Greetings Friends of Interfaith Hospitality Network,
I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the joy of this Christmas season with you as well as some of the many accomplishments from the year 2015 of Schneider House of Hope/Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greene Co. and our clients. My hope is that this Christmas wish for “Joy” will continue to be realized in your life and family throughout 2016.
I received an email recently from Claas Ehlers the new Director of Affiliate Services of Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network.) He reported the following statistics from our affiliates around our nation (180+.) he writes “Individually, each Affiliate is changing lives in its community, empowering families to achieve their promise and regain their hope while giving volunteers purpose, meaning and connection. Collectively, we help nearly 55,000 people a year. Since the first program started we have helped more than 650,000 children and adults—These are as many people as currently live in Seattle, Denver or our nation’s capital.”
Wow, when we paint it in that detail our little 110 adults and children don’t seem so significant. But I am reminded of the following story, “An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. ‘Why do you bother?’ the old man scoffed. ‘You’re not saving enough to make a difference.’ The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. “Made a difference to that one,’ he said.”
In the midst of so many our little seems small but it is very important. Especially to the mother of one who earned her GED and is starting college in their new apartment, to the father who graduated our program with an apartment, a job and a fresh clean outlook on life, to the two other parents who came through a recovery program prior to IHN and we served as the next step in their healing- they left here with a job and home for their families…each one very important and in each of these cases there was at least one child whose life was changed—You and your compassion and energy make a difference every day! I am constantly reminded of Jesus’ wor as I see you support for our clients each day, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40”
Another story comes to mind here it is the story of the “famous” Yukon Cornelius of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” fame. Yukon went over a cliff with the toothless Abominable and everyone presumed they had both met their demise. But in the end of the program both Yukon and the Abominable come walking in into Santa’s castle alive and well. Everyone wanted to know how they survived going over a cliff? In that scene Yukon asks everyone, “Haven’t you ever heard that Bumbles Bounce?” He had ridden the bouncing Abominable safely over the cliff. Then the transformed abominable snowman lends a hand to all by easily placing the star on top of their Christmas tree.
Yes, “Bumbles bounce” but not so much our Greene County neighbors and friends who struggle near the cliffs of poverty, homelessness, hunger, and health issues. This is what IHN it is all about, with the help of our volunteers and donors we are able to help our clients overcome some of the road blocks and hurdles that may keep them from getting back on top, reminding them that they can get back on top, and giving them a few skills so they can stay on top once they get back up. In helping IHN, YOU have helped so many of our families bounce back and change the direction for their families– allowing them to contribute or place their star on the tree of our community.
It is not unnoticed to me that Jesus the “Reason” for this Christmas season was born with no place to lay his head. If not for an inn keeper at an overbooked guest house He could have been born on the streets. We each can make a difference when we find ways to help others using the gifts, talents and resources we have been given.
I write today as one voice or pen but I represent hundreds of voices that IHN of Greene Co. has served over the last 20+ years. And I say thank you! It is impossible to imagine, and again I emphasis “impossible,” to know how this work could be done without your kindness, generosity and volunteer spirit.
On behalf of our Board, the Staff, Myself and all of our clients past, present and future, Thank You!
I/we thank God for you and pray for you and yours that you will have a very merry Christmas and blessed New Year.
Your Friends at IHN
Pastor Bill Mallernee
Pastor Bill Mallernee; Executive Director