No Thanksgiving Dinner?



        ROCKY'S ROAD            



What would it be like to NOT have a hot meal on Thanksgiving?

I retired from the sport of drag racing at the end 2001, as the lease on SIR ran out.  It was my 26th year there and as the business grew, so did the responsibilities.  We had as many as 13 events in any given week during the summer … some drag races, but other motor racing activities, drivers’ schools and a lot of other things conducive to a race facility.  With all of those activities going on week-to-week, it certainly took its toll.  Burnout was commonplace, and for me, enough was enough.

For my retirement from the sport, I wanted to use some of my experiences in the world of promoting to something positive for those struggling in hard times.  Certainly the sport was great to me and just maybe I could pass along some assistance to folks in real need.

In 2003, the church that Mo and I attend (Issaquah Christian Church) had received an anonymous donation.  The instructions on the donation were to pass out $100 to anyone in the congregation that would accept them so they do some good and get the money to grow.  Pastor Brad said, “Use this $100 so that you can impact their lives and help them in some way.”  Wow!

That sounded like the perfect way to roll up my sleeves, use my skills and see what  I could do  I accepted the $100, but knowing that I had a huge responsibility, to use it to impact lives in need.  That’s exactly what the Lord wants us to do.

Several weeks later, I noticed an ad in the local paper, by the Union Gospel Mission.  Their newspaper ads were targeting donors, just prior to Thanksgiving of that year, to raise dollars to help those in need of a hot meal for Thanksgiving.  Maybe I could use the $100 and get it to grow, so that I could help out this Mission in downtown Seattle.

I stopped by their corporate headquarters and picked up some materials they had, just to see what could take place.  After that, I talked with one of the employees there, to see what made sense for them.  At the time, there were about 1,200 each day that were being fed.  UGM told me that it was going to take about $2,000 to feed all of them on Thanksgiving.  With my racing background, we agreed on a name, “Feed the Hungry Challenge” .. the challenge part of the name came from the racing, of course.  Off I went!

My wife Mo, and I put together a flyer and mailed them out to a few friends and old business contacts.  Additionally, we distributed them around our own neighborhood and at the church.  Would there be any way to pay for all of their meals on Thanksgiving?  Who knows?

As we got closer and closer to Thanksgiving, an amazing thing happened.  In the mail, the checks started coming.  The door bell would ring and it would be someone we didn’t even know, handing us a check for the Feed the Hungry Challenge.  When it was all said and done that year, over $3,500 had been donated to help these people in need!  Not only did it pay for all of their meals on Thanksgiving, but almost the next day, also.  I was stunned!

Now fast forward to 2015.  This year is going to be year #13.  One City/One Hope .. starts with a meal.  Over the last 12 years this amazing effort, and a group of caring and kind people, have raised $74,009.00, feeding 38, 546 people at Thanksgiving.  It has been down-right staggering what has taken place since one of those $100 started this whole thing back in 2003.

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission began back in 1932 by a group of churches to assist in feeding people in need around the time of the Great Depression.  These days, the Mission has expanded into alcohol and drug abuse programs.  Women and children’s shelter for abuse victims, prison ministries, dental and legal clinics, youth services and transitional housing.  The need is so great these days and, of course, the cost of doing these wonderful services is high.  Their drug and alcohol programs are some of the successful in the USA. (85% success rate as compared to 4-6% with the government programs.

In America, we are fortunate.  We have an abundance of everything.  No doubt, this is the greatest country on earth.  If you would like to help a wonderful cause and feed some people that are really in need, please help me if you can.  Send a check made out to UGM (Union Gospel Mission) c/o Jim Rockstad, 16201 SE 138th Place, Renton, Washington 98059. (425-572-6462).  You will receive a tas deductible receipt directly from UGM.

 On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I will hand-carry all dollars raised, with honor, to the Mission.  When we gather family together for our own meal on Thanksgiving, we will thank the Good Lord and all of those who have participated in this great and wonderful cause.

Additionally, I, my son, my daughter (and her husband) will be serving a meal that morning at the Hope Place.  That facility is a shelter for abused mothers with their children, as a place of refuge.  We will be serving the morning meal there so we can return to our own home for special Thanksgiving, later in the day.

The families there are so thankful for this UGM facility and the support they receive there on Thanksgiving.  It is a humbling time for us to talk with those families at Hope Place and hear about the good works the UGM is doing to help them along.

Let’s all be thankful for what we have.  Have a special Thanksgiving with family and friends as you sit down for a hot meal.