OUR STORY

 

Dr. Robinson's journey as a single parent began in January of nineteen ninety-four, she unexpectedly found myself as a divorce African American woman was left to raise three small children on my 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 myself 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. Therefore, on a blistering cold winter morning in January thousand and two, she brought an idea that I had been propounding around in my head for several months into fruition.   As a single mom living in the Projects with little money nor resources; she took a leap of faith and sought out avenues on how to start a parenting program.  Thus, the Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program (Emerging HOPE) was birthed.  Its mission was to help single parents gain independence and better their lifestyle, making them capable of providing the best possible living situation for their children.

Moreover, utilizing her own life experience as a former single parent, she wrote a multicultural-interactive parenting educational manual.  The manual is utilized when teaching community-based parenting classes.  Many of the parents were mandated to attend through the Department of Health and Human Services, Child Protective Services Program or through a Family Court order.

Dr. Robinson interviewed parents, volunteers, and external collaborators to obtain program enrollment information. She recruitment of parent aides, was responsible for interviewing and training parent aides’ applicants.  Moreover, she interviewed families for the program; making sure established and maintained effective relationships with internal and external philanthropist and gained their trust and respect all while seeking funding for the program.

Furthermore, as a single parent, she was gravely concerned about her children’s academic well-being, especially during summer month breaks.  Research confirms that all students lose ground when they are away from the academic setting during summer breaks.  With the problems being more acute for low-income learners and African American children whose loss in terms of reading acumen is a disturbing two to three-month drop in reading levels.

Therefore, she was driven to find a way to enhance my children’s academic, social, and emotional wellbeing with summer learning opportunities.   Consequently, Dr. Robinson decided to involve my three children in summer recreational activities.  Yet, with a limited budget, how would this be possible?  Therefore, she sought out scholarships so that her children could participate in an array of summer programs at little or no cost. Moreover, she  applied directly to the camps, as early as possible. Almost all the camps she applied to offered some sort of financial support for her family.   Likewise, she continued in that vein for nearly 10 years as her children were on summer breaks;  continuously reaping the benefits of summer camp scholarships.

Realizing that most child experiences the loss of skills learned during the school year, resulting from a lack of organized learning during the summer Dr. Robinson's desire was to share what she learned about seeking summer camp scholarship funding with other single parent families who were struggling financially, yet wanted to  have an opportunity for their children to participate in camp and other educational programs during the summer to help their minds stay sharp. She believed that children whose families were financially disadvantaged should have the same opportunity as chidden from affluent homes.

Therefore, she founded the Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program - Urban Summer Camp Program.  The program was started to help children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds reap the benefits of social emotional learning, math, science, resiliency skills, leadership skills all while addressing mental and emotional concerns.  

Moreover, as a recruitment tool (12 consecutive summers) Emerging HOPE hosted a one-day community wide event entitled “Camp Day Out.” The purpose of the 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 one-on-one with camp directors from an array of residential and summer day programs to learn about their programs.  Most importantly, many of the programs awarded generous summer camp scholarships to participants at that time.

The pervasive negative effects of racism on youth development, as well as on their health and well-being, and the toll it exacts on families and communities who can be traumatizing.  Having raised her children as a single parent in an often-unfair racialized world are some of the reasons why she has such great passion for African American single parents and their children who are making it despite the odds.

Dr. Robinson has served as a therapist for both children and their families. The families she has support were often in severe crisis mode.  Many of the families were low-income, African American single parents with various presenting problems. Whatever their affliction was, with consistent help and a support system they many were able to overcome their unfortunate situations and acquire the necessary skills to enhance their parenting abilities.

 

As loving-nurturing African American parent, Dr. Robinson has a deep passion for the well-being of children especially low income-disfranchised African American youth. 

 

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.

Mental Health Awareness

 

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:

Lotus Flower Podcast

Lotus Flower Book Club

Men of HOPE Support Group (former)

Empowering Worship Services

Bible Study

Culturally Relevant Counseling Services

Pastoral Counseling

Outreach Programs for Urban Youth

Brown Bag Support Group for Therapist, Clergy, Human Service Professionals, and Urban Youth Program Leaders (former)

Holiday Gift Baskets Giveaways

Educational Workshops

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. 

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