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UGM Sovereign Center for Homeless Advancement

DIANE XAVIER | 3/9/2015, 8:27 a.m.
Union Gospel Mission of Dallas has been serving the homeless population by helping them transform their lives and by getting ...
Billy "Bull" Bullard, who graduated from Union Gospel Mission’s Discipleshiop Program, works at the warehouse in donation distribution and pick up. Union Gospel Mission of Dallas

The Dallas Examiner

Union Gospel Mission of Dallas has been serving the homeless population by helping them transform their lives and by getting back on their feet since 1949. The organization provides those in need with shelter, meals, clothing, showers and chapel services for those also staying overnight at their facilities.

In order to help the homeless get back on their feet and live productive lives, the Union Gospel Mission opened their latest facility, the Sovereign Center for Homeless Advancement, on Feb. 20 with a dedication ceremony at the facility on 9008 Sovereign Row.

Over 80 volunteers, staff members and community leaders and investors celebrated the opening of the facility. The event included an opening prayer by Bill Thompson, UGM executive director, and also a prayer of dedication by Julian Russell, Park Cities Presbyterian Church Mission pastor.

The center includes training facilities for the homeless to gain job skills in areas such as automotive repair, carpentry, hospitality trades, masonry, painting, plumbing and wall/floor covering.

UGM Board Chairperson Bruce Butler opened the ceremony thanking God and all the volunteers and investors that helped open the Sovereign Center for Homeless Advancement.

“We are happy to be here today to dedicate this city to the God who is in control,” Butler said. “It was only natural that we would have those last meetings in our ministry where people can obtain those skills so that they can get good paying jobs and be involved in the community. We thank all our partners and community who are here today to celebrate this dedication.”

Jeff Steed, UGM director of Development and Public Relations Officer, discussed how many people the organization has served.

“In 2014, the mission served 400,000 meals and provided 147,000 beds,” Steed said. “Also, 394 people came into a relationship with Jesus Christ. There are so many moving parts of what God is doing at the Mission. Part of that impact is why we are sitting here today.”

Steve Allen, UGM’s chief administrative officer talked about the long journey it took to open the facility.

“It has truly been a journey that has had a lot of moving parts and a lot of folks involved,” Allen said. “I’ve been working on this project with others for the last three years. The center’s focus is on helping the homeless community and helping them get trained and certified in jobs that can help them with employment.”

The facility is 27,680 square feet and will also house new offices for UGM’s Sovereign Center employment training group, general services office, bulk sales office, piecework operations and staging areas for UGM’s donated goods distribution and thrift store production area operations.

The building was acquired in April 2013 and costs around $700,000, of which half has been paid.

Henry Rogers, Interstate Batteries Chaplain, is one of several volunteers for the organization.

“I’ve been with Interstate Batteries for 23 years and every year we have been serving for UGM, people have been commenting on the great attitudes and the joy of the people who volunteer,” Rogers said. “Whether it is feeding the homeless or giving them clothes, just being there and working with the guy in the kitchen and seeing how passionate they are and what they do is amazing. They do their job like it’s their life’s calling and that just inspires our team.”

Currently, the center is in discussions with several companies and educational institutions to get training center partnership opportunities in various course certification areas such as construction trades, automotive repairs and hospitality.

Attendees at the event were also given a tour of the facility and its different trade-training departments.

The goal is to serve unemployed homeless adults in the Dallas area with intensive pre-employment training programs that are designed to increase functional skills so that they can obtain a living-wage job, according to the Sovereign Center.

The center expects over 75 percent of the graduates to get employed or continue with additional training that will help them get employed.

Sue Berry, a donor to UGM, explains why she donates to this cause.

“It’s connected to God and what they do with the homeless and what they have to offer is why I donate,” Berry said. “I’ve been donating for 10 years and would also like to volunteer since my dad has been donating and volunteering as well.”

Patrice Denning, another volunteer, has been volunteering for 10 years as well.

“It is an opportunity to serve Christ by serving others,” Denning said.