Thursday, June 30, 2011

Experiencing success

This morning at our annual Community Partner Breakfast, two of Hope Alive's moms shared their stories. One mom has been in the Hope Alive program for a full year and - as she shared - has experienced much success from improved health, stabilization for herself and her young daughter, educational opportunities for both in HeadStart and pre-kindergarten and at Frederick Community College, and now as a leader in the house with the other resident women.

Our second speaker was a program graduate now living on her own for the past year in independent housing and having graduated from Frederick Community College with her associate's degree. Through tears she thanked Hope Alive and the donors that were present and gave God the glory for her life transformation. She shared her plans to pursue a doctorate degree which we're convinced she'll acquire.

What I hadn't remembered was that three years ago next week, she was homeless and contemplating camping in a tent behind WalMart. She was on her last night in a motel placement by the Department of Social Services and felt she had no other option but to move to a tent and place her son with family members until she could find housing. She heard about Hope Alive and was the quickest intake we've ever done - moving her in within two days.

This morning she reminded us all that she was homeless and desperately hopeless and in just a short three years, she has a beautiful home, a college degree, good job, healthy relationships with her adult children and new grandson, and most importantly faith, hope and success of a future.

It made me think about the contrast we see often with women who want nothing more than a roof over their families' heads believing that a job is the answer to their problems ... to the women who are as determined as both of these wonderful ladies who spoke today. The work of life-change is tough and beyond challenging and as badly as our staff wants this change for them, they have to want it for themselves.

Right now, our Hope Alive house is filled with positive and motivated women and energetic and loving children who are embracing the wonderful unique opportunities that help them realize they are special in God's eyes.

Special thanks to our 2011 Community Partners that we had the privilege to recognize at this morning's breakfast. God uses their commitment to our mission and dedicated resources to make this ministry possible.

To all who love summer as much as I do ... enjoy this holiday weekend and stay safe. Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer update

If you follow my blog, you've probably been wondering where I've been. After a much-needed 10 day vacation, I'm finally back on track! There's always so much going on every day, so here are just a few updates as we start our summer at Hope Alive.

Our children's programs are in full swing with all of our school-age children home for the summer. They join our infants, toddlers and preschoolers in a full-day program including field trips, educational programs, recreation, arts, crafts, and just plain fun! All of our school-agers attended Vacation Bible School (VBS) this week. It's fun to hear them come through the door singing songs about God's love. I asked one of our older children how she was enjoying VBS. She said she just loved it but was sorry it was almost over. But she told me how much she is looking forward to summer camp that she'll be attending later this summer with our older children.

Thanks to a generous gift from PNC Bank, our children are not only enjoying new mulch on our playground but they will have the privilege of going on several educational field trips this summer. Catoctin Zoo donated tickets so all our moms and children could enjoy the animals. Thanks you Catoctin Zoo for sponsoring their visit last Friday.

Two of our resident moms are taking college classes this summer at Frederick Community College. One mom is especially ambitious taking 4 classes so she can graduate with her associate's degree next spring. As one mom patiently waits for the results of her GED exam, she and another mom are enrolling for fall classes. One mom is enjoying her new job and has already been recognized for her leadership qualities. They are all finding such confidence in their successes.

God has abundantly blessed one family in particular. A mom and two of her three children came to live at Hope Alive months ago. Her oldest daughter was living with other family members due to their housing instability. They had an emotional reunion last week when she joined her mom and siblings at Hope Alive.

I'll keep the updates coming and additional news. Until next week ...

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, June 2, 2011

48 Hours to Meet the Need

This morning at 11:15, there was a prayer service and community rally to publicize the upcoming 48 Hours to Meet the Need event to raise awareness about the needs of the poor and homeless in our community and the County budget cuts impacting housing and nonprofit services. I’ve reprinted Pastor Jonathan Switzer’s email here so you’ll have all the information first-hand. (Pastor Switzer is the 48 Hours to Meet the Need organizer and Pastor of Crossroads Valley Chapel.) Please help us spread the word to bring our community together to respond in our neighbor’s hour of need.

“I want to share with you this week an important community-wide effort to raise awareness – 48 Hours to Meet the Need. For those just tuning in, on June 16 and 17 we have asked the Commissioners, Senator Young, Kai Hagen, Chamber of Commerce, non-profits, as well as Catholics, mainline denominations, evangelicals, Muslims and Jews to join us for a 48 hour fast. During those two days, everyone is asked to give whatever money they would normally spend on food for their family to whichever non-profit they feel is best positioned to care for those most in need in our midst. This is a response to the $370,000 of cuts that the current County Commissioners have made to local non-profits. Our website is for more information! If only 8% of the 87,000 family units in Frederick County gave, we would cover the cuts that have been made.

On WFMD on June 16 and 17, Blaine Young, Ron Young, Bob Miller, Kai Hagen and I will be joined by non-profits, community leaders and others to promote involvement in the fast. I also am asking you to join us on those days on air!

This is a unique chance for unity in Frederick that we want to fully maximize! We are Americans and neighbors together in Frederick County, MD. We can do this.

Let’s hope that our work together will really make a big difference during this season in Frederick. Whatever happens in future election cycles, may this 48 hours help to cover the shortfall for this cycle.”

I hope you will help us spread the word. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director