Every story has a beginning. Here is ours, made possible by faithful servants of the Lord who were moved to change lives and followed through. Over the last 70+ years, we have continued to build upon the firm foundation that was laid before us.
June 1, 1953
Opening Our Doors
In 1952 a group of Christian businessmen became concerned for the homeless men coming into the Willamette Valley for the harvest. On June 1, 1953, the Union Gospel Mission of Salem opened its doors in the 400 block of Ferry Street.
In early 1954, George Simonka took over as the new director. The Mission was floundering and had an outstanding debt of $1,300 – a lot of money in those days! Simonka helped turn the fate of the Mission around.
345 Commercial St.
The Mission eventually moved to a second story location in the building at 345 Commercial Street. Simonka became friends with Mr. Gaylor, the owner of the building, and he became a good supporter of the Mission. Eventually Mr. Gaylor and the Capital Investment Company sold the building to the mission for an exceptionally low price because they felt the mission needed a permanent home.
In 1968, Simonka Place (originally Simonka House) opened to house women and children on 14th Street in Salem, a beautiful three-story home. This ministry came after George Simonka’s wife, June, asked him, “What about the women?” This facility was the first women’s shelter to open on the west coast.
Expanded Women’s Shelter
In 2002, Simonka Place expanded by moving to Keizer on River Rd., purchasing a facility from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. This new building was better suited for the growing ministry.
New Men’s Mission
Over the years, the building at 345 Commercial Street was ready to retire and capacity was bursting at the seams. In July 2021, a new 50,000 square foot Men’s Mission was opened a few blocks north at 777 Commercial St.