If you ever want to change a city, you might want to check in with John Bowman, executive director of Hope Inspired Ministries. Bowman believes in eliminating barriers one life at a time so people can thrive. Hope Inspired Ministries is designed to train chronically unemployed men and women, then help them attain and maintain meaningful employment.
“We primarily do workforce development with a heavy focus on social work,” Bowman said. “Our end goal is to help people who cannot find jobs, in order for them to be self-sufficient. As well as helping them find employment, we also want to help them keep it. This is how you can change someone’s life. This is how you can change an entire city.”
Hope Inspired Ministries was founded in Montgomery in 2012 by Michael Coleman, a retired Army veteran of 21 years and a pastor. He was determined to help people in poverty survive.
Bowman said, “We started in 2012, and I became the executive director in 2020. I had just retired from the police department and had been volunteering with the ministry for about six years. We serve people who are primarily below the poverty line, regardless of race. Social justice is very important to us, and we treat everyone as equals.”
The approach Bowman and his staff take is radically different from other programs. Through a system of structure and accountability, combined with empathy and compassion, they train folks how to escape the helplessness and despair that are abundant when living in poverty.
Recently, Bowman has extended operations into Lowndes County and the Black Belt.
“We are expanding at Hope Inspired Ministries. There is extreme poverty and lack of work options in the Black Belt of Alabama, and we are trying to help the folks down there find jobs. We are planning on more expansions throughout the region.”
These expansions and this rigorous system of checks and balances require funding. Bowman gets funding from grants and donations, and he regards the Alabama Power Foundation as one of Hope Inspired Ministries’ biggest supporters.
“The Alabama Power Foundation has been terrific. They have helped us with grants and with partnerships on specific things,” Bowman said. “One of our board members works for Alabama Power, and he is always there helping with all sorts of projects.”
Like many other nonprofits, the pandemic has affected the operations of Hope Inspired Ministries, but it has not quenched its resolve to help the poor.
“We were shut down for about a month when COVID-19 first broke out. The pandemic had a heavy impact on the work that we were trying to do. Building relationships in person is such an important piece of what we do and that just wasn’t there,” Bowman said. “But we managed and survived it. Now we are almost back to normal.”
Nonprofit work can be difficult, with little financial reward, but Bowman considers his work with Hope Inspired Ministries rich and fulfilling.
“When these individuals we help have barriers in their life, they still have that purpose, so if you can eliminate those barriers, the community can thrive,” Bowman said. “I do believe this is how you change a city; one life at a time.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.hopeinspiredministries.org.