Union Gospel Mission at the Spokane Ag Expo

Shepherd's Grain co-founder and retired farmer Fred Fleming and Danny Beard, director of strategic partnerships for Union Gospel Mission in Spokane, hope to raise farmer interest and funding with a booth at the Spokane Ag Expo.

A local charity wants to cultivate a relationship with area farmers.

Union Gospel Mission will have a booth during this year’s Spokane Ag Expo, said Danny Beard, director of strategic partnerships for the organization.

Fred Fleming, co-founder of Shepherd’s Grain and retired farmer, invited Beard to attend the expo last year. Beard didn’t expect anyone to know him, but Fleming bet him he’d see someone he knew within five minutes.

“(It took) five seconds,” Fleming said. Beard is involved in basketball camps and is a referee at area games.

“Agriculture is a group of faith-based men and women in the area,” Fleming said. “Maybe the farm community would get behind supporting the Union with equipment, other things out there and/or just straight donations.”

Beard and Fleming hope to raise enough money to develop a program for farm equipment, similar to the existing Union Gospel Mission Motors program. Proceeds from car and truck donations and resale go to services at the mission’s shelters.

A farm equipment program is not currently in the mission’s plan or budget, Beard said. It would require experts, including someone who could train technicians to repair equipment for resale.

“If the funds are there, they would be hired,” Beard said. “If the funds are not there, it’s a volunteer to get something started.”

The mission also wants to teach people to take care of themselves, Beard said. The goal is to reach out to the poor and homeless with “the love and power of the Gospel, that they might become God-dependent, contributing members back in our society.”

Fleming said the mission helps people who are “down and out” to become productive citizens. The mission serves 900 meals per day in its Spokane facilities.

The mission has more than 1,060 volunteers who help run the ministry, Beard said, adding that the mission has determined their donated time would equal roughly $3 million a year.

The mission needs people praying, donating money, volunteering their time and people applying to work there, Beard said.

“Some people just want to pray for us, and I say, ‘Hey, that’s number one, but if you’re not doing any of the other three, probably they’re going to turn our lights off,’” Beard said.

“It’s one of those things that truly is a God thing,” Fleming said. “Basically, (we’re) throwing a seed out on the ground and seeing what sprouts.”

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