“God Gave Me a New Beginning – Even at My Age”

To a lot of people birthdays are kind of a big deal. We all love celebrating the birth of our kids, family, friends and other loved ones. And at The Hope Center it gives us great joy to celebrate the birth of the guys in our residential recovery program: Foundations.

For the residents in our program, the celebration of their birth is special because many of them came to The Hope Center in desperate need of help for victory over addictions and other destructive lifestyles that were destroying them. The fact that we celebrate their life is a major victory for each of these men. And since they’re a part of our family, we love celebrating them!

So last Friday we celebrated the birthday of one of our residents, Terry Barnes. If you’ve volunteered or stopped by The Hope Center there’s a good chance you’ve seen Terry. Since being in the program Terry has worked in our kitchen and more prominently in our shelter as a deskman. So there’s a chance you have seen him smiling around The Hope Center.

IMG_2758But even if you’ve seen Terry you might not know much about him or his journey in life, especially the most recent journey of recovery and redemption at The Hope Center. So we asked Terry to give us a little summary of his thoughts as he celebrates another birthday. Here is what Terry has to say:

“I want to thank God first, then The Hope Center and the pastors and staff. I came to The Hope Center on June 1, 2018. I will graduate January 19, 2020. God has given me a new beginning at even my age. He’s shown me how to be accountable and responsible, and to believe and trust in Him. I say that because I found myself in a very difficult situation last month and God showed me He was right there with me and He gave me patience and strength. When I leave here, I am going to live a different lifestyle and give praise and thanks to God every day for changing my life.”

We are so proud of Terry and all the work he’s put into his personal recovery and relationship with God. He’s just a few short months away from completing our Foundations Life Recovery program. Please continue to pray for Terry as he moves quickly towards that finish line. And please remember to pray for the many other men who are in our recovery program and those who will enter our program hoping for a lasting change and freedom in Christ.

Please join us in wishing Terry a very, very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Here’s to many more, Terry!

And we want to thank our friend, Stormy, for baking another delicious birthday cake for our celebration! Every month we celebrate a birthday Stormy faithfully bakes and decorates a cake for our residents to enjoy. We appreciate her kindness and generosity so much!

To learn more about our recovery program please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com/foundations. If you’d like to talk to someone about our program, including enrolling in Foundations, please call 301.739.1165 or email foundations@hagerstownhopecenter.com.

Our Residents Enjoy a Christmas Party With the CMA!

This past weekend the Christian Motorcycle Association hosted a Christmas dinner for the men who are enrolled in our Foundations Life Recovery program.

The CMA had a delicious meal prepared for our residents as well as performing Christmas songs, reading the Christmas story from Luke and then giving each resident a Christmas gift bag.

And in addition to all the festivities Santa stopped by to celebrate with our residents!

We’re so thankful for the CMA coming every year to host a Christmas celebration for our residents. The guys in the program are enrolled for 13-months while they work through recovering from the various addictions and issues that have caused them to lose so much. Events like this are so important to our residents who are often estranged from their family and loved ones so these types of activities and investment in their lives show a loving community who is cheering for their success.

We want to thank the CMA again for showing so much support to our life recovery program and for caring for each of these wonderful men who are walking down a difficult but healthy path. And to each of you who’ve donated, volunteered, and prayed – thank you. Each one of you is helping not just to provide housing or food for people in need but also making an investment in the life of these men who are battling addictions. Thank you for partnering with us to restore the lives of so many and show them the love of God. Merry Christmas!

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.

 

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.