Recently we have witnessed the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Their lives were tragically ended by white police officers and community members. It is clear these three sacred lives were taken unjustly and reminds us of the many black lives that have been taken unjustly at the hands of the white community. Myself and the Hope House staff reject these murderers’ actions and stand with the black community in opposing and rejecting the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among others. These precious image-bearers of God were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and valuable members of their communities and our nation.
These recent events have shown us how far we, as a nation, have to go to fight back the injustice toward and oppression of the black community. At Hope House, we believe the Scriptures to be true, and the Bible tells us that all people are created in the image of God and have inherent worth, value, and purpose in the eyes of God. It is one thing to say someone is created in the image of God, but it is something completely different to then treat that person as an image-bearer of God.
The disgusting and grotesque deaths we have witnessed have grieved our staff and families. We are heartbroken, confused, angry and frustrated. We all agree something has to change, but how? We know that, as an organization, we must continue to press on with our mission to see our community restored through gospel restoration. We must listen to and partner with our brothers and sisters to empower their voices to be heard and work toward mutual betterment of our nation, starting in our own community.
The staff and I believe, with great conviction, that the only hope we have to tear down the walls of hostility, racism and oppression that have caused great hurt, trauma, fear, anger, sadness, and grief, is through the power of Jesus! We have been praying and continue to pray that the Gospel is the foundation of our words, motivation, and choices we make moving forward. We know this: Jesus sees people of all colors, created people of all colors, and values people of all colors to have inherent worth and purpose.
We long for the day when Jesus will return to make all things new, restore all our broken relationships and establish the new Heavens and new Earth! Until then, we will live in the tension of striving for justice but knowing complete justice and peace is impossible on this side of Heaven. However, we will not wait idly. We will fight against injustice and in favor of God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. We will love unconditionally, listen intentionally, and act justly in a way that honors the black community and gives honor to our Creator.
Bryan Lewis, Executive Director
Hope House Ministries
In 1985, Donald and Susan Hazlewood purchased the property at 445 Glen Lily Road from the Willoughby family. As small business owners, Susan operated a local florist company called Canary Cottage. For 24 years, they loved their family, raising four children, and served their community while living in this home. When Donald passed in 2009, Susan moved out of the home, and it remained vacant. Susan's daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Keith, began asking the Lord how they should best steward Pam's childhood home.
They trusted scripture like Psalms 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart;" Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you;" and finally, Psalms 32:8, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go." God made his instructions clear to them, and they simply obeyed. Pam writes, "It brings our heart so much joy to announce that Susan Hazlewood has donated her property on Glen Lily Road to Hope House Ministries. Susan’s prayer along with Keith and I is that all who enter would hear the Gospel and choose to anchor their lives on Jesus Christ. May the Lord continue to bless this ministry and all those who are a part of furthering God’s Kingdom."
Even 35 years ago, the Lord was at work to restore lives in West End Bowling Green. Little did the Hazlewoods know, when they purchased their family home, that Hope House would be building Program Living for Women and a new ministry center on land that touches the back edge of their property in 2020. We don't yet know God's plans for this addition to our new property on Glen Lily Road, but just as Pam and Keith trusted the Lord to show them what to do with the property, we trust that He will guide us in step with his plan for this property and our neighborhood.
I am prayerful and hopeful that you and your extended family are doing well. For all of us, COVID-19 has changed the direction of our lives in how we work, live and play. It has been a challenge for all walks of life. But with this challenge I have seen the majority of our community respond with excellence, generosity and sacrifice. I’m grateful for the many healthcare professionals who have sacrificed themselves for our community, Fruit of the Loom and other local businesses that are stepping up to produce medical masks, and the many stories of banks, landlords, BGMU, WRECC and ATMOS assisting businesses and homeowners to ease financial hardship.
To the many of you who have given sacrificially, even in the face of current and future financial uncertainty, I want to thank you! To our partnering churches who continue to give to Hope House even when your giving is down, thank you. Though the context is not identical, the generosity I am seeing reminds me of the generosity of The Churches of Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8, “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part."
God is giving the Church and Hope House a great opportunity to extend hope, peace, and the love of Jesus in the midst of much fear and worry during this pandemic. At the same time, we must practice wisdom in how we associate with others for the health of our neighbor.
As we walk that tightrope, I want to thank you for adjusting with us. We've had to cancel weekly dinners that so many groups graciously provide for our residents of Program Living for Men. We've had to close our Community Store, and in turn, stop all donation pick-ups and drop-offs, and these are just a couple examples of how this pandemic has impacted our work.
Currently we have three top priorities:
1. Protect our staff, their families and our volunteers.
Relief is critical during this time of uncertainty and loss for so many. The sad reality for many is that it will take three, six, twelve or more months to rebuild their lives. Hope House will be here after the pandemic ends to help with housing, transportation to work because of a repossessed car, training to get a better paying job and manage finances, and help with recovery because unfortunately, this will cause addiction and relapse for many.
Please pray for us and consider how you can join us in the rebuilding of our community that will hopefully begin soon. In the meantime, continue checking on your neighbors, offer to pick up prescriptions and food for the most vulnerable around you, and most importantly, don’t miss this opportunity to spend time with Jesus and your family.
Praying for you and our city!
By his own admission, Richard Smith’s life wasn’t going how he’d imagined it would.
“I was on drugs, and having a hard time with life,” he says.
Smith is standing in a hallway at Hope House Ministries in Bowling Green, Ky., a local advocacy organization that assisted him with getting back on his feet following years of substance use issues. He’s wearing his work uniform, his first name stitched in cursive on a badge on his chest. He seems at ease with where he is now, and looking forward to where he wants to be.
“Pretty much, if it wasn't for these people to give me the opportunity to come here to Hope House and straighten my life up, I’d probably still be in jail today,” says Smith, a native of Morgantown.
Smith first came to Hope House in June 2019, and after six months was required to get a job to help continue his recovery. That was when he first met Meredith Hester, a job entry and retention support specialist with the Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment (SITE). Hester was able to quickly connect Smith with a new job, and that job has played an important role in helping him plan for his next steps.
An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Inc. and funded by the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), SITE is designed to bridge the gulf between recovery and workforce for individuals active in their recovery. SITE provides valuable career, training, and supportive services while actively cultivating second-chance job opportunities.
In her role as a support specialist, Hester cultivated a working partnership with Hope House to assist recovering individuals there with employment opportunities. She received Smith’s case as a referral, and she quickly connected him with a position working at the Bowling Green operation for Bando, a leading producer of automotive parts.
“Basically she did all the footwork. I just had to say yes, I want the job,” he says. “She sent them my résumé and stuff, she did all that. It was just a blessing for me.”
Those sorts of connections are important, Smith adds, especially for himself and his fellow SITE participants at Hope House who may have backgrounds that could prevent some employers from considering them for open positions.
“We’re convicted felons, most of us are,” he says. “It’s kind of hard to get a job because most places of employment don’t like to look at felons.”
Smith began working full-time on Dec. 16 making serpentine belts for automobiles. It’s the first time he has a job that offers eight hours of work per day and benefits like health insurance. It represented a big step, and one he may not have taken had he not been able to work with the SITE program.
“It’s quite a blessing to have a job in my recovery because now I’ve got something to look forward to every day instead of just where I was going to get my next fix,” he says.
For more information about SITE in the South Central Kentucky workforce area, contact Meredith Hester at email@example.com or 270-991-7248, or find program updates on Facebook at facebook.com/siteky.
This article was originally published by EKCEP.
As we continue to receive more information about the impact of COVID-19, we want to keep you updated on changes to our ministries at Hope House. Ultimately, our goal is to continue meeting the needs of those most vulnerable in our community as long as we are able. However, the spread of the virus has led to several changes to our plan that we shared with you on Friday.
Cooking for Hope
In response to the recently announced state of national emergency and urging from government officials to avoid large gatherings, the Hope House Board of Directors has voted to postpone the 10th Annual Cooking for Hope, which was scheduled for May 7. This decision was made carefully and intentionally to protect the health of our donors, volunteers, and community at large. We’re praying for you and our community as we navigate this difficult situation together. We ask for your prayers and continued support as you are able in the weeks and months ahead, and we look forward to celebrating God’s grace and provision with you at the 10th Annual Cooking for Hope in the future.
Donation Drop-Off and Pick-Up
We are no longer accepting item donations, nor are we scheduling donation pick-ups until further notice. This includes clothes, furniture, household items, and other items you may typically donate to our Community Store. However, we will still be accepting critical support to maintain operations and crisis assistance, such as monetary donations and donations of food, hygiene items, and other supplies listed at the link below:
With 25 men currently in our care through Program Living for Men, food donations are especially vital for their meals, as well as food assistance to meet community needs for our most vulnerable neighbors. Please consider making a monetary donation online at www.hopehousebg.com/donate, by mail, or in person at 112 W 10th Ave, Bowling Green, KY 42101 to support our ongoing needs. You can also support Hope House by shopping Amazon Smile and signing up for Kroger Community Rewards, which will donate a percentage of your purchases to Hope House at no additional cost to you.
Our Community Store will close indefinitely on Wednesday, March 18, at 4 PM. While we have remained open for our neighbors to shop as long as possible, we are following the recommendations of government officials to protect the health of our staff, volunteers, and community. We will still have items available for crisis assistance, but our normal shopping hours will end today until further notice. Thank you for your understanding, and we hope to reopen as soon as possible.