June 2013 Posts

Rachel’s Lens // Bright and Tidy: Fort Collins Rescue Mission

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

Fort Collins Rescue Mission had their first open house yesterday morning. I got to go check out the facility, along with 50 other people from the local community.

The Mission opened its doors at 10 a.m. and staff members gave tours of the men’s and women’s rooms, as well as the kitchen, dining and common areas. The Mission has made HUGE strides since Denver Rescue Mission acquired the building last winter. Through generous donations and hard work, the place is really coming together. There were innumerable repairs to make and it’s impressive to see how far it’s come.

team prayer before the open house begins

I remember going up the first time and seeing flickering bulbs and leaky pipes, but hearing enthusiasm in the voices of the new staff. Now, the rooms are bright and tidy with new mattresses and the kitchen is fully equipped, constantly turning out delicious food. The staff is still enthusiastic, now implementing a Steps to Success program and offering classes and counseling.

 

the new and improved men's room

I’m so excited about the work going on in Fort Collins and also very appreciative of the community getting involved. Running a homeless shelter is no easy task and a supportive network of businesses and people in the Fort Collins area will be crucial to fulfilling our mission of Changing Lives in the Name of Christ. Thank you to all of you who attended!

Want to be part of the change? www.FortCollinsRescueMission.org

Happy Father’s Day!!

Written By Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern

Happy Father’s Day from Denver Rescue Mission!

One of the most beautiful things we see here at the Mission is when a father, after having been separated from his kids, begins to reestablish connection. Sometimes the separation is physical, others just emotional; sometimes it is caused by addiction, other times by divorce, jail or homelessness.  Regardless of the circumstances, each and every story of reunion is profoundly heart-warming. In honor of Father’s Day, we’d like to share one of those stories with you. LaJosh Castille has been working diligently to have his kids back in his life, and to be the father he’s always wanted to be. This is his story:

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LaJosh Vincente Castille grew up in a loving church family in Five Points as the middle child of three. His mom and dad were very spiritual and active members of the church; his grandmothers shook their fingers at him and told him to “stay in church son.”

He had a natural curiosity about religion, spirituality and the world — in his youth he studied Judaism and explored world religions. He called himself a “truth seeker” and was teased by his older brother’s friends for always carrying around a backpack full of books. To this day, a close friend still calls him “The Professor.”

“I just always had that ambition to learn and teach and be an educator. To be educated means so much more than to have a degree,” he said.

“The word educate actually comes from the Latin root word ‘educe,’” he continued, his inner professor coming out. “It means to bring out, or draw out. A person who is educated knows how to embody what they’ve learned.”

And this seemed to be exactly LaJosh’s problem: Even though he had a clear propensity for learning, he couldn’t quite seem to apply his knowledge. When he graduated from high school, his intellect alone couldn’t push him to reach his full potential. Instead, he landed a job at Home Depot, where he was working when he became a father. Struggling to stay afloat, he got another job as a restroom attendant in a nightclub, wearing a suit and handing out cologne and mints in the men’s room. When that “started to get dangerous,” and Home Depot laid him off, LaJosh became jobless…then homeless.

He couch-hopped at first, staying with his mom on occasion and with friends on others. But when that got old, he found a spot in a city stairwell and another at Union Station. He would wake up early in the morning, take a shower at the St. Francis homeless resource center, visit his kids at their mother’s and look for work. He even enrolled in school and started taking classes full-time at ITT Technical College in Criminal Justice.

“No one could tell I was homeless,” LaJosh said. “I still dressed nice, would go to the library, had a resume and was looking for work.”

He would take his kids to his classes and on his job hunt with him.

“It was a lot like the Pursuit of Happyness,” he said laughing.

But after three years of living homeless, with a few temporary jobs spotted throughout, LaJosh grew weary of the lifestyle and needed an escape. He started drinking with some of his fellow street friends.

“We drank vodka and Wild Turkey — it became a social thing. We had our little spot where we’d meet up. The older guys would pass down their wisdom…tell us how we didn’t want to end up like them,” he remembered.

Drinking made the rut harder to crawl out of. He thought of his kids and knew he had to do something.

“It was all about my kids,” he said.

So he joined the New Life Program in April of 2012 and began to learn more about God and, as a result,  himself: “You seek Christ, but actually Christ is always in you,” he said. “You learn who He is so you can learn who you are.”

Since joining the program LaJosh sees his kids regularly. His son, now 15, is interested in going into the Marine Academy and his daughter wants to be a ballerina. LaJosh is a proud papa — he lights up when he talks about his beautiful children, whom he carries a picture of at all times. He said he’s teaching his son the lessons he’s learned — about what it takes to be a man and how to love God and others. For his daughter, he says he’s trying to become the type of man he’d want her to marry one day.

“A daughter usually goes for someone like her father,” he said. “I want to show her what a man looks like.”

Now LaJosh has the capability to be the father — and teacher — he’s always wanted to be.

“I know I’m a teacher by birth,” he said. “But I had to teach myself first.”

 

Rachel’s Lens // Brownies and Barbers

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

My mom and sister are in town this week which means that I’m very happy and very exhausted. See, my mom is one of those awesome people that makes you wake up and run every morning, but then buys you delicious, rich coffee and hands you a homemade brownie for breakfast. So, I’m semi-exercised yet caloried-up each morning, which makes for an interesting day at work. But with as much running around as I’ve been doing all week, the extra sugar is probably good fuel.

It’s been an energetic week to say the least. This week I’ve been taking photos for our newsletter, of past program graduates for upcoming Mission events and the regular ol’ Instagram shots. My favorite shoot was yesterday when we interviewed Don, a program graduate from Harvest Farm. He now works at a local barber shop and is going to be a featured speaker at our “Evening of Exploration” event this fall.

I got to see his barber skills in motion when I asked to snap a couple of photos of him and he instantly demanded that Ryan, my coworker, jump in his chair for a much-needed beard trim. (Ryan was one of the Rescue Riders who rode 900 miles from Denver to Phoenix on a bike as part of Break the Cycle: 900 Miles Against Hunger. The man was in desperate need of a shave!) We laughed through the whole thing and I must say, Don made Ryan look like a real human again. Kudos!

Break the Cycle // Day 10 // 900 Miles for 20,000 Meals

Downhill to Phoenix!

It was the second to last day of our ride to fight against hunger and it was a beautiful and challenging ride!  Brad, Josh, Brian, and Ryan started the ride out at 5:00 a.m. to beat the heat of a day of riding in Arizona in June. We had an extremely long climb that spanned over 30 miles and a gain of roughly 3,500 feet of elevation. We were extremely grateful for our unsung heroes of the trip, Kyle and Pierce who have been graciously supporting us throughout the days, keeping us safe, well fed, and hydrated during our long days on the road.  Without them, we could not have made it through some of our most challenging days, like today!

I am looking back on our journey and I can’t believe that it is almost over. We had long days on the saddle, however, this trip went by really fast. We all miss our families and friends; however, we have all really enjoyed bonding on this journey with each other as well as the many wonderful and interesting people that we have met along the way.

Our focus has remained on the fact that we are doing this for the people that we serve at Denver Rescue Mission who are in need and don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We are grateful for the fact that we are in a position to serve Jesus in such a unique way.  I will miss our morning bible verse and prayer as well as the camaraderie that has been cultivated during this ride.

Thank you to everyone who has been following us up to this point.  Today, we are finishing our last day riding. Thank you for your prayers as we complete our journey at the Biltmore in Phoenix, AZ.

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Break the Cycle stretches so much further than the 900-mile road. Our hearts and minds will be focused on those who come to the Mission for food, shelter, clothing, and life-changing programs. Our goal is to provide 20,000 meals to the hurting and homeless in our community!

Support us here: www.DenverRescueMission.org/Bike

 

Break the Cycle // Day 9 // This too shall pass

Written by Kyle Petrie, DRM employee

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was filled with infinite challenges: aggressive drivers, unseasonable heat, poor road conditions due to construction, and inconsistent shoulders on miles of roadway. Those conditions forced us to make some serious adjustments along the way.

But as with so many things in life, we learned that “this too shall pass”. This morning we left our hotel with a full accompaniment of riders: the four normal riders and both support staff being able to ride as well. Due to some last minute logistical changes, I had moved from full time rider to full time support staff just before the ride began in Denver over a week ago. But, my hope was to get a few days of riding in as long as it worked out.  Not only was today a good day for me to ride, but we were also able to add Pierce O’Farrill to the group going from Flagstaff through Sedona, and on to Cottonwood, AZ.

The six of us ride 50 miles of some of the most beautiful landscape that Arizona has to offer–nearly all of it downhill! The day of challenges yesterday quickly became a memory that faded with each turn along the tree lined roads of Oak Creek Canyon and the majesty of morning sunlight hitting the red rocks that towered above us for miles and miles.

The trip is beginning to wind down. There are just two more days of riding and this will be my last opportunity to blog from the road. There have been many challenges, a few frustrations, and more than a few things that didn’t go as planned.  On the other hand, there have also been so many times that we’ve been inspired by our teammates, our colleagues working hard in Denver, people we’ve met along the journey, and the people we serve each day at the Mission to keep pedaling.

The work done at Denver Rescue Mission is vital; thank you for supporting the many programs we offer at our facilities all over Colorado: Harvest Farm in Wellington, Fort Collins Rescue Mission, and Lawrence Street, The Crossing, and Champa House in Denver.

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Break the Cycle stretches so much further than the 900-mile road. Our hearts and minds will be focused on those who come to the Mission for food, shelter, clothing, and life-changing programs. Our goal is to provide 20,000 meals to the hurting and homeless in our community!

Support us here: www.DenverRescueMission.org/Bike