Graduation Banquet 2013

Today was my 15th annual Graduation Banquet with Helping Up Mission.  Once again, a packed house at Martin’s West with a graduation class of almost 100 men, the HUM undergraduate choir and band, as well as video and live sharing of guy’s stories.

Victor Hoskins, Deputy Mayor of Washington DC gave the Keynote Address.  A decade ago, as Maryland Secretary of Housing and Community Development, he came to know HUM. Since then, he and his wife have been faithful supporters of what we do.  In his address, Victor spoke openly and passionately about his personal faith and appreciation for HUM. 

Another faithful supporter of HUM, Coach Craig Ver Steeg of the World Champion Baltimore Ravens, gave the official Welcome to all our guests and sat at my table.  He sat across from Bill, drafted by and played for the Washington Redskins in the 1970’s (see my 3/29/13 blog) and now a member of our Spiritual Recovery Program.

While men arrive each week, and officially graduate that same day one year later, once a year we recognize all those who graduated during the previous 12 months.  Today we celebrated the class of 2013.

We also invite HUM donors from the past year to join us so we can say thank you for caring and to show them the fruit of their investment.  Then, after being greeted at the door and ushered to their tables by undergraduates and hearing the undergraduate choir, we also invite these same donors to re-up again for next year.  The guys call this strategy a “dope-fiend move!”

But it obviously works, because the same people keep coming back year after year, and they bring new friends – who, themselves, often become donors and come back again, too!  “Building a Community of Hope” was our theme and that’s what it felt like in the room today. 

Congrats and Thanks to All,
Pastor Gary Byers
Deputy Director