In 1994, Dr. Robinson unexpectedly found herself a single parent and was left to raise three small children on her own. In the wake of this staggering life circumstance, she saw it as an opportunity to re-frame the situation of being a single parent; into a positive resource for her and other single parents who would pass through the same treacherous waters she had been able to successfully navigate because of God’s grace and mercy.
Thusly, in 2002 she established The Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program, Limited Liability Company (LLC). Emerging HOPE humbly started as an educational program that offered culturally relevant parenting classes to under resources, marginalized single parenting households. Moreover, utilizing her own life experience as a former single parent, Dr. Robinson wrote the multicultural- interactive curriculum that was utilized when teaching parenting classes. In the class participants were taught how to strengthen family dynamics by managing finances, enhancing parental relations, and navigating community services.
Since its inception in January 2002, Emerging HOPE participants have experienced an increase in self-esteem, learned budgeting skills, cultivated educational goals for their families and regained custody of their children. Likewise, 25% of the participants enrolled in courses to complete their GED’s and 10% enrolled in community college. Furthermore, 30% of their (pre)teenage children as well 50% of the parents enrolled as volunteers with the Kalamazoo Volunteer Center to serve in the community. Moreover, 80% of their children received full camp scholarships to attend the West Michigan Glass Society, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Sherman Lake YMCA, and Beech Point Christian Camp.
Furthermore, with great enthusiasm and drive to offer additional services, in 2003, Emerging HOPE was awarded a generous grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (under the fiduciary agent of the Kalamazoo Dream Center) to support its family strengthening classes. Additionally, in 2007, Emerging HOPE was awarded a second grant from Kalamazoo Community Foundation making it possible for
Dr. Robinson to facilitate one year of parenting classes (utilizing the Emerging HOPE curriculum) at Family & Children Services. Likewise, in January 2008 Emerging HOPE looked for means to enlarge the capacity of the educational program to incorporate mental health counseling, life skill training, coaching, and mentoring. They were privileged to come in contact with Bread for the Journey of Southwest Michigan (a group of philanthropist who give micro-grants to people who have an idea to make our community more healthy, just, and wonderful) whom provided a copious grant to support the expansion of their outreach services, website design, and the purchase of various office supplies. The greater part of Emerging HOPE funds was raised through private gifts, altruistic endowments, web giving, and fundraisers. A sliding fee payment scale based on income and family size was made available to those with no insurance. Medicaid as well as much other insurance were accepted. Moreover, Emerging HOPE provided services to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay.
Moreover, Emerging HOPE has successfully partnered with a vast number of culturally-diverse community agencies in Kalamazoo County: The Kalamazoo Dream Center, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, New Focus National, Fox Ridge Apartments, National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Genesis Incorporated, Family & Children Services, Bread for the Journey, West Michigan Glass Society, Kalamazoo Nature Center, Sherman Lake YMCA, Integrated Behavior Health, Gryphon Place, Living Water Ministries, Beach Point Christian Camp, The Volunteer Center of Kalamazoo, Project Connect, City of Kalamazoo MLK Day of Caring, and Northside Ministerial Alliance Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration.
Additionally, in 2010 Emerging HOPE warmly welcomed an innovative co-director, Dr. Robinson’s husband Revered Curtis Robinson. As a natural leader and gifted public speaker, he served in many service-oriented capacities in the urban-community. As Certified Recovery Coach, Peer Support Specialist and Pastoral Counselor, he had far reaching individual and professional involvement in the psychological well-being and recuperation of people struggling with mental health and addictions.
In like manner, Emerging HOPE has respectfully worked together with many summer-day programs and residential summer camps and over the past twelve years to provide fun-filled summer experiences for urban youth. The program is designed to provide urban youth with safe and supportive community enrichment skills through recreational outdoor activities. Likewise, the program aims to increase social emotional skills, resiliency skills, leadership skills and address mental and emotional concerns whereby empowering youth to live healthy, fully functioning lives.
Furthermore, for twelve consecutive summers, Emerging HOPE also hosted a one-day community wide event entitled “Camp Day Out.” The purpose of this free family-fun event was to inform urban families with youth (ages 5-18) of camping opportunities that were available to their children. The event consists of on-site camp registration, free summer camp scholarships, music, door prizes, face painting, and other fun activities. Parents and youth were provided an opportunity to meet 1:1 with camp directors from an array of camps to learn about their programs. Most importantly, many of the programs awarded generous summer camp scholarships to participants at that time.
Emerging HOPE has hosted Twelve Annual Mental Health Forums at strategic locations in Kalamazoo County. Dr. Robinson designed a replicable culturally-relevant mental health model. Whereby enhancing the cultural relevance of empirically-supported mental health interventions referenced in her dissertation. The model was utilized as the foundational structure during the first-annual African American Mental Health Wellness event in Kalamazoo County that embraced the topic of Mental Health Disparities in the Black Community. The purpose of the forums were to empower participants and to bring awareness to a social cause. More specifically, the aim of the forums were to decrease mental health stigma and increase awareness of mental health recovery in the African American community. Subsequently, throughout their years of hosting the forums, they learned that people need a healing community, whereby they can receive support and unconditional love in several ways. Additionally, they learned that hurting people desired, most of all, to know that they were not alone, that someone else was willing to hear their story and will accept them just as much after they tell it. People needed to know that their pain did not mean God had turned His back on them.
Notably, the Forums were established to foster dialogue among a broad range of stakeholders—pastors, faith-based institutions, practitioners, policymakers, community members, recipients of services, and others—and to provide ongoing opportunities to confront issues of mutual interest and concern. Likewise, the Forum provided a neutral venue for broad-ranging discussions that aided in coordination and cooperation between public, faith-based, service recipients, and private stakeholders in eradicating the stigma of mental illness.
Incidentally, having diligently walked in obedience to God’s Word, the soil was cultivated and made fertile as they laid a strong foundation, and planted seeds for a culturally-relevant mental health replicable model in Kalamazoo County. Recognizing that there was yet an abundance work to do in the area of Mental Health disparities in the African American community, the Robinson's have made mental health disparities a paramount part of their ministry.
In effort to further educate the community about mental health disparities in the African American community, in March 2015, the Robinson’s were featured guest on Valarie Lego’s Live at Five – WZZM 13 Grand Rapids for a television interview pertaining to the topic “Understanding the Impact of Stigma on People with Mental Illness.” Moreover, each year the forums have expanded to include an array of professionals, religious leaders, and support services. Additionally, in 2015 the forum's professional capacity expanded to the degree that Emerging HOPE was privileged to begin offering participants Western Michigan University Continuing Education Credits (CEU) and Michigan State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH) for attending. Therefore, allowing the conference to be marketed to professionals who wanted to attend to obtain CEUs and SCECH to maintain licensure. Accordingly, on April 8, 2016, Curtis and Pamela were featured guest on National Public Radio, NPR with host Earlene McMichael as they shared about mental health disparities in the African American community.
Emerging HOPE is a ministry committed to preaching the gospel, evangelizing, educating, equipping and empowering under-resourced individuals, single parenting households, and families with resources, practical assistance, emotional encouragement and social networking to better their lives, and those of their children. The ministry promotes the well-being of the individual, family, and community through programs, services, and information. Emerging HOPE is rapidly being recognized as the go-to resource in the urban Kalamazoo area for helping to promote mental health in diverse communities, cultural perspectives on mental health, knowledge, hope, and healing to individuals, families, and communities touched by mental illness.
Having changed its tax exempt status from that of a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to a Nonprofit Corporation 501(c)(3) several years ago; the Robinson’s felt that to more fully reflect its mission of preaching the gospel, providing professional, effective leadership and advocacy services to ethnically diverse individuals and families, that they would officially change its name to Emerging HOPE Ministries in December of 2019.
Likewise, the ministry expanded and added additional services as follows:
Men of HOPE Support Group
Empowering Worship Services
Culturally Relevant Counseling Services
Outreach Programs for Urban Youth
Brown Bag Support Group for Therapist, Clergy, Human Service Professionals, and Urban Youth Program Leaders
Holiday Gift Baskets Giveaways
Self Determination Living Consultation Services (Adults with Intellectual Disabilities)
Our Guiding Principles are as follows:
Emerging HOPE empowers socially and under-resourced parenting households towards self-sufficiency, while adding value to families.
Emerging HOPE engages under-resourced individuals and families in meaningful activities to nurture leadership and influence in the community.
Emerging HOPE strengthens under-resourced individuals and families through spiritual enrichment activities.
Emerging HOPE empowers children, adolescents, and adults to live healthy, fully functioning lives.
Emerging HOPE promotes the well-being of the individual, family, and community through programs, services, and information.
Emerging HOPE utilizes strategies to help promote mental health in diverse communities.
Emerging HOPE offers resources which are helpful in addressing and reducing minority mental health disparities.
Emerging HOPE's interpersonal skills are our best quality. They are comfortable in presenting a positive public image interacting with potential donors and communicating with various levels of stakeholder.
Emerging HOPE takes great pride in running a successful organization and in developing relationships.
Emerging HOPE is committed to helping people live healthy lives.
Curtis and Pamela pride themselves with providing culturally relevant services in partnership with their participants. The Robinson’s have discovered that there are numerous advantages of serving together as co-directors. Serving as a couple has benefits that go beyond bonding, contentment, and peace. There is a sweet intimacy that comes with working together on a service project or giving together to those in need. They believe having embraced God’s call to serve together has resulted in an added closeness in their relationship. Per the Robinson’s, there are special moments and memories that naturally come when they do things together. As an earth-shaking, cutting-edge couple they make it their mission to help one another realize all the potential God has created in each of them. The Robinson’s take pride in the fact that God has teamed them up to serve as co-directors of Emerging HOPE. They passionately believe that God intends for them to enjoy both ministry and marriage. Per Curtis, “There’s no one like us, and we were tailored-made for each other.”
Likewise, participating together in ministry opportunities – whether in their church, neighborhood, community, or the world – has helped them to grow in their faith as a couple. Working side-by-side to fulfill the Great Commission – in whatever capacity – has deepened their spiritual intimacy like little else could. They find that being the Lord’s witnesses by serving, giving, encouraging, caring, and loving as Jesus loved is rewarding beyond words. According to the Robinson’s, in the end, it is not about them, is it? It is about them – the poor, the needy, those who need a touch from God. They are no strangers to having people tell them what a blessing it to see them in ministry together.
The Robinson’s have found that because God has created man and woman to complete each other having the full counsel of the male and the female perspective when confronting ministry issues is invaluable. Likewise, the opportunity to have both a woman and a man present to deal with issues relevant to each gender has is a great benefit to their ministry. The Robinson’s passionately believe effective team ministry begins with a healthy marriage and family grounded in a whole and holy relationship to the Father through Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. As a dynamic team of two – the Lord has placed a heavy mandate in their hearts to reach out in the marketplace and in the kingdom like never.