July 2014 Posts

Lessons Learned // Intern’s Edition

Written by Valerie, PR Intern

There are some great people here at the Mission and, as a PR intern, I got to be a part of bits and pieces of their individual stories and learn wonderful lessons from them.

Some of my favorite lessons include:

  • Learning that you can find people who genuinely care everywhere, from the mom who gave me a giant, warm bear hug, with overjoyed tears in her eyes, after I told her my recent engagement story.
  • Learning that very real change is possible from the sweet old man, once a solitary confinement prisoner, who entrusted me with a frame of his favorite poem, Footprints.
  • Learning that Christ-like friendship is a wonderful thing from the gorgeous, wacky girls in the office who like to sing and dance to early 90’s songs I’ve never heard of (and also get work done, of course).

Here are bits and pieces of other amazing internship lessons that are going on around the Mission this summer:

Learning that it’s never too late for redemptive transformation:

“I’ve had the joy of watching men in the New Life Program who are absolutely in love with the LORD, seek Him, knowing that He is their only hope. As they invite Him into all of the messy places, only they can truly experience the transformation of His love and presence in their lives. I’ve seen the power of Christ’s presence in witnessing tangible and lasting change in these guys, which has filled me with hope that it’s not too late for any of us.”

-Eric, Mentoring Intern, from Colorado

Learning how to humbly teach others:

“It’s giving me the preparation to be a teacher. Since I want to work with underprivileged youth, this internship has provided key experiences into showing me how to interact with youth who have not grown up with the same privileges.”

-Cameron, Youth Intern, from Minnesota

Learning what community looks like:

“Living in the midst of interns, men in the New Life Program, and families at The Crossing has given me such an appreciation for community. The atmosphere at The Crossing is filled with joy and being able to be able to interact with many different individuals has shown me what Christ’s love looks like.”

-Jeremiah, Refugee Services Intern, from California

Learning how to engage with people that are different from us:

“Not only do I get to interact with both the refugee families we work with and their mentors, but I actually get to mentor some families and see their transition and growth from when they first arrive in the US to when they have become self-sufficient members of the community. As an intern I’m so glad I get to bridge that gap to those seen as “outsiders” and be among the first to accept them and befriend them as they transition into their new lives.”

-April, Refugee Services Intern, from Minnesota

Learning about working for a greater purpose:

“For me, the best part about working at the Mission has been working with people who genuinely love God and love people. Working in operations, I work less with individual people and more behind the scenes. Everyone works to serve the Lord daily in both speech and deed. People are willing to laugh, have fun and enjoy the work they are doing, because they know it is for a cause that is greater than them.”

-Caroline, Operations Intern, from Alabama

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Incredible ladies that work with the interns!

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Rachel’s Lens // The heavy stuff

I’ve been doing a lot of self-examination lately. Even typing that sounds selfish. But sometimes, in order to be truly “others focused,” ya gotta check your own motives. And doing this kind of heart-check feels heavy, cumbersome and frankly, a little scary.

Why do you do things for other people? What drives you? Do you do it because you’re supposed to? Or do you truly delight in service?

I can’t say that I always do. I can say that I rarely delight in what feels like chores for other people.

Through a lot of reading and not enough prayer, I’m studying passages in the Bible about living life for other people. Whoa, it’s convicting:

Galatians 5:13-14…For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Mark 10:44-45…And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Romans 12:9-13…Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

But there is hope. We don’t have to find this wellspring of kindness within ourselves. In fact, it is absolutely impossible for it to come from us:

1 Peter 4:10-11…Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Isaiah 41:10…Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
1 Timothy 1:12-14…I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

I know this is a bit much for a Friday morning, but I just wanted to share what I’m working through…is there anything heavy you’re working through?

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The Journey

Ryan, Jeff, Josh, Brian, and Brandon (Mission employees)

Ryan, Jeff, Josh, Brian, and Brandon (Mission employees)

On any given Saturday morning there are endless options along the Colorado Front Range to enjoy the beautiful communities in which we live.

This past Saturday morning a handful of Denver Rescue Mission staff met just as the sun was coming up at the Mission’s Harvest Farm in Wellington, Colorado to cycle to the Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter in downtown Denver. While several in our group had experience with distance cycling, it was the first time some had tackled a Century Ride: 100 miles.

I’ve spent a good deal of time on my road bike the past few years – and in my experience, there are few better places to be challenged than on the seat of a bike. As with other aspects of my life, there are times when I need to ride by myself, times when I desire the company of a good friend and times when I’m happy to join with a group.

When I was training for a week-long distance ride last summer, I intentionally sought out a riding partner that was stronger and more experienced than I was and who would push me to be better. In life, when I surround myself with people who are more experienced than I am, I tend to improve my skill set faster. Likewise, when I’m always the “expert” in a particular arena, I find myself atrophying in that skill set – as I’m not being challenged externally to improve.

On a typical group ride it doesn’t take long before the cadence of the group falls in line, and the members begin working together. The ones who are better at climbing are found up front on long hills, pulling the others up behind them. Or in my case, sometimes they’re back behind me physically pushing me up the hill. J However, everyone stops once we climb the hill and waits for gravity to carry us down. My 250 lb. frame creates a huge slipstream for the other riders to fall in and effortlessly draft behind me. In both cases, one’s strength aids the others. While I’m not sure if my 250 lb. frame is a strength, I have learned what many of my strengths are – and try to find folks whose strengths look different than mine. In doing so, I benefit from a strength that I do not possess.

On long rides, one of my favorite things to do is slip in beside someone and catch-up on life. It doesn’t take a whole lot of intentionality, or any special effort on my part – rather simply deciding that as we’re both traveling along in the same direction, there’s probably some way that we can be mutually encouraging to each other. In life, some of the deepest encouragement that I’ve received has come from someone who simply slipped in next to me as we recognized our journeys were headed in the same direction.

I encourage you to find something that you really enjoy doing, and then find someone to do it with. Each of our lives is headed somewhere – and while I’m excited about the destination, I don’t want to miss out on what the journey has to teach me.

Rachel’s Lens // Traveling Generosity

Julie!

Julie with a car full of donations!

My friend Julie is two things: extremely organized and extremely generous. I mean, she is much more than two things, but these are the two qualities that come to mind whenever I’m with her.

She lives in California and is an Executive Director with Thirty-One Gifts, charged with leading a team of almost 150 women. One of her favorite things to do is travel and blog about all her adventures. She was visiting Denver last week for the company’s national conference and it was so good to catch up with her again.

Julie contacted me a couple months ago, asking if there was anything she could do to serve Denver Rescue Mission while her team was in town. She came up with a brilliant idea to give personalized Thirty-One diaper bags to the single moms living at Champa House. She and her team filled the bags with all the things a mom could need. It was so unbelievably thoughtful and I know they stayed up until 2:00 a.m. the night before to assemble them!

The women at Champa were thrilled to receive the bags and I was so encouraged to see the attitude of generosity that Julie fosters in the people around her. It takes a special person to think outside of themselves and reach into the world around them, even on vacation.

Thank you Julie and Thirty-One for thinking of Denver Rescue Mission and showing the amazing women at Champa such kindness!

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Amy Fletcher, Champ House Director

Amy Fletcher, Champ House Director

Community

Yesterday, Cindy and PJ’s story was posted on Facebook. It has 16 shares, 180 plus likes and the most encouraging comments. This makes me happy. Not because I manage the Mission’s social media pages, but because those numbers are proof that we have a community who rallies around the lives being changed here at the Mission.

The Mission’s donors and volunteers are more than people donating money and time. They invest. They love. They encourage.

We need a community who rallies around people. People like Cindy and her son, whose circumstances left them with no other option but to live out of their van. Their story didn’t have to end there—and it doesn’t. Because of our community, Cindy and PJ had a place to find a second chance; they found the redo button here. They found friends here. They found opportunities and skills here. They found their strength in the Lord here.

See what happens when a community works together? Lives truly change one life at a time.

Watch her story here:

 

Meet Thomas Forcier // Building Relationships

Tom Forcier, Facility Assistant at the Lawrence Street Shelter

Thomas Forcier, Facility Assistant at the Lawrence Street Shelter

Interview written by Valerie Cabrera, Public Relations Intern

Even though Thomas Forcier had never had a traditional office job, he quickly learned the ropes after starting at the Mission as part-time overnight security. Tom worked his way up and eventually learned what it took to become a Facility Assistant (FA) at the Lawrence Street Shelter. It takes a lot, he found, but it also gives a lot. He speaks about the stories of transformation he’s been a part of, his close relationships with New Life Program candidates and the challenges of a job that involves body and soul.

Valerie: You work the afternoon shift at the Lawrence Street Shelter. What does a typical day at work look like?

Thomas: I usually get in at 1:30 pm. Lunch is over by then and there are no outside guests in the building. I get organized in my head first and look at the schedule which gives me a general idea about where our New Life Program candidates are going to be stationed. I organize who’s doing what and I put together a roster with those names. Then I usually go and walk around the building. When you’re moving 400 guys in and out of the building you’ve got to make sure everybody is where you need them. I don’t really feel comfortable until I have that figured out.

V: Sometimes the Lawrence Street Shelter is referred to as a “boot camp” for our New Life Program participants. You get to see guys begin to transform their life during that time. What is your role in that process?

T: I always tell the guys that’s the whole object of their time here. They have to have separation from where they were to where they’re going and I help encourage them. We see these guys at the very bottom. There was one guy who was on heroin. His dad passed away while he was using. When he came in here and started to get clean, he realized that he never even dealt with the fact that his dad had died. The drugs were a way for him to suppress that. After being clean for a couple of weeks, he started reflecting on what was going on. He sat in my office and broke down crying. Dramatic change can happen here. We give them the tools, the knowledge—everything they need with this program. And I tell them, “The only person that can stop you now is you.”

V: What do you think is the most significant part of your job?

T: I think that a big part of our job as FA’s is our relationship with the New Life Program candidates. These guys are here for a reason. This isn’t a rec center where guys come to hang out. We try to relate to them. In some ways we can be a mentor. We’re here to support them but at the same time we have to hold them accountable. I’ll talk to them about their struggles, why they’re here and what this program has to offer. We’ll talk about life and we’ll build a relationship.

V: It seems like there would be challenges in a job like this—a job that gets you involved not just emotionally, but physically and spiritually as well.

T: Yeah. This job is tough, this particular shift even more so. It just hits you from all sides. All this stuff with the program candidates, that’s only half of it. I spend half of my shift working with outside guests. There are also times when I’ll build a relationship with a guy that ends up leaving and, I mean, that hurts me. It’s hard for me to deal with that. I pray for them, I pray with them, and all of a sudden, they’re gone. It’s impossible not to take that home. There are times when I have to process stuff with my wife, and we have to sit down and pray. I’ve got guys at my church that pray for me constantly, too.

V: Despite how tough it is, you’re still here! What’s your favorite part about being an FA?

T: It’s very rewarding. Guys can have huge success stories. And the bottom line is that what we do is definitely good. We sleep, even in the summer, 400 men most nights. When you think about stuff like that, it makes you feel good about what you’re doing.

Won’t You Be a (Good) Neighbor…

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At Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter, we’ve always been successful meeting individuals who enter our facility at their physical and spiritual points of need.

As the needs of the homeless within the greater Denver community continue to change, we’re seeing more and more individuals in the downtown area that are resistant to traditional services like feeding, shelter, clothing and ministering. For years downtown Denver has been home to an open-air drug market in what is known as Triangle Park – directly across Park Avenue from the Lawrence Street Shelter. When that park was closed down by Denver Parks and Recreation last fall for redevelopment as an urban garden, the population that long called that space home was dispersed around the immediate neighborhood. Business owners and residents have fought to keep this collection of people from creating a new “home” in front of their businesses and residences.

In our attempts to be a good neighbor here at the Lawrence Street Shelter, we’re taking a new look at how we can better meet these individuals at their physical and spiritual points of need, outside of the walls of our facility.

What does it look like to assist someone who may not be interested in our assistance? What does it look like to build relationships with someone, and show them the love of Christ, when society consistently tells them they are unlovable? How do we assist addicts without enabling them? These are all questions that we are currently asking ourselves as we seek to respond to the ever-changing environments surrounding the Lawrence Street Shelter, and be the best neighbor possible to all of our neighbors: businesses, those who are housed, those who are not, and those struggling with deep-seated addictions and mental illness.

Pray for us as we tackle new terrain in our attempts to change lives in the name of Christ.

Blessings from “Jesus Saves,”

Josh

 

Rachel’s Lens // First Friday

Happy Fourth of July. This is the best thing on the internet this week:

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(photo via )