Join the Challenge!

We are excited to announce the #mhm100challenge!

What’s the 100 campaign all about?

Recently, I met with one of our residents, who we will call “Claire” to protect her identity.  Claire moved back to Michigan with her 7 yr old child after a very difficult separation, through no fault of her own. She heard about our program and contacted us for help and support.  Through God’s grace, and our generous supporters, we were able to give her a safe place to stay and heal.

Claire came to us feeling much fear and uncertainty. By giving her love, support and shelter, she began to grow and blossom day by day. As a single mom, needing much support each day, she began to learn the power of prayer and the impact of God’s Word in her life.

God makes a way where there seems to be no way! Claire got to see this first-hand. First, in quickly getting a job to supply her needs. Second, in getting the needed transportation and childcare she needed for her child! We were thankful to be the vessels that God used to connect her to the resources to make this possible. Through God’s hand and the guidance of our team, she has been able to purchase her own car – a big step in gaining her independence again.

These are the kinds of stories that get excited about. As our team prayerfully determines the best way to help each women and what resources to connect them to, we get to watch them come alive in Christ. Just like with Claire, we walk with them one step at a time, day by day, being the hands and feet of Jesus. Those daily steps of grace quickly become big steps towards a healthy life, independence and becoming a beacon of hope for others. Our call is to give them the tools to repair their lives, and to empower each woman to use those tools. Then we get to watch the amazing, mighty, working of God!

Will you please join us for our NEW campaign?  Could YOU be one of the 100 supporters to pledge and give $100 per month for the next year, so we can continue to bring hope, housing and guidance to women and children in need? For just over $3 per day, you can help empower women and bring transformation to lives like Claire and her child!  Please consider any amount to: Help us, help them!

Join us at www.myhouseministry.org/donate for safe, secure and easy giving!

Blessings!

Meet the Volunteer: Carole and Margaret – Bible Study Leaders

Sometimes, our volunteers remind us the beauty, power and increase that teamwork can bring. Our Bible Study Leaders, Carole and Margaret show us just that! Together, they lead the Bible Study on Tuesday mornings, faithfully serving the women every week.

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The program residents appreciate Carole and Margaret’s insight of the Word of God. They work together, each week, sharing their insights and stories in order to encourage the women.

Margaret told us, “I enjoy volunteering with the women… because it is awesome to watch the transformations take place with the ladies over the months that we meet in Bible Study. It is a great feeling to be pouring into the community, working with the Ministry. MHM allows second chances of the highest quality, and it is delightful to be a part of it.”

Additionally, Carole added, “I love volunteering with My House Ministry because, through it, I get to be a witness and a participant in the transformation of women’s lives. I am part of a team, with the other volunteers, the Life Skills Coordinators, and staff, pouring into these women’s lives. It is a privilege!”

We love watching the transformation of the women at this Bible Study. Thank you, both, for reaching into the lives of these women!

You can read the “Volunteer Spotlight” that Carole and Margaret are featured in with The Holland Sentinel: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/entertainmentlife/20180428/volunteer-spotlight-carol-hoskins-margaret-preston-lead-bible-study-at-my-house-ministry

Meet the Volunteers: Jody and Jan – Bible Study Leaders

We love when people join our ministry and work through God’s leading and promptings – outside of anything we do. It is so amazing to see how these individuals bring just what the women in our program need.

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Jody: Thursday night Bible Study Leader

Jody is one of those people that God brought to us in our need. She came to us in late 2017, seeking how God could use her at My House Ministry. We had a need for a godly Bible Study leader at the time, and we knew that Jody was the answer to our prayers.

Jody wanted to work with the women because “I wanted to share the wonderful teaching which I received and because I think my life experiences can be a benefit to other women.” The women who engage with her tell us that she is always open to share and be vulnerable with them – something they greatly appreciate.

Jan: Monday night Bible study leader

Additionally, Jan is one of our longest-serving volunteers in the ministry. Her heart and passion come out in everything that she does. Jan told us, “As I think about what I enjoy most; it is to sit together as women to walk together through scripture – for that hour we discover the person of Christ and how much he loves us. We claim the hope of seeing that truth play out in the days these women spend with us, to heal and gain independence.”

Jan is beloved by many women in the ministry – both past and present. Her passion is also seen through the work she also does as a Board Member of My House Ministry.

Thank you, both, for all that you do!

Help Us Provide Hope

_Providing hope, housing and guidance to women and children in need._ (1)

Dear My House Ministry Friends and Supporters:

Raising funds for worthy non-profits like My House Ministry has always been challenging. This year has been no different and may be more complicated by recent changes in the tax laws. Whatever the reason, we find it necessary to come to you with a special appeal.  

As you know, MHM provides housing and guidance to women in need – including those in recovery, victims of domestic abuse, those at the re-entry stage following incarceration, and others who have faced homelessness.  Safe and affordable housing is just one component of our program. We also provide Christian discipleship, life skills mentoring, and accountability needed to prepare our residents for independent living. Our houses and programs are equipped to provide this vital support for 17 women and 14 children for up to eighteen months. In 2017, we were able to serve approximately 90 women and children in our program. Our program is a unique, faith-based initiative with the goal of moving these women and their families to independent living and stability with the Lord’s guidance.

Your past support has been greatly appreciated. It is our prayer that we can successfully reach out to you again to continue to support this valuable ministry. Online donations through PayPal may be made at our website, myhouseministry.org and checks payable to My House Ministry may be mailed to 520 Butternut Drive, #8, PMB 258 Holland MI 49424.

Gratefully signed,

My House Ministry Board of Directors:

Rick DeBoer, Board President

Jan DeBoer, Secretary

Sally Brown, Treasurer

Scott Sterenberg,  Board Member

Kathryn Christensen, Board Member

Anne Heyns, Board Member

Dan Heyns, Board Member

 

We recall Matthew 25:35:  “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in;”

 

Meet the Volunteers: Holly – Bible Study Leader

Volunteers are the heart and soul of My House Ministry. There are many aspects to the ministry that we would not be able to accomplish without our volunteers. Some of our most faithful volunteers are our Bible Study Leaders.

A group of young women bow their heads and pray with bibles.


Each one of our houses has it’s own Bible study each week for the women in the program to attend. This way, they can learn about the Bible without worrying about transportation. We have 5 faithful volunteers for our 4 houses. They are on the front lines, every week leading the residents in greater understanding of Faith.

We wanted to share a bit about each volunteer and why they are passionate about volunteering! Today, we want you to meet Holly!

Holly: Our Tuesday night volunteer. Holly is a honest, passionate and thoughtful leader. She has been a faithful volunteer, despite her busy work schedule and being a single parent. God lead her to My House Ministry after prayer and searching for a way to server her sisters in Christ in the Holland area. Holly said, “you don’t have to go far to do ‘mission work!'”
So, why does she continue to volunteer, despite the large commitment? Holly told us “…there is great reward in being a volunteer! First, it’s knowing the ladies themselves – funny, real, and articulate – they are at MHM because they have hope for the future.”
Holly also reminded us of this beautiful truth, “One must be poured out to be filled. By giving of oneself for Jesus Christ of Nazareth, one in turn is blessed — waaaaay more than what’s given!”

Thanks for your fantastic work in the Ministry, Holly!

Please pardon our dust!

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In the midst of great trials, there is great pain… at times we do not see the ending in sight… at times we retreat and give up, maybe even going back into the sin in our lives that brought us to the trial in the first place. It is in those temptations that we must stand in the gap for one another in a fight on our knees!  That is what we try to do in My House Ministry!  We desire to be used as the hands and the feet of Jesus to women and children in need.

During our travels, we found ourselves in the midst of a construction zone at the airport. The big signs said, “Under Construction: Please excuse our dust!” We looked further at the wall and saw the picture of a beautifully finished atrium with food courts, updated seating, wifi and charging stations, and many lovely shops.  We also have been doing renovation projects at our ministry home.  Some of the projects were delayed so we had to cancel our plans for an Open House this week.  The dust has been crazy and the residents are growing weary of the project, but in a couple weeks it will be completely done and will be beautiful and usable for many years to come!

My heart began to ponder about how we are all “under construction” in some area of our lives.  We all are in need of the grace from one another of our “dust.”  Are we allowing the Master to do His remodeling work in our lives to kick up some dust so we can be improved and become more usable for His service? Are we esteeming others better than ourselves and giving them grace as we receive God’s amazing grace each day!  Let’s be mindful to pardon each other’s dust and love as He loves…dust and all.  Just think of the masterpiece that will be after He completes the work that He has begun in us for His glory and for His honor! Philippians 1:6

Thank you for your continued support of My House Ministry this past 5 years!  Please buy your tickets for our March 13th Ladles of Love soup, sides, dessert, and silent auction fundraiser to celebrate our 5 year anniversary!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Blessings,

Patti Weerstra
Executive Director

Year End Update!

Year End Giving (1)

Dear My House Ministry supporters and friends,

We thank God for each of you as we enter into the Thanksgiving and Christmas Season once again!  We have had such a blessed year with so many wonderful changes and growth.  In January, 2017 we added a fourth ministry home to bring affordable housing to 3 more moms with kids!  Because of your faithfulness to giving to the ministry, our staffing increased by adding a part-time Executive Director, a part-time Ministry Coordinator, and an additional part-time Life Skills Coordinator.  We have seen many ladies come to know Jesus as their personal Savior and grow in their faith.  Our capacity to serve is at 17 women and up to 15 children and we have had pretty full homes since April 2017.  We see the needs continue to grow in our community, not just for housing but for life changes through the power of Christ.

In looking back through the year, we have received more than 100 referral calls, have accepted at least 12 women into the program, 3 have graduated and are in their own housing and 3 more who are in the process of graduation and will be in their own housing soon!  Glory to God!

Let us share one recent testimony that truly has reminded us of God’s call to our vision here at My House Ministry which is to equip women to become independent, contributing community members, growing in their faith through our safe, affordable, supportive housing.  

One of our precious residents is a senior citizen and by no fault of her own, was dropped off to a local homeless shelter in February, 2017.  At 74 years old, with no family support, heart completely broken, she had lost hope.  She made the best of her situation and worked in the pantry of the shelter and everyone loved her.  God brought her to us for a possible option through one of our ministry partners that had contact with her.  We met with her, we saw her needs and God touched all of our hearts as He began to orchestrate His plan for her life.  It was not an easy transition being elderly and needing to transfer life to a new city, try to learn the MAX bus system and navigate this new house with a bunch of ladies!  God never makes a mistake when He brings a woman into My House Ministry.  

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The residents and staff embraced this precious woman and all see her as a mom or a grandma, she works hard, she knits and serves others, she smiles all the time, she has new hope, she loves big and God’s promise in Psalm 68 is kept:  God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.  Psalm 68:6  Clearly, He set her in the My House Ministry family!  She has worked the plan that we have set for her and has participated in the savings plan and has been very faithful.  We spend time in prayer for each of our ladies and ask God to make a way where there seems to be no way for them.  The waiting list for subsidized senior housing is an average of 3-5 years in Holland so we were praying for God to do something miraculous!  He did just that and more!  After a few unexpected hurdles and some good old perseverance, God has opened a beautiful apartment just for her, very affordable, centrally located and it is in a Senior Citizen complex with other conveniences!  Everyone is grieving because they will miss her but she is smiling from ear to ear.  She also knows that she is our forever family so even though she is moving a few blocks away, we will still continue to love on her and be there for her and also she has said that she is there for us.  We joke with her that we are going to get overnight passes and have a slumber party with her.  She agrees and giggles at the thought.  She is so thankful to God and she continually tells us how much she loves us and is so thankful for all we have done for her.  We praise God for what He has done for her and how He has cared for her.  We think of the verse:  Cast all your care on Him because He cares for you.  I Peter 5:7  We just continue to praise Him for His promises are so true!  

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During this time of  giving, we ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us in your planned end of year giving, whether it be a one time donation or perhaps a monthly donation to continue helping us to BE the hands and feet of Jesus to women just like our precious woman in the above testimony.  Additionally, if you are looking for an opportunity to serve in our ministry, please go to our website for more information.  As our Lord said in Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”

Thank you for your consideration, your prayers and your support of My House Ministry.  

 

In His Service,

Patricia Weerstra, Executive Director

616-953-0772

patricia@myhouseministry.org

Housing Crisis in West Michigan

My House Ministry’s Board Member, Scott Sterenburg, shares his experience and expertise about the housing crisis happening in West Michigan. We are thankful for people like Scott and the many organizations fighting to help people struggling with housing.

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Housing in Holland MI.

Toy house and calculator on table close-up; Shutterstock ID 200470286

Yet another man was in my office today, trying to get leads on housing. He has been living in the same apartment near our church for several years. His daughter, a single mom of 3, lost her housing and has been living with the couple. Now the landlord has informed them their rent will be increasing $150 a month. The landlord had recently updated the other side of their duplex and knows he could get this rent increase. The family had originally had a lease, but when the lease expired, it became a month-to-month agreement. The family had difficulty paying the rent before, now they can’t find a similar apartment in their price range.

Have you noticed the change in Holland’s real estate market? If you have tried to move, whether buying or renting, you certainly have. A shortage of housing has lead to increased prices. Housing costs have increased about 20% in sale prices and 23% in the rental market. At the same time, wages have remained relatively flat. As housing prices go up, it has a disproportionate effect on those at lower income levels.

As of August 2017, average rent for an apartment in Holland, MI is $901,which is a 6.44% increase from last year when the average rent was $843. One bedroom apartments in Holland rent for $809 a month on average (a 4.57% increase from last year), and two bedroom apartment rents average $903 (a 1.66% increase from last year).

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The Holland/Zeeland area does have jobs available. People are able to work. Employers and Temp Agencies are working to fill positions constantly. The issue is that many of these entry-level positions don’t pay enough for the cost of living in Holland’s constantly increasing housing market. It isn’t just entry-level employees either. It’s not just those we think of as the “typical poor” who are struggling. Many college graduates find themselves priced out of the market when factoring in the ever-increasing amount of student debt young men and women carry at graduation.

Many of us frankly haven’t been aware of this issue. I confess, I wasn’t until beginning my current job. When I look at the data, it just doesn’t seem possible, but the research, and the personal stories I hear every day, confirm it.

One of the hardest hit demographics in the Holland/Zeeland area is the ALICE population. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. These are the people working in restaurants, health care, and other lower income positions. Simply put, people who are working, but not earning enough for basic necessities in a given area.

The ALICE population is much higher in Holland and Zeeland than you probably expect. In Holland City, 43% of the population, or 8,620 families live under the ALICE threshold. In Zeeland it is an astonishing 47%! This means that families living and working in Holland/Zeeland need to spend a much higher percentage of their income on housing. Worst case, it means safe, stable housing is out of reach for more and more families each month.

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Additional factors such as the elderly, single parent families, a court record, or a previous eviction or history of late payments may completely eliminate your chance of securing housing.

Recently, while trying to help a member, we contacted about 10 local apartment complexes. The waiting lists for market-rate apartments in Holland averages two years and for income based housing (paying a percentage of income) the wait lists topped five years. And this is if you don’t have any of the other factors (credit issues, criminal record) against you.

Even those who qualify for housing support can’t find the housing they need. “Ottawa County has financial assistance available to eligible households, but this money is going unspent in our county because families cannot locate affordable units. In some cases, families who want to stay in Ottawa County are having to leave in order to take advantage of the benefit of a housing voucher. Households are forced to disrupt children in school and leave jobs in Ottawa County.” –Linda Jacobs, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Ministries

There are certainly no easy answers here. There is no one party responsible. Landlords, employers, builders, non-profits, and churches/community organizations need to get involved and work together towards a solution. We can all find a way to help; some in big ways and some in small ways. We all can and should stay educated on this issue affecting almost ½ our community.

Scott Sterenberg
Missions Director
Cavalry Holland

 

Intern Perspective: Do What You Love

Intern Perspective

This week, our intern Maty talks about some of the incredible things she has learned from our ministry during the time she worked with us. 


I first began working with My House as a communication intern earlier this May. I had never interned anywhere before, so to say that I was nervous would be an understatement. But as I near the end of my time at My House, I realize how lucky I was to spend the summer working with the amazing staff here. This experience has taught me so much and I think that it is important for me to share these incredible lessons with all of you.

One of the first things that I noticed when I arrived at My House was the hardworking staff. The work that we do at this ministry is not easy. Difficult situations arise from time to time which require a lot of patience and conversation to resolve.   But despite this, these women spend so much extra time every day ensuring that each resident feels comfortable and is given all the support that they need. They go above and beyond for our residents that may need a little extra support, and are quick to celebrate the incredible achievements that our residents make everyday.  They are there for our residents 24/7, which is an incredible thing to see.

But the thing that I think inspires me the most about this ministry is that our staff does all of this work because they love what they do. All of them easily could have taken jobs where they sit behind a desk and do the same tasks everyday. Instead, our staff decided to take a risk and do this difficult job because of the rewards it provides. They love to see the impact that they, and God, can make on the lives of other people and have dedicated their lives to serving others, even though it isn’t always easy.

That is a lesson that I think that we all can benefit from. No matter how difficult something may seem or how simple it would be to do something “safe”, we have to do the things that we love. Whether you are passionate about music, poetry, science, or serving others, you can add something incredible to this world by acting on these passions. When we love what we do, our enthusiasm spreads to others and encourages them to add something new to God’s world, just like the ladies at My House have done for me. But doing what we love isn’t always going to be easy. It may cause stressful situations, require long hours, or generate feelings of self-doubt from time to time. But to me, all of this is worth it, because I know that I am doing what I want to do, what God put me on this earth to do.  So the next time you are faced with the choice to do something that you love, no matter what it is, do it. You won’t regret it.