Before they came to live at Agape Family Shelter, Summer and her two children were staying with Summer’s parents. But the situation was complicated.
“My mom has Section 8 housing,” Summer explained. “When you have Section 8, you can’t have other family members living with you or you’ll lose your place.”
The family was close-knit, but the apartment was small and chaotic. Summer’s siblings, nieces and nephews came and went when they needed a place to stay. Even though Summer’s parents were happy to help, Summer began to worry about compromising their security. She needed a place of her own.
“It was hard to look for work because the jobs I found were mainly temporary and didn’t pay much,” she explained. Even though Summer was trying to save up for an apartment, she wasn’t earning enough to live independently. Between car payments, bills, and necessities for her 9 year old son and 8 year old daughter, it was difficult to save. Along with this, Summer realized that her children needed a sense of structure she couldn’t give them in a temporary living situation. With so many people coming and going from the house – each with conflicting parenting styles – Summer felt she was losing control as a mother. She knew she needed to make a change.
She decided to call Agape Family Shelter. “I felt nervous when I first came to Agape, more nervous for my kids because it was a new environment and I didn’t know how they were going to take it,” Summer admitted. “It was hard for my daughter to get used to it, but now she loves it. Mrs. Smith and Bree made it comfortable for her. It doesn’t feel like a business – it feels like a home.”
At Agape, Summer found a full-time job at a local elementary school. She established a healthy daily routine for her children. With their own bedroom and a new schedule, her son and daughter thrived. Their grades improved. Over the summer, Summer’s son will participate in a summer football program; her daughter will be a cheerleader.
“My children have an everyday schedule where they come in, they clean up after themselves, they have a bed schedule. That’s a big improvement – my son picks up after himself, he never did before. I have everything more organized now,” Summer said.
Still working and saving her paychecks, Summer decided to enroll in GED classes. She also began to build relationships with the shelter staff and other residents.
“I feel like I’ve grown mentally during my stay in the shelter,” Summer said. “I can go to Mrs. Smith and speak to her about certain things and she’s supportive. She makes me feel good as a parent.”
Summer still visits her parents and spends time with her family. But now, she has a home, a routine, and a sense of security of her own. Living at Agape has given Summer and her children new opportunities and a fresh start.
“It was like a breath of fresh air to come to Agape,” Summer said. “When I got here, I could finally get things in order. This is a good place to get your life in order again from the bottom up.”
Lebanon Free Clinic Testimonials
Ruth started coming to the Lebanon Free Clinic in May. She didn’t know what to expect from the “a free clinic,” but she knew she needed help with her health care concerns. She was very depressed and her diabetes was out of control. Beat down from life’s constant challenges and her pervasive loneliness, she felt more like giving up than becoming a patient at the Clinic. After her first appointment, it was decided that she could benefit from talking to one of our counseling partners. She started working with a counselor from River of Hope. River of Hope’s counselors meets with our patients right at the Clinic. The Lebanon Free Clinic has many partners in the community that help us provide holistic health care: Mind, Spirit and Body. She also agreed to seek physical therapy from Lebanon Valley’s CURE Physical Therapy Clinic. Slowly Ruth started to feel better. Experiencing so much care from our staff, volunteers and community partners, she stated that she felt like there really are people out there who care about her. The better she felt, the more motivated she was to take better control of her diabetes. She lost 20 pounds, a huge step to helping manage her diabetes and furthering her physical therapy. She is able to walk long distances without pain and now wants to exercise. Showing the love the Christ to our patients, really is the first steps in renewing their overall health. When we are lonely and isolating ourselves, hopelessness takes root and begins to control the mind, which in turn affects the body. Knowing that someone cares about who we are and how we are, can be the most extraordinary gift.
Men’s Campus Testimonials
Nick came to us from New York, in a heap of legal trouble. He had lost the trust of his entire family because he stole from them to get money for his drug habit. Nick was lost, addicted to heroin, and making bad choice after bad choice. He had lost all lifelines and needed a place to turn to. His family brought him to us and in a matter of a few days, Nick chose to join our long term – Discipleship Program. After placing some calls to the court system in New York, they agreed to allow Nick to stay with us and to work with Nick on his legal issues. During Nick’s year with us, he’s done everything asked of him by the legal system and by the staff. He wisely chooses to communicate with us and listen to our advice. He would agree that this step of faith to daily put his full trust in Jesus Christ is the reason he’s gotten to where he is today.
Nick has shown us an amazing work ethic in serving others and putting others before himself. Daily seeking to show others exactly what God can do with a heart that is fully surrendered to him. This is a drastic change from the man he once was just 9 months ago. Nick has bad days and bumps in the road, but through everything, he relies on God for his wisdom and strength. Jesus means everything to him. Nick graduated from the Discipleship Program in June 2018 and is currently in our Graduate Program onsite. He has a full time job with a local company and serves at his local church in many way. He regularly attend both services and Bible studies. Nick is a great role model for the other men in our program and has built an enormous amount of trust from us as a staff and also his family and friends. There is no other explanation in terms of all the positive things that have happened to Nick than because of his decision to follow Jesus and consistently put HIM first in his life. Praise God for the opportunity to rebuild lives in HIS image!