Wildside Celebrates Easter!

The Easter celebration at The Hope Center kicked off with Wildside’s Easter party in the beginning of April. Over 65 kids from Hagerstown attended the annual event. In addition to games and food, Wildside had a huge Easter egg hunt.

But before the egg hunt the kids enjoyed an interactive lesson which is part of the series, “How Big is My Problem?” This series is centered around conflict resolution and the kids learned at the party about how big our sin problem is and how sin builds a wall of conflict between us and Jesus. But the most important part of the lesson was learning how Jesus chose to resolve our conflict by tearing down the wall and saving us from sin!

The end of the evening saw all sorts of prizes handed out to some pretty good kids who were the winners of the Good Behavior Challenge. The Good Behavior Challenge isn’t an easy task, though. The challenge was to attend the 4 most recent Wildside events and avoid getting a single strike during those 4 events. Wildside started with 53 kids at the beginning of the challenge but by the Easter party only 19 kids were left in the competition. We’d like to announce that Aniya won the giant Easter basket prize and Josiah won the giant chocolate bunny for their continued good behavior at Wildside events! Other kids that evening won prizes for their good behavior during the event.

All Wildside events are free for kids ages 5-12. In addition to big events like the recent Easter party, Wildside hosts Sunday Night Wild on select Sunday evenings throughout the school year. Wildside also has a youth leadership program, The Crew, where mature kids in the Wildside program are selected and go through a leadership training program. And one of the biggest Wildside events is Camp Wild – which is quickly approaching. Camp Wild is a free day camp during the summer for kids in Hagerstown’s various neighborhoods and regions. Registration for Camp Wild isn’t open yet but will start soon. Learn more about Camp Wild by visiting http://www.campwildusa.com.

To learn more about all the Wildside activities please visit http://www.wildsideyouth.com. If you’re interested in volunteering for Wildside events or Camp Wild during the summer please email volunteer@hagerstownhopecenter.com or call 301.739.1165.

 

A Little Winter Weather Didn’t Hold Back our Busy February!

February may be the shortest month but it’s always packed with activities and yet somehow always seems like the longest month to get through.

We had a very busy, productive February. Between the snow, ice, warm days and cold days we were able weather all the ups & downs with just some minor cancellations.

As we noted in a previous post, we were able to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our Soup Line guests. Everyone had a great time – especially the lucky guests who walked away with some Valentine’s themed prizes!

The kids who attend Wildside parties had a great Valentine’s celebration – also just a week, late thanks to another winter storm. But even with the delayed event, over 50 excited kids decked in red & pink swarmed the Trinity Center for an evening of games, food, prizes and socializing. Adrian, Director of Wildside, also presented the kids with a great interactive lesson about conflict resolution and dealing with problems in a Godly way. At the end of the night, the kids wearing the most red & pink all won special prizes plus one lucky gal won a giant Kit Kat!!

Wildside hosts large themed parties like this each month during the school year. In addition to these events, Wildside Youth hosts Sunday Night Wild a couple times a month plus each summer they host Camp Wild which is a four week day camp for kids in Hagerstown to attend for free! Learn more about Wildside Youth by visiting http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

One new thing that happened in February was our first in a series of meetings with some local pastors. On the 19th we had about 10 pastors join us for lunch and a tour of our facility. Several of our employees joined us to talk about their respective ministries at The Hope Center and give our pastors a deeper understanding of the various programs and services we offer the public. Following the lunch we took the pastors on a tour of our buildings where they could see the ministry at work.

We were so thankful for the pastors who joined us and got a connection with our ministry. The local church is our strongest support system in so many ways, but many people in the community, including church leaders, don’t totally know or understand how much we do each day for the community. And as churches donate financially or through other donations like food or gently used items, we wanted the leaders to see what their contributions to our ministry are doing. After talking with the pastors we are so encouraged by the renewed commitment from churches in the area to partner with us to do God’s work of reaching the least, the last, and the lost.

We will be having more meetings like this throughout the year with many more pastors. If you’re interested in seeing or knowing more about our ministry, please contact us. It’s one thing to read about what we do or even glance at a picture here or there. It’s a totally different experience to actually see it in motion. To get basic info about The Hope Center and all our programs and services please visit http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com. If you’d like to talk to someone about seeing the ministry first hand please call 301.739.1165 or email us at hagerstownrescue@verizon.net.

Clover Bowl InviteWe hope your February was as wonderful as ours! And as this month comes to an end we are excited about all the upcoming activities planned for the spring, like Wildside’s St. Patrick’s Day party on March 5th from 5-7pm in the Trinity Center. This event is free for kids ages 5-12 so call 301.739.1165 or email info@wildsideyouth.com to register.

Another big event we’re excited about is our upcoming Rock the Run: Pirates vs Princess 5K on April 27th at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. This is a great event for people of all ages and athletic levels. Whether you RTR Pirate Princessare a seasoned runner or someone who just likes a good stroll, our 5K is perfect for you, your entire family, friends, church, civic group or coworkers. We have a kids One Mile Fun Run that takes place prior to the 5K plus activities for kids during the 5K so bring the whole family! Go to http://www.rocktherunhagerstown.com to register and learn more about the event. And don’t forget to grab your hook and eye patch or your favorite princess outfit for our race! Embrace your inner pirate or princess and join us for a fun activity to race support for The Hope Center!

 

Another Happy Halloween at The Hope Center!

Thanksgiving is just two weeks away and Christmas will be here before you know it so before we get swept away in all the holiday buzz, we’re taking a quick look back at all the fun had at The Hope Center at Halloween!

Wildside Youth Ministries had a huge turnout of kids ready to celebrate their annual Fall-O-Ween party. On October 23rd, 74 kids dressed up in their favorite costumes and partied all evening long with Halloween themed carnival games, group activity games, ate some delicious food, and learned all about God’s light replacing sin while using a jack-o-lantern as an illustration! It was a great night to be a kid in Hagerstown.

Then on Halloween we hosted a surprise party for our Soup Line guests. We had a full house who came for some great food and thanks to Jeannie in our kitchen they got a wonderful meal. And to keep it festive we had Halloween themed treats along with prizes for random, lucky guests. But in the spirit of Halloween all of our guests took home a bag of Halloween candy! We love hosting special holiday parties at Soup Line with our community guests. After thanking us for the celebration, one guest said, “it was nice to feel like a kid again!”

Thanksgiving 1Now that Halloween is a thing of the past it’s time to look ahead at all the fun we’re having at The Hope Center in November. And of course the main thing we’re preparing for is our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast on Thanksgiving Day. Our buffet lunch begins at 11:30am in the Trinity Center with kids activities beginning at 11am. There’s plenty of parking located on our central lot off of Church Street between Walnut & Prospect Streets. And there’s always tons of food for our guests to enjoy so invite your whole family and all your neighbors!

And for the kids in your family don’t forget to bring  them to Wildside’s Thanksgiving Party on November 13th from 5-7pm at the Trinity IMG_9175Center. And they’re also welcome to come at 11am on Thanksgiving Day for kids activities prior to our Thanksgiving buffet. All Wildside activities are free. Register your kids by calling 301.739.1165 or emailing info@wildsideyouth.com. Learn more about Wildside activities by visiting http://www.wildsideyouth.com.

 

 

2017: A Year to Remember

I don’t know about you but it just seems that each year gets a little shorter and goes by a little faster. 2017 is quickly coming to an end but it literally feels like it just started. It’s definitely been one interesting year.

2017 had it’s ups & downs, good times  & bad, high points & low points but with everything going on in our nation and in the world in general, we’ve seen God working and doing things at The Hope Center more than ever. God has been blessing this ministry and He has given us so many wonderful people in the community who have helped us make 2017 one of the best years ever!

From hosting another successful Rock the Run 5K in April, to Camp Wild in the summer, The Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast, and all the other activities in between, it truly has been a great year and we’re thankful to each one of you who volunteered, donated, supported, and prayed for us in 2017.

But we’re excited and looking forward to all the incredible and amazing things God will do in the upcoming year. And once again we will be hosting our Rock the Run 5K in April except we’ve got a pretty big (and fun) twist on it this year! You and your friends & family will definitely want to be a part of that. And along with our 5K we have so many other activities, events, and opportunities for you to get involved in bringing hope to Hagerstown.

And as we’re on the cusp of a brand new year we want to give one final salute to 2017. And there’s no better way to do that than posting pics from all the various things that happened at The Hope Center this year. And if these pics aren’t enough and you just need to see a few more then jump over to http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com and click on the ‘More’ tab in the upper tool bar. There you can click on the Year In Pictures gallery. Enjoy the look back at 2017! And Happy New Year!

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!

Thanksgiving Day Success: Thank You, Volunteers!

There’s so much prep work, shopping, cleaning and cooking for Thanksgiving but there’s even so much more to do when you’re preparing for 300 guests!

But that didn’t slow us down at all. Each year, since our very beginning in 1955, we’ve hosted a community meal for anyone and everyone in Hagerstown who is hungry or just wants some company on Thanksgiving Day.

Our free buffet is complete with roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, succotash, cranberry sauce, fruit cocktail, pie and more!

And since it’s a family affair we even had kids activities for all the little ones thanks to the staff and volunteers from our kids program, Wildside Youth Ministries (www.wildsideyouth.com).

Everyone had a great time celebrating, feasting and giving thanks together. And we even had a pilgrim show up to the celebration! Enjoy this collage of pics from our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast but be sure to check out more pictures from the celebration at http://www.hagerstownhopecenter.com.

But none of  this would’ve been possible without the support of our gracious and generous community. From the countless donations received to the hours served by staff and volunteers, this event is a success because of our incredible friends and neighbors in the  greater Hagerstown region. We feel that just saying “thank you” doesn’t quite sum up how grateful we truly are to each and every one of you who helped us in one way or another this Thanksgiving season. We thank God for each of you and your compassion and love for our community.

Listed below are all the names of our MVP’s from our Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast. If you are familiar with of any of these fine people then please be sure to personally thank them for helping make Thanksgiving special for all of our guests!

The 2017 Great Hagerstown Thanksgiving Feast Staff (S) & Volunteers (V):

  • Sonny & Becky Shank (S)
  • Dorcas Black (S)
  • Sharon & Henry Hughes (V)
  • Frank Shortt (S)
  • Joe & Marianne Elliot (V)
  • Richard Quesenberry (V)
  • Michael Black (V)
  • Doug Walker (V)
  • Melanie Hughes (V)
  • Laurel Walker (V)
  • Larry Hose (V)
  • Russ & Diane Ellis (V)
  • John Borelli (V)
  • Jim & Barb Resh (V)
  • Teresa Yates & family (V)
  • Matt & Effie Tiches and family (V)
  • Angela Galvan & family (V)
  • Amanda Miles (V)
  • Dr. Sidney Chang (V)
  • Sherita Jones (V)
  • Donnie & Angie Cross and family (V)
  • Matt & Staci Sargent and family (V)
  • Paul & Stacy Mickley and family (V)
  • David & Karen Hillen (V)
  • Jeff Wine (V)
  • Chris Shank (S)
  • Adrian Black (S)
  • Stephanie Medina (V)
  • Aaron Black (V)
  • Mitcha & Al Shay (V)

 

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!