Garfield resident Michael Stanton helps families make the transition from renting properties to owning their own homes as a way of empowering the community
Open Hand Ministries, an organization co-founded by Stanton in 2008, is dedicated to educating individuals on the importance of home ownership. It also turns abandoned houses in Garfield and East Liberty into livable, family homes.
Since starting Open Hand Ministries, Stanton and his staff, along with hundreds of volunteers, have made it possible for 11 families to go from renting to homeownership. Out of these families, eight single mothers have been able to purchase a home and create a more safe and stable life for themselves and their children. Open Hand Ministries works closely with the Bartko Foundation, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that works towards helping single minority mothers become self-sufficient.
“I am very honored to be named a Champion of Dignity and Respect” Stanton said. “OHM is a member driven rather than a board driven nonprofit organization so treating people with respect and consideration is a foundation of our work.”
After graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Occupational Safety and Health, Stanton went on to work for Purdue Farms in Virginia, Delaware and Maryland. Stanton later became an ordained minister through the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. In 2005, Stanton purchased a house in Garfield with his family. It was through his connections with different organizations and individuals in the neighborhood, that Stanton was able to create Open Hand Ministries.
Open Hand Ministries is a collective of four churches from the Garfield and East Liberty communities including, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, East Minster Presbyterian Church, Valley View Presbyterian Church, and Open Door Presbyterian Church. Committed to working with local families by offering education in debt reduction, budgeting, saving and investing, Open Hand Ministries has succeeded in providing the appropriate guidance to families who are having trouble qualifying for mortgages.
Rev. Dr. Randy Bush of East Liberty Presbyterian Church, former Dignity & Respect Champion, nominated Stanton saying, “Michael is a visionary leader as well as the primary contractor and home renovator. He does this work with passion, dedication, respect and sacrificial care.” Stanton joins 66 other members of the community who have been named Dignity & Respect Champions since the first champion in 2010.
Stanton lives in Garfield with his wife, three teenage daughters and 7-year-old son. He plans to add more staff to Open Hands Ministries in the upcoming year in order to expand their efforts to restore houses and provide family homes for those in need.
Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award! This prestigious award recognizes people who are engaged in their communities, live by the principles of dignity and respect, and promote an environment of inclusion.