Greenville native fights poverty, homelessness with nonprofit program

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fighting homelessness in the River Region is a battle that Greenville native Michael Coleman suits up for every single day.

Coleman is the founder and executive director of Hope Inspired Ministries (HIM), a non-profit organization devoted to training and equipping individuals for the work force.

A few years ago, an idea for a new ministry sparked after Coleman spent time with many people in poverty while serving as a minister at a local church.

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“HIM came out of time in which I had been serving people who had spent most, if not all, of their lives in poverty,” Coleman said. “Many continued to express to me a desire to work but either could not find a job or, if they had a job, could not hold on to that job for some reason.”

As a concerned member of the community, Coleman began to take note of many other non-profit organizations.

“I witnessed so many organizations helping people in poverty but I witnessed very few of these people ever transitioning out of poverty,” Coleman added.  “I came to believe that if I was truly serious about serving this population, it was my responsibility to provide a pathway out for them.”

Through much devotion and hard work, HIM was established in January 2012 in Montgomery.

In January 2017, the organization expanded to Birmingham, offering the program and other similar services.

Coleman was born and reared in Greenville, graduating from Fort Dale Academy in 1984. Shortly after his high school graduation, Coleman married his high school sweetheart, Susan Burnett Coleman and enlisted in the U.S. Army.

“During our 21 years in the military, we raised two daughters, Lauren and Taten, and lived in a myriad of places in the United States as well as serving two tours in Germany (Augsburg and Stuttgart). I also had the honor of serving a tour in Desert Shield and Desert Storm,” said Coleman.

Returning to the Greenville area in April 2005, Coleman served as a pastor of a church in Fort Deposit before starting HIM.

The organization serves low-income, poorly educated and chronically unemployed individuals. According to the mission statement, HIM introduces, “a way of life that promotes the development of the emotional, physical, and spiritual maturity in each student.”

There are seven classes offered each year, and individuals must be between the ages of 18-49, able to read on a sixth grade level, and drug-free. If accepted, the group attends classes aimed at improving communication skills, developing character and teaching employment skills. All in all, Coleman desperately wants to create a program that truly helps a situation.

“I began a program that would take people where they were and teach them the skills they would need in order to be successful in the workplace,” he said.

With his continued work, Coleman has been amazed by the community response in both Montgomery and Birmingham.

“When I started HIM, my wife and I made a decision to cash in our IRA and use all of our savings to start the program,” Coleman said.

“Since that time, we have had numerous churches, businesses, foundations, and individuals come alongside us and provide the support needed to sustain our program.”

Gaining the support of many churches and other local businesses, HIM has become a beacon of hope to the homeless population in both locations.

“The response from local businesses has been amazing,” he added. “It is important to note that businesses have come to trust us because they know that we are not going to cut corners on our training and will only give them someone who has proven that they will come to work each day on time, have a good work ethic, a positive attitude, and has the potential to make their business better.”

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, the unemployment rate is 3.6 percent. HIM is fighting against this percentage reaching those unemployed. Currently, between 85-90 percent of all HIM graduates are in the work force and/ or furthering his or her education.