Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Threads of Our Life

When I think of Mrs. Dollarhite, I may always bring to mind an image of an elderly woman with a coronet of braids and an almost eager, expectant look on her face. What little I knew of her past didn't matter because what brought her to the Mission was very real and very present in her life: her desires to help others and to serve her Savior. Touring the men's shelter one day, her face, again with that eager expression, lit up to see the dorm. Many of the beds had quilts that she recognized for the simple reason that she had made them. She enjoyed telling us why she chose the pieces and the patterns, and it was always obvious that she put thought and love into every stitch.

The Mission, with 100 years of service to Michigan's capital area, is blessed to have so many supporters, like Mrs. Dollarhite, who care passionately about the ministry of rescue. For some, there is a legacy going back to grandparents who served in the Mission. Occasionally, we are blessed to hear from a man whose life was transformed decades ago because someone was willing to give of their money and their time to make a difference in our community.

I am often amazed at how interconnected our lives really are. Would you be surprised to learn how many of your neighbors, your fellow employees, your friends, also support the Mission? We look over our mailing list and see people who must live only a few houses away, who support the Mission on a regular basis. Do they know the connection even exists?

And that connection goes beyond supporters to those we serve. Your cashier at the grocery store, one of your child's friends at school, the young man you passed on his way to class, these could be the faces of someone whom you have helped by supporting the ministry of rescue. Throughout the community, the Mission serves as a thread, connecting us all in a pattern of hope.

Mrs. Dollarhite understood hope because hope reaches fulfillment through love, and her quilts were an expression of the overwhelming love in her heart for those in need. In September 2012, her eager eyes finally opened on the sight of hope fulfilled, as she saw her Savior face to face. Though she is now present with the Lord, the warmth of her legacy lives on through the ministry of rescue. We are grateful for those whose gifts make it possible for us to meet physical and spiritual needs, as we are grateful for those who went before us, showing us the true meaning of love, one stitch at a time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bless This City

CRM Centennial 3-6-5 Photo for 8/31/12
No matter how often we see God provide in miraculous ways, we are still humbled every day by the times He does "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Recently, a local church decided to focus a worship service on the needs here in our community. As part of this worship event at our capitol, they felt it necessary to include an opportunity for outreach. They asked what was most needed, and we replied that summer was a time of many needs but especially food. We serve annually over 100,000 meals a year, and August is actually one of our busiest months. They responded by providing about two tons of food items. We are amazed and very grateful to see the line of men, women, and children walking from the capitol to our buildings on Michigan Avenue. The food was very welcome and will definitely make a difference, as we provided nearly 10,000 meals in August and are, so far in September, averaging more dinners than we did in August. Praise God for His supply, and thank you for being His hands, to provide rescue to those in need!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Changes to the "Face" of Homelessness

Staff stop for a quick meeting.
When I was first employed by the Mission in December of 2004, one of my fellow employees told me that the winter months were our "busy" months and summer was a slow time. In 2004, we had not yet expanded our women and children's shelter and the economy was doing well. However, over the past few years, a trend has developed where our services remain steady throughout the year and actually peak during the extreme cold and again in the late summer months. (The women and children's shelter especially sees increases in July and August.) For example, our public dining room served more lunches in July than any previous month and more lunches in August than in July. Unfortunately, while our actual services have increased and changed in the past seven years, the image of homelessness has not. Most people would assume that homelessness increases during the cold weather because the image of homelessness is a chronically homeless, aging, alcoholic male. Instead, the majority of those we shelter are women and children. And many of the men who stay at our shelter do not fit the stereotype either. The result of this change in the face of homelessness is that the Mission never really experiences a "slow time." Our resources are always being expended because there are always needs to meet. That is why we are so grateful for you, our fellow rescuers. So far this year, nearly 10,000 hours have been "given" by volunteers, and your monetary gifts help keep the lights on and the doors open to the nearly 150 women, children, and men we shelter every night. Your prayers, too, are so important in encouraging staff to continue to serve. Thank you for being what you are, compassionate rescuers! Thank you for helping us help others!