Graduation: Transformation through Community

On Thursday, June 13th, we held our summer graduation ceremony. Twice a year, our staff, alumni, clients and families come together to honor those who have successfully completed our programs. We were thrilled to celebrate clients from the Men’s Recovery Program, Women & Children’s Program, and for the first time this year, the Outreach Program.

We had a few new and exciting elements at graduation. The evening began with worship by Denise Graves and Amy Volstad from the Extravagant Love Project. The women in our program have been attending a worship workshop with Denise and Amy, and they got to lead worship on stage alongside the pair. It was a powerful few minutes as the Holy Spirit filled the room. 

After worship, graduates shared their testimonies. While the circumstances that brought them to our doors varied, the outcomes were the same. Lives were transformed. 

For the first time ever, we celebrated two people who came through our Outreach Program. One was a woman named Theresa who came to our meal ministry and began to build relationships with our staff. She was living out of her car when she first came to Light of Life. She said, “every day I would go to Light of Life and try to see Emily (Our Women’s Outreach Coordinator). It took me a while because of my addiction, but God had other plans for me. I held on. I stayed strong. I stayed clean.” Now, just one short year later, Theresa has a place of her own and is a manager at a major retail chain. She concluded saying, “by His grace, He brought me to where I’m at today.”

During this ceremony, we were thrilled to have the first ever graduate from Sister’s Recovery House (SRH). We opened SRH in 2017 for single women struggling with addiction and homelessness. April came to Light of Life after being in an abusive relationship and attempting suicide. Through building relationships with the staff, her sisters at SRH, and God, April has been transformed. Upon graduating, she said, “God completely cleared the path for me. I didn’t have anybody. I was so isolated and depressed, but God placed my sisters in my life.” 

There were eleven graduates total that evening and through their stories, a couple of common factors stuck out. First was God’s grace and transformative power. Second was the positive impact that community has on someone’s recovery. We believe in community here at Light of Life and are blessed to have a group of alumni that plans events and comes together to support each other beyond graduation. The evening ended perfectly with members of the alumni group giving the graduates their cords and welcoming them into the community. 

One graduate was unable to attend but left a special message. “I am so grateful and thankful for the opportunity and relentless care, help and concern of the entire staff. This place has given me the strength to dig deep and prove to myself that I can do better, and this is just a start. I encourage anyone that has means to help this unique program in Pittsburgh with an unmatched team that would do anything to get someone back on track. Society sometimes looks down on the homeless when a temporary situation could be easily solved if people cared. Ignoring one’s homeless situation by not caring could be the difference between someone getting out of a temporary situation or sinking deeper to a point of sadly sometimes no return.” We couldn’t agree with him more and as a staff, we are so thankful to have caring donors like you to make these special celebrations and life transformations possible.

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