Bridging Gaps and Building Community
From a young age, Lena Bluestein pictured a life of service.
She moved to Ludington as a teenager and her family got involved with a local church. Lena was able to go on several international mission trips and ultimately went to college to study world missions.
“I’ve always had a heart for those that society overlooks or forgets,” said Lena. “I thought I’d work outside of the country, but eventually I realized that I could serve ‘the least of these’ right here in my own community.”
Lena started small, visiting and driving church members to medical appointments. Eventually she was approached by Community Mental Health (CMH) about the possibility of becoming a legal guardian for adults with disabilities.
Guardians like Lena are appointed by the court to help dependent adults with daily living needs such as housing, finances, medical decisions, and transportation to medical appointments. They also do a variety of tasks, from helping to coordinate insurance and refilling home medication machines to making phone calls to fight high electric bills.
“There’s a huge need for this service in Mason County and all over the state,” said Lena. “We keep people from getting lost in the system and those with guardians are much less likely to face homelessness or be derailed by other life issues.”
Lena served as a guardian for over three years but wanted to find a way to take on more clients and make a bigger impact. That’s why she established Blue Hat Ministries in 2021.
Blue Hat Ministries works with individuals who are elderly, struggle with mental illness or addiction, or who have a cognitive disability. Staff and volunteers come alongside clients to improve quality of life and, in many cases, become almost like family.
“We’re there day after day, year after year, building relationships,” said Lena. “Our goal is to bridge the gaps in services or connections and help dependent adults live their most independent lives. We want them to know they are remembered and loved.”
In order to provide sustainability and ensure Blue Hat Ministries is able to serve the community for years to come, the organization also established a fund with the Community Foundation last year.
“We appreciate how the Community Foundation sees the greatest needs of our community and works together with partners,” said Lena. “It’s our hope that being connected to and creating a fund with the Community Foundation will help show the community that Blue Hat Ministries is here to stay.”
Donations to Blue Hat Ministries or their fund are currently being matched by the Pennies From Heaven Foundation up to $50,000 through the end of 2024.