Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cries for Help … What to do after the call

Hope Alive is offering a free workshop to equip groups and individuals to more effectively respond to those in greatest need in our community. Area churches, organizations and agencies continue to be bombarded with calls from families and individuals who are in emotional, spiritual and economic crisis. The caller may be imminently homeless, without basic necessities such as food or utilities or in need of mental health or substance abuse treatment. How can caring individuals or groups respond biblically and practically to their cries? What issues need to be kept in mind while providing resources and support?

Please join Jody Julian, Hope Alive’s Family Ministry Specialist, and Laurey Richmond, licensed clinical psychotherapist, for an informative and interactive workshop that will empower church leaders and concerned individuals to respond to crisis needs in our community.

Saturday, March 17, 2012
10AM - 12PM

Frederick Christian Fellowship Church
10142 Hansonville Road
Frederick, MD 21702

RSVP to or 301.241.4005 so we can provide adequate materials, space and refreshments.

Help us spread the word!

Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A testimony of life-change

Earlier this week, our board of directors met with our entire staff for a day-long strategic planning session. This effort sets the direction of Hope Alive for the next 3-5 years. As part of the day, the board wanted to hear from a resident mom about the impact Hope Alive’s ministry is having on the lives of those we serve. Riyan (who was featured in our November newsletter) shared with the board the accomplishments she and her children have made during their stay that have put them on the road to success and independence.

Riyan first talked about the children’s ministry staff that has helped to change the lives of her children. She’s so thankful for the loving care, support and professional advice the children’s staff provides to her and her two little ones. She said they’ve learned so much more than she ever imagined they could at this young stage of their lives.

Riyan also talked about the changes that have happened in her own life. She’s learned important conflict resolution and financial management skills, grown in her faith, and has become a role model and leader among her peers. She admitted that some of the life-change she’s experienced has been hard, but she recognizes that it’s all for her benefit to bring her to the place where she is today. She was awarded a vehicle through Second Chances Garage to give her greater independence, will complete her associate’s degree at FCC this year, and is interviewing for a full-time job as she prepares to graduate from the program and move out on her own.

Riyan’s testimony was the highlight of our day – helping us better understand the significant impact God's ministry is having on our families' lives. As we celebrate our fifth year of serving homeless families and our tenth year since Hope Alive was born, we praise God for the ministry’s effectiveness in changing the face of homelessness in our community.

On behalf of our staff, board of directors, and residents, thank you for keeping hope alive for each precious life we serve. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Don't give up

When I first started writing this blog a few years ago, I promised our readers an up close and personal look into the ministry of Hope Alive. This week’s blog is just that.

Last weekend, I took off Friday and Monday to make a long holiday weekend. When I returned to work on Tuesday morning I already had a list of priorities in mind that I needed to accomplish my first day back to work. For the past seven months I’ve been covering two jobs – mine as Executive Director and our vacant position of Development Director. So every day presents me with competing tasks and responsibilities that I must accomplish for the benefit of the ministry.

I started my Tuesday morning by scanning my emails and I found myself with even more assignments that needed to take priority in my day. Suddenly, I was totally overwhelmed and discouraged, feeling that I can never accomplish all that is required of me. I just wanted to give up.

Then I read an email from my prayer partner and mentor Pam Geisbert. Her message said she and her husband had started the New Year identifying three-word phrases as their spiritual focus for 2012. “God is here” and “I choose You” where just a couple of the three-word phrases God had already impressed on their hearts. She ended her email by challenging me to think about my three-word phrases for the New Year. That was easy. At that very moment, “I give up” were the three specific words that immediately and clearly came to mind.

The next morning, one of our resident moms came upstairs to the office to pick up the car keys to drive to work. She stopped when she saw me sitting in a vacant cubicle going through a pile of paperwork I had just taken out of my mailbox. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but don’t give up!” My jaw dropped and I knew God was speaking to me. “That was yesterday” was all I could say as I stood to hug her and wipe tears from my eyes. Even though I hadn’t spoken those words out loud the previous morning, God knew how hopeless I felt and He spoke words of comfort to me through this faith-filled woman. She told me it was because of Hope Alive that she and her children were doing so well and she encouraged me to press on. I was completely overwhelmed by God’s great love for me and my discouragement was replaced with His indescribable peace and comfort.

I’m sharing this personal story in hopes of encouraging those who feel like they are facing overwhelming circumstances. So if you’re feeling like the challenges facing you are too hard to go through … don’t give up. If you’re feeling like you are all alone … God is near. If you’re feeling like no one cares … God loves you. Listen carefully for God’s voice as He speaks words of comfort and encouragement to you through people who love you just like this precious mom did for me. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas is a time for love

I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as ours at Hope Alive. I was at Hope Alive Christmas morning and it was inspiring to see the love that our families shared. Two of our moms read scripture and talked about the true meaning of Christmas before all the children were allowed to open their gifts. Every child was so excited as they unwrapped gifts that had been donated for them. Amy was thrilled with an art set and Julie loved the outfits that had been picked out especially for her. One mother came into the kitchen with tears streaming down her face after opening a simple gift card that had been purchased for her. With this gift she can purchase food, clothing, even needed medications. Another mother said this Christmas made up for the last four when she and her daughter moved from place to place.

After breakfast, all the moms and children spent the next couple of hours playing games together – laughing and having great fun. It was so heartwarming to see the love between them. As another mother once said, it’s just one big overwhelming family at Hope Alive.

It’s this loving, stable environment that Hope Alive offers that provides our families with the foundation for growth, healing, and the courage to move forward toward self-sufficiency. Thank you for supporting this life-change and for offering hope of a future. Thank you for keeping hope alive and for walking with us on this amazing journey of faith. May you enjoy an especially blessed New Year! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas comes from the heart

Last night I watched a popular Christmas movie – “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. My favorite part is near the end of the movie when the Grinch learns that, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, perhaps Christmas means a little bit more.” As desperate as the Grinch was to steal Christmas from Whoville, he found he couldn’t because it lived in the hearts of the people.

Friday morning as I drove through downtown Frederick for an early morning meeting, I stopped at the traffic light at “square corner” (the intersection of Market and Patrick Streets). What happened right there in the busiest intersection in downtown Frederick was a wonderful reminder of what the Grinch discovered about the true meaning of Christmas. In the middle of the crosswalk, two friends met and embraced with a big hug and smile. In the hustle and bustle of the busy Christmas season, their embrace was a beautiful reminder that love from the heart is the true meaning of Christmas.

The Bible says that love comes from God. And it's His love that God gave to the whole world in the gift of His Son Jesus. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1. “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Fod God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17.

Once the Grinch experienced love through the little girl Cindy Lou, he was never the same again. He found forgiveness, joy and meaning for life. How much greater love can we experience and how much more can our lives be changed when we receive the gift of God's Son Jesus as His gift of salvation for the world? Immeasurably more and beyond anything we can ever ask or imagine.

From the board of directors, staff, and resident families at Hope Alive, our prayer for you this Christmas is that you will receive God’s gift of His Son – the Christ child – and know His life-changing love! May your hearts be filled with God’s love this Christmas!

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The spirit of giving

This Christmas season I’ve been especially impacted by the spirit of giving – but in two totally different ways.

Last week one of our resident moms bounded up the steps to the office and presented the staff with a bouquet of roses. She wanted to thank us for everything we’ve done for her and her two young children. Your first thought may be, “Why in the world is she spending money on flowers when she doesn’t even have a home of her own?”

This amazing young woman has achieved so much since coming to Hope Alive. She’s maintaining her budget with controlled spending. She’s reducing her debt and is saving for her family’s future which qualified her for a vehicle from Second Chance Garage. She’s working as a substitute teacher and will earn an associates degree in 2012. She’s shown spiritual growth and maturity and is a godly role model for her peers. She and her children will graduate from the Hope Alive program next spring and live on their own for the first time in their lives. So, her giving in this way was not a foolish waste of money, but a loving expression of her gratitude that encourages the staff and makes her feel even more loved and valued.

I’ve also been impacted by the overwhelming spirit of giving from the community. Like every other Christmas, we’ve been inundated with gifts from generous individuals and groups who want our families to know they are surrounded by a community who loves and cares for them.

But there was one wrapped gift that arrived that I can’t stop thinking about. (If any gifts are delivered wrapped, we unwrap them to verify the contents and make sure they go to the right family.) One such gift was a pair of fashion boots. They were stylish and something that one of our moms or older girls would love. But … they were worn, scuffed, and had a hole in the sole. This gift just broke my heart … mostly for the person who gave it.

I would hope that when we give to others – especially those in need – that we give our best. God gave His perfect gift to us in His Son Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

God did not hold back His best, but offered His one and only Son as the sacrifice for the sins of the world so that we might have new life through Him … all because of His great love for us! May this Christmas be a season filled with the true spirit of giving by giving Him our best in response for the precious gift of love He has freely given to us! May your Christmas be filled with the wonderful celebration of the indescribable gift of Jesus Christ!

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

P.S. There's still time to take advantage of our challenge grant matching dollar for dollar every new gift we receive!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reflections on Thanksgiving

The turkey, stuffing, and gravy was delish, but the most meaningful part of my Thanksgiving was the thanksgiving offered to God for the many blessings in our lives. I’m most thankful for my relationship with God, a wonderful husband, loving children and grandchildren, my mother’s healing, and for the opportunity to serve at Hope Alive.

This Thanksgiving I also thought about what our families at Hope Alive are most thankful for this year. Stability, improved health, a place to call home, loving support, unconditional love and acceptance, new opportunities, peace and hope top their blessings this year.

I found myself thinking about homeless families in our community and what they might be reflecting on this Thanksgiving. Sadly, their thoughts are probably consumed with their housing instability, food insecurity, life chaos, poor health, hopelessness and despair.

My prayer is that together we can respond to the growing, complex, and unmet needs of homeless women and children in our community to help change their lives. Did you know there are 600 homeless children in Frederick County Public Schools this month? That’s an increase from 400 at the start of the school year. The recently released Frederick County Human Needs Assessment identified one of the most urgent needs in our community is for shelter ranging from emergency to permanent affordable housing. I believe God is calling us to work together to meet more of these critical needs and to continue to change the face of homelessness in our community.

Thank you for your support and committed interest in the work God has called us to do. Let’s make every day Thanksgiving by giving praise and gratitude to God for all He has done in our lives! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director