As you know, the opioid epidemic is ever increasing. A few years ago, so many of us thought of drug addiction as a problem that impacted “other people.” For decades, people struggling with addiction have been called every name in the book, as the average person was able to think of this issue as something removed and distant. We could go along our merry way believing that it was not hard to avoid this strange phenomenon that some called a choice and others called a disease. “Just don’t do drugs,” we would pretty sensibly think.
And then our neighbor’s son was caught with heroin in his locker. A nice kid. Football player, straight A student. And then a coworker was mysteriously absent for a few weeks and came back to painfully explain that they had been abusing prescription drugs and had gone to rehab. A close friend’s wife slowly deteriorated as she went from using prescription drugs, becoming dependent, and eventually turning to illegal opioids. A cousin dies from an overdose. A nephew’s marriage ends due to addiction. A young family from church is killed by a driver under the influence of heroin.
This use of opioids is being called an epidemic, a crisis. There is no ignoring it. Drug addiction is ruining lives and ending them. In Allegheny County alone, last year there were over 600 overdose deaths. There would have been much more if not for the life-saving opioid reversing drug, Narcan, administered by hospitals and EMS personnel. We can no longer act as though drug use does not affect us. It is true that we can choose to avoid drugs. We are always responsible for our own choices. But we must have mercy and compassion on people who have made some poor choices and are now completely trapped in addiction.
At Light of Life, we offer hope to those who are turning away from addiction through our long term residential recovery programs for men and women. We are developing new ways to serve our beloved community, to support those affected by addiction. We invite you to attend our upcoming gala, where in addition to celebrating the hope in recovery and lives changed, we will be taking a closer look at homelessness and addiction. Join us to be one of the first to experience a new art installation, The Eye of the Needle. Click here to learn more about attending this event.
You can partner with Light of Life by praying for us and those we serve, volunteering or providing financial support. We serve men, women, and children struggling with addiction, homelessness, and poverty. Please consider being a part of this important work as we offer the love of Christ, one person at a time.
Spring has sprung and the Mission is busier than ever. We have experienced an influx of requests for shelter over the past couple of months and our staff has mobilized to accommodate those in need, even when it has stretched us beyond capacity. We don’t like to turn anyone away, as we know that walking through our doors can be a life changing step for those we serve.
We recently celebrated Easter, sharing the gospel message of hope with many visitors that day, and serving nearly 1000 meals to our hungry neighbors. As the weather improves, we will be busy with events that raise funds for the organization, such as the upcoming Tunch and Wolf Walk for the Homeless and our Day of Hope picnic. And some activities at the Mission move outdoors, as we take our clients who are in our residential programs on adventures such as team building, fitness and entertainment excursions, helping them to learn what it means to have fun, relax and socialize without drugs or alcohol. One of our favorite things to do is organize staff-client sports games. Last year we enjoyed a fierce game of volleyball and an intense 9 innings of softball.
Our guests and clients are not a faceless group of people that we are vaguely aware need help. These are individual people who have problems that have led them to the point of homelessness. When I think of them, I think of individual people. I think of Kyle, a smart, thoughtful, kind young man in recovery from addiction who is a great writer and has a wonderful sense of humor. I think of Jana, a loving, caring mother who came through our program while pregnant, and who has a healthy little girl and recently completed a degree in social work. I think of James, a client with some debilitating mental health problems that prevent him from participating in society in a typical way, but who has found such hope in Christ, he often reminds many of us how much God loves us and delights in us. I think of Tom, a client who stayed with us for many months and then experienced a health crisis that resulted in him being moved to a nursing facility. A number of staff members regularly visit him so he knows we are still here for him, still on his side.
It is our honor to serve these clients, to welcome them into our midst. To provide food, shelter, and most importantly hope.
Please consider partnering with us in this important work. DONATE NOW.
This election season has been a trying time for many. On social media and the airwaves, it often seems like a nation divided. People are passionate about political issues, and operate from a deep commitment to their values. For Christians, in particular, the stakes feel high. And yet, regardless of what side of the fence one may be on, there is a troubling sense of tension and discord. Issues of immigration, defense, life, education, taxes and scandalous rumors on both sides threaten to split us right down the middle.
And yet. There is an abiding feeling of hope that perpetuates, shining through these dark clouds on North Avenue.
This time of year, the mission is abuzz with new clients, enthusiastic volunteers and busy staff members. Like a beehive, still and stable, and yet alive with movement, the building stands motionless while the occupants inside generate a great deal of activity. Guests gather to eat and choose a bed for the night after a warm shower and changing into clean clothes. Clients in our longer term programs dutifully contribute by doing chores and serving our guests. Phones ring to life with questions of how to get help. Staff members’ encouraging voices answer with words of hope and possibility. The doorbell rings and on the other side of the glass stands a neighbor, arms full of needed donations. A few moments behind her is a neighbor who happens to be in need. A bag of groceries is given. Gratitude expressed.
This is a building that comes to life every day because people come to have their needs met, and others come with the ability to meet needs. It is our joy and honor to be the conduit in this system of needs. What a pleasure to be the place where people come because they know they can get help, as well as the place people think of when they decide they want to help. We provide a place that we believe is a healing community. A place that reflects the love of Christ. We help the help happen.
If you would like to help as the holiday season ramps up, there are so many ways you can do that in partnership with Light of Life. To name a few –
Of course, we always welcome your financial donations. By making a contribution you allow us to do everything from send a sick client to the hospital, to paying the water bill that launders hundreds of homeless people’s clothing, to covering the maintenance charges on a vehicle that delivers food to hungry kids each week. To make a contribution, please visit lightoflife.org/give or contact Melanie Holcombe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also are often in need of volunteers, particular after the holiday season, and over the summer. We are always (year-round) looking for mentors for our adult clients and we also have several major fundraising events each year, for which we recruit committee members. If any of these opportunities are of interest to you, contact Emily Rabatin at email@example.com.
If you are currently making estate planning decisions, please consider leaving a bequest to Light of Life in your will. Leaving a gift to us allows you to leave a legacy. Contact Doug Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.