By Debbie Hills*
As the program became better known in the community, more and more requests were received, and the limited resources of our churches were being stretched way beyond their breaking points. As the director of this new program, I began looking for funding sources beyond our community and found out about the grants available through the United Methodist Foundation of Western PA.
Receiving financial assistance from the Foundation was a tremendous help to the successful development of this program. As we have worked over the course of the past three years to establish ongoing funding streams, the UM Foundation grant has filled the gap and allowed us to reach out and serve our God and more of our neighbors than could have been possible without it. We are now on much more stable financial footing.
During this time we have been able to build an average of just over three ramps each month (104 to date). Our youngest recipient was three years old – our oldest, approaching 100. The ramps have given us a way to connect and enter into the lives of our recipients and offer them far more than a ramp. Our servants are able to be the hands and feet and face of Jesus to some folks who need to know that they are not alone and forgotten – that Jesus loves them, and so do we! We have been positioned to love them unconditionally, to offer prayer and pastoral care as well as other acts of caring as their needs present themselves and resources allow.
While grant-writing often seems quite intimidating to those who are new to it, the Foundation has people who can offer you guidance. If there is a program that the Holy Spirit has inspired you to start and you need funding, take this opportunity to check out the grant guidelines and application materials available online and give it a try.
*The Rev. Debbie Hills, an ordained deacon, directs the Ramps of Hope ministry in the Erie area.