do that. Maybe for some financing, I met a developer in Dallas. I don’t know if I mentioned his name or not. We’ll kind of see how that develops. I think God has a plan, we just need to listen to his direction instead of mine. And we’ll be fine.
How does how does somebody become homeless Don,
you know, it can happen to any of us had that same thing happened to me personally, when I had disease, all my joints is, but I was fortunate, you know, I was a young guy, I was in pursuit of, you know, that first million dollars, and was doing pretty well. You know, brick home, big car, all that stuff. And then you get your health yanked after money, and you don’t have anything and luckily, I saved my money. So I hadn’t you know, what, that and you had my disability. You know, I was able to sustain myself for three years. And didn’t didn’t miss a lick. But that just don’t have a lot of people. You know, if they don’t have any family or or friends, it don’t take long at all. And they’re homeless. Mm hmm. I think everybody lives off a couple three paychecks probably. Yeah, just one. Yeah. Accurate. And, you know, it can have I’ve seen it happen to, you know, people have mains, you know, just very quick you know, they’re, they’re hurting.
When we drive around just anyone who drives around it from time to time your account or somebody on a stoplight asking for money? What would you say? To what would you what would you comment on something like that? Because most people don’t know they want to give, they don’t want to give their feel weird. They’re scared something but well give me comments on innovation.
We’ve got a unique community here. They’re very compassionate, good people. And I’m thankful to be a part of for Texas. I mean, it’s, it’s amazing to sit in my seat and see what’s happening. I get to witness God’s blessings and miracles and in the generosity community all the time, and have for many years, but I wrote an article one time it was published in the Rotary, downtown Rotary. And it was about how to handle yourself and what to do, if that happens. And I don’t think you’d need to do that. Just pour them the way say go to Union Gospel Presbyterian or say, use one of the facility, they’ll give you an excuse every time. But that’s where the true help is. Yeah. Don’t if you give them that money, and I want to give money that you’re doing it unto the Lord. And that’s the only responsibility you have. But it’s not gonna be used what you think it is, it’s not for a meal or anything like it, ultimately is going to use for drugs or alcohol More than machinery. That’s what
you guys do you feel you know, I think in Tarrant County, we have a good coordination of all of these resources, do we not? I mean, you all work together, we did pretty well. Do you all feel from a general standpoint that you’re keeping up with the demand and the problem or is or do you? Are you just constantly going oh, my gosh, it’s just another uphill day.
Rod Naz doing a little bit better about people being house that had been homeless. I’m a little apprehensive, you know, I’ve been around a little longer kind of seeing, you know, both sides of this for a longer period of time. And in my concern right now is this eviction? You know, we’ve been kind of stalled that out for a while, you know, with all this help from the state and the federal government. And there’s a lot of people being evicted now, you know, I think that’ll change the complexion of, you know, who’s out there homeless and needing help. Very short period of time is the
problem. You mentioned 3800 in Tarrant County. Is the problem getting worse? Yes.
I feel like it’s growing, growing.
Another thing you reminded me of with your earlier comment. There’s people out there doing God’s work in your boards. We know this. They’re bringing food down to the folks on Lancaster. We’ve talked about this before, but could you talk about that a little bit and why that’s not well, best option. And I
want to frame this right up front that you know, I know those are good people I know that they’re following what the Lord is telling them to do. But the results of it I don’t think they really know cuz you know, it’s kind of they’re in and out, in and out. And parsvnath like is enable people stay homeless. Because I can live in tents around in areas of town and I give them tents and I give them sleeping bags, things like that. umbrellas for the rain or, you know, you’re insulated suit if it’s real cold. That’s all well and good. But the true help is in the facilities. Support the facilities have been there. You know, we’ve been in existence for 133 years and it goes Mission. That’s the longest legacy about homelessness there is in Tarrant County, support our facilities, we got everything in place to interact with them and get whatever they’re dealing with flushed out of dressed, and get them back out and society how. And that’s my recommendation this the trash issue on Mondays. Ekor buddy’s been down there Yeah, through the weekend. Yeah, it’s repetitive one feed after another feed. You just can’t sit there and eat all day long. It’s too much and each facility we we do the same thing. It’s hard to plan. And I think a little disrespectful, not collaborating. You know, my thing is all about collaborating and telling everybody upfront what I’m doing so they know what they need to do. I don’t get that luxury with that. And that’s part of the conversations we had in Bob’s office with the Homeless Coalition in the city has been trying to to address that but they will not enforce the rules that are already written. And that same thing about camping you know, there’s a mandate from Mabbott the government Texas not let that camping go on. And I think we need to get a grip on it now. Or it’s gonna get a lot worse like Amenda Austin here within the last month, right? Yeah, horrible down there. We don’t want that in Tarrant County. There’s no need for that. We got beds in the facilities right now. But those people were in have a better laugh. No, we don’t. We don’t allow drugs or alcohol in there. But you know, they need some help with it.
I think it’s really interesting Britain that, you know, I’ve always thought I’ll take some food down there, that’s gonna but this is really good point. Because people do that all the time. Whenever they make food for his people, and they’re doing a good thing, but it’s not helping these people get off the street. It’s just keeping them there. And that’s most people will never even know that so I’m really glad you made that made a point of that. And it’s
nothing personal right? There’s no I mean, all you got to do they’re coming from
take it two weeks go two weeks in a row. I mean, I’ve seen it you’ll find the contents of what was in the bag last weekend on the street the next weekend when you bring it so you bring up a good point there.
All right, yeah. Dawn so we’re gonna step back in time a little bit not too far. But two gentlemen who you know really well one of them’s no longer with us but Ron Hall is Denver more is not can you tell us the Ron Hall Denver more story and in your submission?
Yeah. I remember the day when Ron and Deborah came to my office and she was on fire for the Lord and talking revival on Lancaster and one want to know why to plug in and, and I suggest, you know, let’s start out serving food and wish they did and I commend them, you know, they back in those days, it was kind of a seedy place the news, you know, kind of spooky and even myself when I first started there I go, Lord, why am I or have never been around anything like this but But it became a labor of love and and they enjoyed it as well. And I get commend them for bringing their family down there and their friends, you know, a lot of West solders started coming and kind of mainstream and what we did and started supporting the mission. And that’s when it really started growing and launching. And course, you know, the books same kind of different as me and they met Denver down there. And that was kind of interesting how they met mint. met him in the middle of the fat coming out of the chapel. But that’s kind of the way it used to be. I’ll tell you a story that’s not written about Denver is we used to have one payphone in the back dorm. And there’s like 125 men live back there. Yeah. And we had a rule, you could only use it phone for like three minutes. And dimmer was on the phone. I’m sure he went long, you know, just just ever he didn’t pay notation of time or anything. This young guy was behind him a little antsy. So he took his hand and went beside his face and took that receiver and hung it up. Now Denver spun around and popped him one time and he went out lots went out right then is felt let back then dimmer left because you know, we had a rule we wouldn’t allow any kind of fighting or Yeah, like a mission. And then I went hunting for him. Took me about three days to find him. And he just kind of appeared behind a building and I said, you know, I might have done the same thing if I was in your shoes, watch, come back in try it and we just became lifelong friends after that. And, you know, he used to hang out in my house as well and but Denver he was a very wise gentleman. Very wise and you know, he had the Denver isms
and we’re gonna get to that at some point. Yeah. And
but just a great joy and I feel like I learned a lot from him about homelessness and just how people think. And it really grounded me. I know that I’m thankful for that. And like say Deborah halls funeral, you know, it was an event it became Memorial Bible Church and everybody came and that’s when sister Betty and him spoke and it was pretty profound and you know, things started happening and they wrote that book and yeah, and Vicki now we got to go to the the movie, the red carpet in Beverly Hills. And you know, they had an after party, you know, with all the stores. My wife was running around that room like a social butterfly and bringing all in stars to the table and things were just taking pitches quite a joy Savannah. I told her about halfway through this pinch me we’re not really here. Oh, yeah. But it’s just a blessing for a day you know, now they said and when we got back home
yeah, imagine you felt pretty far from where that story began to where the rocks you? Exactly, huh.
Yeah. But it was it was fun. And really we benefited a lot you know, they donated a quarter million dollars proceeds. Oh, yeah. Book. And, you know, I started feeling calls from all over the country. I thought it was Ron’s agent there for a while it’s gonna start charging but I’m teasing. But
so the movie in the story the book they brought benefit to the mission.
Well in homelessness in general because Ron did speaking engagements all over the country. And talking about homelessness and became pretty famous GATT doing Yeah, but the ultimate goal is, you know, it bring homelessness to the forefront and how to address it. And I think that engaged a lot of people to you know, reading that book. And that might be why we have so many Peters in your eyes like that. I don’t know. But it’s a good thing, right?
What’s the most or the most to unlikely, a wealthy art dealer Ron Hall, best friend befriended befriends a homeless guy, Denver more and they become like, best friends living together. Thank you. I’m familiar. No, I’m just regurgitating for those who don’t know. But the book obviously is phenomenal if you guys haven’t read it but the movie there’s a movie do it right.
You know Hollywood’s in their little bit. Always. I always tease demre said I’m alright a book. But this time I won’t tell the truth.
Talk about some of those payphone pops theories like that, huh?
Yeah, I can do that. And my wife could tell some teacher used to cooking steaks at my house. And he said there was first woman I ever met. Really? Yeah. Oh, wow. Yeah, like Hollywood’s Hollywood.
So, future plans for you, Don, how long? How much longer do you have this in? Yeah.
Well, I get asked that a lot these days. I don’t know why. But you know, I won’t work one day longer. The Lord Jesus Christ wants me to kind of what I say I enjoy what I do. As long as I’m productive and positive and help the organization I’m gonna be there. We do have staff in place. I’ve got Keith Ackerman, I’ve got good development person, Jordan, right. I’ve got Alicia Duran, she’s our CFO. I mean, we’re in good shape. So there is a plant
there is how can people get involved? How can people be a part of the Gospel Mission?
We have a website, it’s a UGM dash You can get on that website. There’s a I think an application on there you can fill out and send in. We have an orientation constantly during the month about every other week. Our volunteer coordinator is Sarah Bramblett. And you can call her or numbers on the website. You can come down I welcome anyone to come down take a tour and see what God’s doing at Union Gospel Mission. Just please try to schedule that if you can. We’re kind of busy and but we’d love for you come down and see you know, it’s Christmas time is here with the holiday. We’re trying to get ready to have a nice Christmas for our residents. Yes, that we have on the streets and and we all have personal lives as well. And it’s just a it’s one of my favorite time of the year is it? You put in a lot of hours but it’s worth it?
Is there. Yeah. Don’t want to miss anything. What’s the biggest need right now? EGM.
The biggest need, we need. Well, we got that fundraiser for the community center on Lancaster. It’s a $13 million project and we’ve raised about half of the money so far. But we’re going I’ll start that in March. This year, we’re already starting to put out the bids to the contracts and we have six contractors. General operating would be much welcomed just money in the general operating kitty. That’s where I think it’d be best.
D take the German franc or Belgium, currency like anything that has value. Okay? Why are you accepting crypto yet? Yeah, I’ll take some crypto. If I knew where to get it, I’ll give it to you.
You don’t mind crypto? I don’t crypto I’ll take
we’ll have to get someone on to explain us how to exchange it four times. But we’ll get it to you. Right, right.
All right. So yeah, we’re just thankful.
We appreciate you who you are what you do Union Gospel Mission. If anybody isn’t aware, you need to be aware, because it’s a phenomenal organization. So thank you for being you, man.
Yeah, thank you. Thank you guys know, you’ve helped this community tremendously.
It’s all about getting out the word and I just enjoy it. And I want other people to experience what I have.
So we always end the show on and you may have answered this with that Hollywood, non familial, this the best, the best day of your life. That doesn’t include kids and wives and stuff, but something that you look at is Boy, that was that was a really good day.
Oh, I’ll tell you what, have you ever heard a convoy of hope? They used to be events that we put on we collaborated with community Chris Christian community, at Union gospel plan these things they cost like $40,000. And we did one off Evans, the park, Evanson, road, Rosedale down in there and there was like 2500 people came and you know, we had services, food, dental, medical, and I was in charge all the handicap coming in now. And just I Ted kitchen was there and I wheeled him in on my cart. One just elbow he showed up and took him in and we had but that that day was just I said, My God as close close to heaven on earth. There been. It was phenomenal.
That’s pretty great. And it was comes out of you help. And you weren’t you were
having a nice day with me. I mean, we did. Yes. We were an instrumental part in getting it planned and everything but there are a lot of people involved. Yeah. I just appreciate the people that came
anything else we’re missing. Here we go.
Just pray force. Done. Keep that evil away from us. Don. Thank you, man. Thank you. God bless y’all. Merry Christmas.