We greatly appreciate the generous support that you have shown us in the past, making it possible for us to strive to fulfill our Savior’s command to love one another as He loves us, mindful that we are all God’s children. Please, read on to learn of the great things STM has accomplished in 2014 and of the work we hope to do in 2015.
During 2014, we witnessed amazing accomplishments of which you may not be aware. Since January, STM has been in seeking a volunteer to serve as Board secretary. That position has just been filled! We apologize for the lapse in quarterly newsletters during this period. However, we assure you that STM has not lapsed in ministry to those with needs – whether financial, physical, emotional, spiritual or other – with the goal of providing a place where God’s love may be experienced. With our comprehensive programs of support and outreach, we have addressed a myriad of critical needs, such as the following:
FOOD: Sadly, many in our community do not have enough to eat. The Sojourner Cafe is still our most visible means for reaching out to our needy neighbors. Every day, over a hundred meals are served with a devotional message, or, sometimes, a simple prayer, but always offering much needed social interaction and a greater sense of relationship for both servers and clients. Local volunteers who have signed up to prepare and serve the Saturday noon meal come back again and again, finding the experience so rewarding. Another wonderful undertaking this summer, when school let-out, was STM’s partnership with the Central PA Food Bank in which Rev. Velinda welcomed children to food and fellowship in a safe environment, something we very much hope to repeat in 2015.
HOUSING ASSISTANCE, COUNSELING AND SOCIAL SERVICES: Because so many of our Sojourners live in poverty, they have few “extras” – extra money, extra time, extra security. Their lives lack stability. For instance, with no savings, the loss of a job, an illness or other catastrophic event may quickly result in the loss of their home. In her second year as Social Services Assistant (SSA), Dawn provided direct assistance to so many feeling lost and without direction. Just one example is a Sojourner who came to STM after years of self-harm and suicide attempts, without home or hope. This past year she gave her personal testimony to the Board: she has a stable home, is pill and nicotine free, attends church regularly and attends weekly counseling sessions. She declares, “I finally know that God is calling me to be something more, and He can use me to further His Kingdom.” She is now one of our dedicated volunteers, helping others as STM helped her.
As SSA, Dawn also intervenes on behalf of women in crisis, helping them make a fresh start. This is a recurring (yet, rarely recognized) issue in Williamsport, as our local shelters are only able to house for a standard of 30-days. Just last month, Dawn was able to relocate several victims fleeing from their abusers, with only their children and a little clothing still in their possession. STM found a safe house for them to stay, located household goods to furnish their rooms and, most importantly, began to build with them a relationship of trust and faith, reminding them that they are part of our community.
HEALTH & WELL-BEING: In mission to promote not only physical health but total wellness, STM provides many forms of assistance to permanently improve the lives of our Sojourners. An annual health fair is held; free dental and eye screenings are offered regularly; nutrition classes are taught; health awareness training is given; flu shots are offered and many support groups such as NA, AA & SA, as well as men’s and women’s faith-based studies happen in our building. STM operates the “From Our Hands to Yours” clothes closet five days a week, providing adult and children’s clothing without charge to those in need. New and gently used donated clothing and even free haircuts help our clients feel clean and respectable.
There is so much that STM does to directly impact the lives of so many! Yet, the need ever increases and our funding struggles to keep up. “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and needy, in your land.'” (Deuteronomy 15:11 NKJV)
Last year, about this time, we had a major fund-raising drive, individually visiting churches and donors. We were concerned that we might have to cut back some of thee services. How could we decide what areas of need could be sacrificed? Instead, thank God, you generously and faithfully allowed yourselves to be God’s instruments! Your responses in the 4th Quarter of 2013, let us enter 2014 ready to move forward. We thank those of you who have accepted our Covenant Challenge and continued to give throughout the year. Thanks, also, to others contributing food, clothing, time and answering our pleas whenever a specific need is named. STM really is a community of believers!
Yet, as always at year’s end, we do not have enough promised funding for 2015. We recognize that this is the season when many people make a single annual contribution to charities. So, if you have not already done so, we prayerfully ask you to remember Sojourner Truth Ministries. As happened last year, a small group of supporters has invited donations toward a “matching funds challenge” of up to $5,000. Please pass this word along to your friends and faith family. Send donations marked “Matching-Funds-Challenge” on the memo line to Sojourner Truth Ministries, Attention: Treasurer at 501 High Street Williamsport PA 17701. And. please, continue to pray for our ministry and Sojourners. We pray the God will continue to bless you and prosper you as you continue to work with us as His humble servants.