Christine Birhanzl has been in the non-profit industry for many years. In October of 2014, Christine accepted a job as Director of Development with Sojourner Recovery Services in Hamilton, Ohio after spending 14 years with the American Red Cross.
Christine is very active in the Butler County community focusing on Hamilton. She is currently on the Board of New Life Mission.
Christine has been involved in “street ministry” in Hamilton for the past 12 years. You can find Christine in the evenings and the weekends on Front Street offering meals, clothing, referrals to local services and providing children’s programs. She met Lawrence Williams, (Slim) in 2007. Christine quickly saw that Slim had a passion for people. Slim provided hours of volunteer work helping with the street ministry and children’s activities.
Slim died in July of 2018. Christine wanted to remember his dedication and passion for his service to the Hamilton community. SLIM- Saving Lives In Ministry was the obvious name for the ministry.
What started out as feeding 125 sack lunches every Sunday out of her vehicle grew into Power Source Ministries allowing the group to store their items and serve out of the Church located at 412 S. Front Street in Hamilton, Ohio. SLIM is providing approximately 250 meals a week, providing transportation to individuals struggling with addiction to local treatment programs, helping people get their ID’s and Birth Certificates to enter treatment and/or seek employment. The clothing and hygiene pantry is available once a month for people who have the need.
Christine has a passion for people with a focus on the homeless, those struggling with addiction and children.
When asked what keeps her motivated, Christine responds~
“If I can do or say one thing that keeps a young person out of trouble or helps an individual struggling with addiction or homelessness through a difficult time I have succeeded.”
I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Christine, Peter, Marcia and Laurence Williams (Slim) in the spring of 2018. I was completely blown away with the work that they were doing for the homeless community and knew that it was something that I wanted to be involved with. Their compassion and dedication to serving the inner city community of Hamilton Ohio was something that is greatly needed in todays day and age.
Knowing the struggle and hardship of overcoming homelessness and the struggles that come with addiction I knew the help and support was greatly needed when trying to take on this task. I immediately dove in and quickly found my place in this ministry.
We started off making sack lunches and handing them out at the homeless camps and low income hotels in the area. During that time we started building relationships with individuals and slowly earned their trust. We noticed the need was more then just food so we quickly started providing personal hygiene and clothing when needed. As the needs of the community continued to change we changed along with it.
In addition to what we started off doing for the community we now try to bridge the gap from meeting people with where they are in life, without judgment, and try to connect them to appropriate agencies that can properly help them overcome their challenges from homelessness, addictions, mental health or whatever it may be.
As the needs of our community change so will we. We will continue to help others achieve a healthy and productive life so that we can build a better community and help change things for the better.
Peter Engelhard has been involved with SLIM since 2018. Peter enjoys being with the kids and teaching them the act of serving and showing love to people. Christine Birhanzl, Kyle Montano, and Peter Engelhard started by passing out sacked meals to motels and out on the streets. SLIM would encourage the kids to do well in school and in the community. SLIM would always be with the kids in the community and give them hope towards a better future.
Seeing people needing help, Peter took action by helping struggling individuals and families get access to SNAP through our homeless outreaches. SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger. The SNAP program has helped change the lives of the people we serve with families being able to save money and focus on paying their bills; knowing SNAP will help put food on the table. Peter has been active in SLIM and will continue to serve in providing hope to people with different backgrounds. He would like to see SLIM expand into a one stop for people to turn to for resources to help them towards self-sufficiency and continuing to become active in our communities.
Marcia Brandenburg is a lifelong resident of Hamilton. She is currently on the SLIM Board serving as Secretary. Marcia worked for Sojourner Recovery Services for seven years. Where she was a Residential Assistant for the Adolescent and Adult Women housing. Over the seven years she came to understand the substance abuse and mental health problems in Butler County.
Four years ago, Marcia was invited to stop by Power Source Ministry to observe the youth program on Thursday nights. This program provides a safe place for the children of the community. She has been there ever since. Marcia was then introduced to the Outreach program, which went out every Sunday in a truck passing out sack lunches to the less fortunate. Anyone can hand out a sack lunch, but this group of people is much more than a lunch. Each lunch is handed out with a warm welcome, smile and a hug. Showing unconditional love, compassion, respect and comfort, to the ones that are in need and/or dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues. They also, provide clothing, hygiene products, additional food and assistance in getting help by supplying them with information. This all began with one Woman’s dream and a big heart. Her heart and love continues to grow each and every day to help these people on the streets. Destined to make a difference, SLIM strives every day to make a difference in someone’s life. Whether if it is to give them a good hot meal, dry clothes or assist them in finding help.
SLIM continues to grow each and every day. Marcia is proud to be part of this growing Ministry.