New to Hagerstown, BJ’s Restaurant is Making Their Mark in our Community

Earlier this year a new restaurant opened at The Valley Mall and has been the talk of the town – and you can tell by the constant wait times just to dine there.

BJ’s, located at 17318 Valley Mall Rd, has only been opened for a few months but is already making an impact in the community that they serve.

On October 29th, 11 employees from BJ’s in Hagerstown volunteered to serve lunchtime meals to our residents and Soup Line guests as a part of their TASC FORCE (Team Action to Support Communities).

But they didn’t just come to serve the food – they also brought the food. They served our residents and guests food from their own menu at the restaurant and prepared by their own chefs which included salad, pizza, chicken quinoa bowl, grilled chicken alfredo, and chocolate chip cookies! We’re hungry just thinking about all the great food they served!

We had a full house eating lunch that day and we can confidently say that all of our residents and guests enjoyed their lunch from BJ’s! We were so thankful for the crew from BJ’s, not just that they prepared and served lunch, but that they also mingled and interacted with our residents and guests and made their time with us feel like one big family meal.

So we want to say ‘thank you’ to BJ’s for all they did for our residents & guests and we will welcome them back any time they want to help out in the community again!

And if you haven’t been to BJ’s yet then you definitely need to go! If you’ve never heard of BJ’s before then check out http://www.bjsrestaurants.com to see their menu and get business hours.

Our guests and residents can openly attest to their delicious food but in addition to their incredible menu, including everyone’s favorite treat, Pizookie, they also have wonderful, kind employees and are an organization that is committed to giving back to their community and being involved by helping others.

Has BJ’s inspired you or your organization to get involved? If so call 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net to talk to someone about how you can partner with us to help those in need. You can also learn more about our food services and other community programs by visiting http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

 

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In Loving Memory of Jean Blaise Kikudi

It is with great sadness that we must say goodbye to one of our own, Jean Blaise Kikudi. Jean went home to be with the Lord the end of September at the age of 52. He was employed at The Hope Center as an evening deskman/security for our emergency men’s shelter. But his is the story of God’s transformational love and the visible manifestation of what God is doing in the lives of those who step foot into The Hope Center.

Volunteer Appreciation 2013 019 (2)Jean Blaise was born in the summer of 1966 in the Congo. He earned a BS in Economics and became a naturalized US citizen in February of 2003. Unfortunately Jean Blaise found himself in some trouble and was convicted of a felony and was paroled to The Hope Center. When he first arrived he wanted nothing to do with The Hope Center and it was obvious that he did not want to be here. But in September of 2009 he applied for enrollment to Foundations Life Recovery, our 13-month rehabilitation program. On December 1, 2009, Jean was officially entered into the Foundations program to start getting his life back on track.

During his time as a resident in Foundations, Jean totally changed as God began to doDSC_1390 (2) major work in his life. God worked in his life and Jean’s attitude and personality were completely transformed. What was once a scowl on his face became a huge, infectious smile. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old is gone, the new is here!” Jean was not afraid to share his story of transformation and his testimony was incredibly inspiring and one that encouraged the other men in our Foundations program to continue fighting the fight to recovery. Jean completed the program and graduated on April 15, 2011.

Following his graduation he became employed at The Hope Center. He continued to be involved with The Hope Center in other ways including singing with the residents when visiting churches, attending other Foundations Life Recovery graduations, and helping anywhere he could. In addition to helping at The Hope Center, Jean was very involved with his church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

Jean BlaiseIf you’ve ever volunteered at The Hope Center, especially for the evening chapel and community meal, or had hosted our residents at your church you’ve probably seen Jean and his big pearly smile. Jean was a great man who came from a very good family and almost lost it all until God did an incredible work in his life.

We are so deeply saddened by the death of Jean Blaise but it is the promise that God gives us of eternal life that helps us deal with the sudden loss of our graduate, coworker, and most importantly, our friend. His death was shocking and difficult to process but we all have the hope that he’ll be waiting for us with his huge smile as God calls us home one day.

To each of you who have supported The Hope Center by praying, financially sponsoring, donating gently used items, volunteering, hosting food drives, or being involved in any other way, you were a part of helping to change Jean’s life for good. He may never have met each of you and you may never have known him, but God used you to help bring Jean to him and now Jean is singing the song of victory.

Thank you for supporting us as we work each day to help people like Jean. Your support helped save a man and change his life completely. Thank you for caring and sharing. God used your gift and turned it into an investment of eternal proportions.

To God be the glory!

 

It Was a Very Merry Christmas at The Hope Center!

December was a huge month at The Hope Center with so many activities and parties for so many different people.

From a cantata concert, to a party for kids, a Soup Line celebration, and more, we made sure that there was plenty of fun things to do to celebrate the birth of Christ at The Hope Center.

Auxiliary Christmas Celebration

Each year our Auxiliary hosts a Christmas dinner for our residents where they bring in local talent to perform while providing delicious food and great company. And on December 2nd, the Auxiliary kicked off the Christmas celebrations at The Hope Center with a wonderfully festive Christmas evening. Our Auxiliary does a lot of work behind the scenes helping to provide different things to The Hope Center while also helping to make sure our residents feel at home at The Hope Center while they’re enrolled in Foundations Life Recovery, our 13-month program. This Christmas celebration is just another way for our Auxiliary to show love and support to the guys who are a part of our family. The Auxiliary sponsored the roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy from Leiters’ Fine Catering and cooked and baked the rest of the food and treats including the festive Christmas punch. If the good food wasn’t enough our residents were treated to a great concert by Second Chances, a local group comprised of members from various churches. We’re so thankful to our Auxiliary and all the hard work that they put into all they do to keep The Hope Center programs and ministries moving forward. If you’d like to join our volunteer Auxiliary then please call us at 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Wildside Christmas Party

On December 5th, Wildside hosted their annual Christmas party for kids in Hagerstown who were ready to start celebrating the season! Local kids had a blast playing Christmas themed games, winning prizes and eating some pretty festive food! All Wildside events are free for kids ages 5-12. Wildside has so many different activities and events year round for kids to be a part of. Learn more about Wildside Youth and take a look at all the fun things coming in 2018 at http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

Maranatha Christmas Dinner & Concert

On December 8th the great folks from Maranatha Brethren Church hosted their annual Christmas cantata and community dinner at the Trinity Center. Each year Maranatha Brethren sets a festive mood with their cantata and this year did not disappoint. This year our guests enjoyed the choir performing The Story of Christmas: Worship the King. Following the concert, Maranatha provided all guests with a great meal and festive desserts! Maranatha’s cantata and dinner have now become a holiday tradition at The Hope Center and an evening that is enjoyed by all who attend. Like all our community events, this dinner concert is free and open for anyone and everyone to attend. Maranatha Brethren Church is a great friend of The Hope Center and works year round in various ways helping us bring hope to Hagerstown. We’re so thankful for their commitment to this ministry and their heart to serve others! If you’d like to learn more about Maranatha please visit http://www.maranathagbc.net.

 

Bikers Christmas Party

The local chapter of Christian Motorcycle Association hosted a Christmas luncheon for our residents at the Trinity Center. They provided the men with great food, Christmas music, great conversation and even gave each man a Christmas gift. Our residents enjoy this event where they are being celebrated and have the opportunity to talk to people in the community who are supporting them in their journey of recovery. Our residents are part of Foundations Life Recovery which is a 13-month rehabilitation type of program to help them break the destructive addictions and habits that have cost them almost everything in their lives. This event is such an inspirational moment for the men as they are able to just talk to people who genuinely care for them and their success. We are so thankful for the CMA for hosting this party for our residents year-after-year. Christmas is such a busy time of year for all of us and to see people go out of their way to love and support others during this time is exactly what the season is all about. For more information about the Christian Motorcycle Association please email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net or call us at 301.739.1165.

Soup Line Christmas Celebration

On Tuesday, December 19th, we hosted a Christmas celebration with our community guests at our daily Soup Line. They were treated to a delicious holiday lunch with some great Christmas desserts and treats as well as opportunities to win prizes. And to top it all off our community guests got a chance to meet our very own Santa! Howard, one of our graduates, gladly donned the Santa outfit and interacted with our guests as the big man from the North Pole. Everyone, including Howard, had a great day eating, laughing and celebrating. Our Soup Line is free for all people, young and old, and is open every single day of the year, including all holidays and during inclement weather. For more information about our Soup Line and other food programs please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com or call us at 301.739.1165.

The Hope Center Christmas Service 

On Thursday, December 21 we hosted our Hope Center Christmas celebration. Each year we host a service where staff and residents come together to worship God and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Between singing Christmas carols and hearing a Christmas message, everyone is in the Christmas spirit! Then the men’s staff hand out the Christmas gifts for our residents. Each of our residents got new sweaters and sweatshirts, pillows, bath towels, socks, gloves, underwear, personal care items, and most importantly, candy. Following the Christmas service & party, everyone was treated to a special holiday dinner where residents and staff mixed, interacted and celebrated together as one big Hope Center family! This celebration is a way for us to make each of our residents feel at home and help deal with the pressures of the holidays without family and friends. And this celebration wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of all of our supporters and friends in the community. From donating financially to providing the pillows, treats and other items, each of you in the community were a part of this, and all the other celebrations year-round, at The Hope Center.

As the oldest continually operating shelter in Hagerstown, we have been combating homelessness, hunger, addiction, tragedy, and hopelessness every single day of the year since 1955. And we’ve done it all without ever asking the government for one cent. The Hope Center operates as a Christ-centered relief agency to help our local community in their darkest days and we do it through the love and support of individuals, churches, businesses and civic clubs in the area. God has always provided for The Hope Center and He uses amazing people like you to help change so many lives. From providing multiple hot meals a day, to free summer camp for at-risk kids, to our food bag program, overnight shelter for the homeless, and so much more, you’ve helped be a part of something that’s bigger than we ever imagined it would be. 2017 was another banner year for people giving of time and resources to help others. We are so thankful for each of you and your continued support of The Hope Center and each precious life who walks through our doors seeking help and love. Christmas is all about that love. Because of God’s deep love for all humanity He sent His Son just for us. And because of that Son we have the hope to provide for every person who needs it. God’s love is free for all and we are so happy to partner with you to show every man, woman, and child who comes to The Hope Center the power behind God’s love and the power of genuine hope. Thank you for allowing us to help people day-in-and-day-out. Our doors are open every single day of the year and they’ve been that way since the very beginning. And we don’t plan on changing that in the years to come. We look forward to all God is going to do in Hagerstown in 2018 and we are hopeful that you’ll continue to partner with us to provide HOPE for Hagerstown in the coming year.

For more information about all the various programs and services at The Hope Center and to also learn about how you can join us in the fight against homelessness, hunger, and hopelessness then please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Thank you for helping provide a wonderful Christmas season for our residents and guests this year! We hope each of you had a very Merry Christmas and we hope that you also have a wonderful 2018!

Students Use Music to Inspire Hope

Hopeful Hearts (2)On Saturday, October 21st, some very talented young people took the stage at Bridge of Life Church in downtown Hagerstown for a special fundraiser to benefit The Hope Center.

These young people are all members of Youth For Christ at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts located downtown. Organized by the students in the club, this fundraiser, a first for the group, was designed to use their musical gifts and talents to entertain and inspire the audience while also raising money to help meet the needs of people in the community. Performing various songs like Go Light Your World, Heart of Worship, and It Is Well, the vocalists and instrumentalists put on a beautiful show celebrating the hope and power of our incredible God.

For the finale of the show, our residents, who are a part of our Foundations Life DSC_0075 (2)Recovery program, joined the students on stage to perform Victory in Jesus. What a touching moment to see so many people performing together in different stages of life singing about the victory they’ve each experienced through their relationship with Christ. This is exactly what hope is all about and it was a beautiful reminder that evening.

Following the concert, refreshments were served and the audience could mix and mingle with the students who performed in the show.

We want to thank the students in the Youth For Christ Club at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts for putting together such a wonderful evening of music and hope. These young people have been given a true gift from God and it’s so exciting to see them use their talents to help others. We are so appreciative of their heart to help others and so humbled that we were able to be a part of this event. Thank you to each of these incredible students and to everyone who helped them put on such a wonderful show!

To learn more about all the various programs, services and outreach ministries to our community at The Hope Center please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.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.

 

Happy Fathers Day!

Celebrating our parents or being celebrated as a parent is a special thing. God gave us the miracle to bring life into the world and the huge responsibility of raising those lives.

Unfortunately sin has a way of damaging and destroying lives which often results in so many broken relationships. But throughout all of our failures and familial problems, God has the opportunity to change lives and bring people back together.

At The Hope Center, Father’s Day is a day of many feelings: sadness, fondness, thankfulness, regret, and hope. Many of the guys who are in our Foundations Life Recovery program and those who’ve been a part of it in the past have had to deal with broken relationships with their parents and even estrangement from their own children.

By the time most of the guys who come to The Hope Center to break their addictions and deadly habits they have already lost everything: their homes, their jobs, and unfortunately, their families. Some of the guys who come are fathers themselves and have lost all contact with their children. Other guys who come have been abandoned by their own fathers and left with a void in their lives. Others have fathers who care so deeply for their sons and hurt as they watch them destroy themselves.

But the purpose of Foundations, the 13-month life rehabilitation program at The Hope Center, is to help these men start a relationship with God and allow Him to create a new man out of the old.

The men who are a part of our program are not just working to break the addictions that have caused so many issues, they’re also striving towards the goal of reconciling with their families and being the father, husband and son God created them to be.

Fathers Day Pic (2)

From L-R: Sonny Shank (Executive Director), Wade, Dominic, Darrell, Justin, Howard and Louis

We talked to a few of our residents about their relationships with their fathers, and for those who are fathers themselves, about their relationships with their own children. Here’s what they had to say:

WADE

Wade joined Foundations in January of this year. He is the father of three daughters and grandfather to seven. For two years, Wade did not have any relationships with his daughters and he, himself, has no relationship with his father. At one point, Wade found himself in a depression that was so deep he became suicidal. One of his daughters, who lives in Maryland, bought him a one-way ticket to Hagerstown and he enrolled in Foundations at the beginning of the year.

Since coming to The Hope Center Wade said his depression is gone, his health is being restored and he has reconnected with his family and now has a good relationship with his daughters. At 54 years old, he feels healthier and more energetic and is able to focus his attention on his relationship with his daughters.

DOMINIC

Dominic is brand new to Foundations, having enrolled at the beginning of June. He is the father of a daughter in Carroll County and has one granddaughter. When talking about Father’s Day, Dominic recalls that he never really had a good relationship with his father who is now passed away.

Dominic came to The Hope Center because he knew he was making poor choices and wanted to get his life right with God. His hope this Father’s Day is to learn and grow so that he can be a better example to his daughter so that she will have a desire to honor him as her father.

DARRELL

Darrell joined Foundations in October of 2016. For Darrell, Father’s Day is a day of celebration and also mourning as he lost both his grandfather and father at an early age in life. His grandfather died when he was seven and then only three years later his father died when he was ten. For a young boy to lose two role models in his life wasn’t easy.

This Father’s Day it’s his desire that through all he’s learning and how he’s growing spiritually in the Foundations program that he will be the man God wants him to be to honor his late father and grandfather.

LOUIS

Louis is in the final stages of his time in our Foundations Life Recovery program. Having enrolled in May of 2016, Louis is a gold level resident and is quickly approaching completion and graduation from the program!

For Louis, Father’s Day as a kid wasn’t ideal because he had a broken relationship with his father because his mother would not allow his dad any visitation. In fact, he didn’t really know much about his dad until he was 12 or 13 years old. At the age of 16, his father was awarded custody of him because he was being physically abused by his mother.

Since then, he and his dad have built a good relationship and he’s learned a lot from his father. His dad is currently 72 years old and is recovering from a stroke but is very happy and thankful that Louis is enrolled in the Foundations program at The Hope Center.

JUSTIN

Justin enrolled in Foundations in mid-April. While his father is still a part of his life he says that he has a broken relationship with him. His father, who doesn’t know the Lord, is dealing with addictions too. Justin says, “I don’t blame my father for my addiction. My choices are my own.” And while Justin is working hard to conquer his addictions and clean up his life, he’s also hopeful that in the process he can rebuild his relationship with his dad.

Since being at The Hope Center, Justin believes that there is hope that God can bring reconciliation to his relationship with his dad because of his own relationship with God.

HOWARD

Howard is a 2013 graduate of Foundations and is now an employee at our Hagerstown Thrift Store.

Thinking back on his life, Howard recalls that his “second” father adopted him when he was 15 years old. But as he got older they went their separate ways for several years. It wasn’t until he enrolled in Foundations in 2012 that he reunited with his father.

While in the 13-month program, his father asked him to come live with him. But Howard, understanding the value of the program and having a deep desire to complete it, told him that he would stay and finish at The Hope Center instead.

Since graduating, Howard has a very close relationship with his dad. They work together in their church, and they are working together to help homeless people. Howard says, “I love my dad and I thank God that we have an excellent relationship.”

This Fathers Day we celebrate the men who were men by acknowledging their addictions and entered our program to start a life lasting change. Please join us in celebrating these guys as they fight the good fight to be the incredible men God already sees.

Continue to pray for the men who are currently enrolled, have graduated or moved on, and for those who will come in the future seeking victory and reconciliation. Your support in all ways has helped to bring these men to Christ, conquered their addictions and restored their families. Thank you for caring and sharing for each precious life who seeks help at The Hope Center

WashCo Gives: Second Reason to Give

WashCoGives Why 2-page1

Since the very beginning, way back in 1955, The Hope Center opened its doors as a rescue mission for men who were being consumed and destroyed by their addiction to alcohol.

Over 60 years later we are still dedicated to helping men break the addictions that are destroying them and ruining their lives. While the average age has gotten younger and the type of substance abuse has shifted from alcohol to drugs, the need to rescue these men and give them hope has not changed.

Our 13-month life recovery program, Foundations, has helped so many men break the chains of addiction and return to society as sober men full of hope and promise. Lives have been restored, families reunited and men who once lost everything are now back to earning an honest living and building a new life.

God sees the value in each and every life and so do we. And that is why from the very beginning we’ve never charged anyone anything at The Hope Center. All of our services, including our rehabilitation program, are free of charge for our guests.

But it isn’t free because of the government. We have never received any funding through the government. Our programs, ministries and facilities all operate off of donations and support from so many generous people, churches, businesses and organizations in our community who give to make sure that everyone who needs help gets it.

So on May 2nd, please donate to The Hope Center during Washington County Gives’ 24-hour online donation drive. Simply go to https://washingtoncountygives.org/npo/the-hope-center-at-hagerstown-rescue-mission to place your donation any time during the day on May 2nd. And spread the word to your family, friends, congregation, colleagues, associates, neighbors and anyone else.

Thank you for supporting us and helping us fight to end addiction and hopelessness in Hagerstown. To learn more about all the programs at The Hope Center, including Foundations Life Recovery, go to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.