Thursday, September 24, 2009

High 5's for this one!

While at Hope Alive, our resident women address a variety of issues that are at the root of their homelessness. Effective financial management and debt resolution is a major area every woman has to tackle. Hope Alive is blessed with two wonderful volunteers, Dave and Cindy, who have created an effective financial education curriculum to meet their needs. They meet one-on-one with moms each week – meeting with all nine women over a five-week period.

One young mother in particular has made tremendous achievements in this area from identifying her wants and needs, developing and managing a monthly budget, resolving debt, maintaining a positive checking account balance, and even saving money. One outstanding debt was with a local department store for which she was trying for months to develop a payment plan to resolve her $390 debt. Rather than working with her on a payment plan, the store demanded full payment and continued to hassle her with constant calls.

Yesterday morning the department store called again and this mom applied the information she learned from our staff and volunteers Dave and Cindy. She calmly spoke to the employee and requested to speak to her supervisor when they refused one more time to work with her. Along the way she took notes, recorded names and stated what she could and couldn’t do – all from a woman without a high school diploma who is motivated to change! She is accepting full responsibility for her debt, too. Praise the Lord! When our staff emailed Dave and Cindy with the good news, they replied, “you’re right, we would be smacking ‘high 5's’ for this one!”

The resident women we serve are some of the strongest and most courageous women I know with their determination to overcome their barriers to independence and success. What a privilege to walk with them on their journeys to wholeness, self-sufficiency and hope! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, September 18, 2009

Change from the inside out

Early this week, some of our resident women cornered me to complain about their hectic schedules and busy lives with classes, homework, work, counseling, cooking, and the needs of their children. They just wanted to find a little time for themselves and a chance to get away from it all. Selfishly, I brushed it off thinking they aren’t any busier than I am - working full-time, speaking engagements, being wife, mother, grandmother, household projects, gardening, etc.

As I thought about this the following days, God showed me I was wrong to feel this way. Their schedules aren’t much different than most of ours, until you consider what’s going on in the inside with the struggles and life-change that happens in their hearts and minds. Besides the meaningful goal-directed activities that fill their days, they live with 8 other families in the Hope Alive community (now that every bed is full), they need to replace old ways of thinking with new, reframe their beliefs and values, learn new skills, heal from past trauma, embrace hope, and dream about what’s possible for their futures. It’s a total life-transformation from the inside out!

One young mother once told me the only life she knew was family chaos and hanging out at the local bar. Until she came to Hope Alive, she didn’t know life was about education, healthy living, working toward a career and productive life for herself and her children.

I hope you can join us at our upcoming Resident Achievement Banquet on October 20 at Dutch’s Daughters Restaurant to hear our resident families’ inspiring stories and how wonderfully God has blessed their lives. Visit our website at for the details or call us at 301-241-4005 for more information. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, September 11, 2009

God's ever-abiding presence

Today is a day of remembrance of the thousands of lives lost on 9/11 from the devastating tragedy that changed our country forever. May this day serve as a reminder of God’s ever-abiding presence through each crisis we face and the blessing of life and loved ones.

This week at Hope Alive we experienced a crisis of our own – in no way meant to compare to 911 – but still one that shook our lives. This past Monday, a new family moved in to Hope Alive having lost their home through a traumatic situation. Two days later, one of the 7 year-old twins fell off the monkey bars on our playground severely injuring her arm. Head trauma was also suspected by the paramedics so they med-evaced the child and her mom to Hershey Medical Center. What a brave little girl – in severe pain, surrounded by so many EMTs, immobilized by a neck brace and body board, and transported on a stretcher by ambulance and helicopter. At Hershey, they treated her for a broken arm and severe dislocation and thankfully no head trauma. She and mom stayed overnight and returned to Hope Alive the following day.

Needing to be with her daughter, the mom was forced to leave the other twin behind at Hope Alive in the care of other resident moms. This little girl felt very alone and apprehensive about being in a new home, having started in a new school the day before, left with near strangers, and missing her mom and sister. I was inspired to see how warmly the other moms embraced, cared for, and comforted this precious 7 year old. She asked us all to pray with her before she fell asleep.

On their return from Hershey, the mom shared with Jody our Family Ministry Specialist that she recognizes God’s presence in their lives through the crises, His bringing them to Hope Alive and directing them on a new path in life. Please pray for the child as she recuperates from her injury – she’ll need to return to Hershey Medical Center four times for follow up care (and still potential surgery) in the next month. Pray for this family as they continue to adjust to their new school, home and Hope Alive family who have welcomed them with love and acceptance.

Every bed is full at Hope Alive. We now have 9 families plus the family living in after-care for a total of 10 moms and 17 children!

Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director