Monthly Archives: June 2008

A Life Graduation

By Dr. Chad Audi

This is the time of year when families everywhere are celebrating graduations. It marks an important time in a person’s life. He or she is ready for the next big step in their academic or professional careers. But there are many other types of milestones that a graduation can commemorate.

Recently, the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) celebrated the “life” graduation of 437 clients at its newly-renovated Banquet Hall/Conference Center in Detroit. Some had completed at least 90 days of substance abuse treatment. Others had completed job training and educational classes. Some were moving on from DRMM’s transitional housing programs. And others were happy to have earned their GED. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was unbelievable.

Just like a high school or college graduation, the DRMM graduates had proud family members in attendance to cheer them on. They all received certificates. But unlike a typical graduation where you get a diploma and you already have your next plans made —or perhaps you’re not sure if you’re going into your chosen field of work — this was a graduation where the graduates are regaining their lives and celebrating a rebirth. They are starting out on a new venture in life. And believe me, it hasn’t been easy.

At some point in their lives, many of the people participating in DRMM’s graduation had lost all hope. Some of them had attempted suicide and slept in vacant buildings, under bridges, in cars and on the streets. They were prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and the impoverished. But after they came to the Detroit Rescue Mission, they received another chance and another outlook on life. Their past didn’t matter; just their future.

The DRMM graduation celebrated “change.” These graduates are getting a fresh start in life. Approximately 80 percent of them now have a full-time job or are going to school. The other 20 percent are on the road to recovery and a new life by remaining clean and sober. Congratulations to all of the DRMM graduates for your accomplishments! We share in your joy.

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Providing Hope for Teen Mothers

By Dr. Chad Audi

It sounds callous, but every day dozens of teenage girls are kicked out of their parents’ homes because they are pregnant. Suddenly these young girls not only must confront the medical concerns associated with bringing a new life into the world, but they also must find shelter, food and overall care — alone.

This is a situation we witness often at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). Our Genesis House I program welcomes homeless pregnant and parenting teens who have been abandoned or escaped unstable home environments. Many girls have lost their self-esteem when they seek out DRMM. They’re frightened and emotional. Some arrive with just the clothes on their backs. They don’t know how they’re going to finish school, find a job and provide for their babies.

We provide the teens with transitional housing, life skill classes, parenting courses, day care, counseling, food, clothing, job search assistance and much more. The girls attend school and are shown how to become productive and independent members of society. Most leave our 24-month program and move into their own homes or enroll in college. We give them guidance and supervision. We give them help and hope for the future. You can witness for yourself some of their compelling stories at http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1296698/teen_moms_find_hope/.

Most importantly, DRMM demonstrates the love of God to the teenage mothers and their babies. When they feel that things are hopeless and there’s nowhere to turn, they need to know how much they are loved and that they are God’s children. It doesn’t matter what type of situation they find themselves in, they all deserve another chance to get on the right path in life.

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We’re in This Together

By Dr. Chad Audi

These are challenging times for those who love and claim Detroit as their home. Businesses find themselves having to defend the reputation and prospects of the City and its leadership. People who live and work in the area find themselves the focus of concerned inquiries or derisive jests from friends and relatives in other parts of the state or country. Despite this negativity, many of us are proud to be residents of this great metropolitan community. These are the same people who are committed to making our businesses succeed and grateful for the many wonderful assets in this region.

What are our assets? We have the brains, as evidenced by our tremendous medical, educational, technological and research resources. We have the muscle, as evidenced by the determination of our people to tackle everything from recession to Michigan winters to manufacturing and industrial challenges. We have the beauty, as evidenced by our natural resources, scenery and abundant world-class arts and cultural institutions. We have the infrastructure to serve America’s businesses, as evidenced by our pivotal waterway, air, land and rail connections linking us to all parts of the United States and Canada. We have the spirit, as evidenced by the many dynamic people of faith who demonstrate their love for God and their neighbors. With all of the negative national attention focused on Detroit right now, we would do well to focus our own attention on the thousands of positive partnerships that are quietly taking place between industries, companies and organizations, as well as on the hundreds of thousands of people who are making a positive difference in the lives of others every day. We need to celebrate what a wonderful place this region is for work and as a home.

That being said, we do have serious issues in this region too. Some are a result of our own failure to come together as one to confront big issues such as the need to dramatically improve the quality of education for all young people; build a new infrastructure for regional transportation, employment and governance; and break down artificially maintained walls of division between our central city and surrounding communities. We need a society where each person is able to move freely to jobs, housing and resources that meet family needs and allow dreams to be achieved.

However, the most serious problem we face occurs when we make decisions as though any one jurisdiction or community can tackle these issues alone or remain unaffected by the well-being and actions of its neighbors. It simply isn’t true. Our residents live, work, commute, visit, have relatives in, hail from, pay taxes to, and shop in each other’s communities. Anything that negatively — or positively — affects one community affects the rest.

It was for this reason that non-profit organizations such as the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) appealed when Detroit City Council voted to restrict city funding to non-profits that did not have a majority of Board members living in the City of Detroit. That decision and the ensuing publicity surrounding which non-profits would lose much-needed funding galvanized a prolonged and heated discussion among people inside and outside the boundaries of the City of Detroit. Some of the conversations demonstrated just how deep the layers of hurt, misinformation and division went that still need to be addressed.

We can be grateful that the Detroit City Council voted to take another year to deliberate on the issue. We can be even more grateful that many of the City Council members made efforts to acknowledge that they appreciate the compassion possessed by metropolitan Detroiters who donate their time and money to city-based non-profits that serve the poor. However, the discussion needs to continue on this issue and others such as regional transportation, jobs creation, relief for businesses, promotion of entrepreneurship and the importance of advanced training and education. Not only should the conversation continue, but we need to also adopt a commitment to unifying this region.

For every person who wants to be an isolationist and keep our communities apart, there are scores of others who recognize that we are one body, however imperfectly joined. We are joined by necessity and can be gloriously and productively joined by choice. Together, we possess every asset, resource and skill this region needs to provide for our citizens. The change will start when we begin to stretch our hands, minds, voices and hearts out across the jurisdictional and cultural lines that now separate us. We are in this together. Let’s be determined to use these stormy times as our greatest opportunity and catalyst for change.

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Finding a Common Bond

By Dr. Chad Audi

During these tough economic times, we tend to worry about our own misfortunes. We worry about whether we will have enough money to cover daily expenses or whether we can continue to enjoy our favorite pastimes. Unfortunately, we often forget about others whose misfortunes are much greater than our own, such as the homeless man you see on the street everyday on your way to work pleading for money and food. Or the neighbor who lost his job and is about to lose his home.

We see over and over again throughout the Bible — from the books of Genesis to Revelations — that those who extend themselves for the foreigner and those who forgive are blessed by God. The need to wholeheartedly follow this way of life is based on the fact that each person in this world was made by God Himself. Each person has such immense value to Him that He gave his life in the ultimate sense for each and every one of us. That is the value He tells us to place on every person in the world. It may be difficult to comprehend, but the longer we live the more we are able to see that we live in a world where we are all affected by and responsible for each other’s welfare.

At the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we witness miracles everyday. We see all walks of life coming together — clients, staff, volunteers, donors, civic leaders and community members. Their lives are greatly enhanced through the people they come to know at the Mission. They may meet a young man from the hills of Kentucky who was lost in the big city or an Asian man who was addicted to drugs in his native country. They may venture out to areas they never traveled before in order to volunteer for those less fortunate. Or they may experience racial diversity for the first time. They may lack a common culture or basis of connection, but all of them unite in a common purpose: a commitment to a compassionate God who loves them personally. And the rewards are abundant — countless blessings, cherished friendships and memorable experiences.

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