February 2015 Posts

The PR Desk: Make it better

The Catalyst One Day conference was enlightening. Pastors Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel spoke about what characteristics make a great leader.

Sitting among my co-workers, and hundreds of other local leaders, I found myself shrinking back into my seat thinking, “Why am I here? Am I even a leader?” 

One of the messages they shared is that your title doesn’t make you a leader—it’s how you act and serve in your organization. I think we can all benefit from this approach.

My Takeaway

Andy Stanley talked about asking good questions and creating values for his staff to follow. “Make It Better” was his first point. The idea is that in every task, even on the mundane days, each member of an organization should ask themselves, ‘What am I doing to make this better?

It’s Friday, friends, and we are all tired from a long week, but ask yourself:

How are you making something better today?

Catalyst

Snow Hysteria

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Snow hysteria that’s what Denver news agencies dubbed the feverish activity this weekend as Front Range residents prepared for one of the largest snow storms to hit Denver in several years. Groceries were purchased; gas tanks filled; weekend plans cancelled – all in preparation for the impending snow. Few seem excited for the weather: most put off by the inconvenience Denver’s periodic snow and cold brings to their lives.

At the Lawrence Street Shelter snow hysteria looks quite a bit different then what has been depicted in local media. Staff scrambled Friday morning to activate a temporary and larger emergency shelter location, with double the sleeping capacity of the current location. Mats and blankets were moved across town; logistics were worked out with partner agencies; procedures we adjusted – all to ensure that anyone looking for a safe place to be during the coming snow could find it.

Many Front Range residents watched the weather closely this weekend to see how their plans would change: hoping that school and work will be cancelled on Monday. At the same time, more than 500 men are simply grateful to have a warm place to get in out of the cold and snow: hoping that shelter capacity continues to stay ahead of demand, and praying that they never have to wake up on a Monday morning and dig out from where they slept the night before.

The PR Desk: The Journey

A few Fridays ago, I sat among 100 people to honor and celebrate Jeremiah. Jeremiah once sacrificed his family, his children and his well-being for drugs. His home was raided three times. During one of the raids, his son was taken away from him. The cry Jeremiah heard from his son that night is a cry that he would never forget.

His addiction cost him everything.

He tried to fight for his son, but the courts said Jeremiah was an unfit father and that he’d never see his son again.

A few years and other treatments later, Jeremiah found himself at Harvest Farm looking not only to find sobriety, but to change his heart. He sat there in Chaplain Jason’s office staring at a poster that highlighted all the people in the Bible that screwed up badly, yet God redeemed them. Jeremiah found hope in that poster.

A poster. A poster gave hope.

Don’t underestimate the power you hold to help change the course of someone’s life just like the poster Jason had in his office. That poster changed Jeremiah’s journey and restored relationships.

His father and sister drove 600 miles to celebrate Jeremiah and all that he has done. They got their son and brother back. And when Jeremiah rectifies a few more things from his past, he will be able to see his son – a son he was told he will never see again.

Encourage someone on their journey. Give them hope. Love them well.

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Jeremiah

First Time On The Farm

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As I drove through Northern Colorado on our way to Harvest Farm, I couldn’t help but have a comforting sense of home. The fields, corn, cattle, and small-town feel remind me of where I grew up in Ohio. But then I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the mountains looming in the distance and realized: I’m not in Kansas—or Ohio rather—anymore.

A few weeks ago, I asked a New Life Program candidate, who was planning on going to the Farm, “What makes someone want or need to go to the Farm for the Program instead of staying at The Crossing or at Fort Collins Rescue Mission?” He explained that it can be a wide range of reasons. Some guys need the seclusion from society that the Farm offers to get past whatever addictions they might be facing. Others have failed programs before or relapsed and the Farm exists as a deeper level of training and rehabilitation for them. And some simply volunteer for the opportunity because of their life experience on a farm or because the secluded atmosphere is going to help them best recover.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. As I pulled into the driveway, I was once again overcome by that familiar sense of belonging. Harvest Farm looked like a permanent snapshot of a fall festival near my parent’s home. It was refreshing.

After lunch, I spent most of the afternoon learning about the Farm and meeting guys in the Program. I was impressed at the wide variety of work therapy options available to the men in the program. When you think of Harvest Farm, you might think it’s mostly planting crops, raising chickens, and milking cows each morning. And that does happen. But there’s also a mechanic shop, fences to mend, goats, a small clothing and food distribution center called Mom’s Closet, and a full kitchen. The opportunities for the guys in the Program to learn new skills and have the satisfaction of working hard are endless.

I ended up spending a little extra time with two guys in particular—Scott and Scottie. I even helped them corral a calf or two while I was taking photos. Scottie said he’s done farm work before, and you can tell he’s knowledgeable and comfortable in his role here. Scott on the other hand says he’s never done this kind of work. He really enjoys learning, and when he’s done with the Program, he’s thinking about getting a job on a farm so he can work hard and earn a living.

Scott has never been on a Farm before, but he loves the work, the atmosphere and the opportunity he's found at Harvest Farm.

Scott has never been on a Farm before, but he loves the work, the atmosphere and the opportunity he’s found at Harvest Farm.

Scottie's experience on a farm comes in handy to teach and help out at Harvest Farm.

Scottie’s experience on a farm comes in handy to teach and help out at Harvest Farm.

The guys in the Program often impress me with their perseverance and tenacity. These guys have been through some of life’s most difficult situations, yet here they are fighting for a chance at a future. They’ve made some of the worst decisions possible, but they’re not giving up. Though some of our guys look tough and maybe a little rough around the edges, most of them are just happy for a chance to make a better life. And I’m grateful to be a part of it and to encourage and cheer them on.

To learn more about Harvest Farm, visit harvestfarm.net or click here to volunteer now.

The PR Desk: PJ DAY!

Goofy photo alert!

I went to the PJ Party last night benefiting Denver’s Road Home. I’ve been part of the planning committee for four years and it’s been a blast. Fantastic job to all who planned and worked hard to make #PJDayDEN great! Because of this annual fundraiser thousands of people have been helped into shelters, housing and various critical services.

Inside the photo booth at the PJ Party.