Friday, April 30, 2010


Last night was one of Hope Alive’s most exciting fundraising events ever! Visions for Hope – a silent auction of children’s artwork – was impressive! We had a record number of people attend as well as an overwhelming number of entries of children’s ceramics, photography, painting, stonework, photo frames, jewelry and more. Every item was purchased by bidders raising much-needed funds to support Hope Alive’s children’s ministry for our youngest residents. And all proceeds were doubled by a generous anonymous donor offering a matching gift up to $5,000!

Many of the young artists attended including Hope Alive’s children. The expressions on their faces were priceless as they watched adults outbid each other in an attempt to win selected artwork. One local business bought a series of sponge paintings made by Hope Alive children to hang in their offices. Each child left with such positive feelings about themselves and their abilities.

Thank you to everyone who made this event such a wonderful success … our event sponsors, artists, attendees, contributors, and our incredible special events committee!

Just a quick update on my previous weeks’ blogs this month ... April has resulted in the highest number of phone calls we’ve received in any one month since opening more than 3 years ago. Our average number of monthly calls from homeless families has been 18. This month was nearly 40! Please continue to keep the growing numbers of homeless families in your thoughts and prayers and ask God to sustain them in their daily struggles to survive.

If you haven’t been to Hope Alive recently for a visit, think about joining us this Sunday, May 2 from 1 to 4pm for our Open House. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and come by to say hello, meet our families and staff, and enjoy a tour and light refreshments. Visit our website for driving directions. Hope to see you there!

Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Saturday, April 24, 2010

From hopelessness to hope

As I've shared the last couple of weeks, we continue to receive record numbers of phone calls from homeless families searching for help. Every day we hear heartbreaking stories from more than 30 families already this month - a record number since opening our doors more than 3 years ago. One mother even came to our doorstep in tears saying that 3 of her 4 children were living with family or friends until she could find housing. Her fourth child was hospitalized for mental health issues. It's difficult to hear the hopelessness in their voices. We are doing everything possible to help more families despite our limited resources at this time.

In contrast to the hopelessness we hear every day, we are encouraged by the achievements of the resident women and children we serve at Hope Alive. This week, one mother reached a major milestone. After more than a year of hard work, she earned her high school diploma through Frederick County Public School's External Diploma Program (EDP) - a dream come true! She's already ordered her cap and gown for her May graduation! And then last night, Jody Julian (our Family Ministry Specialist) and I couldn't have been more proud with six Hope Alive women and one of our staff being recognized at Frederick Community College's Donor-Scholar Reception with all seven having received scholarships this year. One of our moms was even a keynote speaker. You could have heard a pin drop as she shared her journey from homelessness to hope.

Also this week, our resident children are preparing their final pieces of artwork for our Visions for Hope event on April 29th! It's not to late to join us for this special opportunity to meet our talented young artists and support their efforts. For more information, check out our website at or give us a call at 301.241.4005.

Please keep the overwhelming number of homeless families searching for help in your thoughts and prayers. We trust God will provide for our needs so we can help as many families as possible this year. Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, April 16, 2010

Responding to the need

My blog last week – “needs on the rise” – shared with you the increasing number of calls we’re receiving from homeless families in our community. On average, we receive about 20 phone calls each month. As I mentioned last week, this past January we received the second highest number of calls (30) since July 2008. Mid way through April, we’ve already received 20 calls from homeless families – each in desperate situations and struggling to survive.

So how do we respond? Jody – our Family Ministry Specialist – talks with each woman who calls to assess her family’s circumstances and then compares their needs to our available resources. Do we have bed space available to accommodate their family size? Is there room for the children in our children’s programs based on their ages and our staff/child ratios required by state licensing? Do they have any other housing options available … family or friends they can stay with at least temporarily? What’s most concerning to me is the trend we’re seeing. As shared by many homeless service providers, the numbers of homeless families needing shelter is increasing at an alarming rate.

What we’re doing in response is working to raise more funds so we can provide the staff and resources needed for the increasing inquiries and provide referrals to other community services, operate at capacity to help as many families as possible, and effectively serve our growing number of graduate families in after-care. You can help us help others by spreading the word and supporting our efforts such as our upcoming Visions for Hope event on Thursday, April 29 at the Delaplaine Visual Arts and Education Center in downtown Frederick. This event … kids helping kids … is a silent auction of children’s artwork to benefit Hope Alive’s children’s programs. It promises to be a fun event for the entire family.

Yesterday I saw a few examples of our resident children’s photography that they’ve entered in the Visions for Hope silent auction. Their photos are stunning! I could hardly believe they were taken by our very own 6 and 8 year old residents. Check out our website for more information and come meet our young artists. Together we can respond to the needs and make a difference! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Needs on the rise

This past January we received 30 phone calls from homeless families needing help – the second highest monthly total since opening our doors over 3 years ago. We are already well on our way to what may be a record number of inquiries this month with eight calls received in the last 72 hours. Despite our official intake freeze, we are going to fill a few spaces – not to full capacity though – to help meet some of the need we are seeing in the community. The families we are hearing from have children ranging from infants to teenagers. They all face one or more of the issues common to homelessness such as domestic violence, substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, inability to earn a living wage, and even mental illness. It’s discouraging for our Family Ministry Specialist to hear the desperation in their voices and not have the resources to help each one. She provides referrals to other community services, but there are never enough shelter beds available in the community so much of the need remains unmet.

I recently received a call from a firm in Baltimore that is conducting a survey of service providers in the Washington metro area to assess the needs of homeless families. The information he is gathering is disturbing. Montgomery County reports they have 50-60 homeless families on the streets every night that their shelters are unable to serve. Fairfax County reports seeing a 60% increase in need from 2008 to 2009. The caller promised to keep me updated on his findings, but he suspects the number of homeless families in the Washington DC area is increasing significantly.

We are grateful for the outpouring of support we receive from the community which not only keep our doors open in this difficult economy, but is providing the additional support we need to serve as many families as possible in 2010. Please continue to keep the many many homeless families who are struggling to survive in your thoughts and prayers. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, April 2, 2010

Let the sun shine!

In preparation for Hope Alive's solar energy system installation next week, our project coordinator and faithful volunteer - Dawn Nelson - presented "Solar 101" for our resident moms and children. She brought a small 5 watt solar panel to explain how solar energy works and talked about the system being installed on Hope Alive's roof. She solicited the moms help in serving the volunteer crew during the install. For fun, she brought solar-powered windmill kits for the children to assemble and test.

I was surprised how engaged everyone was - children and moms alike - and how determined they were to put all of the parts of their solar windmills together properly to make sure they would work. When the first windmill was completed and the flood light turned on for power, the "propellers" started to turn and everyone cheered! Soon all the windmills were working. One school-ager took hers to school on Thursday to share with her class and sat with it outside on the Hope Alive sidewalk after school to watch it spin in the sun. What a great learning experience!

Please plan to join us for our solar energy system "unveiling" on Tuesday, April 20 at 2pm. We are especially grateful for the generosity of our project partners - BP Solar, Crum Electric, and Glory Energy Solutions - for their donated time, equipment, materials, and labor! We are excited about the reduction in electric costs that we'll soon realize and the start of a smaller carbon footprint.

My prayer for you this weekend is that you and yours will experience the risen Christ as we celebrate His resurrection and the new life that He gives by faith. May God's Son shine in your lives. Happy Easter!

Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director