Shelter: Graduation & NEW Crisis Housing

We’re thrilled to share some news about the Shelter. Our young people there are “graduating” from the program and moving toward independence. Soon our Shelter building will have a new, important purpose, bringing hope to many young families. More on that in a moment!

Shelter Youth Giving Back

We recently received this encouraging note from staff member Lena Voznyuk:

Every year, young teen orphans at the Berdichiv orphanage graduate and begin their independent lives. Each one has dreams, goals, and expectations of a good future. Every year we make the trip to Berdichiv to wish them well, and introduce them to Last Bell.


The group of new graduates at Berdichiv orphanage

This year, our young people from the Shelter expressed a desire to go with us. So we went to Berdichiv as a big family. There we—and our youth from the Shelter—told the graduates, as always, that we’d be waiting for them in September.

And we spent this day together with ‘our’ young people, now successful students.


Two young people from the Shelter with LB staff members’ children

We’re so proud of our youth, and our staff who have consistently loved and mentored them. Although it only lasted three years, we see this program as a big success. Kids and staff were all challenged and grew in maturity. They came to know and love one another. This gives us hope for future beneficiaries of the Shelter’s warm sanctuary.

Success for Many; Seeds Planted in All Hearts

We’re so thankful to our Shelter sponsors, who covered the cost of nearly the whole program.

If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to read this blog in which one young lady, Snizhana, shares her heartfelt gratitude for the Shelter staff and sponsors: “I’m so glad I had the opportunity to live here.”

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On July 19th, the Shelter celebrated “graduation” from the Shelter program for all the young people who lived at the Shelter or consistently participated. Credit for all Shelter graduation photos: LB friend Kádár Tamás

A few of these precious young people—especially ones who didn’t live at the Shelter full-time—have been unable to overcome the scars they carry from broken families and orphanage life, and accept the mentorship we offer. We trust the Holy Spirit with His timing for these young men and women.

We’re helping many look to the future and make wise decisions about housing, employment, and further education. One is studying at a medical college, another at a pharmacological college. One is married, living in the village with her husband and new baby. Several are uncertain about the future, but we’ll continue offering support and practical help to each one.

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Our beloved Shelter graduates (never a dull moment!).

Shelter Facility Has a New Purpose

Several years ago, as we paid close attention to the ways our young people’s needs were shifting, our board and staff unanimously agreed to address a need for short-term emergency housing. We set in motion plans to renovate the Shelter, turning it into a crisis housing facility, after our Shelter youth had “graduated.” That time has now come.

We’re excited to begin renovations—and excited to see our young men on the Restoration Project team hard at work on the Shelter building! This amazing resource will primarily serve orphan moms in our Stop the Cycle program and their young children, but will be available to any of our young people in crisis. We’ll share more about the Shelter in its new role as a crisis housing facility in the the near future.

A note from our Board Chair

Over the past several visits to Zhytomyr, I’ve observed how much our young people at the Shelter have become givers, in spite of their own hardships and circumstances. They were always lending a hand with other ministry efforts, like watching Stop the Cycle kids, serving meals, or taking visitors on city tours.

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Our staff really know how to celebrate our youth and make them feel special. Many teens in the U.S. expect to feel celebrated during a season of graduations. But without the presence of LB, our beautiful young men and women wouldn’t have anyone to say, “I’m proud of you!”

Youth from all our programs are becoming generous adults who want their own healthy families and choose to give back. Praise God for this! Maybe someday we’ll see an orphan revolution in Ukraine, where redeemed orphans turn their society around by ending the vicious orphan cycle. Lord, may it be so.

~Ellen Jackson

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Of course, a Shelter graduation wouldn’t be complete without some presentations and funny skits…

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…or a little family-friendly dancing.

The Next 10 Years

As Last Bell celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, we’re thinking about what the next ten years will bring. Who knows how many young families will grow in a totally new, healthy, loving way over the next ten years because they had a safe place to stay at the Shelter? We’ll have to wait (and pray, and work hard) to find out!

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Congratulations, Shelter grads!

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Last Bell Ministries

Loving and restoring orphanage graduates toward life and community.


PO Box 30671
Indianapolis, IN 46230