Wednesday’s are a day that I look forward to with much anticipation each week. When I enter the preschool classroom at Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center, I receive warm greetings of smiles and hugs by every three and four year old in the room. I must say it is quite an encouragement to feel so appreciated.
A typical morning of volunteering includes reading stories, playing in centers and helping the children with their writing.
I was first introduced to the Transitional Living Center several years ago while touring Star of Hope’s facilities with fellow Trees of Hope Board members. Trees of Hope is a non-profit organization which conducts fund raising activities along with Mother’s Day and Back to School Shoe events for Star of Hope.
When I saw the precious children at the facility, I knew this was where I wanted to volunteer. I began by bringing my high school children to volunteer in the summer. I became attached to the Star of Hope children, and it became a year round opportunity for me.
Some weeks are more challenging than others as these children have come from difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, it is so rewarding to see them learn and grow. The wonderful preschool teachers incorporate enduring Christian principles in everything they teach.
As I leave the classroom each week with more hugs and “please stay and play” responses from the preschoolers, I am reminded of the truth of Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Trees of Hope Guild Member
Star of Hope Mission Volunteer
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!
by Star of Hope Friends
Unlike most of the volunteers at Star of Hope, I have very little daily interaction with the clients. Instead, I volunteer my services in the Administration Building where I am responsible for entering the volunteer hours performed at each facility.
Before volunteering at Star of Hope, I never considered the ongoing demands and operations required to run a large non-profit, social service organization. However, nine months as a volunteer have provided a unique opportunity to observe the administrative functions of this mission on a daily basis. I was surprised to find less than a handful of dedicated individuals are responsible for recruiting, scheduling and managing more than 7,000 Star of Hope volunteers. I have also watched the Human Resources, IT, Finance, Development and Facilities Management teams tirelessly meet the constant challenges with excellence and a passion for serving others.
Undoubtedly, Star of Hope has tremendous front-line employees who give their time, toil, effort and talent to directly helping Houston's homeless men, women and children. However, it is important to recognize the wonderful individuals who work behind-the-scenes and are sometimes forgotten for their contributions.
Through my volunteer experience, I have learned that each person has a distinct purpose and plays an essential role in this mission. It takes all of us working together to address the many needs that would be overwhelming for any one individual. I am grateful for every employee and donor. And since this is National Volunteer Week, I would like to give a special shout-out of thanks and appreciation to all of the other Star of Hope volunteers. I am humbled and honored to serve with you!
Star of Hope Volunteer
On this "Leap Day" 2012...I want to share a leap of faith that two of the New Horizons clients have taken.
Pam and Sharon have both been dealing with this difficult job market. Both were laid off last Spring and have been searching endlessly for work--ANY work. As "mature" women, they are often disregarded in favor of a younger applicant. As individuals with "a past" that is not as promising as their future, they are denied employment based on an unfavorable backgroud check. I often encourage these women by saying,
"If any employer just gives you ONE chance to show your skills and work ethic...they would know what a valuable asset you will be to them!!"
But, they continue to forge ahead, undeterred by the constant disappointments...They have faith!
When trying to help them gain SOME SORT of success and accomplishment...I went to them and asked..."What about school?" When faced with a chance to CHANGE their circumstance, both said "Yes, I want to do that."
These women...who have not been in school since the 80's...took the leap and started classes at HCC to become Community Health Workers. They are so excited about what the future holds for them now. They are experiencing a "revival of hope" and it is a joy to witness their wide-eyed wonder of this uncharted territory.
This LEAP DAY, 2012...what will YOU do to take a leap of faith? Will you volunteer for a non-profit organization and give hope to someone who is lost and alone? Will you open your wallet and offer a donation that could feed a hungry child for a day...a week...a month? Will you open your heart and pray for these ladies...Pam and Sharon...and, other like them, who are taking a LEAP into God's arms...knowing He will NEVER LET THEM FALL?
What will you do this LEAP DAY?
Being my first "Back Pack Extravaganza Day" I expected something low key like kids forming a line according to age and picking up a back pack. I was completely wrong. It felt like a sacred ceremony including prayers, songs, a motivational speech, and many blessings. The kids were called individually on stage to get their back pack and as soon as they received it you could see joy, pride, and curiosity. They wanted to look inside and see what the heck was in their new present a stranger gave them! Star of Hope, on behalf of all the donors and EIS Office Solutions, was able to present all kids with pride in the form of new school supplies and uniforms. We are deeply grateful!
Discover ways to give and help homeless Houstonians.
Visit Star of Hope Mission - Houston Non-Profit Donations
This exciting plan is set to the backdrop of ever growing homelessness in Houston. We are now experiencing as a community our 3rd year of record, serious overflow at our Women & Family Emergency Shelter at 419 Dowling, and something must be done! Our city, state, federal budgets are strapped and doing all they can, and we already work closely with over 100 health, housing, recovery, education, job training, and independent living partners in our city. VISION 2015 will take us to the next step.
It’s important to remember WHY we should serve those who have lost their way. God’s Word, in Jesus’ own words, teaches us in Matthew 25:31-40 that it is our duty and calling to love, feed, clothe and care for those in need, and in so doing, we are serving Christ himself. In our service, He changes lives! Watch this video of how a family has been restored; I know you’ll be as moved as I was:
And thanks to Bryan Bullington of the Pearland Chick-fil-A for hosting a donations drive and outdoor event at his store earlier this month.
If you want to serve on a long term basis, there is no better way than making a Legacy Gift to the Star of Hope. We all need to plan for our financial futures, and as you do, we want to invite you to consider including the Star of Hope in your estate plans. In this way, you can leave a lasting "Legacy of Hope" Gift to help accomplish the work Christ commanded us to do, for years to come.
If you’re interested in learning more, we have a new website with a WILLS PLANNER for your use. Visit sohlegacy.org. Review the various topics there, and click: “Plan Your Will” to get started. Also, we are having our 2nd Annual Planned Giving Advisory Council Luncheon coming up September 13th. Get more information and register today for this complimentary and informative luncheon. We hope to see you there!
Censoring my story to make it seem I am “not-all-that-bad” is negating the fact that I was so bad that Christ had to die on a cross for me. The Truth is I am ashamed that I am actively still a sinner despite trying to live for my Redeemer. I often forget what Star of Hope's guest do remember; accepting Christ makes me and the story I bring with me worthy. How is not telling my story helping the Christian community? I think we should all take a cue from Wendi, who stood before Pearland and told her story of redemption.
Check Out Other Stories of Redemption from Former Clients!
Discover ways to give. Visit Star of Hope Mission - Houston Non Profit Donations
by Scott McKinley
Visit SummerOfHopeHouston.org and discover how you can make this summer a Summer Of Hope for Houston's homeless men, women and children.
by John Mills
We had 82 persons in "overflow" at our Women & Family Emergency Shelter last evening. Half of those were single women who would have been totally at risk, had they not entered our shelter. They received sack lunch dinners, showers, and a pallet to sleep on in the safety of our shelter. It is amazing how basic the needs of the least, the last and the lost really are. Many of these suffer from mental illness. We are really hopeful that later in the year we will be able to put our new HUD grant in place and offer housing to 24 of these mentally ill women. If you happen to think about it, could you pray for the funding to come through for this grant? We have experienced a 29 percent increase in unduplicated individuals at SOH this year. WOW!...and the temperature is now beginning to rise!
BTW, mark your calendar right now for the Annual Star of Hope Banquet on February 2nd, 2012, at the Hilton Americas. I know that it is early but you will not want to miss this event! You will be entertained and learn more about the less fortunate in our city! Blessings, John
Learn how you can get involved in helping Houston's homeless with Star of Hope.
Visit Non Profit Organizations Houston.
I am very confident in saying that 90% of the world’s most passionate and hopeful people are 25 years and younger. Look at college campuses during a presidential election year or the energy of a high school pep-rally. Revolutions are started by young people who have heard their parents talk about tyranny for a life time and have the hope and courage to start change. Here, at Star of Hope young adults are leading the way in fighting against poverty, abuse, addiction and homelessness with Star of Hope.
If your cynical side is throwing thoughts around your brain like young adults haven’t become jaded from world experiences or they are too naïve to realize the world is unchangeable, silence it. “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa. Wake up Houston and do a small thing with great love. Follow the example of the teens across Houston.
Here are a couple of examples:
Boy Scout Troop 924’s David Reeves delivered with his father, Rick Reeves, 11 well crafted, handmade benches. David had independently contacted a representative at Star of Hope about a service project, he then independently arranged for a group of Boy Scouts to construct the benches and he then personally delivered them. These benches will serve as a great resting spot for mothers and fathers to sit as their kids take advantage of the spring sunshine.
Every Wednesday from 11:30 – 12:45 Heidi Hartung, Chloe Espenan, Anna Buvens, Sahar Yazdanfard and Katy Wefelmeyer from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart walk into Star of Hope Women and Family Emergency Shelter as if they are employees. They go straight to the kitchen was their hands, put on their apron and hairnets, and start serving lunch to the Star of Hope clients. After volunteering once a week for almost 8 months they practically are employees.
These young adults are doing what they can passionately and are making a difference by helping non profit organizations in Houston. On behalf of Star of Hope I would like to thank them for their passion and hope that blesses and inspires their community!
If you are interested in donating time or money to charitable organizations Houston, Star of Hope Mission has many opportunities!
by Scott Arthur
The name of the company is Buckner International, and their mission is to make life better for orphans, widows, vulnerable children and Families in Crisis. They have a high profile among Houston Non Profits and have recently partnered with Star of Hope to reach out and help broken families with long term programs. Find out how they're helping us. Visit the Star of Hope Mission Newsroom.
I would like to cover some technology topics in this blog as it relates to charities and missions. Before an organization of any size can leverage technology successfully I believe first and foremost in today’s economy an organization has to promote a culture of innovation and change. The traditional model of growth, especially in the not-for-profit world, addresses growing complexities of operations and increasing amount of activity by adding labor dollars to the budget and beginning the burdensome process of hiring and retaining employees. Now, employees are great, and most of us are in the “people helping” business so it requires dedicated staff to minister to the needs of your population. The issues arise when we take these people and have them spend much of their time doing task that support processes that have not been looked at carefully with an eye for technology and innovation.
The first step to change is identifying what is happening now. When you ask for a report from one of your programs, how does it get produced? Do your case workers and counselors have to gather post-it notes , interpret a volunteers handwriting, and work all night to make something look pretty and hopefully close to accurate? Or do they click a button and send you a link to a report that’s easily read and customizable? Its important to identify how things get done.
It would be worth it, if you haven't done it in a while, to set aside 2011 to document what is going on. Start with the core departments like finance, development and work your way to the maintenance department. Once things are identified the proverbial low hanging fruit will stand out and you can make simple changes that have a high impact. Eventually you will want someone, be it a volunteer, a group of grad students that are working on a project or a hired professional to help you identify the innovative changes you need to make that will help you spend your precious payroll dollars wisely.
Here are some helpful links
Technology for non-profits www.techsoup.org
Documenting your processes http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/ar-procdoc/
This issue of The Light includes: A New Year of New Hope for Homeless Families
• Out of the Ashes – How you helped Emily and her son recover from a tragic fire.
• Giving Families in Crisis a Fresh Start
• Needs for a New Year – a list of some of our most needed items and drop-off locations.
• Planned Giving: A Choice for Everyone.
• Because You Love: Star of Hope’s 2011 Banquet featuring Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy (the couple who inspired The Blind Side). Register today!
• The Gift of Teaching: Gregg Lattier
• Subscribe for more frequent updates by completing "New User Registration" on our website. Usually, you'll receive one email per week. In addition to our newsletter you will get updates from Hank Rush (Star of Hope’s President & CEO), special needs requests and event invitations.
We believe that December’s goal is attainable, because we believe helping Houston’s homeless through offering emergency services is too important not to make it! We have 20 days, and only need $1.9 million, to keep this important work going. I hope this year has been a year of blessing and bounty for you and your family. Could you consider helping Star of Hope offer help to those in need during the next 20 days? You can donate online, or you can mail your gift to:
Houston, TX 77054
by Scott Arthur
He's universally known as one of the best-selling and most influential artists in Contemporary Christian Music. A three time Grammy Award winner with 40 Dove Awards and 13 million records sold, this Christian Superstar is an everyday Joe - I mean Michael.
On October 18th, just 11 days past his 53rd birthday, Mister Smith went to Houston - and without singing a note - wowed hundreds and hundreds of fans. He was signing - not singing and music lovers lined up to meet the man and have him autograph his new
CD " Wonder".
The occasion was another KSBJ Street and Greet. Star of Hope, in partnership with area Lifeway Book Stores, sponsors the event as music giants appear at selected stores and sign the merchandise. But most importantly - they meet their fans.
Now I think its fair to say that Michael W. Smith appeals to a vast and widely diverse audience. His career so far has spanned at least three decades and shows no signs of stopping. He is the Frank Sinatra of Christian Music - and his loyal audience goes ga-ga when he's around. No wonder he was named one of People Magazine's "Most Beautiful People."
He has the ability to treat every wide eyed housewife and giggling teenager, every bashful kid with a guitar and every hesitant husband with three CDs with fresh, genuine enthusiasm. He's the real deal - down to earth with a heavenly smile.
I even had a chance to chat with him about our city's homeless and the state of Houston Non profit Donations. I suggested that he record a song about the homeless - maybe with TobyMac - he smiled and said "write it - and we'll see." Hmmm - I love a challenge.
Michael will return at Christmas time to perform in our area - check out KSBJ for details and please continue supporting Houston Ministries.
by Scott Arthur
A few weeks ago I saw a sight that strengthened my belief in God and renewed my pride in Star of Hope. I watched as homeless men pitched in and helped build a house for a homeless family.
Houston Habitat for Humanity constructs simple, affordable houses for qualified families in need of shelter. On October 12th, this volunteer driven organization invited Star of Hope clients from our Men at Work Program to join their effort in the Fifth Ward for a few days. About a half dozen of our men took part in the project as part of their program’s work therapy.
The men were primarily involved in the construction of the exterior shell of the house which included raising the wall frame, installing sheathing, bracing the structure, vinyl siding, installing insulation and roof trusses. The work was hard and the days were long and hot. The project foreman remarked that Habitat would have been behind schedule if they didn’t have the help from the Star of Hope Men’s Development Center.
During a break, I asked one of the Mission’s workers about the irony of building a house that he wasn’t going to live in. As he answered, he held up a hammer and nails – like another wise Carpenter from centuries ago. He said “This is what I’m supposed to be doing right now. My time will come when He knows I’m ready … and I’m trying to be worthy of that chance.”
As the sun set and the house took shape around me, I realized that these men weren’t just constructing a home for a grateful family – they were building a bridge to their own future using Hope and Faith as their blueprint.
To find out more about Star of Hope visit Non Profit Organizations Houston.
by Scott Arthur
The event was billed as the Star of Hope "Can" Film Festival - inviting all to bring a donation of "Canned Goods" to help us feed the 1,000 homeless men, women and children we serve in our Shelters in Texas EVERYDAY.
You know how your favorite part of the movie used to be BEFORE the feature ...cartoons and stuff? (I know - I'm really dating myself). Well on Saturday night - I thought the show before the movie was great. Top rated Sunny 99.1 radio personality (and Star of Hope board member) Dana Tyson hosted the night and Houston's First Lady of TV - KHOU's Deborah Duncan sang The Star of Hope song - which she co-wrote. Then, the crowd was treated to a 4 minute tour of Star of Hope Shelters Houston Texas hosted by our President and CEO Hank Rush - big as life on the giant screen.
The audience was even given an opportunity to donate $10 by texting SOH to 20222. For a limited time - that donation will be matched by a generous donor. So if you are so inclined as to donate - now is a GREAT time to be supporting Houston Ministries, especially Star of Hope, one of the most effective non Profit Organizations Houston.
It was a magic night. For those of you who have trouble imagining it - here's a link to a quick Star of Hope YouTube "Can Film Festival" tribute.
Star of Hope is showing a FAMILY FRIENDLY version of The Blind Side, Saturday night, August 14th. "Admission" is a few canned goods to help us feed the 1,000 homeless men, women and children in our shelters. We average about 1,800 meals a day.
For more details and information click on THE BLIND SIDE and feel free to share it with your friends.
Learn more about Star of Hope Mission at Non Profit Organizations Houston
I am taking this moment to pause, reflect and be thankful. We have been blessed this year with not only an overwhelming quantity (52) computers, but high quality of computers.
Earlier this year Friendswood Community Church donated $15k to our Men's Computer Learning Center which gave us the opportunity to create a modern business environment for guys that are in the program to learn business computing skills and locate jobs. Harper Pearson, the prestigious accounting firm, donated 12 almost new computers to be used at our House of Hope computer lab which benefits the homeless children living at our Women and Family Center. The wonderful folks at Aaron's Rental just delivered 21 excellent computers to replace all the computers at our Transitional Living Center which is used to serve our client population that are in the long term program.
Finding good quality computers to equip both our clients and staff is a difficult task. I am just thankful that our Heavenly Father stirs the hearts of generous people for the things we desperately need. It happens over and over and I am so thankful.
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to ride along with Charles Williams in Star of Hope’s Love In Action Van. For several years Charles has been hitting the streets of Houston and inviting the homeless to “come inside” to find hope, shelter and an opportunity for a fresh start. It was amazing to see how many of the homeless men we talked with know him by name. As we handed out water, over and over I heard the words, “Thank you, Charles.”
One man, a Veteran from San Antonio, had been in Houston for a couple of days. As we drove him to the Star of Hope Men’s Development Center he told us he was waiting for an apartment to open up and only needed help for a couple of weeks. Someone had recommended not going to Star of Hope, “They’ll just take your name and tell you to come back in three days.” He had been sleeping in a sleeping bag on a floor. That night he slept in a bed!
Many of those Charles invites to the shelter tell him the same thing, “I'll come in a couple of days” or “Maybe next week.” He patiently keeps going out and continues to invite. “You never know,” he says, “Today may be the day they say ‘yes.’”
Currently, Charles is giving water donated by I AM Waters Foundation. Check them out at iamwaters.com. The foundation has pledged to donate 35,000 bottles of water to Star of Hope over the summer months.