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2023 Graduation: Celebrating lives restored

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Above: Recent graduates joined long-time alumni at an alumni meetup held at the conclusion of the 2023 graduation ceremony. 

At a ceremony held in October, The Bowery Mission community came together to celebrate new beginnings for 29 graduates of its faith-based Residential Programs for adults overcoming homelessness. An audience of more than 100 people — family, friends, staff, alumni and supporters — gathered at Central Presbyterian Church to honor and celebrate the class of 2023.

The Bowery Mission’s Residential Programs provide a caring and safe environment for men and women overcoming homelessness and other crises to achieve personal goals for life and work, heal from past trauma and overcome barriers to independent living. While living at the Mission for three to 12 months, clients receive the services and support they need to grow spiritually, achieve wellness and recovery, succeed in the workplace, develop practical life skills, and obtain housing of their own.

Attendees celebrate restoration at graduation

29 men and women have completed the counseling, coursework and the necessary benchmarks towards thriving and independence. They have been introduced to faith, connected to community, display physical and emotional wellness and achieved recovery goals, sustainable income, secure housing and life skills for the future.

For all of us at the Mission, graduation is one of the most joyous moments of the year, as we get to celebrate lives transformed and praise God for the ways He is working in the lives of clients in our community! The theme of this year’s graduation was Restoration, embodied by the men and women who walked down the aisle after overcoming so many obstacles and embracing a new life of flourishing.

Graduate with staff celebrating restoration

Michael, a 2023 graduate (pictured above), took the stage to share about his journey of restoration firsthand. After years of struggling with substance abuse and broken relationships, Michael arrived at The Bowery Mission determined to rebuild his life for his family. “When I found The Bowery Mission, the first thing I thought was, ‘God gave me an opportunity again,’” he shared.

“Restoration is more than just the moment of redemption,” shared Rob DeGuzman, Senior Program Director, in a keynote speech. “It is a life-long process that God continually performs as we abide in Him.” The theme carried on in a special musical performance by chaplain Michael Corbin. In a special song dedicated to the graduates, “Speak to the Mountains,” he sang:

There’s no mountain too high
No valley too low
There’s no fear that I have
He doesn’t already know
There’s no problem too big
There’s no weapon too strong
There is nothing for God that’s impossible

Graduation is a culmination but also the start of a new chapter in life. We are so proud of each and every one of these men and women, and we are excited to see how their future in Christ unfolds.

“To this year’s graduates, I share this as a reminder and charge: to abide in Christ in times of adversity and achievement. God seeks to ‘restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten’ — to restore the years that have been snatched from you. Find your strength in Him. To myself and everyone gathered together tonight, we can overcome through Christ who gives us strength.” — Rob DeGuzman, Senior Program Director 

How you can get involved

This celebration of life transformation — made possible by friends like you — is not just what feels good, but is based on real, measurable results. Together, we see the fruit of God’s work in neighbors who have come through our Red Doors seeking new life from struggles with homelessness, poverty and other crises.

Learn more about our strategies to help our neighbors in need to flourish, including our Residential & Community Programs, and the principles of care at their foundation. And to impact more lives in our city, please consider making a gift today.