My name is John Mills. After a lifetime in the “for profit business world” I've been with Star of Hope Mission, a homeless shelter in Houston, since 2002. I have watched over and over, as homeless clients move from virtually “no hope” with total dependence, to beginning their independent walk in a new life. Star of Hope is not just a soup kitchen in Houston! We offer Christian Ministries for such services as drug rehabilitation, emergency homeless services, parenting classes, career building classes, for battered women, men and for families. We offer care for men, single women and for families at our three homeless shelters.
Before being homeless, a usual day for many of the women at Star of Hope started normally. As the sun crept through the window curtains, they would rollover stretch, wash their face to help fight the sleepiness,make breakfast and send their kids to school with the best foot forward, rush to take off the mommy clothes and put on something professional, head to work 5 minutes late, work hard, but happily go home and greet the kids with a big hug from school. Together they would make dinner and wait for daddy to get home. When he did their would be a chill in the air and his wife would try her best to lovingly greet him with a kiss. As she walked away she would breath a small sigh of relief because this time he didn't hit her.
Many of the battered women who are fleeing for their lives have the most admirable qualities. They are hardworking, loving, faithful, great listeners, and loyal. They are just married to someone who reciprocates all of those amazing qualities with physical abuse. Honestly, they might think this is normal. It could have been the "father and mother" relationship their families have witnessed for generations.
Thank God, one day they realize there is something better, they load the kids on the midnight bus, head states away to a shelter they have only seen on the internet, and pray their husband never finds them. Once they get to Star of Hope they are greeted lovingly and begin making a new life free of abusive relationships, breaking the generational bondage, all through much counseling and personal development programs.
The fleeing parent isn't the only one who gets emotional counseling and life advice at Star of Hope. The children do as well. Showing and telling kids what is acceptable in relationship starts at a young age. After all, one in three women in this country are abused and it isn't a matter to take lightly or keep hidden from kids.
In closing, I do know that ending violence against women has much support in the Houston community, as well as in the nation. The 2nd World Conference of Women's Shelters this past week had several big names such as, Reese Witherspoon, speaking on the urgency of ending violence against women. As well as, educating children on what constitutes as harassment not only in person, but on social media and different internet forums.
I thank those who are willing to speak on the issue, as well as, praise the ladies who have gotten out of those relationships. In adding, to their admirable qualities they have courage the size of a tree.
Star of Hope serves as a shelter for battered women. Interested in volunteering?
Star of Hope can’t save the world, but it can give Houston’s Homeless men, women and children some healthy consistencies no matter what stage of life they are in. Most importantly Star of Hope teaches its clients they are valued and after their time here how to create stability making hope a reality.
Last week I had the privilege to talk with an amazing Star of Hope Virtual Volunteer. Her spirit is as beautiful and unique as she is. She is vulnerable. She is strong. She is courageous. Zan grew up in an inconsistent home environment living with several different family members during varying stages of her life. At age 17 she found herself homeless with a new born son. Desiring more consistency for her son than she was able to give she sent him to live with other members of her family.
Zan personally continued wandering in and out of homelessness into her 20’s. I wish I could tell you that she found Star of Hope early on and everything changed…forever. I wish I could tell you that we made a difference in her life or that I made a difference in her life. However, nothing I did nor did anything I am affiliated with change Zan’s life. Zan did not find Star of Hope when she needed us most. She had to seek self soothing and self guidance and in turn her life lessons were learned by trial and error. Zan did the best she could to establish consistency in her life all by herself.
Today, Zan’s life like mine is far from perfect, but you can clearly see God’s redemptive love in her story. Through, this faith and courage God has taught her to give back to her community in whatever way she can. Zan lovingly shares with others via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that they do not have to go through homelessness, abuse, addiction all alone. They can find value and love at Star of Hope. Zan advocates for Star of Hope… all hours of the day and night…and she makes a difference by sharing what an amazing nonprofit Houston has! Zan knows how helpful it would have been to have had a solid place like “ Star of Hope Mission” included in her story early on.
Zan , thank you for giving hope to others.
So, many people think they have to wait until their life looks perfect to give back to their community. They wait until they have the right amount in their savings account or until they have 3 hours to give instead of 15 minutes. Star of Hope is asking you where you are to make a difference and together we will watch God bless your offering. Whether, it is a prayer, joining Star of Hope on Facebook, working in the kitchen, donating 50 cents together, we can give Houston Homeless a consistent environment where there is no question if they are fed, loved and valued.
Together, wherever you are in life let's show Houston Homeless they do not have to do this alone. We are here for them with Men and Women Drug Rehab Centers, Battered Women Shelters, Childcare facilities and Soup Kitchens. Refuse to let one person be forgotten.
Visit Volunteer Jobs Houston to get started today!
by John Mills
During my eight years working for Star of Hope Mission, I have watched over and over as homeless clients move from virtually “no hope” with total dependence, to beginning their independent walk in a new life. Star of Hope is not just a Soup Kitchen in Houston! We offer Christian Ministries with such services as drug rehabilitation, emergency homeless services, parenting classes, career building classes, for homeless persons and for battered women, men and for families. We offer care for men, single women and for families at our three homeless shelters and transitional living centers.
Last week I got to meet a young woman who lived here at Star of Hope twelve years ago. When she came here, she was 4 years old, and she got into a ballet dance program offered by a volunteer. Her family got back on their feet and now she is married and has three beautiful children. She was present at the opening of our newly decorated Intake area at Star of Hope’s Women & Family Emergency Shelter. It was a real blessing to visit and to see how well she is doing now. She and her family had received a chance to get back on their feet, and they had taken it!
I hope that you weren’t ever homeless! But if you had been, wouldn’t it be great to know that there was a place, where people would listen to you, pray with you, cry with you, and try to meet your every need! Star of Hope is such a place!
Would you consider partnering with us, through offering a prayer for the less fortunate, and through making a contribution? You can go to Charitable Donations Houston to make a contribution.
We all have our “wilderness” wanderings—much like the Israelites in the Old Testament. We have times in our lives when we have departed one place (Egypt) and are on to a new place (the Promised Land). Many who enter the Drug Rehab Centers Houston or Battered Womens Shelter Houston are doing just that--moving from one place in their lives to another. We hope and pray that there will not be a LONG wandering - 40 years - between our points of departure and arrival...but, truly, only God knows. Sandra has been "wandering" for some time now...and, I want to share a bit of her story.
I met Sandra nearly two years ago. She was a resident of our Transitional Living Center and getting ready to move out after being there for fourteen months. Sandra successfully completed the New Hope Program , Personal Development , and the WorkFaith Connection Program. Sandra had a job, money in savings and was paying her bills consistently for the first time in her life. She was ready for the next step.
Star of Hope's newest program (at the time), New Horizons, was exactly what Sandra needed. Living in her own apartment, with her children, and the supportive services the program offered, Sandra was certain she would be able to begin her new life as a sober, loving mother who wanted a brighter future.
Sandra hit the ground running! She searched for better-paying jobs and was soon rewarded for her hard work. Not too soon after moving into her new home, she got a job as a housekeeper for a local hotel. She was making a higher wage AND, even before she completed her probationary period, they targeted her for management...enrolling her into Manager Training classes. Sandra loved her work. Then...tragedy struck...
Sandra, on her way to the bus stop to go to work, was hit by a car. She was not injured badly, thank God. However, she was injured enough that she needed physical therapy and to be on "light duty." Her supervisor told her there was no "light duty" assignments...and asked her to call when she was released to return to work. But, they called her first--a month later, they called to tell her they were letting her go. They had to fill her open position. Sandra was hurt--physically from the car accident; and, now, emotionally from the loss of her job.
Thus began Sandra's "wilderness" walk. In the Bible, the Lord was with the Israelites--a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). Sandra KNEW God was with her--because she had provision. God provided for her through the New Horizons program which was able to come alongside her for a time with HER portion of the rent; the program was able to help supplement her food pantry through Food Donation Houston; and, she gained support and encouragement from the staff and other residents in the program through prayer, cards, and hugs when needed.
Sandra's "wilderness" walk continues to this day (can you believe 15 months!!??)...she has searched and searched for jobs in Houston. She has applied in person, online and networked through several websites to find a position. She has not been idle, she has not complained (different from the children of Israel), and she has not given up!! During her time in the wilderness Sandra has accomplished the following:
*started her own cleaning business--SGH Cleaning Services (all that is left to do is obtain the bonding)
*served others by making sandwiches and cupcakes and taking them to Soup Kitchen Houston (at SEARCH Homeless Program)
*involved herself in the lives of her children (visiting their schools, attending counseling programs with them)
*attended Recovery Meetings, Bible Studies, and other meetings to offer HER testimony and provide encouragement to others
*helped several other families get into the Transitional Living Center when they found themselves homeless and in need of help
*recognized a desire to help others who are addicted to drugs and alcohol--she wants to be an LCDC
Sandra has been "wilderness" wandering--but, she has NOT been idle or lazy. She has times of depression--when rejection overwhelms her--but, the "manna" comes again in the morning (Exodus 16:14) and gives her the strength to continue. She has times when she wants to GIVE UP, but the water comes from the rock (Exodus 17:6) and refreshes her so she can fill out another application and go on another interview.
As I offer encouragement to Sandra, I keep telling her, "God has something GREAT coming to you." Sandra's Promised Land is out there...Sandra hears the Lord saying to her (just as he did Joshua) "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9b)
And, so we wait by the Jordan River for God's command to cross over (Joshua 3:14)...Sandra's Promised Land is waiting for her AND, while she is waiting--she finds "Hope in the Wilderness."