New Union Gospel Mission CEO takes challenges of homelessness head-on

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Pamela Stegora Axberg is the new CEO at Union Gospel Mission of the Twin Cities and she told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, after a brief time as interim-CEO, her new role is probably a “calling from God and I just don’t know it.”

“I just couldn’t step away from this and is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and I get great satisfaction from it,” Stegora-Axberg said. “We have to build trust within the homeless community and that is what we are working on during these difficult times.”

Stegora-Axberg told KSTP there was a record number of people living outside, mostly in tent encampments in 2020. The need will likely continue to rise in 2021 amid the challenges of the pandemic and a growing number of mental health issues among the homeless.

“About two years ago, we opened a mental health clinic and I think we have an opportunity to provide even more mental health services than we have in the past,” said Stegora-Axberg. “We provide a wide-range of services too, which include education, adult education and child support services.”

Stegora-Axberg said the COVID-19 pandemic has also made it challenging to convince people living in the tent encampments to move into shelters because many people have the same fears as everyone else about being in close proximity with other people.

“The pandemic and the fear associated with it has caused it to escalate even more,” Stegora-Axber said. “And then people are asking the question about being safe inside shelters, and they are safe in the shelters and we welcome you with a warm meal and a warm night’s stay.”

If you would like to help the Union Gospel Mission, they accept monetary gifts and are always in need of clothing.