August 2013 Posts

Rachel’s Lens // It’s Always Unsettling

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

I was on vacation in Chicago this past week while my husband went to a conference. I slept in, watched TV, worked out in the middle of the day, did some shopping, and of course ate lots of junk food. It was marvelous.

This was the first time I spent an extended period of time in Chicago and it was exciting to see the city. When I travel to unfamiliar places, I can’t help but take notice of the homeless population there. Each city and even neighborhood has a different vibe. But poverty is poverty. It’s always unsettling.

Nothing was strikingly different than the homeless in Denver other than the concentration of people they saw. These panhandlers must have called out to hundreds of people throughout the day. They all said different things, but one man stopped me dead in my tracks. He repeated over and over, while shaking a cup in his outstretched hand, “Go to heaven, love your neighbor.”

His words were almost a challenge. Are you loving your neighbor? Will you go to heaven if you step over me without a glance? I didn’t necessarily agree with his tactic to be honest. But it worked. In the 60 seconds that I watched him, people plunked more coins in his cup than I saw people give all week. I looked down at my $3.00 coffee and instantly felt guilty. But the manner in which people gave to this man was clearly guilt-driven too and that is sad to me. The Lord commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our love for our neighbor should be a natural extension of our love of Christ. It should be an active part of our lifestyle, not simply an afterthought. It shouldn’t be change in a cup; it’s an all day, every day investment in life-change.

I’m not going to tell you that every panhandler you see, you should take personal stake in. But I am going to tell you that every time you see someone in a desolate state, it should make you think: “What am I doing to help the poor?” and, “How does my life reflect the love of Christ?” and most importantly, “What does God call me to do daily for those in my community?”

For more information about how to help the homeless, click here.

Rachel’s Lens // I’m on the right path

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

I lived in Philadelphia, sporadically, from 2007 – 2011. If I’m honest, the hardest decision I’ve ever made was leaving because I love that city so, so much. And a huge reason that I loved it was because of Helping Hands Rescue Mission, a small and little-known brick building in North Philadelphia where kids came to find some quiet.

It’s because of that place that I aspired to work at Denver Rescue Mission when I moved to Colorado. I wanted to work alongside the same demographic I was serving in Philly. I knew if Denver were to feel like home, I would need to work with the hungry and hurting. But I need to give credit where credit is due: my good friend Adam ignited in me a passion for the homeless that I didn’t know was there. For my four years in Philly, I spent every Monday working with his outreach, Philly Restart, and every Tuesday at the Mission with the kids. (This led to Wednesdays mentoring two young girls, Thursdays playing soccer with all the kids and Fridays taking them to professional basketball and soccer games.)

This week, an article ran on about Adam. It blew up my Facebook page as all my old friends from Philly shared it. This isn’t something new (see here, here and here), but it jogged something in my memory. I remember when interviewing him for a class sometime during college, he ended a recorded sound bite with this: “That’s what we’re doin’! Changin’ Lives!”

And here I am, more than five years later, working at a place whose Mission is just that: Changing Lives in the Name of Christ. Sometimes we question if God has us in the right place or if we’re walking the right path in life. Then, He gives us subtle indicators of His hand over us and His plans for us. Though it was and continues to be very painful for me to leave a place and group of people I love so much, it’s worth it to know and to be reminded that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

hippo and me. yes, he goes by hippo and yes, he is just as cool as he looks.

Intern Guest Blog // Life Changing

Written by Katie Pennell, Spring Intern

Katie hard at work 🙂

It’s been an inspirational and encouraging journey to say the least.

I was a youth program intern. And it was life changing. Since coming to serve in 2012, I’ve realized that no matter where someone is from or what their past looks like, all individuals are just searching for love and to find their purpose.

I never thought I would work with at-risk youth, but I’ve discovered a true passion for it in my heart! Seeing these kids grow and overcome difficult situations has truly been amazing. I’ve learned that being in a community that focuses on God’s will makes the individual grow just as much as the group collectively.

My internship at the Mission has led me to really see God’s beauty in all people. I’ve found that He is a comforter, powerful and He longs to have a personal and intimate relationship with us. It truly has been life changing.

To learn more about internships at Denver Rescue Mission, visit

Katie Pennell came to serve with Denver Rescue Mission from North Carolina. Her internship began September 2012.

A Back-to-School Lesson // Warm Hearts Are Contagious

Third grade students from Swansea Elementary School ask questions while on a tour at the Mission's Lawrence Street Shelter. The group of about 80 brought donations and learned about homelessness.

Written by Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern

As summer races towards fall and I see kids buying new backpacks, notebooks and crayons for another school year, I can’t help but think of a group of third graders who came to tour the Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter just before summer began.

They had been learning about human rights — how everyone deserves access to the basic necessities of life (food, water, shelter), and how all people have the right to pursue health, happiness and wellness. I had gone to their classroom at Swansea Elementary School in May as a guest speaker. Some of them were surprised to learn that even here in America, people struggle to meet their own basic needs. Even kids, just like them.

The same the third graders chose the Mission as their next field trip. On a rainy day in June, the kids piled out of a school bus and raced into the building full of spunk. As they funneled up the front stairwell, they began pushing one another, anxious to get to the top and see the sleeping hall.

“I’ve never seen anyone so excited to get up here,” I jokingly mentioned to one of the chaperons. “But then again, they’re not here to stay.”

As we entered the room where 100 bunk beds are lined in rows, I heard a boy exclaim, “Wow, this is so cool!”

He scanned the room, his eyes glowing and imagination firing. I could just picture his fantasy: one giant sleepover with his friends, leaping from bed to bed, sliding on the slippery tile floors and playing hide-and-go-seek.

The sleeping hall is “cool” in a sense. It allows 200 men to get off the streets and have a warm place to sleep. But the boy’s teacher saw he was missing the point.

“This just seems cool to us because we’re just seeing it for the first time,” she said. “It wouldn’t be so fun if you had to sleep here every night and had nowhere else to go.“

The boy didn’t seem to hear her, but she was right. The daily grind that each of our homeless guests endures is far from fun. Perhaps the kids missed that. Maybe they left the Mission thinking of it more like summer camp. Perhaps their minds weren’t ready to know the harsh realities of homeless life.

No matter how they perceived the Mission though, it was awesome that they came. It was inspiring to see them explore a reality outside their own. It was adorable to see their hands dart up to ask questions and their eager minds thirst for answers. Some of their questions were simple, others not. The magic was in the asking.

It was our hope that as the kids toured the Mission, walking the same steps our guests do daily, that their minds would activate. Now our hope is that their curiosity was tickled enough to keep them asking questions, and that their hearts will stay warm and tender enough to keep caring. Warm hearts are contagious you know. The third grader’s empathetic souls taught me that. If only all of us could maintain that child-like warmth and never grow cold, never get jaded.

I heard a quote once about how we spend the first part of our lives learning and constructing our perception of ourselves and our world, then we spend the second part unlearning and deconstructing the misconceptions we’ve piled on throughout the years. The third graders reminded me of this.

So as they enter another school year to learn more, I hope to unlearn a little more. I certainly could use a little more child-like empathy, faith, imagination and awe. I think we all could.



Rachel’s Lens // Part Two // Be Courageous

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

As you read in Aneta’s post, a bunch of us from Denver Rescue Mission were at the 2013 Global Leadership Summit last week.

I know I’ve had a good week when I’m ready for bed at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night, :). The Summit was two days packed with information…gooood information. To keep myself engaged with the 75,000 other people around the world listening to these speakers, I live-tweeted throughout both days.

To keep from inundating you with quotes, I’ll pick out a few and describe why they were meaningful to me.Dr. Brené Brown was probably the speaker I was most excited to hear. I’ve watched her TEDTalk about 1,000 times and I currently have two of her books on hold at the library. (Don’t worry, there are only about 117 people ahead of me in that queue.) She did not disappoint. She spoke about shame, love, humility, and aspirations. This particular quote resonated with me because so often we seek out ways to be more comfortable in life. But we all know that true fulfillment and satisfaction comes from accomplishment, which cannot come without difficulty. I hope and pray that I disregard comfort and embrace challenge throughout my life.First, I read someone else’s tweet that said, “When espresso needs to wake up it drinks a Bob Goff.” And it’s true! This was the most energetic speaker I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. He was full of life. And grace. I feel like the last couple years of my life have been full of lessons in grace. Maybe that’s because I got married? Kidding…love you Trav. But seriously. I’ve been learning that I’m far less gracious with others when I give myself no room to fail. And that’s why I love this comment of his. We’re all still learning, growing and developing. This isn’t just for leaders. As a friend, daughter, wife, coworker, and believer…I needed to hear this. I need to tattoo this somewhere on my brain. None of us have all the answers. None of us are the people we want to be all the time. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT. I just thought this thought was so perfect…we’re all in this together!This one nailed me, right between the eyes. As a 26-year-old woman, what does our culture tell me to care about? My hair. My clothes. My job. My success. Me, me, me. What does God call me to care about? His Kingdom. His glory. His people. Him, Him, Him. If I’ll be honest (if YOU’LL be honest), my attention is more on that first list than the second one. My vocation needs to be bigger than my desires to impress those around me. If the culture of the world—or my community, or my office, or my family, or my church—has more influence on my decisions than my faith, then it’s time to reevaluate my path.

Does your calling trump the culture around you? Do you have grace for those you serve with or work for? Have you made a courageous decision lately that wasn’t comfortable?

I want to hear from you!