Everyone Had a WILD Time at Camp!

Schools are finally back in session and we’re just a few weeks away from saying goodbye to summer. The carefree, sun-kissed days of summer are now becoming just a memory of another great season of swimming, sunbathing, cooking out and gardening.

So as we start to prepare for fall and all of the wonderful things associated with this season, we fondly look back at our biggest event each summer at The Hope Center: Camp Wild.

This year was another fantastic year for the kids in Hagerstown who attended Camp Wild. Approximately 250 different kids attended Camp Wild this year. The campers were able to partake in such adventures as Tiger Trail: Obstacle Course, Rana Ranch, The Snake Charmer, Zulu, Expedition Panda which is our 600 ft zip line, hiking, hayrides, and, of course, swimming!

In addition to all those exciting outdoor activities, campers enjoyed mornings at the Trinity Center where they played games, sang & danced, participated in interactive Bible lessons, engaged in small group discussion, and ate some pretty good lunches.

Each year it is our privilege to host Camp Wild for free to the kids in Hagerstown’s neighborhoods. Over the course of the four weeks of camp, we target and reach out to kids in the West End, Jonathan Street area, Noland Village, South End, Frederick Manor, and East Side areas of our city.

By providing free transportation to and from our facilities, as well as providing free registration, food, prizes and activities, this is a genuine mission outreach to our city that’s been taking place since the 1970’s.

Bringing Camp Wild to life is not an easy task. There are so many people involved with everything from set up and construction, to helping each day during camp, and the process of cleaning up and tearing down everything after it’s all said and done. Our volunteers logged in approximately 4, 056 hours for Camp Wild 2017! Volunteers help us keep our camp operational each year and free for all the kids who attend. That’s something that each person involved should be proud of.

We’re thankful for volunteer groups from Antietam Rec, Maugansville Bible Brethren, and the many volunteers from Tri-State Fellowship. In addition to all those volunteers, we have many other individuals give so much of their time and resources to helping reach Hagerstown’s kids for Christ. We are so thankful for each and every person who volunteered, donated, and prayed for Camp Wild 2017.

Since many of you might not have been able to daily be a part of Camp Wild we wanted to post some pictures to let you feel like you were there with us each day. These pictures are a tiny snapshot into the fun everyone had at Camp Wild. This is a combination of all four weeks together. If you’d like to see more pics go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com and click on ‘Year in Pictures’ under the ‘More’ tab on the upper tool bar. We hope you enjoy these pictures as much as the campers and staff who are in them!

And just because Camp Wild is over for the year doesn’t mean that all the fun of Wildside Youth Ministries is too. Wildside has a great lineup of activities this fall including:

  • SEPTEMBER 17TH: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD
  • SEPTEMBER 19TH: WILDSIDE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY!
  • OCTOBER 1ST: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD
  • OCTOBER 15TH: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD
  • OCTOBER 24TH: FALL-O-WEEN PARTY
  • NOVEMBER 5TH: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD
  • NOVEMBER 14TH: WILDSIDE THANKSGIVING PARTY
  • NOVEMBER 19TH: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD
  • DECEMBER 3RD: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD
  • DECEMBER 5TH: WILDSIDE’S THE PARTY BEFORE CHRISTMAS
  • DECEMBER 17TH: SUNDAY NIGHT WILD

To learn more about all these exciting, free activities for kids ages 5-12 please visit http://www.wildsideyouth.com or call 301.739.1165.

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Welcome, Michelle!

We have a new addition to our staff at The Hope Center. But this newest addition to our team really isn’t that new at all.

Michelle Rizer (2)We are excited to welcome Michelle Rizer to our staff as the new assistant to our youth program, Wildside Youth.

To some of you, her name and face may not ring a bell, but to others who’ve been following The Hope Center, even back when it was called the Union Rescue Mission or Hagerstown Rescue Mission, might recognize her. Michelle may be a new staff member but she’s actually the granddaughter of the founders, Jim & Ellen Resh.

Jim & Ellen were parents to four daughters, Sharon, Dorcas, Laurel and Becky, and one son, Jim. Those five children gave Jim & Ellen twelve grandchildren who are now having children of their own.

Michelle is one of the daughters of Sharon & Henry Hughes. When the Mission had a TV show, Echoes of Hope, a publication, Free Press, and other public events it was quite often that Michelle, along with the rest of the family, was in attendance or participating in one way or another.

But now, Michelle has officially joined our staff and is eager to start her journey into ministry in a facility that has a deep personal connection to her.

We asked Michelle to tell us about the journey that brought her from her early days on Echoes of Hope to her current position working with kids in Hagerstown.

“My name is Michelle Rizer and I’m the granddaughter of Jimmy and Ellen Resh, founders of the Four States Christian Missions, Inc. (The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission).

Sin, and the inability to forgive myself or believe God could forgive me, lead me away from God for many years. Then, 5 years ago, I rededicated my life to my Lord Jesus Christ and began a new life with Jesus in the center of my life.

My husband, Brian, and I became very active in our church and became youth leaders. Being in this position gave me the opportunity to go with our youth pastor to take a class certifying me to work with high risk youth.

Although Brian and I loved our position in the church, I kept feeling a nudging from the Holy Spirit that God was leading me into full-time ministry.

I felt that if God was leading me into ministry maybe it would be back at the Rescue Mission and my family heritage. So, I contacted Becky and Sonny Shank, my aunt and uncle, who run the Mission now, and shared God’s leading in my life with them. We all decided to pray where God was leading me.

In the meantime, I took a leap of faith and left my job in the hair industry after 33 years and waited and prayed for God to reveal His plan for me.

It was about a month later that Becky called me to come in and talk with them. I was excited and scared as to where God wanted me, but I had placed my complete faith in Him and believed that whatever He had revealed to them was where He was leading me.

I went in and talked to them and when they presented me with the opportunity to serve as Assistant Director of Wildside Youth Ministries I about fell off my chair because Becky and Sonny had no idea I was already working with youth at my church or had taken a class to work with high risk youth.

God had clearly revealed His plan to me and everyone involved, but I had no way of knowing He was preparing me in advance for the ministry He was calling me to do.

What a mighty God we serve! He has taken a broken, lost soul and transformed her for His glory! The road I’m on is challenging and hard, but the rewards are many and God gives me the strength everyday to do the job He has called me to do and to lead others to His kingdom.”

We are so thankful and excited to have Michelle join our staff at The Hope Center. We are so proud of all she’s accomplished in her life and we look forward to seeing her wisdom and compassion reach so many children and their families for Christ in this new endeavor in her life. Please pray for Michelle, her family, and Wildside Youth as she starts this new chapter of her life and the beginning of her journey in full-time ministry.

Remember, God doesn’t just use those who we deem are perfect. He is a God of redemption, forgiveness and He loves to show how His power changes people. God doesn’t need perfect people to do His work. He needs willing people who are able to acknowledge their mistakes and allow Him to do a miraculous work in them. This is the story of hope. This is what we are about. We know that we serve a God who sees all of us, the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly and loves us unconditionally. He loves us enough to not only send His Son but to allow that perfect Man to die for us so that we might have the opportunity and power to change who we are.

This is why The Hope Center exists. It’s for the son who was lost to drugs. It’s for the mother trying to feed her children. It’s for the family dealing with heartache. It’s the child struggling with abandonment. The Hope Center exists because God is real and has a real plan for each and every one of us and He’s not willing to give up on us. And we’re not willing to give up either.

Michelle traveled a path that many people haven’t. But that path, through it’s dark valleys, was being watched over by a God who doesn’t miss a beat nor misses a step. Michelle, and so many others, serve as a living testament to how powerful and awesome our God truly is. And we are so thankful and fortunate to have her sharing her life and her personal experiences with the children and their families in our city.

Thank you to each of you who support our ministry of hope and change. Your donations, time, and, most importantly, your prayers have been changing lives and reaching thousands of people for Christ for over 60 years. Thank you for supporting us and showing God’s love to all of Hagerstown.

To learn how you can support our ministry, or just learn more about the work that we’re doing in the heart of Hagerstown please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com. And if you’re interested in learning more about our youth ministry where Michelle is serving please go to http://www.wildsideyouth.com. To learn more about volunteer opportunities please visit http://www.volunteerhagerstown.com. Ok, so that’s a lot of http://www.com’s…but we’re genuinely thankful for your support through the years. You help us bring hope to so many.  And because of your support we’re still here, more than 60 years later, to help anyone and everyone who is ready for a fresh start or a new chapter. To God be the glory!

Share-A-Haircut is Back!

Hairy Cuttery is back again hosting their annual Share-A-Haircut program. This year’s Share-A-Haircut program is from August 1-15, 2017.

What’s Share-A-Haircut? Well, it’s the community’s opportunity to give a disadvantaged kid in our area the chance to have a fresh haircut for back-to-school for free. For every kid’s (18 and under) haircut purchased at local Hair Cuttery locations a free haircut certificate will be given to kids in need. For over 18 years Hair Cuttery has been helping give free haircuts to disadvantaged kids in communities around the nation.

The Hope Center is proud to be participating again with Hair Cuttery to provide our guests’ children with the free haircut certificates. We’ve handed out hundreds of certificates to families the past several years that we have been participating.

As we are currently hosting Camp Wild, we have a unique opportunity to make strong connections and build positive relationships with hundreds of kids and their families in our area. Haircuts provided will help these families save some money and give their kids a fresh start to their new school year.

So please join us in spreading the word to your friends, family, church, civic club, coworkers, and anyone else you can think of.

Something so simple as a free haircut can make a huge difference in the life of someone else. Thank you for caring and sharing for disadvantaged kids in our community.

Hagerstown has 3 local Hair Cuttery’s:

  • CROSSPOINT SHOPPING CENTER – 17251 Cole Rd // 301.582.0296
  • HAGERSTOWN COMMONS – 1733 Dual Highway // 301.745.9726
  • SHOPPES AT HAGERSTOWN – 18035 Garland Groh Blvd // 301.714.0003

To learn more about Hair Cuttery, local shop operating hours, or Share-A-Haircut please visit http://www.haircuttery.com.

Second Half of Camp Wild 2017 is Here!

We’re starting the second half of our 2017 Camp Wild season on Monday, July 31st. And as we prepare to welcome new campers for the next two weeks of adventure, we’re going to give you the chance to see some of the happy faces of campers who were a part of our first two weeks of 2017 Camp Wild.

Camp Wild is a free day camp for kids ages 5-12. The majority of our campers come from certain neighborhoods or areas inside of Hagerstown city limits. The typical camp day includes free time where the kids can play sports, create various art projects, play video games/board games and other indoor activities like table tennis and foosball. Campers also have a time of singing, interactive Bible lessons and small group discussion based on various Biblical principles of the week. Lunch is served just before we load everyone up and head to our outdoor camp facility where kids partake in group learning activities before having free time to swim, run, fly through the trees on our zip line or ride on our hayride.

Each week we provide complimentary transportation to pick up and drop off kids in these designated areas. The first two weeks of Camp Wild transportation was targeting the West End neighborhoods and Jonathan Street area of Hagerstown. These areas are the closest neighborhoods to The Hope Center in Hagerstown. We provide two weeks of Camp Wild to these neighborhoods because of the size and overall dense population of kids in the area.

This upcoming week of Camp Wild will provide complimentary transportation to Noland Village and the South End neighborhoods of Hagerstown and then the following week will see kids from Frederick Manor and the East Side join us for camp adventures.

We’ll continue to post more pics and adventures from Camp Wild 2017 so keep checking back! If you’d like to learn more about Camp Wild go to http://www.campwildusa.com.

Camp Wild Volunteers Needed

Camp Wild 2017 is quickly approaching! Each summer the Trinity Center at The Hope Center comes alive with the sounds of kids laughing, playing and having a great time together.

Camp Wild 2

Camp Wild is our free summer day camp for kids ages 5-12. We provide four weeks of camp that include transportation, specialized activities, interactive Bible lessons, lunch, prizes, snacks and more. Again, all of this summertime fun is provided free of charge to all of our campers thanks to the generous support of people in our community.

But since Camp Wild is free, we rely on volunteers to help us make the whole experience exciting for our campers. And we’re still looking for volunteers to be counselors for Camp Wild 2017.

As a Camp Wild counselor you will spread the Gospel of Jesus to the campers in your small group by building relationships with them. This happens by connecting with them during Team Time, leading them in daily discussions, encouraging them as they play games, and eating lunch alongside of them. In the afternoons at our Camp Wild facility just outside of Hagerstown you will visit one of our many outdoor attractions with your small group during our Daily Adventures times. Afterwards you will assist in monitoring our many other activities.

Our Camp Wild volunteers make a huge impact on the lives of the kids who attend camp. There are many roles that our counselors play in making sure that each day the kids have a fun and safe environment to learn, study, play, relax and grow. If you have one week or multiple weeks that you can volunteer at Camp Wild please contact us immediately.

Camp Wild runs from 9:30am – 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. As a Camp Wild volunteer we ask that you arrive at 8:30am for our morning prayer and Bible study, and stay until 5pm.

Camp Wild operates the following weeks:

  • July 10-14: North End/Jonathan Street
  • July 17-21: West End/Gateway Crossing
  • July 31-August 4: South End/Noland Village
  • August 7-11: East End/Locust Point

If you’re interested in volunteering please contact us at 301.739.1165 or info@wildsideyouth.com. To learn more about Camp Wild go to http://www.campwildusa.com.

My, My What a Spring It Was!

Summer has officially arrived! We love those long, hazy and hot days of summer. The smell of grilling out, the taste of a cold glass of lemonade and the chance to cool off by taking a dip in the pool are some of the things we like the best about this season. But we also love hosting hundreds of kids each summer at Camp Wild, our free summer day camp for kids in Hagerstown.

But before we kickoff Camp Wild season at The Hope Center, we want to take a moment to look back at Spring 2017.

From our 3rd annual Rock the Run 5k, to Easter celebrations, to Soup Line parties and more, our spring was loaded with activities.

We started celebrating random “National Holidays” with our Soup Line guests. On any given day we would include our guests in a “holiday” of sorts which could include prizes and a themed meal. There’s so much negativity and hurt in the world today so we wanted to have some fun with our guests and bring smiles to their faces as they celebrate such days as Oreo Day, Strawberry Day and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day.

But of all the springtime celebrations, of course nothing can compare to the importance of Easter. And this Easter we had so much going on! We hosted everything from a Wildside Youth party complete with a huge Easter Egg Hunt, to our Auxiliary bake sale, Easter celebration with our staff, residents and guests and an Easter cantata performance by the choir from Maranatha Brethren Church with a delicious meal too! Easter is obviously so important to our ministry because it is the basis for the change and hope that we offer at The Hope Center. The power of Christ’s resurrection is what makes all this change possible. So we make sure that our residents and guests understand how important this celebration is to the power of hope.

As soon as Easter was over we were tying our running shoes for our 3rd annual Rock the Run: A Race for Hope presented by Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe. Each year our race gets better and better as we see so many new faces. But with all the new faces, we’re so thrilled to see so many participants returning to support The Hope Center. From our sponsors, to our volunteers and participants, our race this year was an overwhelming success! And we’ll be hosting it again in April, 2018 so plan to join us. Learn more about the race at http://www.rocktherunhagerstown.com.

And just this past weekend the awesome folks at Germantown Church of God hosted our residents for an evening of fellowship and great food! The people at the church have been hosting this picnic for years upon years and it’s an activity that our men genuinely love. We were so thrilled to have some of our staff join our men as we mixed and mingled with the people from Germantown Church of God. In fact, our very own Sue (she’s the voice you hear every time you call The Hope Center) is wife to Mark, the pastor of Germantown Church of God. We’re so thankful that the church continues to provide this evening of relaxation and fellowship for our men.

So as we bid farewell to yet another spring, we excitedly look forward to what God has in store for this summer. Camp Wild is just weeks away and things here are focused on making sure that our campers have another safe, fun and action-packed experience this year. Keep up-to-date on Camp Wild by visiting http://www.campwildusa.com. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating supplies for Camp Wild 2017 then call us at 301.739.1165.

We want to thank each of you who have prayed for us, supported us and volunteered with us thus far in 2017. We couldn’t do all that we do without the loving support of each of you. Your gifts, time and talents do not go unnoticed by our staff or our Heavenly Father. Thank you for caring and sharing and investing so much in the lives of so many! We look forward to all the great things in store for the rest of the year!

If you would like to learn more about all the different ways that The Hope Center is working in our area then go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com. Thinking about volunteering? Great! We’ve got the information you need at http://www.volunteerhagerstown.com.

 

Guess Who Has a New Website?

We have a brand spanking new website! Have you visited it yet? If you haven’t then check out http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Our new site provides a wealth of information for those seeking help and services as well as our supporters and volunteers who want to learn more about all the various ways we serve the community.

From learning about our rich history to fully understanding the entire scope of services we provide, our website can help answer any question you might have about The Hope Center.

Take some time to check out our new website at http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com. And be sure to tell others who are looking for a local non-profit to support or are in need of help to check out our website for all the information they need.