Union Gospel Mission ahead of schedule - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Union Gospel Mission ahead of schedule

$6.5 million raised for center

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Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011 12:15 am

COEUR d'ALENE - As Keith Green walked through the Union Gospel Mission building under construction in Coeur d'Alene, he was bundled up - but still smiling.

"Sorry, we don't have the heat turned on," he joked to a group taking a Sunday tour. "We're about 90 days, out, no, make that 120 days from heat."

Green, a UGM board member, was on site for a pair of open houses at the center for women and children in the works on Haycraft Avenue.

About 70 people visited Friday, and another 100 on Sunday.

The $8.5 million project, funded through private donations, is a few weeks ahead of its scheduled opening in August. So far, $6.5 million has been raised.

"That's amazing," said board member Brent Christian.

Unfinished walls and doorways greeted guests, making for chilly 20-30 minute tours. Electrical cords, drywall, venting, insulation, ladders and ductwork lay throughout, testament to the ongoing construction.

"I'm impressed," said Jackie Eborall, after walking through the main three-story building that will house the recovery aspect of UGM's program. "I think there's a great need to minister to the women and the children of the area. I just marvel at what Union Gospel Mission has done in Spokane and now we're going to have it here in Kootenai County."

Guests got a glimpse of what's to come.

The rescue side will offer more temporary, emergency housing and medical services.

There will be a screening process to determine who gets into the extensive, five-phase, 18-month to two-year recovery program.

"This will be a place where women have to make some decisions," said Jillian Devine, UGM counselor and tour guide.

"We want to be able to be a crisis intervention type of place and then say, 'Now where are you going to go?'"

There will be a kitchen, dining hall, chapel, medical clinic, offices, gathering points, classrooms, "mending soul" rooms and bedrooms for singles and families in the recovery side.

Devine said women accepted into the program must also enroll in a transitional program for another six months to meet with counselors and mentors to track how they're faring on their own.

"They're taking all the tools they learned in the first year and a half," she said. "For six months we want to make sure they can live successfully. So not only are they drug and alcohol free, but they have a job or they're in school."

Children, too, will receive help in a safe environment where they can feel loved and cared for.

"They come in here and a lot of them have some serious behavioral issues," Devine said. "They've been in chaos for so long."

Divine said the recovery unit will house people ranging in age from teens to folks in their 70s. Most will be in their 40s and 50s.

"We've had over the past six months a huge amount of younger kids coming in," said Devine, who works in the Spokane UGM.

It will cost from $560,000 to $750,000 a year to operate the Coeur d'Alene center that sits on 2.7 acres just east of U.S. 95. The average cost to treat a client will be $10,000 a year.

The staff will be 7-10 to start.

"That will grow as we grow," said Debi Pauletto, director of advancement."

Volunteers will be needed, too.

Christian knows why he supports the faith-based, Christian program.

He has attended graduations of those who have completed the rehabilitation program, and heard their stories of before, and after.

"You see what a transformation they had," he said.

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