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The Blind Side

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
by Tarala Rybacki
Looking for a fun family activity this weekend?  Or perhaps a special date night with a loved one?  

Please join Star of Hope at Miller Outdoor Theatre on August 14 for a FREE screening of the Academy Award winning movie The Blind Side.  You can help Houston's homeless by bringing a canned food donation to help us feed the nearly 1,000 homeless men, women and children we serve every day.  We will be showing the family-friendly version of The Blind Side, so please bring your family!

For more details and information click on The Blind Side and feel free to pass it along!  We hope to see you there!

Get a list of suggested food donations at More Than A Soup Kitchen Houston.

Hope in the Wilderness - Sandra's Story

Thursday, July 22, 2010
by Erika Wise

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."

Are You Feeling The Summer Heat Yet?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
by Hank Rush
I was asked this question a few days ago by a friend up north. My mind immediately went to the heat and humidity outside, but the question also struck a much deeper chord. While there is always so much in life to be thankful for, we all in the Gulf Coast area are feeling not only the summer heat, but also the unsettledness of the Gulf oil crisis. The economic impact and uncertainty it is having on our oil and gas industry is significant at the same time our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high. Cutbacks in state and local funding for services in our communities, including schools, are adding to the demand for services from us.

At Star of Hope in the past few months, we have seen a significant slump in our contributions, which is very concerning to us. Summer time is THE biggest and most demanding family time of the year at Star of Hope! Many think it’s the Christmas holidays, which are huge, but in summer, ALL the kids are home for three months – that’s more meals, more activities, and higher operational costs! Yet, our donations are always lowest during the summer months, when vacations and family activities take many out of town.
 
This summer, we have a full slate of daily activities planned for the 200+ children living in Star of Hope facilities with their families, and it's "all hands on deck" for our children’s ministry staff to take advantage of this wonderful time to build a relationship with God into the life of our kids. God does amazing things in these young lives during the summer. Many find a new faith in Christ, and begin to see a vision for their own lives…God’s vision for how to survive and help their parents through their present difficulties, and to begin to make the choices that will help them succeed in finding a happy and productive life as soon-to-be-adults.

If you are able, would you take a moment and make a gift to help us with this incredible task? We need your support NOW, to catch up on the $400,000+ shortfall that has developed the past two months, and keep the food, clothing, counseling, and staff resources available to our families this summer. Just click donate online and give! Share this with your friends and help us make this a Summer of Hope, not a Summer of Heat, for the almost 1,000 men, women and children in our care right now.

Thanks for your faithful support, and I hope you have a great summer! Please keep us in your prayers.

Give Online at Charitable Donations Houston
Learn how your gifts are making this summer a Summer of Hope

Scouts Bless Star of Hope!

Friday, June 11, 2010
by Elizabeth Hatler

Throughout the community, an exceptional group of young people are learning the skills needed to become our future leaders. These young men and women are part of the Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs. What an honor it is to work with Scouts who select Star of Hope as the site for their Eagle Scout and Girls Scout Gold Award projects!  

 

The project requirements are stringent. Scouts must submit a comprehensive plan - containing a detailed description of the project, the necessary supplies and materials, how the project will be funded and how the project will benefit Star of Hope - that goes through many levels of approval in the Scout organizations before work can begin. 

 

This month, Scouts Mark Camero and Kevin Sweat will complete the projects they first proposed last year. Mark designed and is coordinating a team to build shelving units for a storage area at Star of Hope’s Women & Family Emergency Shelter. Kevin designed and is coordinating a team to build a seating area and improve the area around a playground at our Transitional Living Center. Scout Brian Howell is working on a project that will include a new seating area and beautification of an area around Star of Hope’s administration building. From drawing plans to material take-offs, these young men have covered all the bases. Scouts Tyler Barron and Matthew Salazar recently hosted donation drives for pillows, towels, socks and underwear and collected several thousand items! As we work with these young men over many months, nothing is more awesome and inspiring than when the invitation arrives to their Court of Honor ceremonies! 

 

Girl Scouts Madeline Bowser and Kelsey Pearson developed Gold Award projects that enriched the lives of the elementary-school-age children at our Transitional Living Center. Madeline organized and hosted three fun-filled monthly theme parties and also collected children’s socks and underwear. Kelsey, who lived in China for several years, shared her love for international cultures by organizing and hosting three international festivals that included arts & crafts, food and games. Not only did our children benefit from these unique experiences, Madeline and Kelsey were excellent role models.

 

In addition to these wonderful young people, Boy Scout leader Shana Montgomery has been a special blessing. While working through the demanding Wood Badge program, which teaches advanced leadership skills, Shana selected Star of Hope for her community service project. She helped get our children ready for summer camp by collecting flip-flops in all colors and sizes. 

 

We are so proud of our Scouts and grateful for the many ways they bless our mission! Each Scout demonstrates a tremendous work ethic, dedication and compassion for those less fortunate. Their commitment and service truly gives Houston’s homeless men, women and children hope for a better tomorrow.



Supporting Houston Ministries                                  Volunteering Houston

The Storms of Life--Prayers Answered

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
by Erika Wise

Star of Hope is among many Non Profit Organizations Houston!  And, during Hurricane Season, it has been one of the few Shelters Houston Texas which remain occupied during the some of the storms.  The closest storm in my recollection--as for many of us--is Hurricane Ike, Fall of 2008.  However, the stories I want to share today--the FIRST day of Hurricane Season--are from Hurricane Rita...

Still ministering to the evacuees and victims of Hurricane Katrina--a human flood coming from Louisiana and Mississippi to Houston and the surrounding areas--Star of Hope's Women and Family Shelter began to prepare for the landfall of Hurricane Rita.  With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina still on everyone's mind...we were working with frightened, hurt, confused, abandoned and broken people leaving all they had--even loved ones--behind.

We as staff were used to working with those dealing with the "storms of life"--unemployment, drug addiction, abuse, and brokenness.  But, this STORM was different--these precious men, women and children were clinging to the last few things they had left in this world--EACH OTHER!! The trauma was real...the fear was real...and, they were about to experience it all again!!  Now these families and individuals faced a new threat; another STORM of life...Hurricane Rita...was threatening a direct hit to the Galveston/Houston area. 

Outpouring of donations from all across America--Houston Non ProfitsChristian Ministries Houston and Houston Non Profit Donations --SOARED.  America responded to the material needs of the evacuees who fled to the Houston area.  Food, blankets, clothing, water and other material items were coming in by the truckload...an answer to prayer!! 

A few last minute buses were able to evacuate some of our residents (elderly, sick, very young)--an answer to prayer.  The rest of us "hunkered down" in the cinder block safety of the Women and Family Shelter.  I was among about 8 staff members who volunteered to "stay behind" and ride out the storm with the ones who had nowhere else to go or who could not be evacuated.  That Friday night we held a Worship service--we prayed, sang hymns, and thanked God for His protection.  All the residents and some locals who joined us went to bed early and staff began a vigil to pray and "watch this storm." 

Of all the "storms of life" we had helped others through--this was the first one we could actually WATCH the progress and path!!  We prayed for the storm to lessen--it was a Category 5; we prayed for the storm to turn--it was due to hit Galveston Bay directly.  In the wee hours of Saturday, September 24, 2005, the storm came ashore in Louisiana as a Category 3 storm--answered prayer!

As we woke up Saturday morning (some of us had not slept), we found some wind damage and the lights were out--a generator provided some emergency lighting.  Some of those Houstonians who had sought shelter with us as a "last resort" wanted to return to their homes and we all wanted to get on with life.  As a few "relief staff" joined us later in the morning, we prayed again--for "light" and for transportation for those who wanted to return to their homes.  As soon as we said, "Amen" and lifted our heads from prayer--a YELLOW TAXI CAB appeared in our driveway--an immediate answer to prayer!  Staff talked with the cabbie and made arrangements to transport those who wanted to return home.  The cabbie even returned to ensure all who had a place to go were taken there.  We ate breakfast and lunch in the dim light seeping in through the skylights. 

The mood was light, and happy as the residents rejoiced in God's protection, love and provision.  And, as more staff began reporting to work to relieve those who had stayed through the storm...the electricity was restored at 2:00pm...it was only out about 12 hours--an answer to prayer!! 

So, as this year's Hurricane season officially begins...and, predictions are made...I rely on the only thing I KNOW to be true---God answers prayer!!!  In the midst of the storms of life--"hope floats up" as God answers prayer!!

"We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield." Psalm 33:20



A Friend in Need…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
by Marilyn Fountain

You gotta love the folks at Marriott International and Glazier Foods. Together, they delivered 5 tons of much-needed, non-perishable food to our Storehouse and unloaded every box, bag, and bundle by hand—well with a little help from a fork lift.

This was a definite hallelujah moment for our kitchen staff and all of Star of Hope, for that matter, because with nearly 1,000 hungry, homeless men, women, and children to feed, daily, the words “5 tons” weighs in at the top of the blessings scale.

This is the fourth year that Marriott has rallied their family of hotels around the city to help the homeless at Star of Hope, through their Spirit to Serve initiative, collecting thousands of pounds of food for the people in our shelters. But this year, Glazier Foods upped the ante by matching Marriott’s effort pound for pound, doubling the donation and making it an awesome feed-for-all. 

Thank you Marriott International and Glazier Foods. You are a friend indeed.

Watch the video: Donating To Charitable Organizations Houston

Feeding The Homeless in Houston

Thursday, March 4, 2010
by Scott McKinley
Are you looking for a way to help the homeless of our city?

With only $3.31 you can provide a meal for a hungry and hurting man, woman or child at Star of Hope Mission. Give online today at Food Donation Houston.

Holiday for the Homeless

Thursday, December 3, 2009
by Scott Arthur

This past week has been full of sweet treats and bittersweet realities. While most families in Houston gathered around a table adorned with food and relatives, thousands and thousands of men, women and children who only have the city streets to call home gathered at common areas to give thanks for a full meal.

For the 19th year in a row, the staff of the Houston Hard Rock Cafe gave up their home time to volunteer to cook and serve Thanksgiving Luncheon to about 250 residents of Star of Hope.  The meal came with smiles, music ....and Santa , who came bearing gifts.

For more information on Star of Hope and how to help, visit Homeless Shelter Donation Houston

The Heart of Houston

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
by Hank Rush

Just last week, our city showed its HEART once again, with a great Thanksgiving Parade and meals galore around downtown for Houston’s families in need. Check out Houstonians flock to Turkey Day events in Houston Chronicle and you can see how wonderfully our city reaches out to all in our community! This spirit of generosity goes on every day of the year. I know… I see it here at Star of Hope on a daily basis. Houstonians call us, wanting to learn more about the work of the Star of Hope, and they come and see all that God is doing here with His People… those who’ve lost their way and need someone to come along side of them and help. It’s truly amazing to see!

This year, Star of Hope has ministered to over 5,500 homeless people, and two thirds of these are women and families! With the souring of the Houston job market and the effects of the broader economic downturn, this number is 1,000 people higher than just last year — or, in other words, 1,000 new faces arriving at our doors we’ve never seen before. God’s provision and your generous donations of food and clothing, have made it possible for us to operate with about the same budget as we had in 2008.

This is a huge blessing for which we are very grateful, because caring for so many in a difficult economy has its challenges. In fact, serving the extra 1,000 new faces… men, women & children… has cost incrementally about $500 per person on the average over our base budget.

And while we have experienced record levels of in-kind donations, we have been facing a shortfall in cash donations over the past few months. So, as we head into the Christmas season, if you’d like to help us in a uniquely special way this December, how about sponsoring one of these 1,000 new souls who have come our way this year? Visit Charitable Donations Houston to make a $100, $250 or even a $500 gift… knowing it’s a truly special gift for one of these in need!

Christmas time is a wonderful time at Star of Hope. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we work this Blessed Season to make Christmas 2009 a Blessed Memory in the lives of those we are serving now!


Food Donation Houston

Thursday, November 5, 2009
by Scott McKinley


If you live around Houston, you may have recently received a letter from Star of Hope asking you to provide meals for the homeless. It's true! With a little you can do so much. Our food cost average is only $3.31. You can: feed 100 hungry people - $331.00, feed 33 people - $109.23, feed 17 people - $56.27, feed 12 people - $39.72, feed 8 people - $26.48, feed 5 people - $16.55.

Please consider a gift today and donate online: Food Donation Houston

Hot Summer Days Are Here!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009
by Hank Rush
Hopefully, your home air conditioner is holding out ok in all this heat. But what if you didn’t even have a home? Can you imagine what it is like to be homeless, hot, on the streets or living out of a car, and unable to find relief?

June 21 was the first day of summer this year, and already Houston is experiencing record heat on a daily basis. With no rain in the past 30 days, and more heat to come, it looks like we are in for a challenging summer!

So how does the Star of Hope’s downtown Women and Family Emergency Shelter and Men’s Development Center help the homeless to survive these conditions?

First, our doors are open to all to escape the heat, 24 hours a day. We do not turn anyone away. Our first priority is to care for the men, women, and children who come to us for help, address their immediate needs, which include food, water, clothing and a nice, hot shower, and show them the love of Jesus Christ in the process.

Second, we support our clients in their time of distress with individual counseling, case-management assistance, child care, and encouragement as they search for permanent housing, employment, and in some cases, longer term development programs for their specific needs.

Third, we supplement our services with partner agency referrals for specific health concerns, job opportunities, bus tickets for those living outside the Houston area, and transportation to other resource centers, through Project Access.

And last but not least, during seasons when the heat index is dangerous, we counsel them on how much time to spend outdoors, especially when there are children involved. Our Women & Family Center is an emergency shelter, with a limited time of occupancy, so our goal from day one is to help them explore and achieve employment, safe housing, and any other medical or emotional care they may need.

Want to help? To volunteer, conduct your own donation drive, or give financially to the Star of Hope, explore our website and check out all that God is doing at the Mission!