Thursday, July 28, 2011

God speaks through children

God always uses the children to remind me of why I’m here at Hope Alive doing what He called me to do. It was many many years ago that God spoke to me through some precious children that lived at the Frederick Rescue Mission where I served for more than seven years. It was during that time that God broke my heart for homeless women and children and I heard God’s gentle voice calling me to make a difference in their lives.

That was the beginning of the Hope Alive journey. Because God had used these children in such a powerful way in my life, a ministry to meet the unique needs of homeless children was at the very core of the Hope Alive vision. Today, we have a ministry that far surpasses that original vision. Thanks to the passionate leadership of our children’s ministry director, Ashley Benoit, and the dedicated service of our preschool teacher, Susan Hagelin, and assistant, Liz Miesner, our resident children experience love, stability, joy, growth and hope every day!

On Tuesday of this week, Jody (Family Ministry Specialist) and I were talking in the hall. As one of the little toddlers walked by with her caregiver, she stopped and hugged me around my knees. She turned to Jody and did the same and then she went on her way! Then yesterday, I was in the children’s center during nap time and one of our sweet little preschoolers was tossing and turning on her nap cot unable to fall asleep. She then settled down and turned to look at me with a great big smile and blew me a kiss! My heart just melted.

These children and their amazing mothers are the reason we are here. Just knowing that God is changing their lives in such remarkable ways encourages us in this journey. God speaks through them to confirm His calling on our lives to minister to their needs. Thank you for walking with us in this journey of faith and for your loving support and encouragement that God uses to keep hope alive for all of us here in this ministry! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Walk this way

Great news! Hope Alive has been selected as a 2011 beneficiary of the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Program! This means that Hope Alive has the awesome opportunity to raise significant funds to sustain our program services and raise awareness about the issue of family homelessness.

As a beneficiary, we recruit walkers of any age to participate in a local Mini-Walk in our community. For each walker, we receive the walker’s registration fee (minus $5 to support the Help the Homeless Program) PLUS 100% of an incentive award based on the number of walkers registered with Hope Alive PLUS any sponsorships or donations designated for Hope Alive.

For example, if we recruit 1,000 paid walkers – say youth for example –we’ll receive $15,000 in walker registration fees PLUS a $15,000 walker incentive! And if it’s adult walkers we receive even more!

We’re collaborating with the Frederick Rescue Mission this year on three local walks. One is confirmed for a Maze-a-thon at Crumland Farms on Saturday, October 29 from 10am-3pm. So just think … you and your family or friends can come out and enjoy a beautiful fall day and walk the corn maze while helping the hungry and homeless! And you’ll learn about the needs of the homeless while you participate!

Walker registration fees are:

Adults $30
Youth $20 (age 25 and younger)
Virtual Walker $35

So let us know if you’re interested in walking or better yet hosting your own Mini-Walk and we’ll get you plugged in! Visit our website at or email me at for more information. We’ll keep posting the details as they become available!

We’re excited – can you tell? Help us spread the word!! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lifesaving measures

Before Hope Alive ever opened its doors to homeless families, our staff and volunteers worked diligently to develop and implement a high standard of excellence in the delivery of our program services. We researched, wrote and amended what seemed like volumes of policies and procedures and created the needed forms and tools to support that level of operation. Through the process – and continuing today – we view everything through risk management lenses. All the effort to minimize risk to the greater level possible has paid off and even saved lives.

Part of our required staff training includes annual American Red Cross CPR and first aid certification. Our staff is trained during the year at different intervals depending on the employee’s start date. Our last training was held in April and three of our resident moms participated and became fully certified in CPR and first aid. Among this class was one of our newest staff members in our children’s ministry – Liz Meisner. What she didn’t know then was that she would be putting these skills into practice in a few short months.

In the children’s center this week, Miss Liz saw an infant making a noise that she thought was her usual baby talk. But as she listened more closely, she realized the baby was choking. Without a second thought, her life-saving skills went into action. She placed the baby head down on her forearm and gave her five back blows (appropriate for an infant) and then turned her halfway over to see if what she was choking on had been dislodged. Noticing that the baby’s hair beret was missing Miss Liz quickly ran her finger inside the baby’s mouth and felt the beret and pulled it out. Amazing!

Surprisingly, this isn't the first lifesaving measure we’ve experienced at Hope Alive. The first year we opened, another children’s ministry staff came to the rescue of a teen who was choking on a potato chip at lunch. Her CPR skills automatically kicked in as she ran to his side. She administered the appropriate back blows and abdominal thrusts and the chip came flying out! He was shaken, but grateful for her quick response.

I am so proud of the awesome staff God has assembled! I’m amazed at the wonderful children’s ministry team that is so attentive to our children’s every need and loves and cares for them as their own. And I’m grateful to Operations Supervisor Missy Miller for her diligence in keeping our staff training up-to-date on these lifesaving measures.

Enjoy the beautiful weather that’s forecasted for the weekend and stay safe! Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director

Friday, July 8, 2011

Loving encouragement from God

It’s not uncommon for our staff to hear from a resident mom who comes in the office and announces, “I got the job” or “I got an A in the class”. We are equally thrilled to watch as our resident children engage in new activities such as their recent improvisation exercise during their “drama week” in the school-age program. It’s these types of successes that encourage us in the day to day work of the ministry of serving God’s people in need.

But on days when a mom or child is having a particularly difficult time or there are more problems with the computers or an overwhelming workload, discouragement can creep in and the stress mounts for our overworked staff. I had one of those days yesterday. It’s at these times that we need to take a break and refocus ourselves (myself) on God, knowing that He is in total control of His ministry and we are just the tools of His hands. It’s not about the “doing”, but more importantly it’s about the “being” with Him that matters most. When I do this I find my attitude changes and peace returns.

Yesterday in the middle of my pity party, God reminded me of His constant presence with us. I opened a donation that we received in the mail from a generous couple with a note saying it was given in honor of the great work that we do. I couldn’t help but cry at the loving touch from God through this faithful couple. I ended my day with a greater sense of peace than I had felt all week.

I just wanted you to know how much your loving support and encouragement means to us and how deeply we appreciate your committed partnership. Thank you for walking with us on this journey of faith. We love you!

Hope you enjoy the weekend. I think the heat is getting to me as I found myself following Kate Middleton's top fashion looks on the royal couple's North American tour. Until next week …

Sue Oehmig
Founder and Executive Director