We have been praying that GOD would send us someone to help us with the community center, somebody with experience in guiding and educating youth and teenagers. About a month ago a woman sat next to Brian in his northwest suburban church and he quickly learned she had traveled all the way from 110th and Morgan in Chicago. Marsha Eaglin introduced herself and in discussion Brian found that she was the executive director and founder of a ministry called Impact Family Center. This ministry’s focus is youth and teenagers in the Roseland community. Thank you GOD!
A few weeks later while Marsha and Brian were meeting at Shepherd’s Hope discussing how she could bring her expertise to our community in Englewood, she mentioned the need of a family who had four girls that were part of her ministry. Marsha shared the story of this single mom with 6 daughters and one grandchild living in a house for over 2 months with no heat or hot water. They were desperately looking for a new place to live. Brian offered the name of a friend who had a beautiful 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house for rent.
Some weeks later, Brian was attending an event at Impact Family Center in Roseland. A young lady shared her testimony with tears running down her cheeks explaining that Miss Marsha had found their family a beautiful house with heat and hot water so they could take showers again after living for over 2 months without heat and hot water.
Brian, realizing that this was the family Marsha and he had talked about, put his head down, holding back the tears and saying, “Thank you GOD! Thank you GOD!
When the doors to Shepherds HOPE opened in 2009, there were 3 drug houses on the street and violence was almost a daily occurrence; that is no longer the case. From the beginning Brian realized it was not just about the food, but about establishing relationships that lead to personal and community transformation. The guests are treated as real people with respect and dignity. Typically they will be greeted as they wait in line by one of our leaders whose primary goal is to hear their stories, show concern and share the hope Christ can bring to their lives. Over time incredible relationships have been built and people return not just for the food but to find help for the struggles they face every day. The pantry has become a safe haven and children regularly stop in after school to show homework, get a treat and simply feel loved.
Shepherd’s HOPE has only one full-time paid staff person; 90% of the volunteers come right out of the neighborhood. (Many of those volunteers were among the troublemakers when the pantry first opened.) An attitude of mutual respect and positive behavior is encouraged and now the volunteers and guests even monitor those qualities among themselves when someone forgets or a new person arrives.
A specific example of change occurred November 22, 2012 when the bags of food for Thanksgiving Dinner were distributed. People began to arrive at the pantry at 6:30 am and waited patiently in a line during a 40 degree rain storm. The line extended all the way to 57th street (about ¾ of a city block – more than 350 people) by the time the food distribution began at 9:00 am. Brian walked the line and greeted each neighbor with a Happy Thanksgiving, a hug and a blessing from God. Each person returned the hug with their own gratitude and blessing. This was an unbelievable transformation from previous years. Moreover, the servant hearts of the community volunteers who also warmly greeted their neighbors throughout the day in the challenging weather were an inspiration to all. Today the neighborhood around Shepherds HOPE is a much safer and more compassionate community!