An Open Letter
Written by Marta Hall | Board Chair & Doug Wagner | Executive Director
Thank you for your generous response to our plea for financial help in October. As you may know, our largest donor was a foundation that did wonderful work supporting Christian ministries for many years. It represented nearly 20% of our modest budget. It is with sadness we report that the foundation is closing. Despite efforts led by our board of trustees, staff and many friends, we are unable to make up for the loss, although we continue to look for new funding opportunities. We believe it is God’s will that Fellowship House must go on. So we shall.
For the past few months, we have prayed, sought guidance and carefully analyzed and evaluated everything that Fellowship House does, serving the spiritual, emotional and other earthly needs of our neighbors in Camden. Facing such a large budget gap, we were challenged to ask “what are our greatest gifts, and how do we best share them?” In the end, we were struck by the truth in the saying, “when the Lord closes a door, he opens a window.”
The Trustees took the long view that Camden’s children are the hope for a brighter future, and elected to expand and invest in our children’s’ program. The move returns us to our core mission for the first 35 years of our existence. The long-term investment in the lives of our children seeks to prevent many of the unhealthy patterns we find in the adults in our community.
As we pursue this child-centric mission, we will take advantage of opportunities to introduce new wrap-around services and partner with parents, local churches, and other organizations to strengthen the families of our children. The provision of food within this ministry and its new wrap-around services will continue, as the need is desperate. Our goal for this ministry is to be focused and excellent.
Sadly, we can no longer afford the staff or resources to continue distributing food to the general public or the addiction services program. The human cost of this change is having to say goodbye to valued ministry partners: Harrison Davis, who served Fellowship House wholeheartedly for 10 1⁄2 years and Dr. Deborah Dixon, who brought a dynamic energy to the addictions program. Both are sorely missed and we pray that they will be able to locate their next ministry assignment without too much disruption in their lives.
Thanks to God, we see a window opening. Many churches and other agencies throughout Camden provide food to the general public, including several in our immediate neighborhood. We have assembled an extensive calendar of soup kitchen and food bag give-away activities for the use of our clients.
While our additions program was unique, a new organization, led by our long-time addictions counselor, Lucy DuBose, is beginning. It is called Faces of Change. It has a similar treatment for individuals with alcohol and drug dependencies, and will temporarily operate out of Fellowship House.
The Trustees view these changes as a strategic approach that will lead to superior outcomes for the young lives we are shaping. We expect this new emphasis will produce organic growth of the children’s ministry in ways that will significantly impact the lives of the children and their families. We are eagerly anticipating the new things the Lord intends to do through this ministry in 2014 and years to come.