*Ivelisse came to the Family Hope Ministry Center on May 5, 2020. She brought her mother and two children with her from Puerto Rico. They had no money and very few personal belongings. None of them could speak any English. They experienced much confusion about how local agencies functioned and the resources available to help them. The language barrier was their greatest obstacle. Thankfully, our staff was able to secure a good translator for this family - someone who could truly advocate for them. Initially, it was difficult for Ivelisse to maintain employment. She would be hired, but then quit in a day or two saying it was too much. When she joined our Emergency Shelter Pathway Program, one requirement was for her to gain full-time employment and participate in the Mission's Money Management Program. She obtained employment at a local company, working full-time and saved over $10,000! During that time, she was approved for a housing voucher and moved into her own place. Though it was a long, hard road, the commitment she made to join the Pathway Program changed her outlook.
Thanks to the encouragement and accountability of Mission staff, she is on the road to success starting her new life in Michigan with her mother and two children.
Stephanie came to the Mission's Emergency Shelter in August 2020. She was initially resistant to any help or resources and unable to find housing. Her heart was hard and she felt depressed most of the time. Stephanie was working and decided that she wanted to be part of the Pathway Program. This 4-month program offered her the accountability and support she needed to manage her finances. During this time, Stephanie found that she was in over her head in bills and her spending was out of control. Still, she was resistant to receiving advice about her finances and struggled giving up any control. After some time, Stephanie started to feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to ask for help. Stephanie allowed the Mission staff to assist her and she was able to get her bills under control. She applied for a home through Habit for Humanity and has been approved! Stephanie has been attending financial classes and has even moved into her own apartment while she waits for her house to be finished.
"My time at the Mission's shelter has changed how I view God and life. I want to give back to the community by telling others what God has done."
Ken grew up with parents who were both alcoholics. But in trying to escape the chaos in his house, he started spending time with the wrong crowd. “I tried to stay away from home as much as I could, and I ended up hanging out with the wrong kind of friends. I tried drugs at age 12 and it put me on a path to destruction.” For more than 30 years, Ken tried to numb his feelings with drugs and alcohol. He chose drugs over his family, abandoning his children when they were young and spending many years homeless on the streets. Then one day, Ken called out to God for the strength to overcome his pride and get help. When he walked into Holland Rescue Mission, everything changed for Ken. “When I got here, I immediately felt love,” he says, smiling. “They made me feel welcome and taught me how to deal with my issues instead of hoping they would go away.” Through our Program, Ken got right with the Lord again. Ken learned what true faith meant, and gained the knowledge and tools to walk closer with Jesus.
Thanks to the blessing of your support, Ken is celebrating Easter as a new creation in Christ. “I have a relationship with God and that comes first. Once you have that, everything else follows.”
Owen turned to online video games as a teen to escape from daily life. “I was struggling with loneliness. Students at school were harassing me and making me feel unworthy of love,” he says. But what started as fun quickly spiraled into obsession. Owen also developed an addiction to pornography, and these issues led to trouble functioning as an adult. “I hit some rough passages, lost my job and my life kind of spiraled downhill from there. I managed to spend all my money and became homeless for a few weeks.” That’s when he heard about Holland Rescue Mission and decided he wanted a better life. The day he walked through our doors, everything changed. Owen found healing and hope through the Mission's Gateway Program. During the daily classes and Bible study, he discovered a real, intimate relationship with Jesus. Owen is grateful for the guidance he is getting to rebuild his life.
Owen knows that the lessons he’s learned at the Mission will give him the skills and confidence to go back to college, study for the ministry and go wherever God leads him.
Gateway Program Stories
"One of our students just received back custody of her daughter last week after 4 years of being in Child Protective Service's care! Both mother and child are living with us at the Family Hope Ministry Center as the mother continues to work on her progress in the Gateway Program."
"We have had several students begin their journey with Jesus Christ through a profession of faith and we are looking forward to seeing them baptized next month!"
"One of our female students has been accepted and enrolled into Grand Rapids Community College."
"A woman recently joined the Gateway Program and it was discovered in her pre-program medical exam that she has an early form of cancer. The doctors believe it can be treated! We praise God that she was sent to us because without that physical the cancer may not have been discovered."
"Two Gateway Program students recently voluntarily joined an online Christian leadership course."
Fall of 2020 brought several first time volunteers as the annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet was cancelled and we were forced to find a new, safe way to meet needs during the pandemic. Despite the disappointment of a cancelled event, there was much excitement around a new challenge - providing 1,500 Thanksgiving Care Boxes to community members in need. This partnership with Community Action House proved to be enormously impactful for our needy neighbors. However, an event that typically requires 400+ volunteers was cancelled. We really wanted to find a new way to engage people who wanted to serve. During this time, two families stepped up "just for an opportunity to serve with their kids," and have remained faithful volunteer partners to our ministry since that time--often calling or emailing out of the blue to see what needs to be done and how they can support the Mission.
We could not do what we do without our volunteers!
Bill Plumert and his wife, Mary, served as volunteers at the Mission for over 22 years before recently "retiring." In 1998, Bill learned the Mission needed someone to help with the morning "bread run" - a volunteer job that involved driving to various businesses to pick up donated bread and other items.
"Bill's faithful service and his generosity will always be remembered," says Frank Wilson, Food Service Director.
The word 'pivot' describes many of our experiences over the last year. In 2020, all fundraising events were cancelled and we were forced to lockdown our shelters. Nonessential staff worked from home, but volunteers and donors stepped up to provide for our every need. We received Amazon packages delivered straight to our door, tons (literally!) of food donations, hand sanitizer (and when we ran out, a local brewery stepped up to make us some!), homemade masks, activities for our guests and more! We are so grateful for the many ways you came alongside our residents during our time of greatest need. THANK YOU!