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Phil Cummings

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Star of Hope Mission
April 27, 2011

I volunteer four days a week at the Star of Hope Women and Families Shelter. My work involves daily contact with our guests, helping them find the services they need to move out of homelessness, to jobs that will sustain households and to living circumstances that will restore dignity and health. So many of our guests are discouraged and broken when they arrive, but as little as two weeks of love, acceptance, encouragement, and motivation will see them praising God that they were led to the Star of Hope--and then the staff can really work with them.

Here's a couple of illustrations of how we can help our guests. One afternoon, a guest came to me with an urgent need to find a suitable apartment. She had arranged for a housing subsidy, through the Rapid Re-housing Program, but the small house she had thought would qualify turned out at the last minute to be in a really bad neighborhood. She had to let it go. Now it was nearly 4:00, and she had to find a place by 8:00 am, or she would lose the money. We sat down together at my computer, quickly identified four potential places that had good potential, and she had a lease by dinner time [the Lord helped with the transportation]. She secured her money from the RRP, and moved out of the shelter by the end of that week.
In the Family Services department, where I work, we are talk to listen to our guests' stories. This often helps more than offering advice. A listening ear and a prayer can bring peace and encouragement to a mother who has found herself homeless. People often enter the shelter distressed. The trick is to relieve the stress, without removing the motivation to move on, back to a self-supporting life.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See above.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

devote more resources to the Family Services casemanagement area, so that each Family Service Worker has fewer families to tend, and more time for the harder, time-consuming cases. I would also continue the Star of Hope's efforts to provide more, longer-term, transitional living units.

MY ROLE:
Volunteer & Another aspect of my volunteer work is the "job-seeking commputer workshops" we conduct, using the Teen Computer Lab for the adults, while the teens are at school. Here we help guests develop effective resumes, available in electronic format, to submit o.

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