by Hank Rush
At Star of Hope’s Summer Camp for children of homeless families last week, the answer was a resounding “YES!”
With the amazing financial support of so many of you, 130 children ages 6-17 went to Camp Good News and had the time of their lives. While their moms and dads were working through tough life issues with our staff, these bright, talented and promising young people were having great fun AND learning about God’s love for them!
We know God has a special plan for each one. Thank you for helping these kids to have this special opportunity to grow and learn! If you haven’t given yet to the Children’s Programs at Star of Hope, we could really use your help in meeting our August budget need for the kids’ summer activities. Please make a gift NOW.
As we enter the final weeks of the summer, we are preparing for the start of school next week. And, as these children enter the classroom, we will be right alongside their parents, helping ensure their success, so homelessness can end in their families and not be repeated in the next generation.
Many of the clients we see in Star of Hope’s New Haven program need a second chance on LIFE. Our ladies come to us from abusive and broken relationships, their pasts filled with tragedy and disappointment. They have potential to reach great heights, but no one will give them a chance.
Watch this video and see how appreciative Alisha is to have her second chance!
“Star of Hope opened doors to me and gave me a second chance.” -- Alisha
Have you ever wanted a second chance to do something over? Perhaps a meeting with your boss, a golf game, or some other missed opportunity?
The precious ladies in New Haven hear things like this all the time:
- “You were denied for benefits because you did not respond to our request in time.” Meanwhile, her stomach and refrigerator are empty.
- “You cannot qualify for an apartment because you have a felony on your record.” No matter that the felony was several years ago and she has NO PLACE else to live unless her application is approved.
- “We are looking for someone with more experience.” She is likely the best candidate, but because she is older, she is passed by.
In New Haven, we say “YES” whenever we can! We screen clients IN, rather than screen them OUT. We set them up for success rather than failure. We work with a housing partner who is willing to work with our clients with “imperfect” backgrounds and give them their own apartment. We are able to help our clients “open doors” and give “second chances” … not because they earned it or deserve it, but because of Christ’s death on the cross. Three days in the tomb and the door opened when the stone was rolled way … and, we ALL got a second chance for salvation and eternal life.
Won’t you help us as we continue open doors for ladies like Alisha?
What does it take to end homelessness?
This is a question many of us ask every time we see a homeless person on the streets of Houston. We all see homeless individuals most every day and wonder, “Why are they there and what can we do to really help them?” But for every man or woman you see on the streets, there are thousands more hidden from our view. And a large percentage of these are homeless families.
This summer, we are seeing more homeless families coming for help than we have ever seen before. Most of these “hidden homeless” have been doubling up on a friend’s living room floor. Many were told that they had to find another place to go once the kids were out of school for the summer. When they cannot find anything else, they come to Star of Hope, and we try never to turn anyone away … day or night.
Star of Hope welcomes these families each day … and immediately begins working with them to deal with their crisis and to help them develop a plan toward full independence in their future. Once safely housed with us, and with the help of many other Houston agencies, we work to help them move down the road to a full recovery and independent living.
With each new family at our doorstep, we are excited because they are seeking help and we KNOW that God has a plan and a purpose for each one. In time, many will be healed, restored and able to live a happy life once again.
Your help, especially during the summer, enables this work to go on each and every day and night. If you would like to touch the life of a mom or dad, an infant or toddler, a middle school or high school student who is embarrassed and ashamed of their family’s homelessness, searching for their own identity … please make a gift today. You can make this a SUMMER OF HOPE and a fresh start for those who have lost their way in our community!
Thank you for allowing my family to volunteer at the Men's Development Center. It was a blessing to serve the men as well as work alongside the staff and residents.
Our purpose was to give of ourselves but we are the ones who received the blessings from the residents and staff members. The Star of Hope staff who headed up the kitchen did an incredible job facilitating the day.
I like the Christian values exhibited by the staff to help provide for the homeless and those in need. Star of Hope is an incredible organization that is doing great things to help the homeless get a second chance in life.
Thank you again,
Kristy Anders and Family
Star of Hope Mission Volunteers
by Scott Arthur
Dr. Phyllis Morgan has wanted to be a dentist since the age of 8. In 1994 she realized her dream when she opened her own practice and began to make other dreams come true. Community and outreach has been a driving force in her life and for the last 14 years, in addition to her regular practice, she and her staff work with the under insured and the underprivileged.
Last week, the good doctor opened her heart and her arms to the homeless children of Star of Hope. Dr. Morgan personally met the twelve school aged children and their parents as they got off the Mission’s bus. She assured them that they were in for a treat – not a treatment.
Soon, kids who have not been in a dentist’s chair for years – or ever – were getting their teeth cleaned and x-rayed, toothaches were being soothed and hearts were being won. Each child received a balloon and a back pack with dental supplies and a fun surprise.
“I love children,” said the Tooth Fairy in disguise, “they make me happy – and I want to return the favor.” As you might imagine, the top priorities of many homeless families don’t often include caring for a child’s tooth ache or much needed fillings. They need immediate crisis care and then long term structured recovery programs focusing on Life Skills, Education, Employment and Recovery from Substance Abuse. With your help, Star of Hope is here to provide these things. And while we put the smile back on the face of God’s broken children – Dr. Morgan makes sure it’s a healthy smile.
The end of the day was special as well. Although this charitable session was scheduled just for the homeless children – Dr. Morgan looked into the waiting room and said “Let’s see if any of the kid’s parents need dental help.” Two of the moms had major problems and teeth extracted – with a promise of follow - up visits.
The bus returned to Star of Hope with miles of smiles – and the best thing is - nobody even had to leave anything under their pillow!
Recently, I had the honor and great pleasure of meeting someone who I only knew of as a name on the boxes of clothes that were given as gifts to my children last Christmas at Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center. I was told that ESPN wanted to do a special on The Donald Driver Foundation and wanted to interview some of the people his organization had helped and I was one of them. After learning this, I did a little research on him just to get some background information so that would know exactly who it was that I was meeting and would be speaking about.
The unknown Good Samaritan for my family turned out to be Donald Driver … a Super Bowl Champion, 2012 Dancing with the Stars winner and a man with a genuine love for people. I watched several videos of his testimony and they both shocked and touched me. During his childhood his family had faced similar struggles that led me here to the Star of Hope Mission. At one point in his life Donald and his four siblings and mom had been homeless; at one point living out of a U-Haul truck until his mom decided to split the kids up and send them to relatives until she could provide for them better. It was heartbreaking to hear that in his teens Donald began selling drugs; his own way of trying to ease the financial strain of their life.
Not unfamiliar to this type of story of how poverty, lack, struggle can so easily turn into more pain and tragedy whenever drugs are involved, I was happy to learn that Donald turned away from this negative lifestyle, much to the credit of his beautiful wife, then girlfriend, who gave him an ultimatum … drugs or her.
But learning all of this did not fully prepare me for actually meeting this great man of integrity. While walking to the office of his self-named foundation, I came face to face with the infamous Donald Driver himself. Humble and gracious, he eased my nervousness, greeting me with a hug and a smile. I never would have thought that someone so accomplished and famous could be so welcoming and down to earth. As we waited on set to be interviewed, his mother Faye (one of the most kind hearted women I have ever met) and Marvin (Donald's little-big brother) kept me in a tidal wave of emotions. One minute I was ready to cry, listening to their struggles and how their faith helped them to overcome, and the next moment, I was in tears from laughing at the silly things that Marvin said.
As I look back over that day, the entire event seems surreal and spiritual. It's amazing and inspiring to be able to see how God can change situations, how struggle and pain can birth perseverance and integrity. Donald has been given the opportunity to turn tragedy into triumph and not just in his life and career but in countless others lives as well. His athletic abilities gave him his passport out of financial hardship, poverty and a life of crime, but his heart and genuine compassion extends his blessings to others still hoping to overcome their struggles and succeed. I was truly blessed to be able just to meet him and his family. I am thankful for them, and not just for the clothes that they so lovingly provided for my six children. I am grateful for their raw humanity, compassion and willingness to be a reminder that no matter what trials you face in life, you can overcome them all with faith and perseverance!
Star of Hope Transitional Living Center Client
My significant other of 30 years passed away from cancer in July 2011. Nine months later I was left with nothing and evicted from my house. My neighbor allowed me to stay one night on her couch. The next morning she said I had to go. I asked her to take me to Star of Hope on Dowling. I knew nothing about the organization, but I had nowhere else to go.
I took all of Pastor Turner’s classes and worked hard in the kitchen. I was given a room and started my job search, using the computer at the Dowling location to fill out job applications. I asked my case manager, Kim Lee, to help me get into Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center (TLC). She gave me the 17 page application which I filled out immediately. I was accepted into New Beginnings and moved to TLC in August 2012.
Every minute that I was wasn’t involved in New Start or Personal Development, I was on the TLC computers filling out job applications. My efforts were rewarded with a receptionist/accountant position in October 2012. TLC has been a paradise for me; having all the resources I need … even offering counseling services on site. I’ve been so impressed with everything Star of Hope's Transitional Living Center has to offer.
I thought I would be here longer, but a detached garage apartment has become available for me. So, with a heavy heart I will be leaving on June 8. I will have been at Star of Hope for 361 days. During my stay here I have become healed, hopeful and grateful. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life and coming back to “give back” by volunteering at TLC.
Transitional Living Center Alum
June is the month for commencements! For most this means the closing of one chapter in their lives and signals the beginning of an exciting future.
That is exactly what commencement means for one of the residents in Star of Hope’s New Horizons program. Roderick recently graduated from high school with a 3.0 GPA and is ready to embark on his college career! Here, in his own words, is his testimony of how Star of Hope helped him and his family on this exciting journey:
High school has been an amazing life changing experience for me. It allowed me to feel the transition from my childhood years into adulthood slowly, but surely. I've had multiple distractions and obstacles trying to prevent me from being successful in school, but with the help of GOD, my family, friends, and Star of Hope, I’ve been blessed and stayed on track. Just knowing how proud the people who actually care about me are motivates me to push further, stay positive and stay focused.
Star of Hope allowed me the opportunity to experience my first summer camp and it was awesome. I still volunteer and work with younger kids ever since my camp trip. I've always kept my GPA above a 3.0 and never slacked off when it came to my education.
I've decided to go to Sam Houston State University and major in Law Enforcement since that has been something I knew I would enjoy doing since I was a child. I know that regardless of what may happen; the people who care about me will support me through whatever I decide to do. I am so grateful for that.
There are so many young men my age who did not get the chances GOD has given me. And, just like my mother, I want to give back because we can make a difference in someone’s life. Just like Star of Hope made a difference in ours.
Son of the best momma in the world, Sharon
Star of Hope congratulates all of its graduates and those reading this update! Thank you for helping us end homelessness for Roderick, his family and so many more just like them!
As we celebrate our Mothers this Mother’s Day, I am especially excited about the “NEW LIFE” Program which is now open at Star of Hope for new mothers, ages 18-23, who are expecting a baby and seeking a new life! This wonderful new program comes complete with a safe and clean apartment, great food, and a nurturing and supportive program staff to help each young mom through her pregnancy.
Moms will experience some great counseling and developmental coursework to help them find God’s plan for their life, as the Bible tells us so clearly in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” That’s what Star of Hope is all about!
Do you know a young mom between the ages of 18-23 in need of this program? Visit our website to get more details.
To all the mothers reading this update, all of us at Star of Hope would like to wish you a very special and blessed Mother’s Day. And gentlemen, a reminder . . . Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Don’t forget!
I am excited to announce that New Life is finally up and running. We are currently accepting young ladies from 18-23 years of age entering the exciting journey of motherhood for the first time. But, don’t fret! New Life also welcomes young mothers who are taking this journey a second time around. I am excited to help guide these young ladies towards reaching their greatest potential.
As of now there are three young ladies participating in the New Life Program. Each young lady is excited about the road ahead of them now that they have found a stable and loving environment to call their home. They are also excited about the classes that are offered because not only can they work towards bettering themselves, they are also able to build a stronger relationship with God. The eagerness they have to succeed as a mother and individual is beyond beautiful. With the help of Star of Hope, I have no doubt these young ladies matriculating through the New Life Program will be restored, uplifted, and highly motivated upon exiting the program.
Although the journey through motherhood is longer than 12 weeks, I am thankful that I have the opportunity to help each of these young ladies prepare for a lifetime of greatness that awaits them. I pray that once this chapter in their life has come to an end and they bring new life into the world they remember that John 16:21 says, "Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world."
Sherronica Jackson, MSW
Therapeutic Case Manager
Four months ago, before beginning an internship at Star of Hope's Transitional Living Center, my perception of homelessness was of someone standing on a corner holding a sign made of cardboard which states, “Will work for food.” But oh, how my views have changed.
As I stood before a class filled with women who were ready to be a part of the group I was about to facilitate, I noticed that every face had a different story. I knew this because I did several of their intake interviews. Homelessness can happen to anyone, just as mental illness can. All it takes is a serious turn of events in one's life:
- a death in the family
- escaping abusive homes
- lack of income due to unemployment
- a house fire or losing a home due to natural disaster
- substance abuse
My experience at Star of Hope has taught me that there truly is no single mold that homeless people fit into. They come here from different backgrounds and with different reasons for becoming homeless, but they all have one thing in common . . . and that is hope. The belief that tomorrow will be better, if we can bear a hardship today.
Star of Hope is not just about helping homeless people sustain employment and putting a roof over their heads. The Transitional Living Center restores self confidence, enhances self esteem, motivational skills, hopes and aspirations.
Star of Hope Intern
Transitional Living Center for Women & Families
If one has never been homeless you may not understand the important impact the Star of Hope Mission has in someone’s life. You may never experience the overwhelming panic, the knot that forms in the pit of your stomach or the physical pain caused by the fear of being homeless. You may not identify with the feeling of terror that one has when they have no idea where they will sleep that night, the fear of how to feed their children or concern about how to keep their children in school.
Many are blessed in life and never personally experience these terrorizing emotions. Others are blessed because Star of Hope was there to help them through this terrifying time in their life. My volunteer time has been spent in administrative support working for caring and dedicated staff. Each time I'm there, I see the lives of the many people whose lives have been altered. It may look like just a piece of paper that gets filed away, but each represents a life that has been touched and changed by the Star of Hope. The mission depend on volunteers to keep going. If you want to be involved with life changing moments in someone’s life and offer hope and confidence in the future, I encourage you to volunteer. You will gain more than any of the people you serve.
For many reasons people may find themselves in a temporary position in life in which a helping hand can make all the difference in the world. Star of Hope offers people a lifeline to a successful life when the world seems to be against them. They offer food, shelter, training and job placement . . . but most of all they offer hope and confidence in the future.
Deborah L. Stich
Star of Hope Volunteer
I am currently a first year student in the Graduate College of Social Work at University of Houston. Initially I didn’t know what to expect coming to intern at Star of Hope's Transitional Living Center. All I really knew about Star of Hope was that it is a “homeless shelter”. Little did I know that it is so much more.
From the first day I entered the building, I could feel the welcoming spirit of the staff and residents. I expected to see a scene like portrayed on television with beds everywhere, a dirty or unkept building, unprofessional staff, and sack lunches with who knows what in them. That was my little view, but my eyes were widened and my spirits were lifted when I realized how different Star of Hope is from what I expected.
I have been allowed to do intake interviews with clients, I have taught some personal development classes and introduced topics such as self care, stress management and relaxation techniques. I have sat in on the New Hope Recovery Program, I interact and even have lunch with clients in the wonderful cafeteria where there are three hot meals served and not the sack lunches I thought there would be. I have gone to the chapel service and witnessed women graduate from recovery programs.
Overall the intensity of my excitement has grown more and more each day that I am here. I feel so blessed with this opportunity. The Spirit of God is all around this place and it is for anyone who really wants help. Star of Hope helps clients using a non-judgmental and holistic approach. My faith, spiritual outlook and belief in God has been greatly increased and I am constantly reminded that God is there for us all.
There is a sense of peace and God’s constant presence in this atmosphere of kindness, consideration, respect and cheerfulness.
The scripture I would associate with Star of Hope is Mathew 11:28. "Come to me, all ye labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!"
Star of Hope Mission Intern
Star of Hope GROWS 53% as We Serve the Homeless of Houston!
Now in our second century, Star of Hope is expanding its services to the homeless of Houston! In the 5 years since 2008, Star of Hope has grown by 53% in the number of homeless men, women and children we serve per day.
Our city-wide street homeless numbers vary from year to year, but more homeless families who are not living directly on the streets of Houston are coming to us each year, needing help. There is so much work to be done!
In 2011, 5,856 homeless families were counted in Houston. Over the past 5 years, the rise in needs of homeless families has been without a doubt, the greatest challenge Star of Hope has faced. We are focusing special attention on better ways to serve these families . . . which we call the “Hidden Homeless” - families and single women in crisis with no home of their own, living with friends and relatives, in their cars, campgrounds and motels.
Please continue to help with us through your prayers, your volunteer service, and your financial gifts as we work to reclaim these precious hearts and lives with the message of Christ’s love and educational support to help them have a successful, independent life! After all, this is OUR CITY • OUR HOME • OUR MISSION!
I have often heard the saying, “You are going into a storm, going through a storm, or coming out of a storm.” The truth is that we really do not like any parts of storms—before, during, or after. As hard as we pray and prepare for storms to leave us alone, we still find ourselves dealing with them in some manner. Since stormy situations are inevitable, let’s take a look at a particular storm to help equip us to navigate stormy situations. Luke 8:22-25 is a good place to start:
"Now it happened, on a certain day that Jesus got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, 'Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.' And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, 'Master, Master, we are perishing!' Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, 'Where is your faith?' And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, 'Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!'"
The disciples were afraid and cried out to Jesus in the mist of the stormy situation, and the Master woke up and calmed the storm and then challenged their faith.
If you or a loved one is experiencing fear in the midst of the stormy situations of homelessness and alcohol or drug addiction, don’t give up! Do as the disciples did when they cried out to Jesus, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Jesus can turn your stormy situations into stories of hope and healing. Jesus will get you to the other side of the pain and suffering just keep the faith in Him! It may seem strange but God is working it out and is with you according to Romans 8:28; 38-39:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (28)."
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (38-39)."
Because we are the hands and feet of Jesus, Star of Hope exists as a shelter of love, hope and healing to help you navigate stormy situation.
Ever turn on the evening news and wish you hadn’t? Nightly reports, packed with violence, tragedy and heartache, leave little hope for anything but a bleak, catastrophic future. That’s why I wish everyone could see the world through the window in my office!
Every day, I have the incredible privilege of working with hundreds of people - from our city, across the state, throughout our nation and around the world - who demonstrate caring through volunteerism. Regardless of the demands and circumstances in their own lives, Star of Hope volunteers are excited about the opportunity to serve the homeless men, women and children God brings through our doors. They just need to know how to help.
When I see the immense love and compassion, talent and enthusiasm God has placed in Star of Hope volunteers, it is hard to be anything but hopeful about the future! Not just pretty words, but truly love-in-action, people of all ages and backgrounds who are called to serve, ready to help at a moment’s notice. Then, to watch miracles happen as God uses these volunteers to touch hearts and forever, eternally, change the lives of others is the most amazing thing!
So spend the day with me and look out of my window. God’s people are busy reaching out to help those in need. Your heart will rejoice!
Each year, thousands of folks from every walk of life come to one of Star of Hope's six locations and volunteer their time and talents. They come from around Houston, the United States and even from foreign countries. They do this to serve our guests who are recovering from homelessness and seeking a new life! In so doing, they are fulfilling the Bible's teachings that: "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace..." (I Peter 4:10) and that "by this kind of hard work, we must help the weak, remembering the Lord Jesus himself who said: 'It is more blessed to give, than to receive'" (Acts 20:35 NIV).
Our volunteers come from local churches, businesses, corporations, universities, public and private schools, other non-profits and individual families. Some conduct donation drives for food, clothing and hygiene items needed by the men, women, and children in Star of Hope's care, and bring those collected items to us. Just last year, 7,500 volunteers donated more than 55,000 hours of their time! This saves Star of Hope the equivalent of 28 full-time paid Staff members, and millions of dollars of supplies needed as we serve 1,100 - 1,200 people per day.
If you are looking for a SPECIAL PLACE to share God's love, and be the "hands and feet of Jesus" to someone who is lost and alone, find a volunteer opportunity at Star of Hope that interests you. Complete the volunteer interest form and plan a time to join us! I guarantee you that your service will not only be a blessing to our guests, but also to you!
The time I spend at Star of Hope is the highlight of my week. Being in the midst of a job search, it can be easy to become focused on me and on my problems.
Being at Star of Hope each week helps me stay focused on God, and to experience the joy of seeing first-hand His grace at work. Through His people, Star of Hope is meeting the very real needs of Houston’s homeless. It is so wonderful to be even a small part of the big work God is doing here. When I’m here I know God is smiling.
My current assignment is working at Hope Center on Ardmore Street to perform various administrative tasks, data entry and other opportunities to support the important work done by the Volunteer Services Department. The people I work with are appreciative, kind and welcoming.
It’s heartwarming to be around like-minded people serving others -- unapologetically in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace, in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:10-11
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” John 1:29
These past few Sunday evenings at home we have been watching the “The Bible” TV series on the History Channel. I must say, it has been a profound experience.
Watching the expertly portrayed Biblical accounts of the history of mankind, through the retelling of countless Old and New Testament Biblical passages, has given me a new perspective on our world and man’s relationship with God. The series continues for two more weeks, on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday evenings.
The most powerful moment for me this past Sunday night, and perhaps over the entire series, was when John the Baptist proclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” That’s it! That’s the pivot point in ALL of history. Jesus is THE answer to the misery, evil, aggression, abuse and hatred that fills our world today, and has filled our world since man disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, and sin was born into our lives.
Star of Hope celebrates Easter! Because here, we see broken and desperate lives every day, void of God. Thousands come to us who are at rock bottom and literally have no one else to turn to for help. We are their last resort. Their lives are filled with all of life’s worst…the same evils of history we’ve seen displayed so beautifully through “The Bible” series, and that we see today in our own country and throughout our world. Yet at Star of Hope every day, we can say: “Behold the Lamb of God” and then see the love of Jesus light up those lives, one by one, and redeem and heal and bring them back to life!
Thank you Heavenly Father for giving us your Son, and thank you Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for me…for each one who reads this blog…and for each homeless person or family who finds their way here to Star of Hope. Jesus is the Star, for the homeless and for all of us!
As we experience this Holy Week that is ahead, let’s truly walk it in reverence and introspection, then celebrate the NEW LIFE we have in Christ’s gift to us and to the world...as we behold Him!