Friday, August 27, 2010

Intake freeze lifted!

Thanks to the generosity of the Ausherman Family Foundation and the response and faithfulness of Hope Alive’s donors, we are able to lift our intake freeze and fill once again to capacity! In July, the Ausherman Family Foundation awarded Hope Alive a $25,000 emergency operating grant and a $25,000 Challenge Grant matching dollar for dollar every donation we receive – resulting in $75,000 in much-needed funding to serve as many homeless families as possible this year! Thanks to the outpouring of matching gifts from our generous donors, we are almost at the half-way mark (in just one month’s time) to reaching the $25,000 match! The outpouring of gifts from our friends and the Foundation is allowing us to serve more homeless families with a family of five moving in next week! Thank you and keep spreading the word about this special opportunity so we meet the $25,000 goal (and beyond) as quickly as possible!

Lifting our intake freeze presents a new challenge – the need for additional children’s ministry staff to maintain child/staff ratios (required by state licensing regulations) as our resident population grows. Our summer staff returned to college in mid August and our recruiting efforts this summer have been unfruitful in bringing qualified applicants to our doors. You’ve been so effective in helping us spread the word about the Challenge Grant that I’m hoping you can help us with our staffing challenge. The positions we need to fill as quickly as possible are a full-time preschool teacher (with a 90 hour certification) and a part-time (afternoons) aide. More information on these positions can be found on our website at on the “Get Involved” page or by calling us at 301-241-4005. We know God’s timing is always best so we wait – trusting and believing that God will bring us His servant to join our ministry team to meet the needs of our youngest residents.

Enjoy the beautiful weekend weather as summer winds to a close. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Graduation celebrations

Graduation in August? Not traditionally, but at Hope Alive we are thrilled to celebrate resident graduations any time of the year! Tomorrow we celebrate the most significant milestone that a family can achieve while at Hope Alive – graduation! In fact, we not only have one graduation to celebrate tomorrow evening, but two! You may have read these families’ stories in our August issue of Hope Matters. Their official “move out” dates were in June and July, but these two special moms and their children wanted to graduate together and with their busy lives it was challenging to find an agreeable date. Tomorrow evening, their life-change and many achievements will be celebrated as they have successfully transitioned to independent living!

What’s especially encouraging to me is the list of guests they have invited. These are their new support networks they have formed for themselves since coming to Hope Alive – volunteers, colleagues, new friends, new families that have embraced them as part of their own, and family relationships that have been mended and reconciled.

As I’ve mentioned before, when a family graduates, it’s not “good-bye”, but “see you soon” because we remain in what seems like constant contact. These moms call to tell us of their successes and struggles and appropriately ask for advice and support when needed.

It will be a wonderfully inspiring evening filled with tears and laughter and thanksgiving to God for all He has done in their lives!

Don’t forget our dollar for dollar match going on right now – thanks to the generosity of the Ausherman Family Foundation. Check out our website at for more information and help us spread the word! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Family homelessness strategies

I read a very interesting blog this week by Ralph da Costa Nunez, President of the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness, that encouraged me in our work at Hope Alive. He states that rapid rehousing – an iteration of the Housing First strategy – has become the dominant trend among the homeless policy and services community. Rapid rehousing’s 2009 federal legislation, Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) and Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH Act), have changed the approach to family homelessness. The legislation's goal is to move the homeless as quickly as possible into permanent housing with access to support services. Granted, this strategy has proven successful in helping chronically homeless single adults exit the roles of homelessness, however, it's been much less effective when applied to homeless families.

He cites in his blog, “Rapid rehousing applies the same Housing First principle to all families, regardless of needs, and despite the fact that the causes of family homelessness are complex and families often face multiple barriers to self-sufficiency. The strategy’s short-term focus on housing ignores the multi-faceted realities of these families’ lives – relegating adult education, job training, income supports, domestic violence issues, or health problems to secondary importance. Data are beginning to show that rapid rehousing may have serious longer-term consequences for families and family shelter systems … they have not been effective in achieving the long-term goal of permanently transitioning families to self-sufficiency. Clearly, reducing the shelter census should not be the goal – permanent self-sufficiency should be.” In fact what’s happening in New York City is that recidivism rates for families returning to homelessness are skyrocketing to a projected 179% by the end of this fiscal year.

AMEN brother! So what does this mean to Hope Alive? It means we stay the course in our mission of providing transitional housing and comprehensive support services to empower women and children with Christian values, dignity and the skills they need to live self-sufficient lives filled with hope and a future. We have not and will not be swayed by government dollars or dictated trends and priorities. Housing first is not our primary objective and we stay committed to addressing the root causes of family homelessness and offering the most effective and innovative solution that helps families exit the roles of homelessness once and for all.

I encourage you to check out his very thought-provoking and informative blog – “One Size Does Not Fit All: Rapid Rehousing and Homeless Families” – at and share your thoughts. Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive

Friday, August 6, 2010

Homeless trends

A woman and her two young children sleeping in a laundromat? Here in Frederick County? Sounds impossible in this day and age, but unfortunately this was reality for one homeless family that called Hope Alive this week.

I’ve been blogging a lot recently about the alarming increase in the number of homeless families calling us for help – 45% increase from January to July of this year compared to the same period last year. Sadly, the callers are becoming more desperate than ever before.

Here are some trends Jody Julian, our Family Ministry Specialist, has seen in recent calls for services. More homeless families are …

* persistent in calling multiple times as their homeless crisis has not been resolved,
* living doubled up with friends and family members in subsidized housing – placing their subsidized housing in jeopardy,
* calling us having already accessed all available services,
* moving from county to county and even across state lines, hoping to find help,
* calling from out of the region and other states,
* facing homelessness due to foreclosure.

So what do we do? Thanks to the Ausherman Family Foundation’s generous operating grant and $25,000 Challenge Grant matching dollar for dollar every donation we receive, we are able to lift our intake freeze and help as many families as possible.

You may be wondering what happened to the mom and two young children sleeping in the laundromat. Fortunately, the first agency they contacted – the Frederick Community Action Agency – sent out a staff member to confirm their situation (as they prioritize their intakes based on their emergency situation) and they were able to take them into the City shelter right away.

Please pray for the families that are struggling to survive right here in our own backyard and pray for the families we serve to fully embrace the opportunity for life-change and exit the roles of homelessness once and for all. We are so grateful for your support that makes this possible. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director