Dottie Whiteside Hildebrand ’87

At a Motel Turned Ministry in Washington State, APU Alumna Deals in Hope

by University Relations

When it comes to providing Christ-centered, life-changing opportunities like rescue, recovery, and restoration, Dottie Whiteside Hildebrand ’87 has no reservations. As chief director of development for Yakima Union Gospel Mission (YUGM)—a motel turned ministry in Washington state—she plays a critical role in creating a refuge of hope and healing for her guests in need.

APU: How does YUGM demonstrate God’s love?

HILDEBRAND: Initially, we provide basic human needs. We feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and provide clothes, medical care, and showers to those in need. We assist our guests in finding employment and permanent housing. Our caring and compassionate volunteers and staff show God’s love by extending a practical helping hand.

APU: How are you changing lives?

HILDEBRAND: We aim to give a hand up rather than a hand out. One of our guests is a 54-year-old woman who lived on the river for seven years after the tragic death of her fiancé. At one time, she had been a successful business woman, wife, and mother. She was also an addict. Occasionally, she would come to the Union Gospel Mission for a hot meal and shower, but she wasn’t ready to stay until her fifth attempt at detoxing. Ornery, she slept on the floor and made it clear that she did not like people. Despite her mood, she finally asked for help. I recently attended her graduation from our one-year addiction recovery programs. Now sober, she has reconciled with her kids, found joy, and gives the credit to Jesus’ saving grace.

APU: Describe your role at the mission.

HILDEBRAND: I oversee marketing, communications, volunteer programs, and community outreach. My team raises financial support and recruits, trains, and places volunteers to sustain programs like the New Life Addiction Recovery program. We also provide an effective way for the YUGM to communicate the needs of the poor and homeless while sowing God’s Word and developing Kingdom resources for ministry purposes. Last year, we raised $3.1 million dollars.

APU: How has this work changed your life?

HILDEBRAND: It has been humbling to take my eyes off of myself and focus on what our Lord has at hand. I’ve accomplished things I could not have possibly done without God’s guidance and power. We were constructing a new medical care center to serve the uninsured poor and give them access to healthcare. We were $700,000 short of a $3.7 million capital campaign when the Lord put a man in our community on my heart. I believed he had the ability to give, but had shown only a small interest in the Union Gospel Mission. When I invited him to tour our campus I crossed over what I call the “chicken line” and asked him to consider a gift toward the $700,000, and he said yes—to the whole amount! The Lord directed his heart and it was my role to connect him with the opportunity. The medical care center is now completed and is the largest free clinic in Washington state in terms of the number of patient visits.

APU: Why is this work so important?

HILDEBRAND: Matthew 25:40 says “…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (NIV). When we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the needy, or invite a stranger in, we are directly serving and caring for Jesus. Jesus cares about the poor, and He calls us to join Him in caring for them.