Former student serves the poor with ministry
Elisa Riebeling Ministries has four outreach programs to serve different needs.
Published: Monday, July 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 2, 2012 15:07
A former victim of abuse, Elisa Riebeling, created Elisa Riebeling Ministries to help families facing misfortune.
The Elisa Riebeling Ministries has four programs, Our Father’s Kingdom Storehouse; 24-Hour H.E.L.P.: Helping Emergencies, Loving People; Loving Hearts Single Parents; and Healing Hearts Visitation to assist poor people with different needs.
The ministry describes itself as, “serving the poorest of the poor in our city by prayer, outreach and crisis prevention.”
Riebeling gives credit to this college for what she calls her “destiny training” because the employees here helped her achieve honors and they believed in her.
Riebeling took GED classes here and became a criminal justice major to help families in trouble with the law and to help ex-felons.
She did not graduate, but she felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Last fall, she received a certificate of completion for the Community Resident Leadership Program at St. Philip’s College.
The program was designed to teach people to be better leaders in the community.
“SAC is very special,” she said. “We want to be a source for those college students.”
Because she grew up in a dysfunctional home, she said she “wasn’t groomed for success.”
Elisa Riebeling was also in an abusive marriage with her first husband.
She said she would never have maintained her good grades if not for the instructors.
“I would’ve never left there with honor roll,” she said. “Strangers groomed me.”
Riebeling would study all day at school to keep her grades up and would communicate with her professors if she had a problem.
Elisa Riebeling’s children, James, Elisabeth, Zechariah and Isaiah, currently attend classes here, and her other three children also attended this college.
One of her sons, speech communications sophomore James Riebeling, is the president of the Campus Activities Board at this campus.
James Riebelng said he is proud of his mother’s accomplishments although she did not have an easy upbringing or first marriage.
He said he and his siblings grew up watching her mother help others so he is “proud and impressed.”
He said Elisa Riebeling grew up with other disadvantaged classmates, so she taught them there is always someone in trouble.
Elisa Riebeling and her husband taught her kids to get an education and study hard.
“It was really, really important we went to college,” he said. “It has been a great time for us.”
Another son, kinesiology sophomore Zechariah Riebeling is a member of the Kinesiology Club.
He said his mother’s work is “pretty much amazing.”
Kinesiology sophomore Isaiah Riebeling said he is touched by his mother’s work because he can see a difference in people.
He said he can tell people are much happier and grateful once they receive goods.
“It’s really awesome that she’s helping people,” he said. “You can see a difference.”
Her daughter, Eliza Jennifer Ramos-Taylor, is the executive director of the ministries and received an Associate of Art degree in psychology at this college.
Elisa Riebeling said her husband wanted their children to go to this college because he knows they will “reap success” if they go here, Elisa Riebeling said.
She said she is teaching her own children to communicate with their teachers because they actually care about students.
“The support system was just, wow,” she said. “They are there to empower you.”
She said everyone is lacking communication and that is when people encounter problems.
She wants the poor to know that the ministry is there to help, even if people do not ask for it.
Although the ministry is doing their best, it is a struggle for them to get around because they lack efficient transportation.
“The family vehicle is the work vehicle,” she said. “We’re waiting for that miracle.”
The ministry has five volunteers and is supported by donations, she said.
The ministry is looking at a building near this college to house the program, called Our Father’s Kingdom Storehouse, which distributes clothing, furniture, household goods and appliances to qualifying families and individuals.
They have been searching for a building for months and busily projecting purchase, maintenance and operation budgets.
“That would be a dream come true,” she said.
Elisa Riebeling said it is important to have programs like these because nowadays families cannot even afford thrift stores.
The qualifying income is higher than the state’s poverty income to serve more people who still need help.
For example, the state’s poverty income for a single person is $11,170; the ministry allows an income of $20,000 for single households to access the storehouse, although there are other qualifications such as referrals from other organizations.
So far, the ministry is running out of furniture and is in need of new mattresses.
Thirty families are on a waiting list for volunteers to visit the household and discuss needs, plan budgets and provide food if necessary.
“It is a hand-holding process,” she said.
Another program the ministry runs is, 24-Hour HELP: Helping Emergencies, Loving People.
It is available 24/7 for emergencies such as minimal food, insufficient clothing or hygiene products and utility disconnection.
Loving Hearts Single Parents is a program designed to support single-parent households. This program provides resources, referrals, guidance and support to the single parent so they can live in a functioning household.