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 knew for a long time that I have always wanted to do volunteer. It didn't matter the form of it, just knew it was in my heart. Two months ago, God placed in my heart to Google "shelter for the homeless in Houston." It's exactly what I did. The first shelter that popped up was Start Of Hope. I called and scheduled a day and time. Not only did God use me that day, but he used me by inviting 2 girlfriends that never have done volunteer work. I knew God smiled down on me that day, and ever since I never fail to invite some one to any event that gives glory to God!
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
Last night we at Star of Hope experienced an amazing Christmas miracle... a Christmas Tree Lighting Service with several hundred homeless parents and their kids together... children joyfully singing. It was just wonderful!
The miracle is that just a few short months ago, these families were in despair, with no place to go and no hope for their future. That is a terrible place to be in life. But last night, the Christmas Miracle...the HOPE that is ours in Christ was apparent all around! And it’s all because of you that these families have the support and services they need to put their lives back together.
Thank you for helping us financially and for your prayers and volunteer hours. Because of you these families have HOPE once again. And we will work diligently while they are in our care to help them find all that God has planned for them in the future.
Give a Christmas Miracle of your own right now, and help change a life forever!
There are lots of ways you can help…
One of the questions I hear over and over from folks in our community is this: "How can I help the homeless?” When we see someone on a street corner begging for money, or hear about someone struggling to pay their bills and about to lose their housing, we feel compelled to help. Yet we almost immediately feel helpless as to what’s the best thing to do.
When I hear this question, here’s my response. The streets of Houston are not a safe place for ANYONE to live. The best thing you can do is to encourage the person to come to one of Star of Hope’s emergency centers to get help. Visit our website for addresses, phone numbers and maps for Men’s Development Center and Women & Family Emergency Shelter locations. You can also get specific help by calling Star of Hope at 713-748-0700 or by sending a request through our website.
In the first six months of this year, the demand for our emergency services at Star of Hope has RISEN 33% from 2011…and this is the fourth year in a row we have seen increases. There is clearly great need in our city! Annual surveys are done each January to do a “one time count” of individuals observed to be homeless on a particular night, and these numbers fluctuate year to year. In addition to those counted on the streets, we see hundreds of others come to us from marginal or dangerous housing situations seeking emergency shelter and help every day. We call these the “hidden homeless.”
The good news is that Star of Hope is here to provide, thanks to you! And we don’t turn anyone away who comes desiring our help. More good news…once they are here, they can engage in life recovery and skills building programs designed to help them find a new hope in living and new abilities to live a successful life as a productive member of our community.
But we need your help today to serve the large and growing numbers who are coming! You can donate now…financially if you are able, or by conducting your own donations drive and then delivering to Star of Hope.
Just look at what these special young people have done just recently to help the homeless of our city.
If you’re interested in conducting your own drive, please learn about all the types of items we need as donations or explore other volunteer opportunities with Star of Hope.
So no need to wonder about how to help, just check out these resources and come join us as we serve!
Once homeless at the age of 6, Daronica is now pursuing a Masters Degree!
As Star of Hope works with families experiencing homelessness, we pay special attention to the children. They are the true victims in all their family is going through, and many times fall behind quickly in school. But with support and help while at the Star of Hope, more children of homeless families are catching up academically, dreaming their own dreams, and becoming successful, independent citizens in our community.
We had a very special guest at Star of Hope recently, who came to visit us 15 years after her family’s bout with homelessness. When Daronica was six, her family came to Star of Hope. Her mom was addicted to drugs and found the resources she needed for a fresh start in life. “Before, my mom was never around,” Daronica, now age 23, remembers. “She would just leave, and my brothers would have to take care of me.”
At Star of Hope things began to change. “It was a good experience for me and my sisters and brothers,” Daronica says. In addition to food, shelter and clothing, Star of Hope helps the children of homeless families with their own special needs. School age kids are in uniforms and back in school within just a couple of days, after school tutors help them catch up on their studies, some 1 or 2 years behind in grade level, and student ministries encourage them to find a faith in Christ and seek God’s perfect plan for their life.
Daronica says that the staff and volunteers also made a big impact on her life. Today, Daronica is pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education. Because of the help she was given while at Star of Hope as a child, she continues to volunteer and invest in the lives of children.
Recently, Daronica shared some of her story on Star of Hope's a Guest Blog, Helping Houston's Homeless. Read My Background Is Not An Excuse To Give Up!
Your generous gifts and prayers help hundreds of children in our care today, like Daronica, to break the cycle and become all that God wants them to be. Thank you for your help and support as we invest in the lives of these beautiful creations God has made. We are grateful for friends like you!
"Our culture gives us a mixed message. It says: make lots of money and spend it on yourself; get an identity by the kind of clothes you wear and the places you travel to and live. But also do some volunteer work, care about social justice, because you don't want to be just a selfish pig. However, Christians' attitudes toward our time and our money should not be shaped by our society; they should be shaped by the gospel of Christ, who became poor so that we could become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9)." –- Tim Keller
I’ve been reading this quote over and over again throughout the last month. It’s still just as hard to read as it was the first time I read it, mainly because far too often my attitude towards things get shaped by society. Our hearts in serving God’s people, loving the poor and social justice, should be shaped only by the gospel. That should be our aim. I am thankful to God for allowing me to work at the Women and Family Emergency Shelter… where He is messing my life up in the best way possible!
My husband and I have been long-time financial donors to the Star of Hope. Earlier this year, God opened a door of opportunity for me to volunteer in the kitchen at the Women & Family Emergency Shelter. For this, I will be forever grateful. It is an honor and privilege to have this chance to serve others each and every week. Being supervised by a professional and talented staff that works directly alongside the residents is both amazing and humbling.
Each time I volunteer, I know that I’m going to leave Star of Hope with a new skill and memorable experiences. Oh and yes, maybe an aching back. But it is all worth it because it’s done in selfless service to others. The staff applies determination and creativity where at times the pantry requires a large dose of it, and in doing so they are laying up treasures as we serve others. We offer the residents our very best at every meal. For me, it is deeply gratifying to hear residents thank those of us "on the line" who work hard to ensure they do not go hungry.
At Star of Hope, people connect with others on a very direct and human level. This is real. This is valuable. This is meaningful. This really matters. Lives are being saved and transformed daily, including my own. As I reflect at the end of each shift, I am reminded of just how Star of Hope carries out its amazing mission through the faithfulness and the abundance of heart from people who really care. My life is truly blessed!
Star of Hope Volunteer
It's the little things that make the biggest difference. Those often subtle, involuntary cues can tell someone's whole story. Most of us know in our hearts that the poor and homeless are not so very different from us. Homelessness is an unfortunate fact of life that can happen to anyone, especially in big cities like Houston, Texas.
Many of us don't understand homelessness, which, of course, is far more complex than most can fathom. However, this does not mean that we are to avoid the homeless as outcasts; rather it reminds us that we should treat homeless men, women and children as equals - because that is exactly what they are.
Even if we do not know just how to help them, we can always share a smile and blessing as we pass. This can be done by looking the other person directly in the eye and acknowledging our shared humanness. That simple act of kindness - a silent or spoken blessing - takes very little effort, but has the power to transform lives. Connecting with the homeless means giving them the same respect, courtesy and empathy you would want if you were in their shoes. Making direct eye contact shows you are actively listening; it shows that you are engaging with them. It allows them to be heard, perhaps for the very first time.
The sad truth is that many homeless people do not feel equal to those of us who are fortunate enough to have homes. Perhaps they feel afraid or unworthy, like they are somehow "lesser". They avoid direct eye contact, and often tend to look down or away from others.
Volunteering at Star of Hope has given me a different perspective. Although homeless, the clients here look you directly in the eyes. To me, this shows their self-esteem, confidence and determination. Above all else, the clients at Star of Hope have hope in their eyes - hope for a better tomorrow.
Star of Hope Volunteer
by Hank Rush
Star of Hope serves 250-300 children each day, who are staying in our facilities with their parents as they work to recover from homelessness.
Just last week, a group of 5th grade boys at Second Baptist School, arrived at our front door with 19 boxes of children’s books! This all started when a young man named Fielden cleared all of the books he had outgrown from his room after Christmas. As he wondered who could use them he remembered his family serving at Star of Hope’s Women & Family Emergency Shelter downtown. He decided to give the books to the kids at Star of Hope.
Fielden and his mom met with Elizabeth Hatler, Manager of Volunteer Services here at Star of Hope. As he learned how much children who come to Star of Hope experiencing homelessness with their families would love to have books of their own, he decided to do a book drive with his friends at school. Fielden sent out letters to 25 or so of his friends, asking them to help. The 5th graders worked, and then their work was multiplied by a bunch 11 and 12 year olds, who caught the spirit and built the collection. Bags and boxes of books kept coming, as the kids’ and families’ excitement grew!
Last Thursday, Fielden and 15 of his teammates arrived in numerous SUV’s and swooped into our lobby with box after box of children’s books for our kids. After touring the Transitional Living Center, he asked the boys to take a moment to pray that God would use the books, then added, “Tebowing allowed.” In a wave, the boys dropped to their knees and prayed. Not only did they ask that the children at Star of Hope would benefit from their books, but that God would use them to draw the children closer to Him.
There are so many ways to help those experiencing homelessness in our city. We welcome your help in organizing food, clothing, school supplies, diapers, and yes…book drives for those seeking help at Star of Hope. Feel free to contact our Volunteer Services Staff to discuss how your family , church or corporation can help us in this way, as we meet to provide the needs of 1,100 men women and children each day!
“That’s the kind of volunteer I like to have on my team,” he said pointing to a young man installing hardware from which he was going to hang a canopy over the Toddler’s playground. “He told me, ‘We are going to buy stainless steel parts for this project, aren’t we? We want it to last forever!’ That’s how the people are who volunteer for these projects. They care about the quality of the work they are doing on behalf of the people in this facility. Even financially, people who are usually very Budget conscious are quite generous when it comes to volunteer efforts like this one.”
The setting for this conversation was the playground/patio area at the Star of Hope Women & Family Emergency Shelter. Exxon Mobil and Marriott volunteers were working diligently to install a drain pipe and fill the large playground with mulch, install canopies over the two small playgrounds to shade the young ones from the Texas heat, weather-proof the wooden fences, build additional storage racks for Children’s toys, write notes of encouragement for the adult guests and work in our kitchen preparing and serving food to our Guests.
Words cannot adequately express our gratitude for our many volunteers. Without them Star of Hope could not provide the level of service that we do. Their labors of love put smiles on the faces of both children and adults struggling through the trials of homelessness, and their generosity and commitment to excellence in all they do ensure additional smiles for future guests. Amazing, the difference some green things and a little shade can make for a child accustomed to concrete, steel and glass under a hot Texas sun!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be homeless during your birthday? Usually, when I think of my own birthday memories, I think of friends and family together, a nice restaurant, conversations and laughter. But my children’s memories of past birthdays are not so great. It used to be that their birthdays at the shelter would go by almost unnoticed. We would give them a voucher to get a present from our toy room, but that was about all we could do.
That is not the case anymore. For about two years now, a group of teenagers from St. John’s High School comes faithfully at the end of each month. They transform our classrooms into birthday party lands: balloons, crafts, goody bags…even a piñata! The kids come into the classroom excited to see the decorations. They decorate their goody bags and get ready to break the piñata and share candy. Then the birthday kids step up to the middle of the classroom as we all sing happy birthday. Some of the birthdays kids get teary eyed when they hear their name in the birthday song. Some of them cover their faces with embarrassment (they’re so cute!) Then the birthday kids help our volunteers cut the cake and distribute it to their classmates. During the blessing of the food, we all say grace and thank God for the fun, the food, and the laughter of that day.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was making sure to inform parents that we were going to celebrate March birthdays that evening, one of the birthday kids in particular touched my heart. He was a new kid and didn’t know we celebrated birthdays at Star of Hope.
When I told him and his mom to make sure to come to our programs at 6pm because we were going to celebrate his birthday, he said “For real? Man, us birthday kids are going to have fun!”
“...But,” he said to his friends with a look of sadness, “if we were having it at my house, I would invite all of you to come.”
“They can come, Jack,” I clarified. “Everyone is invited.”
His face immediately lit up and he shouted to everyone in the classroom “Hey, you all! It’s my birthday tonight! I want all of you to come!” The goodness and generosity of our kids never ceases to amaze me. Here was this kid who had no idea someone was going to do something special for him for his birthday. But he was not worried about whether or not he would get a present, or what kind of cake he was going to have (as most kids his would be). What he was worried about was being able to share all those cool things with his friends.
Jack had a wonderful time last night. He cut the cake and passed it out to all his friends. When he was done serving his friends, he asked the volunteers if they could help him cut some more pieces. The volunteers told him everyone had been served. “I know,” he said to them. “But I want you to have some too.”
...Best birthday party memory ever.
Thank you Star of Hope for adding us to your Community Partners page!
Trees of Hope volunteers feel so blessed to be helping you transform the lives of thousands of homeless people reenter society as productive citizens.
I am sure we can all look back on our school experience a little grimily. It was a time when we realized not everyone was our friend, we weren't perfect, our family might be a little and/or HUGELY awkward, sometimes we were downright ruthless, and most stressfully our pain was often mocked rather than nurtured. During this age the inward focus of self-happiness and self-preservation is so strong that we didn't recognize anyone else felt exactly the same way we did.
I believe adolescence is an ideal period to expose your kids, your students, your scouts to other's pain, other's suffering, other's joy, other's happiness, and other's differences. Volunteering at a homeless shelter gives you sympathy where there was otherwise none for the man on the street and gives you empathy when you had no idea you could vicariously feel so deeply for someone who was so dissimilar to you.
Second Baptist School recently volunteered with Star of Hope. They helped with chores and odd jobs. They were the hands and feet of Christ and brought rest to the weak. I know without a doubt that we were blessed by their presence. I just pray their world view was stretched that day forcing them to be more confident in Christ, more humble in their weakness, more empathetic to one another, and more gracious to everyone including themselves.
If you volunteered with Star of Hope and it had a big impact on your life share your story!
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?
by Katelyn Oliver
The Lent season is one I cherish. I feel that during this period of sacrifice and intentionality we acknowledge God more often and therefore become more intimate with him. Just as the Israelites, I am a forgetful person and every day I forget who provides for me. I not only forget who provides for me, but how well I am provided for, which is one reason I love having my Church family participate in this holiday season. They act as a pillar to remind me of God's faithfulness during this season of sacrifice.I also begin to recognize it isn't just about me... that we all suffer. And amazingly, we have all been redeemed by the same sacrifice and therefore even in life after death we are STILL taken care of by our provider!
There are those in your backyard that are suffering, that can't provide for themselves or their family. As a family of Christians in Houston, I pray that God creates a passion within the community to not only acknowledge the poverty and suffering in our city, but to seek out opportunities that Star of Hope offers to help those in need. Two wonderful ways to get involved with helping Houston's homeless are volunteer or donate!
Are you a Houston area chef and would like to help the homeless in our city? Be a guest chef with Star of Hope Mission. Contact Star of Hope to get started today.
Thanks Kevin King of Riverbend Country Club and Ben E. Keith for providing a wonder meal for the residents of Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center for Women & Families.
I wanted to tell you about one of our volunteers, Peggy*. On three separate occasions she has baked over 400 cup cakes and brought them to Star of Hope. We served over 600,000 meals last year; one of the things that many times gets over looked is the “dessert.”
Our clients have so many homeless service needs, we are always looking for ways to help make them feel at home. These cupcakes have been so awesome! I watched the little children eat the cupcakes. Of course they are messy but they are so good and they add so much to our client’s lives here at the shelters.
We have such an active volunteer program at Star of Hope… everything from sorting clothes to serving meals to tutoring children is included…even making cupcakes! Thank you, Houston, for being such a giving community. When we volunteer to help others, we really make a difference for our community! Thank you, Peggy, for taking time to provide such wonderful cupcakes for our clients and their children, right here at Star of Hope!
*Peggy wishes to be anonymous and we have changed her name.
I came to Star of Hope 4 years ago fresh out of college, naïve, and inexperienced. I was a recent college graduate looking to serve. I had always heard about Star of Hope, but had never volunteered and knew very little about the mission and all that it does. I sent in my application to Star of Hope and several other organizations. After my first interview at Star of Hope, I knew God had called me here.
On my drive home from that first interview, I received a call from another organization offering a position. I took a leap of faith and turned down that position stating I had another offer. I did not have another offer, and I was still several interviews away from being hired at Star of Hope. However, I knew where the Lord wanted me to be, and I wanted to be obedient to Him.
I continued the interview process at Star of Hope, and two months later my manager and director took a step of faith and added me to the children’s ministry team. I was eager to change the world! Little did I know that Star of Hope would change me.
As I reflect on my time at Star of Hope, I see over and over evidences of the Lord’s grace in my life. The Lord has used Star of Hope to grow, change, and mold me more into the image of Christ than I could ever imagine. We do not seek to meet only the physical needs of our guests, but to share the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they experience true life change. And as scripture tells us, the more we share the love of Christ, the more opposition we will meet from the enemy. Our days are filled with hardship, stress, brokenness, and pain.
Every day, however, I see more clearly the work God is doing in this sanctuary to rescue the homeless and bring them into communion with Him. Sharing scripture with two children fighting over a toy, encouraging a young mom who is struggling in sin, and leading class Bible studies gives me more joy than any other job. The Lord is at work in this place, and I am humbled to be a small part of it!
Children's Services Supervisor
• There are 13,500 homeless right here in Houston.
• Star of Hope, a local homeless shelter prepared and fed over 620,000 meals during the 2011.
• The number of homeless families in our city increased by 25% from 2010.
The economy is really impacting our lives!
The high point in the evening is always the testimonies from those who has been homeless in our city and have been able to experience “life change.” One such testimony was offered by a 17 year old high school student, Courtney. His mom had been taken ill and with a long term illness, she ultimately lost her job, and they were evicted. They came to Star of Hope and after a time were able to regain their stability, individually and as a family.
Through a community service volunteer group who came to Star of Hope, Courtney was able to visit the University of Houston campus, met with several top level administrators, and he was able to get a scholarship offer (he wants to be an aeronautical engineer)!
He has a ways to go (he is just now completing high school, but he looked so special as he stood there in front of 2,300 attendees and told his (and his family’s) story. It was so special to see young man in his ROTC uniform to stand and talk about the “life change” that he has experienced and the blessing that Star of Hope, a local homeless shelter in Houston, has offered to he and his family.
Star of Hope is not just a men’s shelter or an emergency family shelter but we also have a longer term program for homeless who need assistance. I hope that possibly you were able to attend the annual banquet, but if not…please be sure that you don’t miss it next year!