Friday, September 24, 2010

What's a mother to do?

Today is Fair Day. In Frederick County, it’s practically “un-American” not to go. Frederick County Public Schools are closed so kids can attend. But what’s a mom to do when you have very limited income?

For some Hope Alive families Fair Day has been a long-standing tradition for their families. But due to their present circumstances and very limited finances, each mom is encouraged to set very strict boundaries for their families. So Jody – our Family Ministry Specialist – works with each mom to set a very tight budget for the day designating a small fraction of their limited income for a fun family outing and leaving all other monies at home for current expenses and designated savings. They talk with their children before going – explaining that they’ll be visiting the animals and exhibits and not riding the rides. They eat before leaving and take snacks in a bag.

So you may ask, “why go at all”? Well, it’s important for our moms and children to make family fun time a priority. They don’t take summer vacations and seldom get to visit fun places so this one day can be a big treat. And when they go back to school on Monday, for once they feel like the other kids at school and they can talk about their trip to the Great Frederick Fair.

About the family I mentioned last week ... they moved in on Tuesday and now have a home! Check out my blog next Friday. We’ll be announcing our Challenge Grant total! I hope you’re planning to attend our upcoming Resident Achievement Banquet on Thursday, October 21 at Dutch’s Daughter’s. I promise it’s an evening you won’t forget. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Offering hope to the hopeless

First thing Monday morning, a young woman came to our door with her 3 year-old. She and her two children are living in a car since loosing their housing. That morning she was referred to Hope Alive by the Housing Authority so she drove out immediately to see if we could help. Jody – our Family Ministry Specialist – met with her and started an intake. The mother explained that her older son is in school every day and she allows him to ride the bus after school to the neighborhood where they lived so there’s some familiarity to his daily routine. She picks him up from the bus and they ride around for a while and spend the night in the car.

Near the end of Jody’s intake with this mother, the three year-old started to cry and said she wanted to go home. The mother explained that they’d be leaving soon, but instead of going home they needed to ride around a little while longer. Jody was able to offer her hope since we have room to take in this family. Tuesday was the mother’s and child’s birthdays.

Can you imagine living in a car with your children? Can you imagine your child coming home from school not knowing where you’d be sleeping that night? Can you imagine spending your birthday homeless with no gifts or means to celebrate?

Even with the flood of calls we’re receiving, we never become calloused or insensitive to each caller's desperate situation. Jody never completes a call without offering the woman hope – either through referrals to other community services (as limited as they are) or by offering prayer and encouragement. Please pray for each homeless family in our community – and across this country – that is struggling to survive and that more funding and services become available to meet these critical needs.

We are blessed by the generous outpouring of support we've received in the past two months that is enabling us to serve as many families as possible this year. To hear about the dramatic life-change our resident families experience and the abundant harvest God is producing in their lives, please plan to join us at our third annual Resident Achievement Banquet on Thursday, October 21 at Dutch’s Daughter’s Restaurant. It’s an evening you don’t want to miss! Check out our website at for details. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, September 10, 2010

We're getting closer!

The Ausherman Family Foundation's $25,000 Challenge Grant to match all new donations dollar-for-dollar to Hope Alive is still in process. How can you help? Visit for more information and stay tuned for our final update on Friday, October 1! In addition, God has brought us a full-time Volunteer MD Coordinator – an Americorp program through the Governor’s office – at a minimal cost to Hope Alive!

With God’s faithful provisions enabling us to lift our intake freeze, there’s one remaining barrier to Hope Alive filling to capacity. We have an urgent need for additional children’s ministry staff in order for us to serve more children. As a licensed center by the State of MD, we are required to maintain strict child to staff ratios. Check out the job listings below and contact us if you or someone you know feels called to join our ministry team. (We also have a need for on-call Residential Assistants.)

CHILD CARE PRESCHOOL TEACHER - This full-time position is responsible for the successful implementation of programs and activities for Hope Alive’s infant/preschool program under the direction of the Children’s Ministry Director. Applicants must be 19 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent and a 90-hour Certificate of Completion in acknowledged Child Care-COMAR required classes and be qualified as a child care teacher in a preschool center by MD Office of Child Care, and have a valid driver’s license. Experience working with infants is required.

CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER AIDE - This part-time afternoon position (15-20 hours per week) is responsible to assist with programs and activities in the children’s center working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers under the direction of the Children’s Ministry Director. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. Experience working with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is preferred.

ON-CALL RESIDENTIAL ASSISTANT - This "as needed" part-time position is responsible for oversight of the program services and safety of the residents and the property during evening and weekend shifts. Applicants must be 19 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent and a valid driver’s license. Experience in a residential setting is preferred.

To apply for the positions listed above, go to our website at and complete a Hope Alive employment application and send a resume and cover letter to or call 301.241.4005 for more information.

Please help us spread the word about our push to reach our Challenge Grant goal and our urgent need for children’s ministry and on-call staff. Also, keep in mind we are depending on the generous outpouring of support we’ve experienced to continue as we approach year-end and plan for services in 2011. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to school blues

Our resident children are back to school, but their first week wasn’t the school start that we hoped for.

Last week, one of our youth broke his ankle during football practice. To say he’s disappointed is an understatement. He’s tempted to disregard the doctor’s instructions and cut off his cast and return to the field. It’s difficult for an active youth who has the talent to be the star of his team to “rest” and “take it easy”.

One of our youngest school-age children went off to public school for the first time. Her first day went smoothly and she came home telling her mom she loved school, but on her return trip home the second day, the bus had a minor accident. The school principal called Hope Alive to notify her mom about the accident and the bus delay. When asked if someone could come pick her up, the principal replied, “no, all children have to stay on the bus until the investigation by the police and school system is complete." It was nearly 5:45pm when she finally stepped off the bus to meet mom at our driveway – hot, tired, and very hungry. She told her mom, “the bus ran over a stop sign, but didn’t kill it!”

During their first week in the after-school program, our school-age residents complained about how heavy their backpacks were as they trudged up the driveway. They complained about the snacks that were prepared and they didn’t mind telling you they’d prefer not to do homework. (Keep in mind these are all boys!) They sheepishly admit though that they like school and their teachers and are making new friends.

We are grateful to God for the stability He offers each family at Hope Alive and the hope of a promising future. Contrary to statistics for homeless children, our youngest residents DO attend school regularly, improve academic performance and grades, identify and address learning disabilities and developmental delays, and progress toward high school graduation!

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, we are searching for a full-time preschool teacher and a part-time aide to expand our children’s ministry staff to meet licensing regulations to meet the needs of our youngest residents. Help us spread the word. We can't take more children until these positions are filled. Check out our website at for details.

And one more update … we are more than half way toward our $25,000 Challenge Grant goal! You can find information on this special dollar-for-dollar matching grant opportunity on our website too. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director