UO Student Survey of Union Gospel Mission Guests is Eye-Opening

Union Gospel Mission is pleased to partner with University of Oregon students from the University of Oregon Turnbull Center's School of Journalism and Communication.  These students assisted Union Gospel Mission with it's annual "Snapshot Survey" this October. The Snapshot Survey is an annual one day survey that Union Gospel Mission and other Missions around the country conduct to get an picture of those we serve.  The students spent in  an afternoon in our homeless day room talking to guests who came in for services. Here are some notable statistics:

63.7% have been homeless for over one year

43% of the those we surveyed had experienced physical violence in the past year. This represents more than a 10% increase over previous years.

50% of the visitors who reported to be veterans served in Iraq or Afghanistan wars

Both students who conducted the surveys wrote essays about their time with our guests:

Last week I had the opportunity to take part in conducting surveys at the Union Gospel Mission in downtown Portland. I have to say that it was an eye-opening and even life-changing experience. I spoke with roughly thirty individuals that visit the mission, most who visit daily. I asked them some background questions as well as questions regarding their current living situations. More than 90 percent of the individuals, both men and women, shared with me that they are currently homeless. I was completely shocked.

Here in Oregon, temperatures are dropping and the heavy winter rain is approaching. Knowing that there are large numbers of people who will have to endure such harsh conditions without shelter is heartbreaking.

 However, I felt a strong sense that the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) is giving them hope. One man enthusiastically showed me his new shoes that were provided to him by the mission and shared his thanks for comfortable new attire that he would have otherwise been without.

 From this single experience I was able to see the impact that UGM is making on the lives of a number of individuals in Portland.  

 The mission’s goals are to feed the hungry, restore the addict, and love their neighbor. During my short time facilitating surveys, I found that many of those goals were being met. Individuals were grateful to be provided a warm meal and beverages, as well as conversing with the friendly volunteers. This type of community was heart-warming and I was happy to have the chance to be a part of it.

Cheyenne Knowles

University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication

Class of 2013

On October 18, 2013, my University of Oregon J 409 class helped out with conducting the Union Gospel Mission 2013 visitor’s survey. As guests stopped in for lunch from 2-3:30 at the Portland Mission, each of the 3 survey takers was able to interview about 20-25 individuals. All surveys were anonymous and guests had the option to “pass” on questions they were not able to answer. As we sat and interviewed survey-takers, kind staff members directed visitors to our tables. I was surprised and enlightened by the amount of visitors that were willing to help us out and answer the survey!

The experience was eye opening for me. Although I have not experienced homelessness myself, I can see the huge impact the mission has. The mission required me to be open minded and genuinely interested in the needs of others… and in turn many visitors were honest and open when they talked to me. It touched my heart when a guest, who was receiving lunch for the day, sat down and took a survey with me. She mentioned that she would love to have new tennis shoes. Before I could ever answer, another volunteer had already grabbed a comfortable pair of sneakers for her. I couldn’t believe how quickly the staff was able to lend a hand. I felt a warm feeling inside when guests would smile at me – it made me feel like they were happy I was there. Almost all individuals I spoke with visited the mission daily. This can be bittersweet – it means this community has a great need for homeless and low-income services; however, UGM Portland has responded to the need by being able to help all guests… day after day. I am looking forward to finalizing the results and moving forward to better help the community!

 Adaira Floyd

University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication

Class of 2013

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