Thursday, March 31, 2011

Join us for visions

It’s only a few short weeks until one of my favorite special events of the year. Hope Alive’s signature event, Visions for Hope, is scheduled for Thursday, April 28 at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center in downtown Frederick. This fun family-friendly event is an annual art auction of children’s artwork to benefit Hope Alive’s child development programs – even featuring the artwork of our very own resident children! Young artists under the age of 21 are invited to submit up to three pieces of original art. The works are sold by silent auction with bidding beginning at 6:30pm. Last year’s event raised more than $15,000 to support homeless children and help change the lives of our youngest residents.

I’m excited to announce that we have an anonymous donor who will match every dollar bid on artwork (up to $5,000) the evening of the event! Just think – your bid will double and will go twice as far to meet the unique needs of homeless children. We also have some great items for auction on our community table including tickets to Six Flags and Sight & Sound Theatre.

Tickets are only $25 for adults and this year children under 12 are free! Visit our website at and click on “Call for Submission entry form” to submit artwork or “More Information” to become a patron sponsor of the event or to purchase tickets. I hope to see you there. I can’t wait to see who takes home “Wood Man” this year!

Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, March 25, 2011

Looking for that special someone

On my drive to Hope Alive earlier this week, I was listening to radio talk show hosts discuss the importance of children having positive male role models in their lives. They said that children who do not have father figures in their lives are emotionally handicapped. We agree and know this to be true at Hope Alive.

The day after listening to the radio discussion, God reminded me of the importance of this need among our youngest residents. My husband came to Hope Alive after work to address some property repair issues and when he came into the house, several of the children ran to greet him with books in hand wanting his attention. Seldom are female volunteers or staff greeted with such excitement.

Of the 66 children we’ve served since opening our doors, many of them have emotional challenges attributed in part or in whole to the lack of a positive father figure in their lives. I’ll never forget one such child. This youngster’s abandonment by her father was the source of the emotional issues she wrestled with. Her biological father had dropped in and out of her life so often that at her young age she knew she couldn’t depend on him for the security and loving support that she desperately needed. A father figure stepped into her life in a very healthy way to fill this painful void and she‘s now finding healing.

But what about the children who are still searching for that special someone to help meet this important emotional need? Every child deserves the chance to experience unconditional love, acceptance and happiness so they don‘t grow up to be emotionally handicapped adults. It's this father-figure - or lack thereof - that gives children (and adults) an understanding of who our Heavenly Father is. I believe we can do and need to do more for our youngest residents in this area. Let me know if you're feeling called to respond.

On a similar note, everyone can help meet the needs of our youngest residents by attending our upcoming Visions for Hope annual fundraising event on Thursday, April 28 beginning at 6:30pm at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center in downtown Frederick. This fun family-friendly event benefits Hope Alive’s children’s programs that are designed to meet the unique needs of our resident children. Check out our website at for more information or to register to attend.

Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig Founder and Executive Director

Friday, March 18, 2011

News from the state

This week I can’t help but continue on my soapbox of budget cuts and the devastating fallout that I believe will follow some our public officials’ decisions. Just yesterday I received an email alert from the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute. The title is, “Steady Diet of Cuts is Making Maryland Sick - Also Homeless and Uneducated: Maryland falls short on essential services”. (Source:

This article reports that major reductions have already been made that reduce essential services affecting “public schools, hospitals treating Medicaid patients, local governments, and many other state-funded services.” Cuts to early learning programs and wait lists for child care subsidy could mean more low-income parents will enter the roles of the unemployed. The state already made significant cuts in K-12 education in previous fiscal years resulting in “a slow degradation of education quality and a renewed widening of the performance gap between schools in rich and poor areas.”

Direct impact to the resident women at Hope Alive and those who call searching for help will most likely include the following:
  • Unmet addiction treatment needs and inadequate treatment services
  • $9.5 million loss to community mental health services
  • Medical assistance provider rate reductions forcing more and more medical providers to stop serving Medical Assistance patients and losing their access to care
  • Elimination of $500,000 in rental assistance to low-income recipients from the Department of Housing and Community Development’s current FY 30% cut in rental allowance program that is used to end chronic homelessness and prevent homelessness for low-income families facing eviction. (A woman calling Hope Alive for services this week reported that the Department of Social Services has posted signs in their lobby notifying clients that "no housing help is available".)

The Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute appropriately responds by stating “education from early learning to higher education is not wasteful spending. Medical treatment and related services are all necessary. Housing is a human right that all Marylanders must have access to. Frankly, none of these programs are exactly ’fat and happy’ and do not represent wasteful spending. In fact, they all have their own compelling stories of critical unmet needs.” The Institute promotes the critical need to look for a balanced approach to balancing the budget and presents viable measures to increase revenue.

We praise and thank God daily that He provides Hope Alive as a safety net for homeless families and sustains our core services to the escalating number of women and children who so desperately need our help. Thank you for your faithful support and commitment to our mission and thanks for listening. I’ll keep information and updates coming your way. Check out our website for information about our upcoming Visions for Hope fundraising event on Thursday, April 28 benefitting our child development programs. It's a fun family-friendly event and all for a really great cause! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, March 4, 2011

More county cuts

Early this week Hope Alive – among many other community nonprofits – received official notification from Frederick County that the total funding for the Grants for Human Services Program awards to nonprofit organizations has been cut by 25% for FY2012. This memorandum also warned grantees that the County expects “to see similar reductions to the Grants for Human Services Program of approximately $125,710 or 25% in each of the future fiscal years beyond FY2012.” And don’t forget about the 19% reduction that happened previously in FY2011. The bottom line? It’s no secret that the current Board of County Commissioners’ (BOCC) intention is to cut all funding to Frederick County nonprofit human service organizations. (Hope Alive’s $7,030 county grant was cut from the FY2011 budget, but our FY2012 application was recommended for $4,335 in funding.)

In addition, the BOCC announced in their 2/24/11 work session that an additional $108,536 for Non-County Agencies was “voluntarily” relinquished by the Department of Social Services (DSS). The word from DSS is that the county funding was not “voluntarily” relinquished, but that they were told to do so. So this week, DSS reduced their housing unit from 5 workers to 1.5 eliminating the rental assistance program that prevents evictions.

For some nonprofits, these decisions have far reaching financial impact forcing some organizations to reduce critical services to Frederick County residents. For all nonprofits, the service impact will be devastating placing the escalating demand for services on the backs of the already strained nonprofit sector. Comments from the BOCC in televised work sessions basically state that the nonprofits and churches will need to do more.

I agree with other nonprofits that if you are refused services from nonprofits and non-County agencies due to cuts in County funding, call the BOCC offices to let them know the impact. At Hope Alive we are already seeing the fallout from the BOCC’s earlier decision to relinquish the $2 million federal Head Start grant back to the federal government. The Emmitsburg Head Start program where Hope Alive’s 3 and 4 year old resident children attend half-days, closed its doors this week. Parents were told their children’s names would be kept on the waiting list if and when the center reopens. Thankfully, Hope Alive has a safety net for our children that attended Head Start as they now spend more time in our children’s center, but they will still miss the important supplemental services Head Start provided such as medical screenings, parent support and family advocacy.

On a more positive note, I'm so glad God is in charge and He is our provider and sustainer!

Please plan to attend our upcoming Visions for Hope event on Thursday, April 28th at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center in downtown Frederick. This is an important family friendly and fun fundraising event benefitting Hope Alive’s child development programs. You can read more on our website at Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director