We have the pleasure of working with some rather tremendous partners. We’re proud of how their work is extending the kingdom of God, and thrilled to be a small part of that ministry.
Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries, Sanford, Florida
Redeeming Life Maternity Home is a safe, Christ-centered home for single women in crisis pregnancy. While at the home, women live together as a family, receive life skills training, eat, pray, study God’s word and worship together. In time, through the support and guidance from staff and their program partners, they learn what they did not know prior to coming to Redeeming Life which is to support and forgive others.
The joy of the birth of a healthy child, however, brings with it another challenge: what should a single mother do in order to provide a safe and healthy home for herself and her young child? According to Sheryl DeWitt, the Director of Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries, “We do the best we can, to get them into the best situation possible. But often the women leave the program too soon with risk factors for either homelessness or returning to unhealthy relationships.”
That’s when Redeeming Life requested assistance from NHSC. Providing transitional housing has always been a part of the organization’s vision, offering a quality, safe and affordable place to live that is a step away from the maternity home. This transitional housing will enable the mom and child to remain a part of Redeeming Life’s support system and build the necessary life skills that will strengthen their ability to succeed.
Currently Nicole Ridley, NHSC Chief Executive, has been providing some initial assistance in terms of project feasibility and assessment, as well as working through the early stages of identifying funding sources for the project. “Our work with Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries provides NHSC a unique way to serve the church that will eventually provide a home and stability for young mothers with children. NHSC is excited to provide guidance as Redeeming Life expands its outreach,” said Ridley.
Helping Hand Initiative
The Helping Hand Initiative provides congregations a practical and enduring means of impacting the lives of their neighbors in need. At first glance an owner-occupied repair program as a means to facilitate Word and Sacrament ministry may seem like a bit of a stretch, but this past summer the Helping Hand Initiative has done just that.
In East St. Louis, Illinois, Unity Lutheran Church partnered with the Landsdowne Community Initiative (LCI), a local community development group, to identify residents in need and coordinate the work. The Rev. Dr. Willie Stallworth, Unity’s pastor also serves as president of LCI. “We truly do have mission-and-ministry opportunities right here in North America,” says Stallworth. Homeowners know this work is the Lord’s work “made possible through a blessing that’s a gift from God.”
Major repairs on homes were completed through a partnership with Laborers For Christ, a ministry of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). This partnership with NHSC has helped to expand the Helping Hand Initiative into communities like East St. Louis and through congregations like Unity Lutheran Church where resources would have limited the impact of a volunteer-based repair program.
In Fremont, Nebraska, Trinity Lutheran Church partnered with the local Rebuilding Together® affiliate to complete repairs on two homes located near the congregation’s early childhood education center. Fremont is like many other communities; in an older section of town, low-income or senior residents have deferred maintenance on their home mostly because of their inability to afford the repairs. In this case, repairs were completed mostly by volunteers from the congregation and community.
The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) provided funding for this round of Helping Hand Initiative grants through a Mission Grant approved at the 2015 Biennial Convention in Des Moines, Iowa.
College Hill Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, North City, St. Louis, Missouri
For nearly a decade NHSC has been working to build relationships with the people of the College Hill neighborhood in North St. Louis. The goal: to help a core group of residents transform their neighborhood into a healthier, safer and more vibrant place to live.
Working from a plan developed in collaboration with residents and other stakeholders, NHSC has been building partnerships, securing funding and implementing numerous community improvement projects. More specifically, NHSC has spearheaded the transformation of this neighborhood by working with Saint Paul’s Lutheran, the local residents and other partners in these specific program areas:
- deploying community outreach coordinators and other program staff;
- providing for the care of older residents through a multi-year owner-occupied home repair program;
- building sustainable homeownership through the Nazareth Homes Development, a 14-unit new-homes development on vacant land or in place of blighted properties; and
- undertaking a three-part strategy to increase safety and reduce crime.
Recently, Fred Kimbrough, NHSC Director of Projects and Lending, pointed out that this multi-faceted neighborhood revitalization initiative is the best example of what community development should look like. NHSC has taken seriously the need for:
- community input and ongoing resident engagement,
- multiple programs that recognize the diverse challenges facing a community, and
- a long-term commitment to the community.
“The College Hill Initiative is not only helping transform a neighborhood, it provides NHSC an opportunity to hone its skills and develop additional models that can be replicated in communities across the country,” said Kimbrough.
Great Commission Lutheran Church, The Ville Neighborhood, St. Louis, Missouri
Great Commission Lutheran Church sought out NHSC‘s assistance as it plans to expand the way it serves the community and re-imagines ministry in this historic community in St. Louis. When most congregations imagine expanding their facilities, they think about capital campaigns, working with architects and contractors to design Sunday School rooms, a fellowship hall, or even a school. Taking a cutting edge approach, the Rev. Dwight Dickinson and the congregants of Great Commission saw an empty school building and imagined its potential.
With the help of NHSC’s expertise and a predevelopment loan from the NHSC Loan Fund, within a year the former Harris-Stowe College building will be given new life. What were once classrooms for middle school students (the building was most recently used by St. Louis Public Schools) will be 17 units of senior housing. The cafeteria and kitchen will be reconfigured and repurposed to serve as an intergenerational daycare.
The congregation will find its new home in the space as well, transforming the auditorium into its new sanctuary and its church offices inside the building. Great Commission Lutheran Church will become a hub of activity in the community, as dozens of residents see the facility as a vital part of their daily life.