April 2013 Posts

Rachel’s Lens // My job is about relationships

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

One of my main jobs here at the Mission is writing our monthly newsletter: The Changing Lives Newsletter. The process to produce one edition takes an entire month, so even though I’ve been here for seven months, I’ve only seen the process from start to finish five times. It’s a long learning curve!

I usually start by reading through last year’s edition of that same month to get ideas. As I feel a concept start to percolate, I call other Denver Rescue Mission employees to ask about some program participants. I call program heads, chaplains, mentors, counselors, the list goes on. I ask if they have anyone in their program who would be willing to explain their journey to and at the Mission. Once I have those names and numbers, I make appointments.

Then comes my favorite part of the job: meeting our program participants and graduates. Because I haven’t been here long enough to see an individual enter and graduate our program, my relationships with our participants are built in my interviews. I have met so many gracious people at this point in the process. People who are not only willing to let me snap photos, but are inviting me to ask questions about the most difficult experiences of their lives. It’s incredible to see these people sitting in front of me who are usually so well-acclimated speak about such trying times.

It’s a constant reminder that all of us are one decision away from losing everything. It reminds me of my fallibility and my utter dependence on God. I praise the Lord for these people’s victories and feel privileged to tell their stories.

After the interview, I usually rush back to the office and try to write the story while it’s fresh in my brain. But the writing part is not the part that I look forward to each month. It’s the interviews. It’s the relationships that I get to build. It’s seeing a participant graduate knowing some of the mountains they had to climb to get there.

The finished product may be a pretty newsletter with compelling words and photos, but the end goal is seeing that same person living a self-sufficient life months after it’s printed. To me, that is when the job is truly done.

Train up your children

Written by Ashley Miltgen, Major Gifts Officer

I’ve been realizing lately how I receive so much more than I give when I choose to serve others. It’s been almost a month since Easter, and I am still reaping the benefits of just one simple act.

It was this Easter when I had my first experience washing the feet of our guests at Denver Rescue Mission’s Good Friday celebration. I thought that by participating in this experience, I might be a blessing to others: I had no idea how much this opportunity would bless me and my family.

As I was leaving the downtown shelter, I couldn’t help but become more aware of all the blessings in my life. That night I soaked up everything: the way my daughters were giggling in the back seat; the breathtaking mountains zipping by my car window; the warmth from the coat I was wearing; the fact that I didn’t have to worry about where my children would sleep that night — suddenly I found myself overwhelmed with joy.

After spending the night savoring all the normal things I so often take for granted, I didn’t want the night to end. I decided to snuggle my two daughters in my arms until they fell asleep. Like most nights, there was a lot of talking before entering dreamland. This conversation though, was even more precious. My oldest daughter Grace, who is 6, wanted to know more about the feet washing I had done. The questions started out simple: Mommy, how many feet did you wash? Mommy, were any of the feet ticklish?

Ashley's daughter, Grace

The questions quickly progressed and got deeper: Mommy, how does someone get to be homeless? Mommy, why can’t your work just give the people money for a house? Mommy, what if we didn’t have enough money for a house?” We talked for two hours about homelessness and how we can serve others as the Lord has called us to. And as I drifted off to sleep I was reminded of Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I have since been repeatedly amazed by the questions Grace has asked about God — about how she, too, can serve others — all from her mommy doing one simple act of kindness. One simple act to serve others has continued to bless me beyond measure.


Rachel’s Lens // Good Food, Good Company & a Great God

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

For months now, my husband and I have driven past a little building with the sign Butcher Block Café above it. Underneath that sign, it says in simple, block letters: “HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS.”

I love cinnamon rolls. We have been meaning to check it out, but never got around to it. But one day in March, my coworkers and I decided to give it a go and see if these rolls were worth the effort. They were. If you’re wondering, they are worth the effort any and every day of the week. We liked them so much that we decided to make The Butcher Block our go-to restaurant on Thursday mornings.

For the last three weeks, we’ve started our day fellowshipping together around a plate of cinnamon rolls (and other tasty foods). And yesterday I was reminded, for the umpteenth time, why my place of work is so invaluable.

My coworker Aneta had the brilliant idea of using part of our meal time to do devotions together. We’ll take turns leading and sharing what’s going on in our hearts and lives. Don took his turn yesterday and shared about God’s peace. He talked about how it’s a free gift every day. But he wisely pointed out that because of our finite minds, this is not a one-time gift; it’s something we need to ask for on a daily basis. What a great way to start your day, being reminded to keep Christ at the center of all we do.

To have a workplace that encourages me daily in my faith is so rare. Days like yesterday remind me to be grateful for the magnificent blessing we all have to work and serve together.

Little Things Make the Difference

Written by Alexxa Gagner, Public Relations Director

February marked my 3 year anniversary working at Denver Rescue Mission. Let me just say, time flies!

My role in public relations is to tell the stories of Denver Rescue Mission, the people we serve and how we change lives in the name of Christ.

One of the things I love the most about this job is meeting with people and hearing their story first-hand. After more than three years of meeting amazing people, building trusting relationships and learning more than I ever expected, I feel incredibly blessed.

I’m around kind-hearted staff members, program participants and volunteers on a daily basis. Up until recently, I didn’t think my presence had much effect–if any–on our program participants. I didn’t realize that God was using me to encourage others.

One of our New Life Program participants helped me out by appearing in a video shoot for the Mission recently. I sent him a simple note and a few cookies as a thank you. Later, he mentioned to one of my co-workers that my little gesture encouraged him to stay in the program. What I thought was tiny and simple was huge to someone else.

The little things can really mean a lot. We never know what others are going through and sometimes even a nod, smile, pat on the back, or hug can make all the difference in the world.

What little things have you done lately that had a positive influence on someone else?

Alternative Spring Break Students Grow and Learn

Patrick Ellison, a student organizer for the Mizzou Alternative Spring Break program, gets to work in God's Little Acre -- the Crossing's own little backyard garden where residents can harvest vegetables.

Written By Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to be outside, soak in some sunshine and get my hands dirty with a group of spirited volunteers from the University of Missouri. The students were visiting Denver Rescue Mission as part of their school’s Alternative Spring Break [ASB] program. Their goal was to learn more about the issues of hunger and homelessness and serve in a city where the issue is prominent.

Student organizer Patrick Ellison said that connecting with Denver Rescue Mission was particularly great because the group was able to work with only one organization, yet do a variety of volunteer tasks in a different setting every day. The team spent at least one day at each of the Mission’s Denver Metro locations (The Crossing, the Lawrence Street Shelter and Champa House). Each location provided a different lens through which to view the issues, giving the group a broad perspective on homelessness and poverty.

While at The Crossing the students teamed up with Lisa Cooper and some New Life Program Participants to prepare God’s Little Acre for planting season.  The group moved truckloads worth of manure and soil from the back of a pickup truck into the backyard garden where about 20 Crossing residents will have the opportunity to plant and harvest vegetables, fruits and herbs this summer.

Jackson Farley gets down to digging while spending a day at The Crossing -- just one of the several volunteer projects his group helped with while visiting Denver Rescue Mission from the University of Missouri.

God’s Little Acre has become a valuable resource at The Crossing, not just as a source of fresh produce for those who live there, but also as a place to learn.

“The garden is a great teacher,” said Lisa Cooper who runs the Community Gardening Project at the Crossing. “There’s so much symbolism that relates to life. What do you do when something devastates your crop? You re-cultivate. You re-mulch. It’s the same with life. You need good soil to make your spiritual garden grow — the illustrations are so applicable. And most of the guys here [at The Crossing] are visual learners, so it helps them learn the lessons.”

While preparing the garden, the group had the opportunity to work side-by-side with several program participants, including Johnny Gaines, a Denver native who’s been in the program for about 8 months and bravely opened up to the students about his past.

“It felt good to tell them my story,” said Jonny. “It gives me more motivation to keep moving forward.”

The students appreciated the direct interaction they had with the residents.

“I loved having small conversations with the people at the Mission and being able to see the smiles on their faces,” said Ara Acosta, a 21-year-old student who said her trip was “a very eye-opening experience.”

Caroline Bauman, a journalism major at the University of Missouri, said she was “inspired” by what she saw at the Mission.

“The Mission here is really impressive,” she said. “If every city had a Mission like this, then we’d be living in a vastly different America.”

If you’d like to organize a group volunteer trip to The Crossing or any of the Denver Rescue Mission facilities, please click here.

New Life Program Participant Johnny Gaines (pictured front) got to share part of his story with students volunteering at the Crossing for Spring Break, including Connor Hickox (pictured left)

University of Mizzou Student Jordan Denker gets help from an NLP Participant while operating garden machinery during her Alternative Spring Break Trip at Denver Rescue Mission.