“In 2004, I received a 30 year sentence for methamphetamine and drug addiction, and I did six and half years in prison. For 40 years of my life, there was no hope. It was self-will run riot, drugs, and alcohol. That lifestyle has no hope. There’s no promise in it. There is death or prisons, and that’s about the only way out of that life.
Because of my drug addiction, my wife and I separated and divorced. Shortly after that I was incarcerated. Around four years after I was released, she wished me a happy birthday on Facebook Messenger. Within two weeks we were reconciled, but I still had no direction. She knew I needed to build a foundation on Christ. I know that God put Hope House in my path. I graduated from Jobs for Life in 2014 and Faith & Finances shortly after that. The classes not only gave me direction, but they gave me the foundation to build my life on.
That foundation is Christ-centered, and it’s helped me to set attainable goals. It’s helped me to develop a relationship with Christ, and through Christ, with my wife and strengthen that relationship tremendously. My personal relationships with friends and work associates have grown because they’ve seen something different in me that they respect. My wife and I started attending church on a regular basis. We joined a small group and became involved in church activities and started serving within the church. We started to be a part of the church instead of just attending on Sunday morning. Two years ago, my wife and I along with six other couples were led to plant a church. It has been amazing to see God's work through all of that.
In the seven years since I graduated from the classes at Hope House, I’ve worked about three jobs. I progressed from a construction job, to ironwork, to a maintenance position. I’m now lead maintenance where I work. Initially they didn’t hire felons. Now, some of the top positions in the factory are filled by people with a record, and we hire many from Hope House’s Program Living. I have had a chance to give back to my community and to Hope House. I feel really good about that and appreciate what Hope House has done for me.
If I had never come to Hope House and began my walk with Christ, I know my life would have been just like it had been for the previous 40 years. Nothing would have changed, and I would’ve gotten the same results. I would’ve been back in prison because the charges against me weren’t small things anymore. I had a record, and I had 18 years on the shelf. Now, my sentence is gone. I’ve gotten my rights restored, and I am a productive member of society and my community. My testimony shows God’s power to change people."
“I’ve been in and out of jail since I was 18 years old, and I’m 38 now. My life used to be an endless cycle of drug addiction, depression, and anxiety. I felt stuck, and I was paralyzed by fear. I had very little self worth, so I made self-destructive choices based on lies. I believe I was saved when I was young, but I never really started a relationship with Jesus.
Two months after my most recent arrest, I was introduced to Jobs for Life through the Warren County Regional Jail. I didn’t really know what to expect, but the ladies who volunteered with the class made me feel human again. When you first come into jail, you’re stripped of so many things and dehumanized. Jobs for Life gave me hope that once this was over, I would be able to find a job and start again, even as a convicted felon.
I learned about honesty, integrity, and work ethic, and I liked that the class was Christ-centered. Jobs for Life was my first introduction to actually having a relationship with Jesus, and it set the tone for the last two years of my life. It was the first program I completed, and it encouraged me to pursue other faith-based programs. Now, I have about 30 certificates to show that I was productive during my time in prison.
I’m looking forward to gaining employment and having responsibilities, so I can start my own life. I’ve always been in a relationship, so I want to be able to take care of myself. On Friday, after I was released from jail, I found the post-release checklist from Jobs for Life for finding employment and resources to help me start over. If I just came back out on the streets without that, I would be pulled in so many directions. It’s so easy to get off track without any kind of structure. I’m grateful to Hope House for giving me direction.”
"About one year ago, I was working two jobs to make ends meet for my children and me. My car had broken down, so I would walk to work at my first job and catch a ride to my second job when my shift was done. One day, I was walking to work, and someone from Journey Church asked me if I had a church home. I told him I was looking for one for my family. He offered to give me a ride to work and invited me to come to Journey Church that Sunday.
Soon after, I was evicted from my apartment, but I didn’t let that stop me from going to church. My children and I stayed with a friend from church while I looked for another place to live. No matter what I was going through, I kept going to church every Sunday. I didn’t let anything stop me. When I started going to Journey Church, I just let out my tears. I felt like a change was coming in my life.
Months passed, and I still couldn’t afford an apartment. My pastor told me about Jobs for Life at Hope House, and I didn’t even hesitate to say yes when he asked if I wanted to take the class. He didn’t want me to feel like he was pushing me to do something I didn’t want to do, but I told him that’s exactly what I needed: someone to push me to where I needed to be.
When I started the class, I liked how it had stories from the Bible in the workbook and that we prayed before class. I really liked the story about Jonah. The Lord told him to do something, and he kept running from God and trying to ignore Him. My auntie used to invite me to church, but I didn’t want to go. Something happened in my life that changed my mind, and she told me that God chases the ones He loves, just like Jonah.
Jobs for Life taught me that life is like driving down a road, and there will be roadblocks along the way. But I learned how to prevent roadblocks and get through them when they happen. I used to get angry at work and sometimes disobey the manager, but I’ve learned that I have to have respect for the people I work for and have respect for myself. Recently, I got a job in housekeeping because cleaning is something I love to do. I still don’t have my own car, so I had to wait for a ride and got to work six minutes late on my second day. I told one of my supervisors that I was on my way, but when I got there, the other supervisor fired me.
I was heartbroken because I had written down goals for myself that I wanted to accomplish, and I felt like I let down the people who helped me get to that point. It was a Sunday morning and I could’ve just gone home, but I went to church instead. Now, I’m working on applications for other jobs and doing whatever it takes to reach my goals. Just because I had that incident, I won’t let it stop me. I have to keep going.
I’m so thankful to have people around me to push me to where I need to be. I’m working on paying off the bill from my last apartment, so I can get a new place for my kids and me. I just have to keep telling myself it’s not too late. I want to get a job I like, so I can save up for a car. I’m taking one step at a time. I’ll be so happy when I reach my goals, but I know it doesn’t happen overnight. It took me a year full of a lot of struggle to get to where I am now, but I had to want change for myself before it would ever happen. I’ve learned that everything I’ve been through is my testimony, and God was with me the whole time.”
Hope House program participants share how the ministry has impacted their lives in celebration of the organization's ten year anniversary.
"About five years ago, Antonio and I were separated, and I moved to Bowling Green. We were always fighting because it didn’t seem like there was enough money to get through the month. We had no idea how to manage our finances, and we were extremely stressed. I came to Hope House for a food box and ended up getting a lifetime of change.
I learned about Faith & Finances through my Advocacy appointment. While I was in the class, I thought we were going to be late paying our light bill. Antonio was working at a restaurant and got paid daily, so we didn’t know if we’d be able to pay the bill with what he earned over the weekend. The staff at Hope House told me to come in on Monday if we couldn’t pay it, but we ended up having enough. I came to the office on Monday and ran down the hall saying, ‘I paid my light bill!’ I remember that being a real turning point for us.
Since then, we bought a house and some land, we’ve never been behind on a bill payment, and we went off of food stamps. Antonio even got his green card and work permit. We prayed for our daughter for 18 years, and after two miscarriages and one stillborn child, Olivia was born 15 months ago. God has completely restored our marriage, and we couldn’t be more blessed with our child."
Antonio: "Erica told me about the classes at Hope House, so I took Jobs for Life. I learned how to do an interview and make a resume. After the class, I took my resume to Indian Hills Country Club, and they offered me a job to help with the irrigation system. I’ve been there for four years, and now I’m a groundskeeper."
Erica: "I learned that I had always quit everything else, but I made it through Faith & Finances and had more confidence in who I wanted to become. I even started working at the Community Store and graduated Jobs for Life. It feels good to be able to pay our bills and be responsible. We give all glory to God. He led us to this place, and we just kind of fell in and did what was necessary."