Early Sunday morning my friend, the executive director of the non-profit ministry whose board I serve on, called to tell me a member had passed away.

What does it mean to be a “member” at Hope Street? Technically, I suppose, a member is someone who lives at Hope Street, pays rent, attends the weekly community meeting and lives within the parameters of the member agreement. But anyone who’s spent time at the Greenhouse for People knows a member is actually something much more than that.

A member is family.

Hope Street Family

Family at Hope Street is like any family. Family has your back no matter how messy, neat, simple or complicated things get. Just like at my house, family argues, laughs, hugs, yells, loathes and loves everyday, multiple times a day. But no matter what, family loves, cares for and protects its own.

When I arrived at Hope Street early Sunday morning, I saw family at its best. Lisa had made phone calls and helped the paramedics working on Amanda. Robie took care of Amanda’s two young daughters. Marilyn showed the girls a You Tube video to find out how they liked their eggs so she could make them breakfast. Ashonty, age fourteen, hugged the girls for a very long time then took them to the play room. Rhonda, Kim, Brian, JJ, Angie, Rachael, Ash, Amy, Dawn, Perry, Hannah, Mr. Charles, Victor, Teesa, Jasmine, Weeta and so many more members, staff, volunteers – all family, came together Sunday and did what family does. They loved, cared and protected their own. They cried, hugged, helped and were present because that’s what family does.

Hope Street Milwaukee

Everyone knew Amanda. She cleaned and did so much more at Hope Street. While she vacuumed, swept and mopped, Amanda smiled. She was always grateful and never complained, argued or gossiped. Amanda was quick to listen, never in a hurry and an amazing mama to her four and eight-year-old girls. Amanda had a way of bringing out the best in the Hope Street family, in life and even in death.


I’ve cried a lot this week. I cried Sunday when I first saw the girls. I cried yesterday at community prayer. I’ve cried writing this post. But whenever the unspeakable happens, I know one thing: God is on His throne. I don’t know why He allows a day like Sunday, but for whatever reason I am comforted knowing He wasn’t shaken or surprised by it. I find some peace trusting that when I’m sad, confused and broken, God is in charge and can be trusted beyond my emotions, the pain in and around me or my capacity to understand. Faith in God doesn’t happen overnight or easily, but it’s the only thing that gets us through days like Sunday. Faith in Christ’s love, plan and sovereignty when all I see is hurt, is my only hope and all I have…

thanks be to God.

Amanda's Kids and Laura

P.S. If you would like to donate to Amanda’s memorial service, please visit www.hopestreetministry.org. Thank you.