April 2014 Posts

Guest Post // Learning about hope and possibilities

Written by Valerie Cabrera, Public Relations Intern

I graduate from college in exactly 17 days. I don’t have a job lined up, I’ve got school debt up to my eyeballs, and I have no idea what I want to do with a writing *insert typical scoff here* major.

But still, it’s hard not to hope that I’m on the verge of something great. That I’m going to move to a new apartment in a big city and have brunch with interesting people at hip restaurants on Saturday mornings.

Lately, I’ve figured out that I have always taken it for granted that everyone has that feeling—a feeling of hope that a better future is in store for you.

Sometimes that hope isn’t unfounded. Sometimes you find a job and you get to keep it as long as you want. You get married to a really great person and walk your dog and buy a house. You get to complain about your husband not doing the dishes or your wife buying another pair of shoes. You roll your eyes at pointless work meetings and take your kids to church on Sundays.

These past five months as a Public Relations intern at Denver Rescue Mission though, I’ve learned that it’s not always like that.  Sometimes, somewhere along the way your path takes a slightly different turn.

On cold nights, as I waited at bus stops, I got to see guys in the New Life Program beam with happiness as they told me about their first “legitimate” job, how they’re getting it all back together. I got to talk to Tony, who recently had open-heart surgery and who’s simply grateful to wake up in the morning and see the blue Denver sky. I got to witness Tom, a Fort Collins Rescue Mission employee, welcome people into the shelter for a meal, like they were dear, old friends. I got to spend Saturday picking up trash next to Esteban, who loves zoos and misses his kids in Chicago.

Sometimes, I’ve learned, the kids get sick. Medical bills pile up. A job is lost. A legacy of alcoholism is inherited.

Sometimes it happens subtly, like plate tectonics; a slow, painful shifting of your world. You look around and realize that you’ve fallen off the edge of the continent and you’re drowning. You’re so ashamed you can’t look your kids in the eye, like Todd after 19 years of addictions.

Other times, it swallows you up like an avalanche.  You’re suddenly buried, and you’re cold, and you’re suffocating under ten feet of icy despair. You run away, and find yourself on a bus to anywhere, like Esteban did after his alcoholism spiraled out of control.

Being here these past five months I’ve had the privilege of being entrusted with the stories of people who thought they weren’t enough—for their families, for their friends, for God.

I’ve learned that it gets really hard to think about words like “hope” and “possibilities” in a motel, or on the side of the road, or in a shelter with 300 other strangers.

Since becoming an intern at the Mission, I’ve realized that sometimes homelessness is just. not. fair. And yet, at the same time, it is fair, because, here’s the thing:  it doesn’t discriminate.

It doesn’t care if you’re a college graduate. If you’ve worked in corporate America. If you’re a war veteran or a foster kid. It takes brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and it gobbles them down like a hungry dog.

And just like that, people never have that feeling of being on the verge of something great. A life of possibilities is closed off to them because it’s too dark in the room they’re in— whether that be a room of addictions, or perpetual poverty, or dismal health.

I like how Brad Meuli puts it, though. He says: “We show our program participants that God has a plan for them that extends far beyond their current circumstances.” Better yet, I like how Jeremiah 29:11 puts it: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Above all, however, I’ve found that I’ve grown to love the cause I was writing for, the hurting people of our society, our homeless and poor, and I feel so honored to have made even a small contribution to help Denver Rescue Mission change lives in the name of Christ.

interns snowshoeing

interns snowshoeing

 

Rachel’s Lens // Farm Trip!

I headed up to Harvest Farm this week to write a story and had the best time walking around, meeting the new animals and asking the staff a million questions. It baffles me that after a year and a half of working here, I can still learn something new about Denver Rescue Mission every single day.

The history, the programs, the day-to-day operations…this place is continually surprising and impressing me! I got to chat with Kelly Ballantyne, the Farm’s Garden Supervisor, for just a little bit. Stopping to pull weeds as we walked and talked, he showed me all the plants that are starting to come up.

9B9A8033We talked about the CSA members and all the different foods they will get and when I should come back to get everything in full bloom. At the end of our talk, he said, “Have you met the baby goats?” I hadn’t. So he showed me and I couldn’t resist including a picture!

9B9A8079I urge all of you to make a trip to the Farm this summer or fall to see all the amazing things it has to offer! It is such a special place, not only for visitors, but for the many men working on hard life change!

Sign up to serve a lunch meal at the Farm: serve.drmvolunteers.orggo to serve a meal and choose Northern Colorado – view May’s avaliablity to serve lunch at Harvest Farm.

 

 

Dignifying our neighbors

End Homelessness, Don’t Hide It, Denver… We could not agree more!

The Lawrence Street Shelter Community Center will meet the needs of the homeless population, providing a safe place from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. The courtyard will be heated and under surveillance. It will include showers and restrooms – so the homeless have a dignified place to wash up like you do!

The courtyard will also give Mission employees an opportunity to build and foster relationships with the guests, sharing information and resources with hopes to bring people back to self-sufficiency.

Did you know that the homeless are often victims? Drug dealers prey on them. People steal the little belongings they have. Some are even beat up. The new center will offer them a safe place.

Denver Rescue Mission doesn’t want to hide the homeless. In fact, we want to share their real stories…publicly. We have a huge responsibility to our community here in Denver to raise awareness about homelessness and the issues surrounding it. The last thing we want to do is hide people, away from the very community they need.

We want to give the homeless second chances. We want to help them rebuild their lives. We want to provide resources and opportunities for them to succeed. We want to dignify everyone. In fact, for 122 years we have been serving the men, women and families who could benefit from the Community Center. And for 122 years, we have had a community that rallies around each other – believing in second chances and hope.

Are you with us?

 

Rachel’s Lens // Easter!

It’s been a busy week here at the Mission!

I went up to Fort Collins Rescue Mission last night to photograph the Easter Banquet. What a sweet time it was!

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I’m headed out now for round two: our annual Easter Banquet at the Lawrence Street Shelter. We’ll be washing feet, serving up hot plates of delicious food, handing out new socks and shoes, and giving the kids Easter baskets.

This is by far my favorite holiday of the year; what a blessing to celebrate with so many people! Follow us throughout the day to see all the exciting activities on Facebook and Twitter!

On this land…

Last week, our Denver Rescue Mission family gathered in prayer to dedicate new land.

The sun was shining bright as we prayed, shovels dug new ground, we honored those who came before us on the land, and prayed some more.

“There have been a lot of people over the years who have prayed in this land, on this land, over this land,” Brad Meuli, President/CEO said.

IMG_2451 DedicationThis may be just a piece of land or eventually just a building to someone walking through the neighborhood, but to us it’s a place where we will minister to the tired, hungry, weak, and weary people of our community. Most important, our employees will serve the Lord here.

The new Administration and Education Building will begin construction soon and be complete by early 2015. Join us in prayer for the future of this place. And, check out this video from the dedication!