“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35-36
That verse is part of Jesus’ final sermon in the Gospel of Matthew. It depicts a scene where Jesus explains to his followers that they can serve Him by serving the needs of others, and since the founding of Restoration Ministries, that has been our mission. 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of our organization and we couldn’t be more proud of everything we have accomplished and of all those who have made it possible.
When Restoration Ministries was founded in 1988 by Dr. John Sullivan and a group of relentless volunteers, its specific purpose was to care for those in our community struggling with drug addictions. The first Harvey House School of Ministry opened its doors in nothing more than a renovated motel, hoping that by the grace of God it could become a source of love and comfort to all those who walked in. No one could have imagined where we would be 25 years later.
Within two years of its founding, Restoration Ministries started the Food Pantry Ministry, the beginning of a new path for our organization, furthering our commitment to God’s message. By 1992, Project Intercept, our Youth Development Program, was offering our children new opportunities, a chance to grow both physically and spiritually. The next five years would introduce our first block party, the Christmas Toy Store, the opening of our thrift store, and the beginning of the Tabitha House. Within ten years, the organization had blossomed into something beyond its original intention and that was only the beginning.
Over the next ten years, we would continue to respond to the needs of our
community, seeking to improve and expand Restoration Ministries in new
ways. We opened the Kids Café, started the Harvey Boxing Club and the
Gallery of Arts. Project Intercept also welcomed the addition of programs
such as the Homework Help and Tutoring Program and the Bread for the
Head Reading Program. Our second thrift store was built in South Holland,
becoming a source of job training and employment to our Harvey House and
Tabitha House residents.
Hundreds of people have ownership in our cause and have built Restoration
Ministries to where it is today. The time and generosity of our community was
most evident in one of our proudest achievements. In 2009, we inaugurated a
new 25,000 square foot building to replace our old facilities. This achievement
allowed us to bring under one roof many of the programs we offer and aided
us in better serving the needs of all those we help. It brought together the
residential recovery program, assistance and outreach programs, the Harvey
House School of Ministry, the After School Program, and our administrative offices. It also gave us an opportunity to truly demonstrate the glory of God and to represent His love in a facility dedicated to His message.
Restoration Ministries has come very far since its inception. Today, there are over 20 programs available and every year more than 4,000 people from every aspect of our community are served by our dedicated staff and volunteers. People of all different backgrounds, with their own stories, their own unique struggles, have been impacted by our commitment. Individuals like Ray Banks, our Executive Director, have been transformed by our programs, by God’s message, and have found a meaningful purpose in their lives.
“Restoring People, Rebuilding Communities” is our motto because that is the foundation of Jesus’ words in Matthew Chapter 25. If we can follow His message in the way He intended, we know that no matter what struggles we face, no matter the obstacles, we can help make meaningful change. That is why if someone is hungry, we will feed them. If they are thirsty, we will offer them something to drink. If they are a stranger, we will let them in. If they need clothes, we will clothe them. If they are sick, we will comfort them. And if they are in prison, we will always visit them. After 25 years, we can look back with pride and see the impact we have had over the course of these many years, but the work is not done. Tomorrow is a new day and our mission of service continues. We can never repay the help, guidance, and generosity that we have been blessed with, but we can always pay it forward. We are excited for the next 25 years.