Thursday, October 28, 2010

Next step of the vision

For the past month, God has been stirring my heart again for the next step of the Hope Alive vision. With three families graduating from the residential program this year, we are reminded that the lack of affordable housing in Frederick County remains a major barrier for our families that are prepared to be on their own. Of the four families that have graduated from Hope Alive, only two are able to maintain housing in Frederick County.

Our first resident family is moving from temporary rental housing – provided by a generous donor for two years – to permanent affordable housing just across the state line in PA. We celebrate their achievement, but are troubled that this mother can’t afford Frederick County’s fair market rent on her own ($1,461/month for a two bedroom apartment) and is forced to move her family away from the community that has so strongly supported them for the past 3 ½ years. She’ll be able to commute to her permanent full-time job, but she’ll most likely be searching for a new faith community and transferring her children to new schools. Hope Alive is still only a phone call and short drive away so we will continue to offer our emotional support as we always have. We’re finding that even though our families move out of Hope Alive and successfully complete the after-care phase, we never sever the ties. We will always be family!

Don't get me wrong - we have more than enough to do right now, but with Hope Alive’s improving financial stability I’m praying God will make a way for us to remove this significant barrier by exploring affordable housing options in 2011.

If you are interested in learning more about this need or joining with us in this effort to eliminate one more barrier to self sufficiency, let me know. I'd love to talk to you! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, October 22, 2010

God appointed reunions

Last night was Hope Alive’s annual Resident Achievement Banquet. What a blessing to celebrate the Abundant Harvest that God has produced in the lives of our resident families! As promised, it was truly an inspiring evening hearing the successes and testimonies shared by our resident moms. There was not a dry eye in the house. Check out today's Frederick News Post for a photo and coverage of the event

Also last night, God appointed reunions for two of our residents that He orchestrated “behind the scenes”. This past Tuesday, a new family moved in to Hope Alive – a young mother with two preschool children. Reconnecting with her brother who had been in prison and then a halfway house is one of her immediate goals that she shared with Jody even before she moved in. God ordained that reunion to occur last night! Her brother knew she was referred to Hope Alive, but didn’t know she was already a resident. He attended last night’s banquet at the invitation of his pastor friend and mentor that he had connected with while in prison. Needless to say, they were both shocked and ecstatic to meet each other face to face in this unexpected place and time. It was an emotional reunion!

Secondly, one of our graduate moms was walking past my table to go to the buffet line, when she stopped in her tracks having recognized my guest as her ESL classmate from last year. My guest had passed FCC’s dental assistant program this past spring and her state licensing exam so I asked if she'd be willing to tutor one of our Hope Alive graduates who had completed the dental assistant program the previous year but was too nervous to take the state test. My friend said she’d be happy to work with her. To my surprise, the two women I was trying connect already were and God appointed their reunion last night. God is always two steps (or more) ahead of us in working out His plan in our lives!

Were these reunions coincidental? No way. I believe God perfectly appointed these two reunions to occur last night in His perfect timing! Isn’t our God amazing? Yes indeed!

Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Highlights of the week

Each week I consider what highlight of the week I should write about in my weekly blog. But this week, I found myself starting and restarting this blog way too many times having difficulty focusing on just one topic to write about. This week has been an array of activities and experiences. Here are the highlights …

On Monday, we received notice of a $15,000 grant award to Hope Alive from the Foundation for Spirituality and Medicine. This Foundation supports the work of organizations that focus on the integration of spirituality and health. Our foundation of faith in Christ undergirds everything we believe and do and is integrated into every program component area offered to our resident families – one of which is health management focusing on our resident families’ acute and chronic physical, dental and mental health issues. We are so grateful for their belief in our mission and generous support of our work.

Also on Monday, we had two new additions to our ministry team. Susan Hagelin started as our new full-time children’s preschool teacher. Ashley, our Children’s Ministry Director, is overjoyed to say the least! Debbie Dunn started her year of service as the new Volunteer MD Coordinator. Praise the Lord for answered prayers!

I spent the day in Washington, DC on Wednesday participating in the Library of Congress’ Combined Federal Campaign agency fair. I had the pleasure of talking with many Library employees and answering their questions about Hope Alive. Tearfully, one woman told me about a young mom and her child who she is housing in her tiny apartment. She said she wouldn’t be able to help them much longer, but they didn’t have any where else to go. She was grateful to hear there is a place like Hope Alive that might be able to help this young family.

On Thursday, one of our youngest residents was home sick from school. He proceeded to tell me that he had thrown up at school the day before in the computer lab - all over the computer keyboard, mouse and even got some on his hand. He’s feeling much better now. His description made me feel a bit queasy myself. Also on Thursday, we had a photographer here taking photos for the November issue of Elegant Living featuring Karlys Kline and the Women’s Giving Circle she founded here in Frederick County. As part of the story, they wanted to highlight one of the many nonprofits that the Women’s Giving Circle generously funds. Hope Alive has been one of their selected charities for the past four years. Karlys enjoyed meeting our youngest resident during her photo session with us.

At Thursday’s staff meeting, Jody announced that one of our resident moms was just elected to be the HeadStart parent representative from the Emmitsburg center to the monthly Frederick County meeting. We are all proud of the commitment this mom has made to her child's education. Way to go mom!

On Thursday evening, volunteers from Frederick Community College’s AAWCC chapter (Association of American Women in Community College) were here for their monthly visit including dinner and a special activity for the children. Moms and kids alike enjoyed the dinner they provided and the opportunity to create painted wooden picture frames.

And as we close out the week, we’re busy with the final preparations for our Resident Achievement Banquet next Thursday, October 21 at Dutch’s Daughter. This is by far my favorite Hope Alive event of the year. There’s usually not a dry eye in the house as our resident women are recognized for their achievements and share their inspiring stories of courage and hope. There’s still time to reserve your seat, so check out our website for more information at Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Honoring our staff

Well it’s finally sunny today after days of chilly temps, rain, and dreary skies. I don’t know about you, but I feel much better after waking up this morning to see the sun!

This week I want to honor Hope Alive’s incredibly dedicated and gifted staff. Everyone who serves on Hope Alive’s ministry team is fully committed to serving Christ and those in our care. They make personal and family sacrifices to be here. It’s definitely not for the paycheck!

Our staff works unceasingly with our resident families to teach, guide, and coach each mother and child on their daily journeys to health, wholeness and stable permanent housing. The struggles each woman faces often feel insurmountable, but with God’s unconditional love and acceptance, each mother finds strength and determination to press on toward hope and a future. Our staff loves and nurtures the children in our care so their families are strengthened and they can grow and develop to their full God-given potential.

Sound like a fairy tale? It’s the truth and the honor I have every day to serve with such incredible women – Ashley, Doree Lynn, Jody, Laura, Missy, Rhonda, Sharon, and our on-call staff Amanda, Cathy, Rachelle, and Tricia. They are amazing women – each offering such wonderful gifts and talents that allow us to truly serve as the Body of Christ. I praise and thank God for their love for our Savior, commitment to sacrificial service, and their dedication to God's people in need. We’re thrilled to welcome two new ministry team members next week – Susan who is joining our children’s staff and Debbie who comes to us from Volunteer Maryland.

Don’t forget about our upcoming Resident Achievement Banquet on Thursday, October 21. I hope you are planning to attend – it’s an inspirational evening you won’t forget. Check out our website at or call us at 301.241.4005 for more information or to make your reservations. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's a miracle!

Are you ready for the total? Today is the day we said we’d announce the total monies raised in response to the Ausherman Family Foundation Challenge Grant. As of today, we’ve received $36,326 in new gifts from our faithful and generous donors! When you consider the Foundation’s matching grant of $25,000 plus their initial $25,000 operating grant they awarded, the total in new funds raised since mid July exceeds $86,000! Thank you to our friends at the Ausherman Family Foundation and everyone who participated for believing in our mission and making this possible. I don’t know about you, but I believe this is a true miracle of God!

Back in the spring of this year, our financial picture was discouraging. Yes, we’ve always believed that God would provide for this ministry, but what He’s done far exceeded my hopes and prayers. What an amazing God we serve!

Thanks to this abundant blessing, we are able to fill once again to capacity. However, we cannot get too comfortable as the work of serving homeless women and children not only continues but has become more urgent than ever before. Just today we received four calls from homeless families living in motels or doubled up with family or friends.

Thank you for making this possible and being a part of this amazing journey of faith. We serve an absolutely amazing God and we know without a doubt that with Him all things are possible! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director