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
In the few weeks that I’ve been working for Star of Hope Mission, I’ve been blown away every time I encounter our volunteers. I met a wonderful man with muscular dystrophy. He has so much love for Jesus and his mission for the brokenness of Houston that it could fill the oceans. With the help of others, he did everything in his power to obtain his goals and requirements needed to volunteer.
I met a woman who lost her job and house. Through the stressful and difficult time she said that all she wanted to do is serve others. These two, and countless other volunteers, embody the idea of selfless serving. This is why I love Star of Hope. It is full of volunteers and employees that place others far before themselves.
Timothy Keller puts it beautifully in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness!
“C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity makes a brilliant observation about gospel-humility.... If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness.... A truly gospel-humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a gospel-humble person. The truly gospel-humble person is a self-forgetful person whose ego is just like his or her toes. It just works. It does not draw attention to itself. The toes just work; the ego just works. Neither draws attention to itself.”
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
Star of Hope’s Extended Services Department appreciates volunteers! The New Horizons and New Haven programs, as well as our Outreach program, offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities. And, we are so excited to have volunteers serving in the following capacities:
- Blessed Breakfast: Groups of 5-10 volunteers come and serve a continental-type breakfast to the clients of our New Haven program and offer a time of positive social interaction and bible study as well.
- Experiential Moments: Volunteers serve to bring NEW and interesting topics to the clients of New Horizons and New Haven — family game day/night; catered holiday meals; choir presentations; self-awareness classes; creative writing/journaling; sponsors for those in recovery; encouragement and more!
- Educational Opportunities: Volunteers facilitate classes in budgeting; home management; life-management; tax preparation; nutrition; homework help for school children…the list is endless.
- Outreach/Neighborhood Community Events: Festivals and fairs across the city to raise awareness of Star of Hope services, offer community support and bring the Gospel to those living in low-income areas of the city. Many of our program clients and Alumni attend the Outreach and Community events as well.
Our staff think volunteers are SO important that we created DEPARTMENTAL goal for 2013 that reads:
“Extended Services staff will work closely with Volunteer Services to utilize volunteers to the fullest capacity; assisting clients and consumers to build/improve life skills and job skills for successful independent living.”
We have so many more ideas and ways volunteers can serve our clients. Volunteers MEAN SO MUCH to our clients. . .and, to the staff serving the clients. We cannot do all that we do without YOUR help.
What are you waiting for? Volunteer today!!
When I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer at Star of Hope, I didn’t think twice about it and gladly signed up. My first volunteer experience with Star of Hope definitely impacted me in a great way. I volunteered alongside a group of people from my local church for Star of Hope’s Fall Harvest Festival.
Throughout the evening, I was reminded of the immense and overwhelming need in our own city’s backyard. Above all the needs in plain sight, I knew that the greatest need has always been to spread the hope of the gospel to all who are currently lost and without Christ.
Even though it’s true that the gospel is a message and cannot be spread without being communicated through words (Romans 10:5-17), we must not forget that we’re also called to demonstrate the love of Christ through our actions by serving others. Our service and care makes the love of Christ tangible. This is especially true when reaching the homeless.
They need people who not only speak the message of hope to them, but also put hands and feet into action in displaying that hope. Our city’s streets are filled with forgotten men, women and children in desperate need. That’s why I’m extremely grateful that God continues to use Star of Hope to care for our city’s homeless community.
I’m glad I get to contribute whatever time and energy I can to their mission. I look forward to volunteering again in the future and encourage you to volunteer as well!
Grace and Peace,
One day last fall, I was working with a group of students from Saint Cecilia who were creating door signs for clients living at the Transitional Living Center. I was impressed with the finished project - beautiful signs filled with promises from God, inspiration and encouragement. As we finished hanging the signs, a client waved us down and ran to catch up with us. With tears in her eyes and a shaky voice, she approached the group of students and said, “Thank you for the encouragement. I was having a really hard day and knowing someone cares has made it much better.”
I am very thankful for all the selfless individuals who sacrifice their time to help meet needs here at Star of Hope. But our volunteers do so much more than that! They provide our clients with praise, encouragement, love and hope for the future.
Volunteers, thank you for all you do. You are truly making a difference!
Projects Coordinator at Star of Hope Mission
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
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
by Star of Hope Friends
I love my job, and I know that I am blessed beyond measure to actually get paid to do what I should already be doing as a follower of Christ: caring for others, and pointing them to the gospel. My clients constantly thank me and my co-workers for serving them each day, and we feel honored and undeserving to do so.
As much as our clients know that we care about them and love what we’re doing, they have a special appreciation for the men and women who come to serve them as volunteers at Star of Hope. Knowing that these people are getting nothing in return, (nothing tangible, that is) our clients truly feel loved and supported by the community.
Throughout the four gospels, we see countless examples of how the Creator of all things lowered himself, came to earth in human form, and served those who were not able to give him anything in return. In the ultimate act of service we experience a peculiarly lopsided transaction, in which God’s son takes our sin and shame, so that we might receive his righteousness. When I think about the volunteers who serve the ladies in our New Haven Program, Luke 12:48 floods my mind.
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
The Lord has fulfilled our greatest need in Christ, so how much more should we selflessly give to others our time and service? The time that volunteers spend with our clients is absolutely invaluable, and greatly contributes to their growth and healing process.
Thank you to each and every volunteer for serving at Star of Hope, your kindness truly shows others the love of Christ!
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.
“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!
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!
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?
I was living the American dream. I had a good job, a family, a home with a white picket fence and a dog. By the standards that I grew up around, I was supposed to be happy and complete. But that was not the case. I went from living the American dream to chasing it, making more money, getting larger homes, moving up the corporate ladder, needing more external things to make me feel whole.
By the time I reached my forties, material things were not working any more. I had thoughts like, “Is this all there is to life?” I had reached the annual salary that I thought would make me content, but it didn’t. I had the job title that I thought would bolster my self-esteem, but it didn’t. And I had a big home and the right kind of cars that I thought would increase my self-worth, but they didn’t.
I became increasingly unhappy, and there seemed to be nothing that would fill the emptiness within me. Medication helped my symptoms but didn’t take care of the root problem. I soon became more reliant on the drugs to numb the way I felt and, of course, they, too, quit working.
My American dream was crumbling. Depression had taken hold and was affecting me as a husband, father, employee, and so on. Then my father passed away and a close cousin committed suicide.
I began a downward spiral into deep depression and heavy use of prescription medication. I lost my job, got divorced, and my family moved away. Finally, I lost my home and, along with it, my will to go on.
A friend of my sister suggested the Star of Hope. I arrived at the Men’s Development Center a beaten man. I felt like a failure. I could not forgive myself, and from my limited knowledge of God, I believed He would not forgive me either.
But at Star of Hope, I had Christian role models around me teaching me about the Bible. I came to understand that God promises to care for all my needs, and I have seen that God keeps His Word. He gave me food, water, shelter and an opportunity to develop a relationship with Him.
I will never forget the night in Chapel, when I decided to submit my life and will to God, by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It was the start of a new beginning for me. I experienced the most peaceful moment of my life, and I felt whole, again. But this time I didn’t have money, the job, the family or any of the things of the world. All I had were the things God provided for me: a few articles of clothing, food and water, a bed, His love and His promises—promises like, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” And “I know the plans I have for you; plans for your welfare and not calamity; to give you a future and a hope,”
At Star of Hope, I was always encouraged by the staff. I have learned to do the same for others. I can give back to Star of Hope by helping those coming through the program and encourage them to finish it. I am involved in the alumni group whose purpose is to continue to build our community, be spiritually transformed, and to give back through service work.
Today, my family is being restored, I am employed, again, and I have my own place. I am a new man, complete, lacking in nothing. Today I am the father, son, brother and christian man God designed me to be! I give back to the Star of Hope by being a volunteer in ACTS Ministry which is the alumni program. I am eternally grateful to the Star of Hope for being a part of my recovery, and making it possible for me to be where I am, living the great American dream through Jesus Christ.
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.
Check out this amazing video of Michael W. Smith, who gave this talk at Star of Hope’s annual gathering just two weeks ago. It was an incredible night! Michael spoke about “The Message for the World Today” and what the solution to our life Identity Crisis truly is.
Join us at Star of Hope in serving those in our community who have lost their way, and need to solve their Identity Crisis once and for all. We’d love to have you!
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!
A few days before Christmas I was walking through the lobby at Star of Hope and saw three boxes. They looked like they contained musical instruments…I got really excited when I realized someone had donated three guitars!
Rachel Haverkorn, a Volunteer Liaison at Star of Hope, told me this story:
The teen department let us know that the some of the kids had expressed interest in learning to play the guitar. Shortly thereafter Alex Thomas came to us wishing to volunteer. His email address referred to his love for guitar, so we asked if he might be interested in teaching the teens. He was thrilled. The only problem was we did not have guitars for the teens to use. He offered to bring some, but we would still need guitars available for the teens to practice on between lessons.
I told the teen department I could mention the need to in-kind donors and see what happened. I made myself a note to request guitars the next time a donor called asking about our needs. Then Alex Lozano stopped by and said he had 3 brand new guitars and had been trying to decide where to donate them. I told him he was answering our exact need before we had even asked.
Thanks Alex Thomas and Alex Lozano/United Music Alliance for making this happen!