Al Bergren, the superintendent of the Union Gospel Mission in Duluth, was injured in a car accident shortly after he married his wife Sharon. Because he was unable to work for over a year and the medical bills continued to pile up, he and his wife had to sell much of what they owned just to feed their family. The Union Gospel Mission became a place of refuge for the Duluth family.
However, it wasn't long after the Bergens turned to the Union Gospel Mission themselves that they both ended up working there.
Sharon Bergren, now the office manager at the Union Gospel Mission, shared her personal story on Oct. 6th with a small group of CSS students who were volunteering as a part of the college's annual Community Day.
“We work here for the people. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives," Sharon said. "I’ve worked here for 16 years, which is long enough to know that some of the people that come here do fit the stereotype of being lazy, but there are also many people that are truly struggling and need somewhere to turn to.”
Kristina Jungels, a first year Health Information Management major, was one of four students from CSS who volunteered at the Union Gospel Mission for the college’s Community Day.
“It’s amazing how we can take something as simple as a warm place to stay or a small meal for granted," Jungels said. " It makes you realize how good you have it and also how quickly you could lose everything."
The group of students served a modest lunch consisting of sloppy joes, french fries, and juice. Afterward they worked on labeling envelopes for sending out annual donation forms for the Christmas season.
Jungels said that many of the people who came into the Union Gospel Mission, as well as the people who work there on a regular basis, showed that they were very grateful and happy to have the students there.
“Tell all your friends to volunteer here," Bergen encouraged the students as they left after their day of work. "We could always use some extra helping hands."
Watch a video of Sharen Bergen sharing the mission of the Union Gospel Mission in the clip below!