Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day 4On Monday we celebrate the American worker! Our nation was built on the backs of great people who sacrificed and poured their own blood, sweat and tears into making this such a successful, diverse, and creative nation. Even today people from all over the world do anything they can to be a part of this nation of hard workers.

We’re happy to celebrate the women and men who keep this nation moving forward. Thank you to each of you who work hard at your jobs and then give back some of your earnings to support our mission to bring hope to the less fortunate. We appreciate your hard work and your kind and generous heart to give to others. Our supporters, donors, and partners are an example of everything that is good about America.

So we honor each of you hard workers on Monday! Thank you for all you do!

Our Administrative Offices, Thrift Stores, Wildside Youth, Sorting/Donation Center, and Recycling Facility will all be closed on Monday, September 4th, so that our staff can enjoy a time of relaxation and celebration.

Our daily food service and overnight shelter will be open and operational on Monday, September 4th. If anyone is hungry and needs a delicious meal on Labor Day then please join us at 1:15pm for our Soup Line. And men looking for a place to sleep for the evening can check in beginning at 5:30pm. If anyone has any questions about Labor Day schedules or any other inquiries please call 301.739.1165 or visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

We hope everyone has a safe and fun Labor Day!

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Setting the Record Straight

Recently there was an article published in the Herald Mail that exposed some criticism of the way transients and residents are housed at The Hope Center.
While we totally understand the concern expressed by the Chief of Police and others, we feel that the article was inadequate in actually telling the whole story. There are always two sides to every story and usually the truth lies in the middle. But in the case of this article, there were some important facts that were either forgotten or left out.
Please allow us a few minutes of your time to explain our side of the story.
We want to begin by saying that Hagerstown is our community, too. We all live in the greater Hagerstown area. Our families live, work and play here. We have parents, children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors who are valuable and important to us. With that being said, we would not knowingly put these precious people in harm’s way. Hagerstown is our town. It’s the place that we call home. This community is valuable to us, which is why we help our neighbors in need. We are here to help build a better Hagerstown. We are not here to ruin lives or put anyone in danger.
While making Hagerstown a better place to live and work is very important to us, it is also very important to us to help individuals in need, no matter where they call home. How can you turn away a stranger in need just because he or she isn’t a local? We’ve been called to help give hope to all people. Whether our guests are families, individuals, men, women, children, teens, homeless or hopeless, we are here to help get those at the bottom back on their feet, get their lives back in order and show them God’s love. We are not here to judge. We are here to help.
We do screen individuals who come into our facility as best as we can. Many times, transients and residents are sent to us by the court system, hospitals or social service agencies. We trust that the information given to us is accurate and up-to-date. We want to be a place which our local and state governments can trust as a real program to help repair broken and hurting people. We want to provide a service to agencies that want these individuals to get help. So when we are contacted by various counties, agencies or governments, we do everything we can to help.
Concerning one of the men in question in the Herald Mail article, our intake staff person talked to the Worchester County official about the man. In the desperation of the situation of trying to find this man some quick housing, some of the important facts about his crimes were not presented. Based on information presented by the county, we allowed this man to come in as a transient without knowing that he was a violent criminal. The same day that he arrived we were contacted by the Worchester County Parole & Probation informing us that he should never have been allowed to leave that county.  We then contacted our local Parole & Probation office.  They instructed us to allow him to stay the night.  The next day we escorted the man to their office at which time he was returned to Worchester County.
Please understand that we were the ones proactive to notify local authorities about this man’s whereabouts. We have always cooperated with the authorities. We want to help everyone who comes into our facility, but safety of our staff, residents and guests is of great importance to us.
Unfortunately, Hagerstown has become a sort of dumping ground for guys leaving the prison system outside of the city. Since the state doesn’t return the inmates to their respective homes after release, many are left without options. They usually end up looking for a place to stay in Hagerstown. Many times they become transient or homeless until something works out for them. But the problem is that these former inmates are stuck in Hagerstown and often find themselves associating with all the wrong people. When inmates are released from the prisons, we try to help them continue their rehabilitation into society. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s always up to the individual. We can only try to help. Either way, these guys are on the streets in Hagerstown. Whether we allow them to sleep in our facility at night or they stay somewhere else. These guys for a time are crashing in our town.
The picture has been painted that the guys who come through our program or stay as transient guests are all violent criminals. Sure, they all usually have a past associated with crime or abuse. But many people do. Here at The Hope Center we try to give each man the benefit of the fact that people can change for the better – that your past is behind you and the future can promise you something new. That’s the way God sees each of us. No matter what your social standing is. No matter what side of the tracks you’re from. No matter what school you went to or how many degrees you have. God doesn’t care what your income is nor is He impressed with your address. He loves people of all walks of life. He wants the best for everyone and He welcomes all people, no matter the sin committed, to take comfort in His forgiveness.
And that’s why we’re here. We are to be God’s love here in Hagerstown. We want to help all those in need. But we want to make sure that we are not hurting our own town which is why we notify local authorities about dangerous individuals. We don’t want to be known as an agency that doesn’t care about our neighbors and knowingly puts others in harm’s way. That doesn’t fit our purpose.
We are here to bring hope to people. Homeless people. Hungry people. Abandoned people. Scared people. Lost people. Rich people. Poor people. Old people. Young people. Good people. Bad people. As long as there are people in need, we will be here to help bring hope to them. And this service is done without any tax money. God provides our needs through churches, groups, schools, businesses and individuals. We are here to be a service to you and anyone who needs immediate help.
We understand that problems with crime in the city are very difficult challenges for the authorities and government to deal with. But we hope that each of you understand that we are here to help make our community better. We are working, thanks to generous supporters like you, to help our local authorities make Hagerstown a better place in which to live, full of hope rather than crime.

Our Residents Help Give Back

Some of our residents are putting their handy-man skills to good use!

The team of workers, lead by Frank, is replacing the old roof on the display windows of our Hagerstown Thrift Store. Frank has been very helpful around The Hope Center as he uses his skills to help repair and fix things around our facilities. Having his expertise is a huge benefit because it helps us to save money and use it towards other programs.

We are so thankful that our residents are willing to step up during their life recovery at The Hope Center and help us in ways like this. Our facility is comprised of some pretty old buildings which means that there are things that go awry quite often. We’re thankful for these guys and for their willingness to step up to the challenge of helping us to keep The Hope Center in good shape.

Please continue to pray for guys like Frank and all the others whose paths will lead them to The Hope Center this year. These guys all come from various walks of life. They’ve all seen and done different things. But they’ve all come to the conclusion that they need help. And that’s why they come through our doors.

Unfortunately, once they’re here, the battle in their lives only intensifies. Whether the men are transient or residential, they are all dealing with issues that God wants to fix so that they can be restored to be the men that God created them to be.

Please pray for our transients. Many of these men will literally be with us for a few nights until they move on to another city. Some of the guys will be with us for several nights, deciding whether they are ready to join our residential program or move on to something different. Many of these guys are people who have just made a few bad choices that spiraled them into a sea of hopelessness.  Pray that while they are with us, they allow their hearts to be open so that God can work in them. Pray that pride doesn’t get in the way. Pray that they can recognize that God has something better for them in life.

Pray for our residents. These are men who have acknowledged that they have issues in their life that they need to address and fix with God’s help. Please pray that they stay strong. Pray that they allow God to work in their hearts and minds. Pray that they don’t believe the lies that Satan will throw at them. We know that the majority of them desire to clean themselves up and rebuild their lives and relationships with their families. Pray that they can see the value that God sees in them. And pray that they are able to continue growing closer to Christ even after they leave The Hope Center.

And please pray for our staff. Whether it’s a staff member who deals directly with the residents & transients or those in the Adminstrative office or the staff who work with Wildside Youth ministries or our staff who work in our sorting department and Thrift Stores, please pray for each of them for strength to continue to fight the good fight. Pray for compassion and understanding but also a boldness to help bring about Godly change. Pray for endurance as each day seems to be a constant spiritual fight. Pray for wisdom for the leadership. Pray that God supplies the means to reach out to new people and groups desperately needing help, both physically and spiritually. And pray that God will strengthen each of these spiritual warriors and will shield them from discouragement and disappointment.

Sometimes being on the front line in this aspect of the spiritual war is hard. It can be incredibly discouraging. But then we see people like Frank. We see lives changed. We see fears relieved. We see smiles return. And hope restored. And we know at that point that this ministry is so much bigger than any of us. It’s God’s business. It’s His peace that calms the fears. It’s His love that brings the smiles. And it’s His power that restores hope.

Thank you for partnering with us to fight against hopelessness! We know that God uses people like you to help make a difference in the lives of thousands of people. So if you are discouraged today, remember, God is the God of hope. In Jeremiah 29:11, we are reminded, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” As long as He lives, we are victorious over anything and everything.  As the late founder of The Hope Center, Jim Resh, always said, “keep on keepin’ on”! That’s some good advice for today and everyday!