Most Friday evenings don’t look like this.
Two men led us in worship by playing hymns and songs about the love of Jesus, our Savior and Friend. I’m reminded now of His goodness in that first hour, allowing His people to gather, sing and pray for the night ahead. In one look around I saw nearly 100 people standing in a parking lot, hands raised in adoration for our King, singing His praises and pleading for His presence.
We split into groups and headed to areas of town where homeless men, women and children are often found. I jumped into a van with eight others and we made our way to an area under a bridge where the Metro runs. With honeybuns, water and help cards in hand, we got out of the van and began talking with the folks staying there.
Our group had on bright orange Takin’ Hope to the Streets t-shirts. Amongst a crowd of homeless people were orange shirts with hands praying and extending gifts of food, mouths offering hope and resources for help and hearts aching over the brokenness of our city.
Star of Hope Mission is a safe haven, where the homeless in our city can go for support, encouragement, food, shelter and love. In outreach opportunities like Takin’ Hope to the Streets, our hope is to let people know they are cared for and help them make the choice to leave a life on the street and seek change.
I met a young girl, very close in age to myself, and after offering her a snack and some water we started talking. Over the next hour we laughed, cried, prayed and shared stories about our lives. I keep thinking to myself, “this girl shouldn't be homeless.”
I’m praying hard that Jesus guides her to Star of Hope, prepares her heart for change and heals the broken parts of her life. Join me in praying for the thousands of street homeless men, women and families in our city, hoping He leads them to Our Mission. Our staff will welcome them with open arms.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Summer is here and our shelter is FULL.
144 people served in overflow last night!
As the temperatures rise, so do the needs of the Mission. Summer is one of our busiest times and this year we are expecting more children off the streets, more families in need and more hungry and homeless than ever. Last night we had an all time record of 144 people ... women and children, sleeping in overflow at our Women and Family Emergency Shelter because all of the rooms are full! Our emergency facilities will continue to be filled with people trying to escape the heat all summer long.
And it is only through the generosity and support of friends like you that we will be ready.
Other ways you are making this summer a Summer of Hope.
School is out and summer is in full swing! Our friends at Key Energy Services kicked off Summer of Hope with an end of school party last Friday. All of the children and families had a great time on water slides and other games.
This summer will be filled with fun and challenging events and activities for all of the children and teens at Star of Hope. They will make memories for a lifetime visiting museums, the zoo, the beach, Vacation Bible Schools, summer camps and so much more! Please keep our Children’s Department staff and volunteers in your prayers as they have more time in the summer to build relationships with and minister to the school age children and teens.
Thank you for making this summer a Summer of Hope!
by Star of Hope Friends
Our Red Hat Society Chapter Divas With Hattitude began volunteering in November of 2011 and returned in 2012. We volunteer one Saturday every November at the Star of Hope Women and Family Emergency Shelter.
We start our day by celebrating our chapter members November birthdays at a restaurant, and conclude with dinner service at the center. We help prepare and serve the meals to the many residents residing there. We also collect
toiletries items for the families and hold a toy drive every December to donate to the children residing at Star of Hope.
I personally know some people who have been helped by Star of Hope and quickly refer anyone standing in the need. We look forward to our service day this year. Hats off to all of the employees who supply a service to the many in need. See you November and December 2013. God Bless!
Star of Hope Volunteer
My husband and I have been financial supporters of Star of Hope for many years. I have always been impressed with the strong Christian work that Star of Hope has provided to thousands of people in need.
Once our youngest child received her driver’s license (lots of prayers said!), I felt it was time to donate my time to Star of Hope as well. I went to a volunteer orientation class and waited for them to find the right fit for me.
I received a call that the Women and Family Emergency Shelter needed a toy store volunteer to help organize and hand out toys to new arrivals at the shelter. I was hooked immediately and have been serving there for nearly four years.
I’ve never considered myself a “fund raiser” type, but I decided that joining the Trees of Hope Guild would give me an opportunity to find out more about the organization. Having attended several Trees of Hope fundraisers in the past, I thought it would be a good idea to devote more of my time and finances to an organization that is so dear to my heart.
I can’t wait to see what the coming year brings!
Star of Hope Mission Volunteer
Trees of Hope Guild Member
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
I have been a volunteer at Star of Hope's Women and Family Emergency Shelter since August 1, 2007. I work in the Family Supply Store every Wednesday. Doing this has touched my life in so many unexpected ways.
I no longer take things for granted. I am grateful for every gift that God gives me. It has taught me to share those gifts with people who are not as fortunate.
I bring hard candy every week to share with the guests. One evening when I arrived I heard a child cry out, “The Candy Lady is here!” It just doesn’t get any better than that, to be known as “The Candy Lady.” I encourage my friends to give me things that the guests at the Mission could enjoy. . . like books, magazines, make-up samples, gently used toys and clothing.
My friends are so happy when I tell them how happy their gifts made the guests. But most of all, volunteering at Star of Hope means that I have an opportunity to brighten someone’s day. If I can do that, it’s a good day.
Star of Hope Volunteer
Star of Hope launched Vision 2015 - to serve 2000 homeless or near homeless each day by 2015 by helping them find new life and faith in Jesus Christ and improving job and life skills for successful independent living.
With that vision we have added a Jobs Developer who contact area employers and encourage them to hire our clients needing second chances. We also added an Outreach Coordinator who will be contacting churches and community organizations who desire to meet the need of the disadvantaged in their communities. And, we added New Haven, a program working with single, chronically homeless women, helping them find stable housing and skills to live independently.
It has been a busy summer laying foundation for the Jobs Effort, Outreach and New Haven while also ensuring New Horizons, our Long Term Housing program, is running well. The Extended Services staff is excited about the future of the clients we serve and how Star of Hope can help MORE people in the coming years.
As the holiday season approaches, I am often reminded of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. In May of 1998, my mother and I boarded a Greyhound bus from Baton Rouge, LA towards Houston with no more than what we could carry. She knew that at only 24 she wanted to provide me with a better life than she had.
Upon arrival, I remember sleeping in the bus station with our belongings while my mother made countless phone calls in an effort to find us somewhere to go. Luckily she found Star of Hope, who took us in and gave us shelter the very same day.
I remember being very afraid. I had never lived with so many women and children, and I missed the family we had left behind. Thankfully we met three other women in similar situations that became our support system/extended family. I still consider these women my aunts after all these years. My mother still speaks to one of my aunts on a daily basis.
The Star of Hope gave my mother the foundation she needed to finally stand on her own. While there she found a seasonal job working for UPS and has been with the company for the past 14 years as a full time driver. My experience at Star of Hope has changed my life in such a positive way. I’m grateful for the time that I spent there, and the lessons that I learned at only eight years old. I still recall being able to go to summer camp in Huntsville with all the other Star of Hope children. Most importantly, I learned that through hard work and not being afraid to step out in faith, God can give you much more than you could have ever imagined.
I am now a 24 year old, 2006 Texas High School state Track and Field champion. I earned an athletic scholarship to Grambling State University, and in May of 2011 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Nursing Administration and working in the Sugar Land area. My mother is doing just as well. After many years of driving the “big brown” she decided to continue her education and is currently pursuing her Associates degree in Nursing at the very same school I attend.
My hope is that a mother reads this and is inspired. Know that with faith in God anything is possible, and your children look to you to set the example. God bless!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Over the summer my friend and I were talking about a good mommy and son bonding activity, so we decided on doing some sort of community service. I was aware of the Star of Hope through my job and various activities we have done in the past. When I went on the website I found the Snacks & Goodnight event which sounded like the perfect thing to allow our sons to give back to children their own age. My family and I volunteered along with my friend’s family at the Women’s and Family Shelter. It was so rewarding. I was truly humbled by the families there and how grateful they were. We passed out cookies, sandwiches, and juice to the residents that night; however, it seemed like we did so much more within that hour.
The look on those children’s faces was a blessing within itself. It was so joyous to see smiles on our sons’ faces because of the smiles they were receiving from the families. Just the thought of how grateful other people were for things that I easily take for granted daily like snacks and juice, brought tears to my eyes. We actually brought so much food that they were able to come back for 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, and more. The best part was we still had food left for them to serve to the 9pm people when they arrived. Of course you know my son tried to eat some cookies, but I told him he can have cookies any day. These children don’t always get to have cookies, so that is what made tonight so special for them.
When we finished up and were leaving, I asked my son how he felt about us volunteering and he said he was glad we were able to help the families and that he wanted to come back and help again. As we drove back home my son said “Mommy I am glad we gave the cookies to the kids. You don’t have to bake cookies for me I can just eat cookie dough tonight.” I think he really understood that we are fortunate to have, but the greatest present is when we are able to give. That night I thanked God for allowing me to truly be a servant of his works, and that my son was able to share in the experience.
I encourage more people to just take time out of their lives and do something for someone else. The small sacrifice you make can bring back such a great return and a memory that will last a lifetime! Thank you Star of Hope for allowing us this opportunity and for providing such great care for others.
The temperature may be dropping but not our hopes for filling the freezer at the new Star of Hope Donation and Distribution Center. In fact, we could not be more excited about our up-coming event with partners KSBJ, NGEN Radio and Kroger. With their help, we are planning to pack the freezer with 20,000 pounds of frozen food.
If that sounds like a lot of groceries, then check this out. We serve 23,000 meals every week to homeless men, women and children. And with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays upon us, we need every single pound.
So here’s a shout-out of thanks to KSBJ, NGEN Radio and Kroger for joining us in the cause. And to you, our amazingly generous friends and supporters, a plea to pick up an extra bag or two of frozen vegetables or fruit---even an extra turkey or ham, when you do your holiday shopping at Kroger, and donate it to Star of Hope.
The big Fill the Freezer event will be held on Tuesday, November 20, 2012, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. We will be accepting donations at two Kroger locations:
- In Sugar Land, at 4825 Sweetwater Blvd.(77479)
- In Cypress, 17455 Spring Cypress (77429).
This is a win/win deal, because when you give to us, KSBJ and NGEN Radio will give a gift to you.
Don’t leave us in the cold! Come out to these Kroger stores and help us Fill the Freezer!
There are only ten more days until Thanksgiving and I wish you could see how hard our staff is working! We’re having another year of record needs, and preparations for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are already in high gear.
Why does our staff work so diligently? Because THEY KNOW how important it is for EVERY person at Star of Hope this holiday season to see — through a special meal in a caring environment — how much they are loved.
You know yourself, that Thanksgiving can be a lonely time as we miss lost loved ones. That is even more extreme for homeless individuals and families who have no place else to go. The loneliness and regret sets in so deeply for so many. But Star of Hope will be “their family” this holiday season, thanks to you, as our community comes together to lift lives.
It’s amazing that so many people like you join in to feed and care for our neighbors in need. Our Lord must smile down from Heaven, thinking. . .I love Houston’s compassion for the poor and needy. . .that’s what I gave my life for! Thank you for your great compassion. With your continuing support, homeless men, women and families will find the life-changing care they need at Star of Hope, during the holidays and beyond!
Also, don’t forget about the KSBJ, NGENradio and Kroger Fill the Freezer Food Drive for Star of Hope on November 20, 2012. Get the details now!
Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving!
Star of Hope's New Haven program DOUBLED its census in one day as Elizabeth and nine other ladies moved into their BRAND NEW apartments on October 24, 2012.
Elizabeth stayed at Star of Hope's Women & Family Emergency Shelter before moving into her new apartment. She was working part time and was unsure of her next steps when the time came to leave the shelter. The staff told Elizabeth about New Haven, a program for single women who have struggled with emotional issues and would benefit from supportive services. New Haven was her answer.
Elizabeth, and her adult daughter, Sarah, applied and were accepted to New Haven. Mother and daughter are thrilled they are able to be neighbors. Elizabeth proudly showed off her new apartment to Star of Hope staff and visitors they day they moved in. She opened her door with her new key. . . a door to a bright future.
“'For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans for a hope and a future.” -- Jeremiah 29:11
This October, we are already seeing the same higher demand for emergency services that we typically see during the colder months of December and January. Even though the temperatures are mild, Star of Hope’s Women & Family Emergency Shelter is peaking at record levels. Just this last week alone we’ve seen between 110-119 women and children sleeping on floor mats at the shelter because all of the rooms are full… every single night. Today, we have 80 children under age 3 with their families in our care!
This is my 5th Thanksgiving with Star of Hope, and even with larger crowds each of the prior four years, I've never seen anything like this before. There is clearly a great need among families at risk and in crisis in Our City!
The holidays are quickly approaching and we need your help. Thankfully, many of our onsite volunteer opportunities are booked through the end of the year, but we need your financial help to cover the extra staff and food costs required during this unprecedented peak period.
Please join us today through a generous financial gift. You can make this a Thanksgiving of Hope and new life for someone who has none!
Thank you, and blessings to you at Thanksgiving!
I read and re-read the letter. Glazing over the misspellings and grammatical errors to see only the heart behind the words. “I am so much better for the time we spent together,” Amy* wrote. “May the next resident be as blessed as I.” My heart swells with what can only be described as pride as I offer up a prayer for Amy as she departs our New Haven program.
Amy moved into Star of Hope's New Haven in May 2012. She had goals of obtaining income, attaining stability with her mental health issues, and reconciling with her daughter, Molly*. Not long after she entered the program, she was approved for disability benefits and food stamps. She continued meeting with her psychiatrist to achieve the proper medication levels and her medical doctor to find relief for the pain in her back and neck. She also began to contact her daughter, attending college in another state.
Having fled to Houston to escape an abusive relationship, Amy realized she had to get stronger before she could return to her home state. New Haven provided the environment and encouragement for her to do just that. “After much prayer and prep work, I have arranged a transfer to begin rebuilding my daughter and my relationship,” Amy writes. She leaves us another message, scrawled on the back of an old receipt...“Time to take off the training wheels.”
Having begun the healing process at Star of Hope’s Women and Family Emergency Shelter and then continuing to gain wisdom and strength, Amy made the brave decision to return. She has saved money for rent in her OWN place, purchased tickets for travel, and pre-planned her continued medical care in her new destination. Now, I call that SUCCESS!!
We pray Amy continues to be in touch with us and let us know how her daughter is doing. But, even if she doesn't’t, we know that God is with Amy...and, He will NEVER let her go.
Learn more about Star of Hope's New Haven. *Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.
Hello, my name is Pamela Brown and I am a former resident of the Star of Hope Dowling location. When I went to the SOH it was at God's will. He gave me the strength and courage to say I was tired of living the way I was living and exposing my kids to the lifestyle as well.
I had a 9 month experience with the SOH and I can honestly say it was inspiring, some days overwhelming, just to see the affects life has on us all in so many different ways. I regained my independence, my children felt like kids again without having to be worried about me. I thank God for this place and the wonderful people that believed in me. Thank you Father, for Star of Hope.
It's not somewhere to go to live on easy street, it's somewhere to go to pave a path in a walk with God...if that's what you want. That's what makes the difference, YOU HAVE TO WANT IT.
Today I'm a salaried employee, living a normal life, driving my own car and enjoying my children to the fullest. I'm still a work in progress, but everyday I pray for continued strength and guidance and that's what helps me to make it through.
I am wrapping up my internship this week, and I have had an amazing summer and experience here at Star of Hope. I have had so much fun getting to know all of the children and the teachers and staff. I have learned something from each and every one of them. I am greatly appreciative of everyone’s generosity and willingness to help me while I was here.
It was so great to be a part of a workplace culture that is Christ-centered. I got to minister to some of the children and I feel like I was able to help some of them. I think it is amazing that I was able to grow my relationship with God on a daily basis by talking to the children, praying, bible study, etc., and help them grow their relationship with him as well. Throughout the summer I have done many things while being here. I got to experience how both shelters (Women & Family Emergency Shelter and Transitional Living Center) work and have met the children and parents at each location.
I attended some fun field trips with the children such as the Donald Driver Football Camp, Schlitterbahn, and Field day at WF. I also got to help shop and prepare for the children to go to Camp Good News. I even got to spend half a day working with the PR department and make some thank you calls to donors. I really enjoyed attending the staff meetings, I always learned a lot during them. I was able to learn a lot of valuable lessons from the children too. I will definitely miss the children and staff and my experience here, but everything I’ve learned will last a lifetime. I feel so blessed that I got to spend my summer here and learn and grow so much.
Star of Hope will always have a special place in my heart and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to have this experience.
ExxonMobil Summer Intern
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!
Our good friends at TV 11 are reaching out to the community to help Houston’s homeless with Star of Hope. We have an urgent and ongoing need for simple toiletries to give the 80 – 100 men, women and even children sleeping on our shelter floors waiting for a room and a bed. Help us help them.
Yesterday, Star of Hope Mission celebrated 105 years of ministry to the homeless in Houston. From the very beginning in 1907 one of the most exciting, consistent results of this ministry has been the restoration of families. What a legacy!
This photo was taken during a dinner at Star of Hope in 1932. Notice the sign on the wall?
"How long is it since you wrote to your MOTHER?"
I wonder how many letters, phone calls and emails have gone out from Star of Hope to worried moms? How many men have walked out of the doors of Star of Hope ready to start over and return to their families?
Over the years, the “face of homelessness” has changed and Star of Hope has continually met the challenge of change with new ministries, innovation and improvement. Today Star of Hope serves not only men, but women and entire families. Parents and their children can stay together in a safe, caring environment as parents get the help they need with addiction, education, personal skills and employment. Restoration starts here.
When I’m able to attend a commencement celebration at Star of Hope’s Men’s Development Center or Transitional Living Center it’s always one of the highlights of the month for me. What joy to see families of the graduates cheering them on! Countless times I’ve seen graduating sons and daughters apologize to their parents for the things that they’ve put them through. I’ve seen commencing moms ask their young children to forgive them for “not being a good mommy” and promising them a better life.
The legacy of giving hope to families in need is one of the reasons I feel so blessed to work with Star of Hope. Thank you Houston for giving your time, skills, finances and prayers to make this and so much more possible.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES
I took my bag of stones
Threw them all in the air
And like bubbles in the skies
I watched them float away
I poured my bucket of tears
In my garden of shame
And right before my eyes
Beautiful sunflowers sprang up
I took a hammer to the lock on my chest of secrets
And dark and hidden fears
To my surprise when I opened it
It was filled with shining diamonds and jewels
I broke down my wall of distrust
With fierceness of heart
As the bricks came down and feeling rushed in
I was swept away by a torrent of love
I walked off my cliff of excuses
With a deep breath and great courage
When I opened my eyes
I was flying with wings I never knew were there
I took my war scroll with the names of my enemies
And I burned it in the flame
As the un-forgiveness tied to each name turned to ash
I found a line of never ending friendships
I pulled up the weeds of unfulfilled dreams
Made room for the sun to shine
Let the water run through my soul
A beautiful flower of purpose came forth in full bloom
I cleaned the ash from my filthy mirror of esteem
As the glass became clear
I looked at myself
I could see beauty