Hope Inspired Ministries hosts first 2024 graduation

Published 5:08 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Hope Inspired Ministries (HIM) held its Lowndes County Class 2024-1 Graduation on Feb. 29 at New Hope Christian Church in Letohatchee. 

The ministry focuses on helping people push the reset button in their lives, offering programs to help them become self-sufficient in areas they previously lacked because of life-challenging barriers. 

Ministry staff help with everything from getting personal identification to providing transportation and childcare. The goal is to teach students how to be successful in the workforce, how to get and keep a job and ways to excel in their jobs. 

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John Bowman, HIM executive director, said that he has truly enjoyed working with the HIM students and being able to watch them grow.

“Obviously the class is for the students and to help them get back in the workforce but for us as the staff, it’s very rewarding to see someone begin to be self-sufficient in life,” Bowman said. “It’s amazing to watch them to see that lightbulb come on inside and say I see that I have a purpose. We start each day with a devotion and for them to not only get a job, but to realize their purpose in life is huge. It’s almost like they’re like our children graduating even though many of them may be older than us, it’s like celebrating our children at the end.”

The program culminates in a cap-and-gown ceremony, a service that is often the only graduation the students receive and one that is used as a way to encourage and uplift them. 

Bowman said he hopes that the ministry continues to make a positive impact on the community member’s lives and expressed the importance of the graduation ceremony. 

“Everybody wants to feel valued and coming through our program, we teach our students with a relational approach and speak life into them every day,” Bowman said. “They come away with the tools they need and feel valued because they were created for a purpose. It gives them that win and when you get a win in life it makes it a little bit easier to keep going forward.” 

Bowman expressed the significance of the graduation and said that it is one of the things he looks forward to at the end of every class. 

“The graduation is kind of like that wow moment for them,” Bowman said. “We give them a coin with Jeremiah 29:11 on it and it talks about God creating everyone with plans to prosper and not to harm them. It marks that moment of their success and completion so that they can hold on to it. This graduation serves as a reminder of what God has done for them as they go forward into the workforce.” 

Hope Inspired Ministries was created in 2012 and was established in Lowndes County in 2020. There are six classes a year and HIM holds a graduation ceremony at the end of each class. Valuable workforce skills such as finances, interview skills, basic computer skills, conflict resolution skills and other topics are taught at each class so that students can get and excel in their future jobs. Students receive a HIM Diploma as well as an Alabama Career Essentials Certificate. 

Dakus Sankey Jr., one of HIM’s high school career coaches, said the impact that the ministry has had on the community as a whole has been amazing to watch. 

“Hope Inspired Ministries plays a very important role within Lowndes County,” Sankey said. “Our program has really tackled the poverty and low-income mindset by teaching individuals how to find a job, keep a job, and thrive at a job. We are helping the community build and improve itself.” 

Jessica Fails, HIM Lowndes County Site Director, also expressed her sentiments on the program and said that she hopes to continue to work with students to make the community a better place.

“It has been an absolute joy,” Fails said. “My motto is if I can help one person then they can help someone else and that will strengthen the community. I believe that is what’s happening when our students are able to get a job and become self-sufficient because they are then able to help themselves, their churches, and their community. So when I see that they understand it, it’s rewarding to me because it lets me know that I have done what God asked me to do.”