RCA Grantee: Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens

from Cheryl Finley, Social Services Committee Ambassador

November 4, 2021

I am the Ebell Social Services Committee Ambassador to the Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens is a program serving 215 single women and their 104 children, all of whom have experienced homelessness. Last year, during the holidays I had the pleasure of visiting Hope Gardens to drop off children’s books that Ebell member Vanessa Diaz had generously donated through First 5 Los Angeles. In total, 226 books were distributed among 5  organizations. Thank you again, Vanessa!   

As I exited the 210 Freeway in Sylmar, one sunny afternoon, I found myself driving up and up a winding forest road that reminded me of the trips I took each year to summer camp as a child. The further up the hill I went, the more I began to realize that this was not going to be anything like the Union Rescue Mission I was expecting. When I reached the tree-lined entrance to Hope Gardens, I was greeted by the sight of at least 10 red-roofed shade tents lining a hill above the reception hall where I was to meet Tim Peters, Director of Development. As I waited for Tim to arrive, I was delighted by the sight and sound of preschoolers in holiday attire joyously coming in and out of the reception building with accompanying adults. I watched as a young woman worked with several little ones to decorate the Christmas tree that adorned the reception building. Since this was during the height of Covid, everyone was wearing masks, but the masks did not seem to dampen the holiday spirit. I was thoroughly enchanted by the children as I watched them moving all around me with smiles and laughter. When Tim arrived, he explained that the red sun tents on the hill were holiday stores filled with donated items. This is where the residents were able to shop for gifts for their children and get needed items for themselves. I wanted to see it up close but due to Covid I was restricted to the reception area.

Hope Gardens is a 77-acre facility composed of hills and valleys covered in trees. It consists of seven buildings and is operated by a staff of approximately 40. In addition to the women and children, there is also a program that serves about 20 senior women who were previously homeless and who now have a home at Hope Gardens.

In 2020, Hope Gardens received a grant of $12,000 from the Ebell’s Rest Cottage Association (RCA). The funds were used to help provide case management services for the residents. These services included career and mental health counseling, life skills, and financial literacy. Case management staff assess individual needs and provide direction, support, and access to services needed for the women to heal, obtain permanent housing, and become self-sufficient.

Eighty percent of the Hope Gardens residents transition to permanent housing!

Union Rescue Mission has been operating since 1891, even longer than the Ebell, and is the largest privately funded, faith-based rescue mission in the nation. They are proud of the fact that they never turn away a woman who comes to their door.  The Ebell’s RCA is proud to be in partnership with such an outstanding organization.

In 2020, the RCA gave grants to 15 organizations serving women in LA County. Those grants totaled approximately $160,000. If you are interested in becoming a Social Services Committee Ambassador or participating in the RCA, which reviews the applications and awards the grants, please contact Arden Teplow, Chair of Social Services Committee or Stephanie Kaiser, Director of RCA, for more information.

Cheryl Finley
Social Services Committee Ambassador