A young girl and her mother found themselves homeless. Nothing in life was going their way. To make matters worse, the mother’s daughter consistently acted up. She did not want to let anyone get to know her. But then she met Heather Stemen.
“I told her she didn’t have to live that way,” Heather said. “She knew so much about the Bible already so I just tried to be a friend to her, offering support whenever I could.”
Shortly after the young girl left the shelter with her mom, the girl landed herself in jail. A few months later, they approached Heather and delivered her some news.
“Apparently, the girl turned her life around and decided she didn’t want to live the way she had been living — getting locked up and pushing people away. And from what the mother told me, it was because of what I told her,” Heather said. “I just wonder if I’m doing enough for these kids.”
Heather, a 2010 educational ministries graduate, works as the children’s ministry coordinator for Charis House, a women and children’s shelter located in Fort Wayne, Ind. The shelter is designed to alleviate the homelessness condition and help victims heal and move forward. Charis House assists women and children in the job search process, locates adequate housing, encourages clients to overcome life’s obstacles, provides emotional stability and nurtures the spiritual growth of the clients.
As the children’s ministry coordinator, Heather works primarily with the homeless children and teaches them important life skills, character building and spiritual development, and also offers educational enrichment.
“The job offer was a complete God thing,” she said. “I thought about where I’d want to work, and the position fell into my lap. I started out part-time, and then my supervisors promoted me to full-time status and provided me with an assistant. This place and I fit perfectly.”
With such an emotionally draining job, Heather sometimes finds it hard separating work life from her home life, especially after hearing the stories of those who come to Charis House.
“I see the potential in these mothers and how their decisions affect their children,” she said. “We may not always know where they end up after they leave, which is hard because I develop and mentor each child that comes into the house. We always want to hear the stories of where they are and hope they are all success stories.”
Heather feels prepared to handle the challenges of her position thanks in part to her time at Huntington University and the leadership skills she attained as a student. From the moment she walked on campus and met a few professors, Heather felt confident about her decision to come to HU.
“I wouldn’t have known what to expect in the workforce had it not been for my time at HU,” she said.
The small classroom sizes, one-on-one interactions with professors and a Christian perspective helped Heather receive the most out of her college experience.
“I figured out my own faith during college,” she said. “It was nice surrounding myself with people who had similar faith backgrounds and professors who incorporated faith into their teachings.” Discover what Huntington University can do for you.
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