Middle school years can be tough for anyone. For me, they were especially difficult. In my 7th grade year, my mom left my dad and my sister and I moved with her several states away from home. Then in my 8th grade year, as my single mother struggled to provide for my sister and me, I found myself in transition once again. My math teacher at the time took a vested interest in me, taking me into his home and becoming my new dad. Life eventually brought me to Lancaster County where I now call home. Growing up in poverty has left its mark on me and created a fear of abandonment, dysfunction in relationships, and uncertainty about my future story.
Today, I am about to embark on another journey. In just a few weeks, I will turn 50 years old. The hyper, dysfunctional, scared little teenage boy has made it. I made it through high school and college. I got married, raised five adopted children, took in another 19 foster kids, and now am the proud Pop Pop of two wonderful grandchildren. I have also committed to a career of helping those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable.
While my past has marked me in significant ways, it has not defined me. I have been fortunate to have the right people come into my life at just the right times to help me believe that my journey mattered and that I could rise above my past and build a future story. Now as I reach the half century mark, I have been blessed to create and run an organization that exists to do the same to those who feel scared by their past and often feel unable to move forward and see a brighter future.
The Factory Ministries exist to empower others to strengthen their community. Because we believe that everyone’s journey matters, we are creating a system where teens and adults can overcome obstacles and get the resources and skills needed to rise above the hopelessness of poverty. Through our community’s collaborative, The Together Initiative Network, we have turned an old elementary school into a hub of hope. Individuals and families in poverty can find help and hope through intakes, assessments, goal setting, and resource workshops to address poverty and to develop the physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, intellectual, and financial resources necessary to not just survive but thrive and give back.
When asked why I do what I do, I give the same simple answer – because people matter! Imagine a community where all nonprofits, schools, businesses, churches, townships, and civic organizations unite to create a system of hope. Imagine a community where we put aside differences and focus on where we can collaborate, because together we believe that everyone deserves a chance to succeed. As one of United Way of Lancaster County’s 17 Community Impact Partners, we do not have to imagine anymore. The Factory Ministries and the Together Initiative Network are doing just that right here in eastern Lancaster County.
To many of you who are also doing this work in your communities, keep up the good work. Together we can make a difference. Together we can show that everyone’s journey matters, like my dad proved to me.
Story Submitted by:
The Factory Ministries