I have been working at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission full-time (More than a year)
From the President caring to each individual staff member, to knowing every one of our guests by name, the Seattle Union Gospel Mission cares deeply about their impact. This place is the definitive of ownership of it's community, and the deep to head straight on to impact institutionalized socio gaps, and racial division. I can not think of another organization that creates workshops to openly discuss diversity, and prejudice in an environment where discussion leads to progress. There is intentional relational building, as well as, leadership training and educational investment into their staff for the intention to better the community and further their outreach.
The only con is due to straight perspective. When you are dealing with very real and difficult trauma, almost daily, without the right support and self care it can weigh on you. Seattle Union Gospel Mission does a great job giving avenues for support, but it has to be utilized, or it can be heavy. On the flip side, we get to see miracles- daily!- and build a strong family atmosphere.
Advice to Management
Continue. Continue those long nights of hard work, often unseen, and unknown by many. Continue loving your staff so deeply and strongly that it can only lead to them loving themselves and others stronger.
The Union Gospel Mission is the largest and most influenceal mission in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Their size afforeds many opportunities to serve those on the margins of society in the Seattle area. The mission has the love for Jesus at its core. The mission has hired many individual who went through their recovery programs. They do believe in giving an individual a chance.
The mission and direction for the mission has drifted in recent years. A change at the top has resulted in more of a youth focus. That is great if you are young or work with youth, but it did result in the elimination of the Senior Ministries. With some of the changes there have been at times more emphasis on the number served over the quality of the service. Ministries with proven results have been greatly altered and key personnel have be fired or their positions changed within the organization that has resulted in less effectiveness for recovery and addiction services. Salaries vary but most are low paying positions as the minimum wage is $15.00 in Seattle. While the mission does exceed the minimum wage, many of the qualifications that are required for specific positions are not adequately compensated.
Advice to Management
The management of the UGM could use diversity training. Internally UGM management think they are a very inclusive organization and that they are fair with all. Current and former employees of color would disagree. Minorities tend to be employed in the lower levels and are invisible in the upper echelons. Those who rise up in position are often demoted with no explanation given. Their relationship with church leaders of color is not as strong as it could be. Pastors have communicated that they were ignored or disrespected and not invited to participate as equals.
I worked at the mission for over a year. When I started I worked under an amazing director with a great supervisor, who truly invested in me, sought out my gifts, talents and interests and found ways to incorporate them into my job (within reason). My first supervisor always provided me with great honest support, generous and encouraging feedback and gentle guidance and correction. I felt safe to go to her with any questions and trusted that she would give me sound advice, answers and guidance. Working at the Mission originally was wonderful. The team was great, cared for the guests and overall we did a great job communicating/supporting one another.
At the Mission I witnessed beautiful genuine transformation of guests and it was an honor to be close enough to see! They had a great program that created a safe environment for guests to make mistakes and process.
The benefits were great, and although the pay wasn’t competitive, it was good enough at the time for the job. Many of the staff members on the team are great, aware, intelligent people. There is a beautiful expression of diversity that can be seen at the mission. I was privileged to meet so many wonderful people.
Everything changed when the mission underwent another re-org. My previous supervisor (who was under the impression that she would receive a new position) was actually fired. This is only one out of many stories of all the deception that would begin to happen. There were a lot of lies regarding what staff was told would be done/happen with the program/staff and what was actually done. It took a healthy, flourishing and safe environment and made it into a toxic place where everyone was had to watch their backs.
I received a new supervisor who lacked a lot of knowledge regarding addiction/recovery. She had horrible boundaries with the guests in the program, basically wanting to form friendships with them, rather than have a client to supervisor relationship. This was not helpful to the guests nor to staff (if you’re invested in a friendship how can you help someone process a traumatic experience that affects you too?!). It made staff feel unsafe and unsupported. Not to mention, it also created conflict of interest.
Although the leadership team throws around the world “self care” they do nothing to encourage it. The program changes at a rate that is too fast for staff to keep up with. Staff is told that leadership will learn about the program, but instead top down implementation happens without consent. Changes are made abruptly and poorly. Everything is disorganized for staff and guests. Multiple staff members I spoke with felt like they were running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off and are unable to meet the needs of the guests. I heard multiple guests say they felt like a “number” rather than a person. It made me sad.
The mission tries to do too much too quickly. This overarching spread of trying to implement new programs to quickly, and to try to do everything makes everything run poorly. People’s needs aren’t met in a way that will sustain them in the long run. It wears staff out, it’s not best practice and ultimately it won’t last. The mission cares about donor money and street credit. They want to boost their statistics and numbers, but if you take a closer look, everything is falling apart on the inside.
The mission is undergoing an awkward transition where they can’t decide if they are a church or a social service organization. This affects whether or not staff practice social service guidelines/ethics etc. It also awkwardly affects work/life boundaries and how staff should manage themselves. It does not bring clarity but rather confusion. My supervisor consistently tried to “disciple me” and ask me personal questions that I did not feel comfortable answering. When I set boundaries, she took them personally. When there was a professional decision that she made that I disagreed with, she took it personally, because under the umbrella of being called a “church” we were supposed to “do life” together as a family, rather than make decisions as a professional team. Even more, although the mission calls themselves a church, they fire great, valuable and hardworking employees left and right without reason or care.
It’s not safe to exercise freedom of speech at the Mission. When staff spoke up, they were reprimanded for not joining the “vision” of the mission. If there was any disagreement with the change, staff were told they were having a “negative” attitude, that unwanted facial expressions were not allowed in meetings and that we could not make eye-contact with other employees. Basically if you could not keep your head down and do your job, there were serious consequences.
It seems that although staff were supposed to help guests work through traumas of spiritual abuse, we as staff were being put through it. The leadership/exec team demands that staff provide them with research based evidence, yet whenever staff questions the leadership team, a Bible verse is pulled out to justify their actions. It’s manipulation. At one point I remember sitting in a staff meeting, being told I wasn’t a “good Christian” or “loving others well enough” because I wanted to adhere to the basic social service policy of maintaining boundaries and not befriending guests outside of my job.
There’s a lot of talk about “mutuality,” that the executive team is trying to push. However, it seems like executives think that we at the mission are supposed to be the “saviors” or “those on the street.” Whenever I hear an exec talk at a graduation ceremony they refer to the guests as “the broken,” “victims,” “miracles” etc.
There is a huge ignorance that plagues the executive board regarding racial/gender equality. One time during a graduation, the president of the organization said that the women guests of the program, “don’t always look this good,” which felt incredibly dishonoring considering the situations they are leaving, their perceptions of men and their perceptions of how men perceive them. Another time, the president of the mission got into a car full of women staff and said, “don’t tell me wife,” like we were all some sort of sexual objects. It was awkward, unprofessional and incredibly showing of his lack of awareness of his privilege as a white heterosexual christian male. Lastly, at a staff meeting, the president of the mission, put his arm around an black staff member and said, “I don’t see color.” It was almost as if Michael Scott invaded his body and took over. When staff was upset about this, he basically came and said that he made a mistake, but we didn’t have time to address race as an issue (which is odd since this is something that does affect the work environment and those we serve). Overall, this was greatly concerning!
Advice to Management
LEARN. Take a step back and OBSERVE. You come in and make changes quickly, without taking the necessary time to learn and observe. It’s almost like a mild form of Imperialism within an organization. You mess-up structures and systems that were already in place, because you don’t understand them, change them to cater your views and then you leave a new system that no one understands, creates disintegration and disorganization and expect staff to pick up the missing pieces. LISTEN—to guests and employees, they have wisdom.
Stop caring so much about NUMBERS, but use social service research methods. The mission says they care about research and numbers, but sadly have done little research on best practices. Try gathering QUALITATIVE data vs. QUANTITIVE data. Qualitative data is what social service organizations do use and should use. Numbers can’t tell you anything. Finding trends and patterns in conversations can. The Bible IS an authority, but also if you dive a little deeper, you can find Christian social workers, counselors, Chemical Dependency professionals etc. to help you create a biblical framework regarding how to incorporate the Bible and best practices. They go hand in hand.
Be AWARE of your power and privilege and what position that puts you in. Acknowledge it, don’t be afraid of it, but use it to empower others, and not just take control and do whatever you want. When you don’t it just makes your employees mad, and also very concerned that you are unaware of how societal and systemic racism/sexism contributes to EVERYTHING.
STOP being shady and OWN your mistakes. There is so much that is done in a way that is dishonoring to staff and guests. They see it too. Just be honest. Stop appeasing staff and lying so they will shut up and be happy. Staff hear one thing, and then see something else happen. When it’s called out staff get in trouble. Rather than punishing staff for something you did, reflect inwardly! Your prideful efforts to always be right are hurting your team and the people you serve. As someone who works on the frontlines, I don’t mess around with manipulative people, don’t expect staff to do it with you just because you were a suit and tie.
Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review
I worked at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission (More than 3 years)
It was wonderful to see the growth in a lot of the clients from when they first come in to when they leave. Some of the staff are very down to earth and easy to get along with. Made some long lasting friends.
Noticed favoritism between staff and clients. Lack of authenticity/transparency and wearing of "masks" among staff and management.
Advice to Management
Remember why you wanted to work at the Mission. Remember what grace is and that no one is better than the other...everyone is on a healing and growth mission. "Grace w/out accountability is enabling". Practice what you preach.
I worked at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission full-time
Community and fellow employees are wonderful. Monthly meetings helped re-center vision and purpose for why we're there.
Leadership is very interesting... Needs more checks and balances. A bit of bitter people that make the feeling contagious.
Advice to Management
Transparency and over-communicate. Crucial for non-profit organizations. Hope place needs solid leaders and the need for employees to feel appreciated.
A lot of fantastic people are drawn to the work at the mission because of the work that it does. Many of the people that I worked with will be lifelong friends.
UGM desires to make an impact in a variety of ways, which is good, but it leaves some ministries critically understaffed and under resourced. Staff get burnt out as a result.
I worked at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission full-time (More than 5 years)
The Teams that you work with are pretty amazing most of the time.....I will never forget my time with the recovery program staff at the mission, they taught me a lot and they always were in my corner when i needed support. They began to feel like family and I will keep in touch with most of them as time goes on
I really don't like focusing on the negatives here, it is not a place a would recommend to a friend
Advice to Management
Listen to your people!! You are consistently asking for feedback, quit placating your employees!! Be honest with your employees, and for the love of all that is holy stop using religion as a weapon against the people that we serve or even your employees.
I have been working at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission full-time
The best co-workers to work with
Everyone's really friendly and fun
Purposeful work - you make a difference.
Really good benefits.
Low-pay, but that's expected from a non-profit Christian organization
They're still trying to navigate the fine-line between a ministry and a business.
Policies and procedures are kind of lacking...
Advice to Management
I think if you're coming to the Mission, you're coming because you have been called by God to serve and work in the ministry that He's called you to.
But please please please be aware that just like every other ministry that is doing God's great work, there is a huge aspect of Spiritual warfare.
I've realized that the biggest form of spiritual attack her is division and lack of trust between co-workers and departments.
It needs to be a constant reminder that we are co-laborers in God's ministry, and that we're FOR each other, not against each other. That idea of being for each other needs to happen from top-down, not just from the executive level but form ANY supervisory level. If supervisors model advocating of their staff, staff will follow suit and advocate for their fellow co-laborers.
Why advocate for one another? Because this work is hard work. And if we're doing alone, it gets really difficult.
Overall, I really do believe God has sent SUGM out to do His work, and SUGM is doing a great big work and making big impact. But we need to really build a strong and united foundation of ministry co-laborers in order to make MORE forceful impact on poverty and homelessness.
Don't forget also that just because we're a Christian organization doesn't mean that we're perfect. There are mistakes that will be made because we are human. Yes, Christian orgs are supposed to be different, and I think SUGM is different in that people here really have the biggest hearts you could ever meet. But People are also flawed and make mistakes, and grace is definitely needed. SUGM is an extension of the Church, meaning that when Jesus said that healthy people don't need a doctor, it applies to SUGM too. We need Jesus so much here and we might need to come back to that.
I love being able to apply my professional skills in a faith-centered environment that's also full of extremely smart people. It feels great to know that my efforts are directly helping our homeless neighbors - even on bad days, it's still rewarding. In my role I travel around to the various UGM locations quite a bit, and everyone I've met has had such a genuine desire to serve and love on our guests, who have gone through some of the most devastating traumas you can think of. Before I worked here, I thought all staff members must be saints and spiritually out-of-my-league in a way, however people here are down-to-earth and have a great sense of humor in the midst of intense jobs. Yet everyone is consistent in their compassion for others. I have so much respect for my coworkers, which hasn't been the case in some of my previous jobs.
I've read the other reviews and quite frankly haven't experienced those criticisms myself, specifically as it relates to upper management (which I am not, nor am I in HR), and I've been here awhile now. I actually feel very supported by upper management - they're approachable and even though they're managing a tight budget, they make sure I have the tools to do my job well. I have a newer phone and laptop, and I've been at for-profit jobs where I've received no work phone and used clunky computers. That's just one example that stood out to me, as I thought working at a non-profit would mean a really old school environment. I really love my job and workplace, and I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge upper management's role in that.
With any non-profit job, the pay is less (though not much below market rate, at least in my position). And in the social service arena, there's definitely an opportunity to get discouraged and overwhelmed if you allow yourself to be. However all of the departments send detailed reports and success stories each month, which are very encouraging.
I have been working at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission full-time
I use my professional skills and passion to help Seattle's homeless and hungry with a team that truly believes in transforming lives and our community. My time and input is valued, and I can see how my work is making a difference. Volunteer work and personal development is also encouraged. I work hard every day, but it's a privilege and joy to be part of this great organization.
Rising needs of those in greatest need in our community.
This will replace the current featured review for targeted profile. Are you sure you want to replace it?
Are you sure you want to remove this review from being featured for targeted profile?