Ida Culver House Broadview Community Relations Representative Helps the Homeless Find Love and Hope
It was Christmas night of 2017 when a friend asked Julie Raab, Ida Culver House Broadview Community Relations Representative, if she wanted to go out into the cold, dark night to help the homeless. She jumped at the chance.
“I feel like my purpose in life is to serve others,” says Julie. “I had been thinking about volunteering and then the opportunity presented itself. It turned out to be the greatest gift I’ve ever received.”
Julie’s holiday night outing was part of the Union Gospel Mission’s Search & Rescue program. Search & Rescue teams go out every day of the year to find those who are facing challenges because they are homeless, hungry or hurting. They provide food, blankets, resources, and a compassionate ear. More than just handing out needed supplies and leaving, people on the Search & Rescue teams take the time to get to know the people they’re helping, listening to their stories and cultivating relationships with them.
“We understand that just giving them supplies for a single night isn’t going to help these people in the long run,” says Julie. “Our goal is to give them the resources they need to start living happy, healthful lives.”
Every Monday night at 8:00, Julie and her team of six to 10 people, along with many other teams, pile into a bright red van with the word LOVE emblazoned in yellow and head out into the night. Julie’s team goes to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
“We see about 75 people a night,” says Julie. “We have some regulars who wait for us, knowing we’re going to show up. And there’s always new people who need to know there’s someone who cares about them.”
Julie, in conjunction with the Life Enrichment team, managed to get Ida Culver House Broadview residents involved in her mission. After she put out the word of the need, the community had a clothing drive and collected 73 bags of clothing that was distributed to people in need.
“Many of our residents wanted to help, they just didn’t know how. This allowed them a great opportunity to contribute.”
When asked about a story that particularly moved her, Julie tells about the time she met a man in Freeway Park in the middle of winter who was having trouble climbing some stairs. When Julie asked what the man needed, he replied, “Everything you’ve got.” It turned out, he had fallen down the steps and fractured four ribs and his pelvis. He had been to the hospital, but they couldn’t keep him. Julie and her team managed to get him in a prone position and gave him blankets and food for the night. Julie later ran into him and he was walking upright and was much improved. He was still homeless, but had a renewed spirit because some strangers had taken the time to ensure his well-being.
The Union Gospel Mission has many success stories, including the person who runs the Search & Rescue program, who used to be homeless.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to help others realize they aren’t alone in the world,” says Julie. “It’s tremendously rewarding work.”
Anyone who would be interested in donating their time to the United Gospel Mission can visit their Volunteer page.