Union Gospel Mission aims to meet more needs

Posted Friday, Jun. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After more than 125 years of serving people who need help in the Fort Worth community, the Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County is gathering momentum — and money — to greatly increase that service.

The mission has announced it is raising $8.2 million to construct the Scott Walker Women and Family Service Building, a 39,707-square-foot facility with rooms for homeless families with children, single men with children and single women at the mission’s site on East Lancaster Avenue.

The good news is that the God’s Healthy Place Capital Campaign has already gone a long way toward reaching its goal.

Mission leaders say the Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla., has pledged to donate the final $1 million once the campaign has raised $7.2 million.

And 82 percent of the $7.2 million has already been raised. That leaves the campaign in a final push for more than $1.3 million.

But in order to reach its goal of holding groundbreaking ceremonies in October, the campaign has only a little more than three months to bring in the final contributions and pledges.

For several years, Fort Worth and Tarrant County have pushed their own campaign against the factors that lead to homelessness. Still, a January count by the Tarrant County Homeless Coalition showed a homeless population of 2,390 in the county, up 10 percent since 2011.

Union Gospel Mission chaplain Stanley Maneikis told Star-Telegram reporter Jessamy Brown the current facility lacks room to meet local needs. About 25 times a week, people are turned away or put on a waiting list.

When they do get in, Maneikis said, “they’re on their feet pretty quickly.”

Helping homeless families has been a particular problem, because under current arrangements men have to sleep in a separate building from their wives and children. Plans call for the new facility to provide five rooms where families can stay together.

“I truly think that they can work better together as a unit than when they are separated, because they draw strength off each other,” says Don Shisler, Union Gospel Mission’s president and CEO.

The people at Union Gospel Mission have good reason to be proud of the work they have done. The people of Tarrant County have good reason to believe they can do more with the planned new facility.

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