Thursday, December 24, 2009

The true meaning of Christmas

This entire month we’ve experienced an outpouring of love and care from individuals and groups from all over the Frederick County community and beyond. Christmas gifts for the resident families, charitable contributions, gift cards, food, and items from our wish list have been delivered in abundance.

A Hope Alive volunteer delivered Christmas gifts on Tuesday from his family and stayed to play a while with the children throwing snow balls with them to knock the icicles off the roof and giving them piggy back rides. They gave him a big group hug for the fun they enjoyed.

This morning a local pastor dropped off handmade jewelry that was delivered to her doorstep by someone who was unemployed. This individual wanted to offer something to those in need at this time of year and felt the handmade gifts were all he could afford. My heart was so touched when I saw the beautiful beaded bracelets taped to brown paper and tucked inside a Christmas card with the handwritten message, “May the Lord bless you always.”

Also this morning I received an email from a friend who said a local Frederick merchant delivered a $100 check to her for Hope Alive instead of their employees doing Secret Santa gifts. Yesterday she had a visit from the woodcarver who made the bear that stands in front of their store – Dancing Bear Toys in downtown Frederick. He made them a new bear – a dancing one! – free of charge but asked that they auction off their original bear and donate the money to Hope Alive.

These expressions of love – and so many others – beautifully represent the true meaning of Christmas when God poured out His great love for us all through the gift of His Son Jesus.

“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its Savior.” John 3:16

Merry Christmas! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Milestones big and small

Last week was a milestone week at Hope Alive. Our youngest resident - 5 months old - started sitting in a high chair to eat his cereal. He looks like such a big boy! Our next youngest resident - 10 months old - started walking! He took his first step a week ago and by the end of the week he had taken off. He was exceptionally mobile at 8 months old so walking at 10 months was no surprise to his mother, other resident moms, and staff. With his first step in our children's center, everyone came running to celebrate this important milestone in his life. There's no stopping him now!

Also last week, 5 of our resident moms celebrated the successful end to their fall semester at Frederick Community College. One mom was so relieved that her anatomy and physiology class was over (in addition to her other three classes) and she felt pretty confident about her final exam. She's scheduled to graduate with her AA degree in May 2010! Another mom proudly announced that she had passed her final exam in english and finished the semester with an 3.8 grade point average. Another mom is expecting to receive her high school diploma in a few weeks since finishing the course work at the end of November!

As Christmas approaches, don't forget to finish your holiday shopping online through with a percentage of every online purchase going to support our ministry to homeless women and children - just check Hope Alive as your charity of choice. Check out our December newsletter at - you'll enjoy the photos of our resident families and their messages of life-change and hope. As you prepare for the coming of Christmas, be sure to prepare your hearts for the birth of the Christ child - Jesus the Christ who came to give us abundant life and hope! Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The healing journey

Last week I had breakfast with a dear friend who led the development efforts of Hope Alive's program services. She had attended a mental health conference the day before and shared some fascinating information with me. She explained that with individuals suffering from mental illness, there can be a lack of development or blockage in the prefrontal lobe of the brain where the "executive functions" occur such as memory, reasoning, decision-making, and problem solving. This problem can be compounded by substance abuse. Only after a woman has been clean and sober for a year or longer does she begin to deal with the emotional issues that have started to rise to the surface. Through therapy, healing, training, and coaching, the development of the executive function of the brain takes place.

So what does all this mean for Hope Alive? As my friend listened to the conference presenter, she began to see Hope Alive's need to serve as this executive function as a large percentage of homeless women suffer from these issues. It will mean more training in this area for our staff, greater tolerance, patience and grace for slow progress, and even more intense coaching and training for our women as they legitimately need longer to gain the skills and functioning needed to achieve self-sufficiency. As we have over the past 3 years, we continue to dedicate ourselves to developing the most effective residential ministry possible to end the cycle of homelessness for the families we serve.

On a different note, we have been amazed at God's outpouring of support this holiday season ... from generous donors, faithful volunteers, and individuals and organizations holding special fundraising events to benefit Hope Alive as well as "adopting" our families for Christmas. God is faithful and pouring out His abundant blessings to meet the ministry's needs. I pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving and are preparing your hearts to celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Until next week.

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director