As we celebrate this Holy week of Easter, we reflect on Jesus' final week on this earth. Everything about Jesus' life was a miracle ... His virgin birth, His sinless life, His profound teachings, His miracles and His resurrection from the dead. But what do you think is the greatest miracle of Easter?
I believe the greatest Miracle of Easter is the miracle of eternal life which God gives over and over ... every day around the world ... every time one of us confesses our sins and accepts Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That is the greatest Miracle of Easter! Jesus paid the price for ALL who believe and redeems us to a life in Heaven with Him.
We see this Miracle of Easter played out in broken human lives every single day at Star of Hope as men, women and children in deep distress and lost in this life, turn to God through his Son, Jesus, and experience this miracle of rebirth into God's kingdom for themselves.
A recent graduate of Star of Hope's programs, Justin says: “I have lived more in the last 2 ½ years of sobriety than I have in my whole existence. And that is no exaggeration. So I want to thank you all very much for helping me change my life into something worth living.”
Thank you for being a part of the Star of Hope ministries to the homeless of our city! As we serve together with you, through your prayers, volunteering and gifts, we serve their immediate needs for food, shelter, clothing and love ... just as Christ commanded us to do. And we see the Miracle of Easter occur every day in these lives, as they find their way back to life, and for many begin a new relationship with Christ.
I hope you will seek God as never before and claim Him this Holy Week as your own. Renew your relationship to Him, and commit to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate all around us. You will be honoring Christ's admonition to us from John 21:17: If you love me, feed my sheep.
Happy Easter from all of us at the Star of Hope family of ministries!
My job at Star of Hope is to interview our clients and guests as they graduate on to the next level.
From New Hope, our substance abuse recovery program, to Personal Development classes; from Personal Development where clients learn about responsibility to Job Search where they are elevating to career placement and higher education. Many clients cross through my office more than once as they rapidly move forward.
I tell their stories from the beginning when they walk into our facilities with sadness and no hope and I follow them on to becoming joyful GED graduates or accomplished individuals awaiting the phone call of employment and even after!
Over the last few weeks, I have been conducting a different kind of interview...their last interview. This interview has been bittersweet because it is the interview that takes place as these men, women and families transition back into society as productive and contributing human beings. It's a sense of reality and a reminder why we are here.
We can't hold on to and protect our clients forever...that's God's job. Our job is to train and teach and equip each individual with the mindset to give life another try but this time with Jesus.
The bible says in Matthew 25:21 "His lord said unto him, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.'"
The move from program to program is such a victory for our clients and a testament to God's goodness! The way to advance to each program is to master the one before it by being faithful in attendance, assignments, and life application. The clients that get the opportunity of another chance at buying a home, getting a college education, becoming excellent parents is manifestation of God's promise to make them ruler over the blessings He's granting because of their hard work and faithfulness.
It's a Bittersweet Goodbye of Hope...and we couldn't be more proud!
Annual Giving Program Specialist
Star of Hope Mission
by Star of Hope Friends
Thursday night, October 24, churches from across Houston gathered at Star of Hope’s Men’s Development Center (MDC) to experience an evening chapel service with our clients. Occasionally individual churches lead a chapel service, but this was the first time churches were invited to join the congregation.
Dr. Dick Druary, the Director of the MDC, shared a heart-felt message from Matthew 1:18-23 and “Band of Grace” provided music for worship. Band of Grace was started by one of our clients and its music and ministry continues to be a very welcomed and important part of the men’s understanding and acceptance of God’s love. Also, evening chapel services have a long history at the Mission. “Our Chapel services have happened almost every night for over 100 years at Star of Hope Mission,” says Druary.
Approximately 35 men responded to the invitation asking for prayer and/or accepting Christ as his Savior, critical steps to each man in his journey of recovery from homelessness. The MDC provides homeless men with wholesome food, safe shelter, and short and long-term Spiritual Recovery programs. Some of the services include: alcohol and drug education; Life skills classes to provide skills for independent living; work therapy, tutoring, career development, employment assistance and GED: spiritual skills classes to ground each man in the Word of God and Christ-centered living.
If you would like to partner with Star of Hope as a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to meeting the needs of the homeless, please visit our volunteer page for information about how you or your group can serve.
Star of Hope Mission
As you go about your day to day lives, many of you encounter homeless individuals on the streets of Houston from time to time. Star of Hope’s mission is to help these individuals get off the streets and into life recovery programs so they can start a new life and become independent, contributing members of society once again.
After taking part in the city-wide annual Homeless Enumeration for the past five years, Erika Wise, Star of Hope’s Director of Extended Services, was given a vision of doing a massive "street outreach/evangelism" effort. Plans came together, and just last week, "Takin’ Hope to the Streets" happened! We partnered with YWAM (Youth with a Mission), and sent teams to Butte Park, the Greyhound Bus Station and Spaghetti Warehouse area, the Downtown Library, Montrose and other areas of town where homeless adults and youth gather … to bring HOPE!
Wearing brightly colored shirts with the "Takin’ Hope to the Streets" logo -- seventy-one volunteers distributed HOPE Water Bottles (provided by I AM WATERS Foundation), snacks, Christian literature, great music and the HOPE of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those on the streets of Houston. We particularly desired to reach the 18-23 year-olds who were out on the streets, to inform them of Star of Hope’s New Journey Program for homeless youth in that age group, and to begin to establish a "heart-to-heart" connection in the hope that they would eventually come for help. The results of this fun effort are exciting:
- 238 homeless or near homeless individuals were visited
- 91 persons requested prayer
- 219 water bottles were distributed
- 300+ snacks distributed
- 7 men and 1 woman requested transportation to Star of Hope shelter facilities
- 1 man was taken to the VA Hospital and then to shelter
And of most significance, two people chose to enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Star of Hope is taking hope to the streets! And we are excited about all God is doing to redeem hearts and lives into the fullness of life He has planned for each one. We invite you to join us as we serve during the coming holiday season … there is still so much need in our community!
Howdy everyone! My name is Darya. I am a Russian person who decided to become a volunteer for the teens of Star of Hope one day. It was God’s will for me. I never thought of Star of Hope being such a nice, friendly and well-managed place for the teens. All the teens are very talented and goal-oriented: they sing beautifully, they draw amazing pictures, they have a great sense of humor and are willing to study to succeed in life. The main point is they all are believers that the Lord will help them and that no failure is a failure, but a hardship and a lesson one needs to learn from. I would like to thank all of the staff members, who are there every day for the teens wanting to help them, listen to them and lead them in a right way.
Every week we have different activities: career day, college day, study night, movie-night or museum night. During our meetings we all try hard to make the best of our time. The mentors share their life stories, giving presentations about their career paths and other hints. We share our ups and downs with the teens to be an example for them and to help them avoid some of the mistakes which we have gone through. The teens ask questions and work hard on composing their first resumes.
I truly think this is a great program in which the teens can become better in their personal relationships and professional goals with the help of their mentors and assistants. We, as mentors, love our teens and enjoy our time with them and their assistants.
I wish everyone a growing belief, love and hope in Christ. I hope that everyone will make the world a better place by teaching others about right values in life and being a live example of a good Christian.
Being a Teen Mentor at Star of Hope has been a wonderful time, full of fun, learning and new discoveries that made all of us better people … I hope and believe so! May God bless all of you. Star of Hope is a place where talented, kind, smart kids can make their first steps towards a bright future with belief!
Star of Hope Volunteer
My significant other of 30 years passed away from cancer in July 2011. Nine months later I was left with nothing and evicted from my house. My neighbor allowed me to stay one night on her couch. The next morning she said I had to go. I asked her to take me to Star of Hope on Dowling. I knew nothing about the organization, but I had nowhere else to go.
I took all of Pastor Turner’s classes and worked hard in the kitchen. I was given a room and started my job search, using the computer at the Dowling location to fill out job applications. I asked my case manager, Kim Lee, to help me get into Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center (TLC). She gave me the 17 page application which I filled out immediately. I was accepted into New Beginnings and moved to TLC in August 2012.
Every minute that I was wasn’t involved in New Start or Personal Development, I was on the TLC computers filling out job applications. My efforts were rewarded with a receptionist/accountant position in October 2012. TLC has been a paradise for me; having all the resources I need … even offering counseling services on site. I’ve been so impressed with everything Star of Hope's Transitional Living Center has to offer.
I thought I would be here longer, but a detached garage apartment has become available for me. So, with a heavy heart I will be leaving on June 8. I will have been at Star of Hope for 361 days. During my stay here I have become healed, hopeful and grateful. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life and coming back to “give back” by volunteering at TLC.
Transitional Living Center Alum
June is the month for commencements! For most this means the closing of one chapter in their lives and signals the beginning of an exciting future.
That is exactly what commencement means for one of the residents in Star of Hope’s New Horizons program. Roderick recently graduated from high school with a 3.0 GPA and is ready to embark on his college career! Here, in his own words, is his testimony of how Star of Hope helped him and his family on this exciting journey:
High school has been an amazing life changing experience for me. It allowed me to feel the transition from my childhood years into adulthood slowly, but surely. I've had multiple distractions and obstacles trying to prevent me from being successful in school, but with the help of GOD, my family, friends, and Star of Hope, I’ve been blessed and stayed on track. Just knowing how proud the people who actually care about me are motivates me to push further, stay positive and stay focused.
Star of Hope allowed me the opportunity to experience my first summer camp and it was awesome. I still volunteer and work with younger kids ever since my camp trip. I've always kept my GPA above a 3.0 and never slacked off when it came to my education.
I've decided to go to Sam Houston State University and major in Law Enforcement since that has been something I knew I would enjoy doing since I was a child. I know that regardless of what may happen; the people who care about me will support me through whatever I decide to do. I am so grateful for that.
There are so many young men my age who did not get the chances GOD has given me. And, just like my mother, I want to give back because we can make a difference in someone’s life. Just like Star of Hope made a difference in ours.
Son of the best momma in the world, Sharon
Star of Hope congratulates all of its graduates and those reading this update! Thank you for helping us end homelessness for Roderick, his family and so many more just like them!
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’ve been volunteering full-time at Star of Hope for over seven months now with a program called Mission Year. As we started working and learning the ins and outs of the Transitional Living Center, I never expected to be teaching one of the classes I observed during my first week here. But that’s exactly what happened.
Earlier today the other two Mission Year girls (Abigail and Carole) and I taught the personal development class about environmentalism. This is something that has been built into Mission Year’s program, and therefore placed on our hearts in our time with the program. Mission Year believes in living simply. That means having the mind-set of only buying/using what you need. Without the distractions of “stuff” you are left with more time for loving God and loving people; our ultimate call as Christians.
In teaching this class we hoped to open up the eyes of these women to what they can do to recycle and conserve, what caring for the world means in relation their faith, and simply open their eyes to the condition of America’s consumerism. We learned about the majority of these issues through a book called Serve God, Save the Planet that we study as a part of Mission Year.
This was definitely a new experience for me. Not only teaching a class, but teaching it to women who are up to forty years my elder! Most of the time I feel like the women I’m serving are speaking truth into my life more than I am into theirs.
They are continually thanking us for our time here and for the way we genuinely care about helping them. Every time someone thanks me all I can think is what a great example they are being and how I should go thank someone myself. I’m realizing more and more that Star of Hope has helped foster me as I’m stepping out into being an adult. The experiences I’ve gained in the past seven months don’t have price tags on them, they’re gifts from God.
Mission Year Student
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!!
In February, Dr. Rob Dickinson, Medical Director of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic Executive Health, Wellness, and Corporate Medicine Programs, joined the Star of Hope volunteer team. We quickly recruited Dr. Dickinson to work with the ladies in our New Haven program. These are women who cope with mental illness and with the supportive services provided by New Haven, are living independently. Each month, the ladies now have the opportunity for a “Health Chat with Dr. Rob.” The following are excerpts, shared by permission, from emails Dr. Rob sent to Star of Hope staff after those chat sessions. In the coming weeks, Dr. Rob will share his thoughts through his own guest blogs.
Monday, February 25, 2013: We have completed the first two sessions and have been able to provide some useful information to the women who attended. I have been fielding many mental health related questions as well as some such as, "What's this rash?" All are welcome. As I had expected, this really is a lot of fun for me and I appreciate the opportunity to serve your clients.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013: We had a good turnout at Perry last time with a lot of great questions. We almost ran out of chairs! Many brought their meds for review and the discussion was lively. I continue to be humbled by the multiple problems these women have battled in their lives. If you ever had any doubt that Star of Hope makes a difference, you can lay that worry aside. I see the changes in your clients at every session. As they regain their dignity and self-reliance in a safe environment, they are able to manage their mental health issues much more effectively. I'm a pretty happy guy naturally, but I always leave our sessions happier than when I went in. And grateful for the opportunity.
My favorite saying: "Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God" Thank you, Dr. Rob, for helping our New Haven clients experience the presence of God through joyful living and improved health!
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!
I would like to thank South Main Baptist Church for inviting me to be apart of your monthly Sunday School Class fellowship luncheon. It was a real treat and the lunch was delicious! What a blessing and privilege it is to share the “good news” in how God is working in our clients at the Star of Hope Mission.
The word of God reminds us in Romans 10:15, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?" I hope the information provided about our facilities, specialized programs and outreach opportunities demonstrated that we are a Christ-Centered community dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless men, women and children.
Thank you once again and may God continue to bless you for being a light of hope! Looking forward to partnering with you for future outreach events.
Have a Happy Easter and may it be as bright and colorful as the decorations and the sweet hospitality that was displayed!
"Outreach" is defined as an activity of providing services to populations who might not otherwise have access to those services. As the new Outreach Coordinator with Star of Hope it has been a privilege and a blessing to serve as an agent in providing our community partners and those in need with services that provide a source of hope, strength and life changing results.
Matthew 25:40 states, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" This scripture reminds me that we are to have the heart and the spirit of Christ as we share His love to the least of these. For almost 8 months I have worked with various churches and agencies in providing resources and information about the programs and services that the Star of Hope Mission offers.
In January, Star of Hope Outreach partnered with Heights Interfaith Ministries to organize our first “Light of Hope Festival.” 65 volunteers served about 150 of our neighbors from the surrounding community and supplied soup, snacks, drinks, food, warm clothing and carnival-type games and activities in the Heights community. Lakewood Church sponsored a day of fun and pampering families and singles living in our programs on February 9th.
We have also developed cooperative relationships with St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Zion Lutheran Church and the City of Houston. We are excited about the wonderful events and activities we have planned for 2013. We pray you will join us in being the hands and feet of Jesus as we bring hope to our city. For more information about the Outreach Department feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
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!
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.
I would like to give everyone an update on our GED program at the Star of Hope Men's Development Center.
We have a great group of volunteers that comes faithfully in the evening to assist our clients. Now we have also added two teachers in the morning to help with additional preparation for our GED clients.They have been a great addition. Two clients, Alvin and Gary, received their GED in March 2012.
We thank the Lord for blessing our GED programs throughout the mission.
Men's Development Center
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?
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.
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.