Think of a time in your life when you reached the end of a journey. Maybe it was graduating from school, resigning from a job, or ending a relationship with a loved one. How did you feel as you approached the finish line?
Tamara stood confidently in front of the audience at Toby's Place. Tears came from her eyes, but these were not tears of sadness. These tears represented growth, strength, and a willingness to overcome adversity.
After restoring her relationship with her daughter, clearing her DSS case, and securing not one, but TWO jobs, Tamara excitedly looked forward to a future that was in her control. She had graduated from Toby's Place, marking the end of one journey, but the beginning of a new one.
"I don't fear life anymore because I know God has his hand on me. It's a new season, it's a new day," Tamara said.
Graduation is one of the most important accomplishments Oliver Gospel's residents can achieve. We know that each guest who walks through our doors will someday have to leave. In our mission to engage and transform lives together through the power of Christ's love, we are adamant about celebrating our residents' accomplishments.
Leaving your comfort zone and starting something new can feel scary. Oliver Gospel holds graduation ceremonies to let our residents know we will continue to be with them on every step of their journey. The ceremonies celebrate our residents' hard work to face their trauma, overcome adversity, and strengthen their relationship with the Lord.
To graduate, a resident must complete our program curricula and begin searching for full-time employment and sustainable housing. The curriculum, which is typically completed in around six months, focuses on addressing our guest's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Tamara, the subject of our blog post "Getting There," graduated from programming at the end of February. Residents, staff, and friends gathered for an emotional ceremony highlighting her accomplishments.
"I don't think I would be able to do any of this if it wasn't for God's grace and mercy. I needed another chance, my daughter needed a future, and Toby's Place was a big part of that," Tamara said.
Each graduation begins with prayer. Our staff then reflects on that resident's growth and the highs and lows of their journey. Graduates receive a diploma certifying their accomplishments. Our food service managers even prepare our graduate's favorite desserts for those in attendance!
Sharing your story in front of an audience is no small feat, and it is a beautiful representation of the encouragement our residents receive during their stay at Oliver Gospel. Our staff places a high priority on graduates being able to own their stories and continue moving in a positive direction before they prepare to leave the Mission.
"In order for growth to happen, we have to feel discomfort. We have to accept where we are, and in order to change, we have to move toward our problems and not run away from them. That's what I saw from Tamara when she came here," Oliver Gospel case coordinator Lisa Hovis said.
Your donation to Oliver Gospel creates moments like these, where our residents and staff can look back on all they've accomplished with a smile on their faces. Giving today gives all of our graduates a chance to celebrate.