2018 Posts

Gifts Of The Season: Two Stories From Fort Collins Rescue Mission

Together we serve header

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” ROMANS 12:5 (ESV)

 

Keely and Darryl Share Their Stories

When people reflect on Christmas, they often mention faith, joy and family. And the responses don’t change just because someone is experiencing homelessness. But for many of our homeless friends, the holidays can be a reminder of family they no longer see and of the tragedies they’ve encountered.

Keely, a program participant at Fort Collins Rescue Mission, talked about her experience at Christmas last year.

Keely

“Last Christmas, I remember it being extremely cold, and I was literally living outside—no family, no friends. I think a lot of people reflect on family this time of year, but for me, Christmas definitely hasn’t
been good.”

Darryl

“About ten years ago, my son died. He was nine years old. Before he died, I was 14 years sober, but when I lost him, I didn’t know what to do, it was such a tragic feeling … I started using again. I take Christmas a little harder than most people, and that’s what I remember about last Christmas, and not just last Christmas, but every Christmas since he’s passed. I’ve been sober for four years now, but even today, as Christmas approaches, I know I’ll have that feeling of sadness.”

Both Keely and Darryl are part of Fort Collins Rescue Mission’s Steps to Success program. Men and women who join Steps to Success are given a permanent bed, provided with avenues to find a job and taught life skills such as budgeting and time-management.

Perhaps most importantly, though, people enrolled in Steps to Success are provided with a community of support.

“This Christmas feels different,” said Keely “I’ve accepted God back into my life, and I’m looking forward to waking up on Christmas morning and being sober. I’m looking forward to having a place to lay my head on Christmas Eve, and I know that there’s people here for me every step of the way. I’m glad I’m here; I’m very blessed.”

“I know I’ll be thinking about my son,” said Darryl. “But this Christmas, it’s different. I’m reaching out for guidance, and I know I can rely on the staff here. Once you’re homeless, it’s hard to climb out of it and you need help, and that’s why I’m glad the Mission is here, especially on Christmas. They give you a foundation to help you get out of homelessness, and I’ve grown in my faith.”

At the Mission, we can’t change people’s previous experiences, a lot of which has been tainted with hurt, pain and loss. Not knowing where to turn, many of our homeless neighbors have attempted to cope with their hurt through drugs, which in turn leads to a life of seclusion and instability. But your donations help us provide a community of support and sobriety. And during the holidays, our community begins to feel a bit more like family.

“I just feel really cared for here,” said Keely. Recently, after being enrolled in Steps to Success for nearly two months, Keely’s dad was rushed to the hospital. “He’s the only family I have left. I was gone for nine days, just staying with him in the hospital. When I came back to the Mission, every single woman in Steps to Success gave me a hug and asked me about my dad and how I was doing. They had food for me and—it was just so meaningful, it was like family.”

Our family wouldn’t exist without you. Thank you for providing the people we serve with a way out of homelessness during the holiday season, and thanks for being a part of our family at Fort Collins Rescue Mission.

Your Donations Matter.

Giving today means that someone experiencing homelessness can find faith, joy and family. Give the gift of a Merry Christmas.

Give Now

 

Read the Full Newsletter

December 2018 Newsletter Cover

Also in this issue:

  • Letter from the CEO
  • 2018 Christmas Banquet
  • The Mission Service Statistics
  • FCRM Staff On What Christmas Means To Them

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A Place To Be A Kid: Christmas At The Crossing

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CHRISTMAS. FAMILY. HOMELESSNESS.

One of these words does not belong with the others. This Christmas, give the gift of hope for our families at The Crossing.

 

Faces Of Homelessness In Colorado

Children

Did you know that, in Colorado, there are nearly 25,000 homeless students enrolled in schools? In fact, 14,000 of those students live in the seven-county Denver Metro area.*

Several factors contribute to a child experiencing homelessness. The top three are affordable housing, poverty and domestic violence.** At Denver Rescue Mission, we have an average of 50 children living at The Crossing with their parents/guardians. Joe Bermingham, our Youth Coordinator, talked about some of the challenges our kids face when navigating homelessness.

“Most of our kids come from hard pasts,” he said. “They’ve gone through a lot of grown up things in their young life— living in cars, living on the street, abusive situations. Some of them haven’t been able to participate in after-school activities because of transportation issues or because they have to take care of their siblings while their parents work two or three jobs. It’s tough. Many of them just haven’t had a place where they can be a kid.”

That was the motivation for beginning our Youth Program in 2005, to provide a safe place—emotionally, physically and spiritually where kids can just be kids.

Many of The Crossing’s children have lived transient lives and this lack of stability begins to shape all of their experiences. Eight-year-old Isabella shared her family’s story before coming to the Mission, “We were homeless,” she said. “We lived on the streets and then we lived in hotels; we lived in a car, too. I was very excited when we came here because it looks a lot safer than other places we lived. My mom and dad always have smiles on their face, now.”

 

I was very excited when we came here because it looks a lot safer than other places we lived. My mom and dad always have smiles on their face, now.”

 

One of the most perpetuating issues of homelessness is its impact on children. A child without a stable home is twice as likely to repeat a grade, be expelled, be suspended, or drop out of high school.** “A lot of our kids are anywhere from a month to three years behind in school,” says Joe. “It’s not that they’re not intelligent, it’s just that, before they came here, they were homeless and they’ve missed a lot of school.”

Reading and Writing Club (which also includes math tutoring) is one of the ways the Mission is fighting back against poverty’s impact on children. The club is hosted at our Denver Broncos Youth Center every Monday through Thursday after school.

The kids spend 45 minutes with staff, interns and volunteers receiving tutoring and homework help. “The purpose of the club is to help the kids catch up to their grade level,” said Joe. “On their first day, we do an assessment, we find out their reading level and their math level. Then, we begin working to help them progress from there.”

When asked about how he hopes the program impacts kids, Joe thought about it for a few seconds and said, “You know, these kids really are brilliant. And many of them have never had the opportunity to live the life of a normal kid. We just want to come alongside them and create an atmosphere of trust and security and, of course, create a place where kids can be kids.”

With your help, we’re creating that space, not just for the kids, but for their families, too. Thank you for supporting our youth, and thank you for providing our families at The Crossing with a merry Christmas!

*colorado.org/content/story/colorado-sees-surge-child-homelessness
**childtrends.org/indicators/homeless-children-and-youth

You Can Help This Christmas

Your donations allow us to provide these children and their parents with an opportunity to thrive.

Give Now

 

Here’s How We’re Celebrating This Christmas

Smiling Child

CHRISTMAS 4 KIDS

What’s Christmas 4 Kids? It’s a big gift wrapping party! One week before Christmas, our donors and Crossing parents get together to wrap special gifts for our kids to open on Christmas morning. It’s a blast!

Little Girl With Gift

WHIZ KIDZ CHRISTMAS PARTY

Whiz Kidz is a non-profit with more than 50 sites that serve more than 800 students, grades 1 through 5, to provide one-on-one tutoring. In December, all of our children invite their tutors to The Crossing, and together, they sing carols and have a Christmas party!

Two Broncos Players

19TH ANNUAL BRONCO’S HOLIDAY PARTY

Whiz Kidz is a non-profit with more than 50 sites that serve more than 800 students, grades 1 through 5, to provide one-on-one tutoring. In December, all of our children invite their tutors to The Crossing, and together, they sing carols and have a Christmas party!

Your Gifts Are Making A Huge Impact

Children icon

162 HOUSEHOLDS

Moved into permanent housing.

Child at desk icon

152 CHILDREN

living at The Crossing completed 3,270 hours of homework.

Two people in classroom icon

22 OF OUR YOUTH

received tutoring, support and encouragement from mentors.

Read the Full Newsletter

December 2018 Newsletter Cover

Also in this issue:

  • Letter from the CEO
  • 104.3 The Fan Presents A Season Of Hope
  • Donate A Vehicle
  • Mark Schlereth and Mike Evans on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters

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Three Things to Give Our Homeless Neighbors Other Than Money

Homeless-Portrait_Jose_11-18-14_08One of the most common concerns Denver Rescue Mission staff members get goes something like this, “I want to help the homeless woman (or man) I see standing on the corner, but I don’t want to give them money, how can I help?”

It’s a great question, and it comes from a good place. People in Denver want to help, but in doing so, they don’t want to enable unhealthy spending habits or an addiction. It may go without saying, but not all people living on the street are homeless because of poor decisions. In fact, of the people Denver Rescue Mission serves in its programs, the number one reason people say they are experiencing homelessness is because of job loss.

Wayne, a STAR Transitional Program participant at Denver Rescue Mission, talked about how he and his family became homeless. “I was working construction, setting up roadblocks for work crews. I was living in an apartment, paying rent. But then work started to slow down and they were forced to lay a lot of us off. When that happened, I felt worthless, like the biggest failure in the world. I couldn’t find another job in time to pay the rent. It spiraled downward from there. Before we found the Mission, we were homeless for nearly two years.”

Twenty-nine percent of the people enrolled in Mission programs have stories like Wayne’s—they lost their job, they couldn’t afford rent and then they became homeless. But the concern many people have when it comes to giving a homeless person money isn’t without base. According to Denver Rescue Mission’s data, the number two reason people say they’re homeless is because of substance abuse.

So, that concern you might have about giving a person on the street cash can be valid, and because of that, here are three simple things you can give a person experiencing homelessness other than money.

1.) Acknowledgement
If you commute to work, and you pass by the same person every morning on your route, simply acknowledging the person’s presence will make a difference. It’s commonplace for commuters to drive by a person and look the other way or avoid making eye contact. But a simple acknowledgment like a smile or a wave will remind that person that someone sees them and that they matter.

2.) Hygiene Products
Think about all the hygiene items you use when you go to bed at night or wake up in the morning. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb, shampoo, etc. These are all essential needs for our homeless neighbors.

3.) Socks
Some people living on the street have one pair of shoes and one pair of socks. Places, like the Lawrence Street Community Center, provides them with an opportunity to wash their clothes for free, but a pack of socks would go a long way for many people on the street.

For more ideas on how you can give back to your homeless and hurting neighbors, visit DenverRescueMission.org/GiveBack125.

Veteran Finds Hope & Stability Through ‘Next Step’ service.

Donald

Donald’s childhood was not fair. His step-father was addicted. Every time the welfare check showed up in the mailbox, his step-dad would be the first to grab it, using all of it on drugs. “When I was 18, I joined the Air Force,” says Donald. “But only because I wanted to get out of the environment I was in.”

Donald found success in the military. He progressed up the chain of command, becoming a sergeant. But during that same time, he was smoking marijuana, popping pills and living a lifestyle he knew all too well, from his step-dad. When Donald got out of the Air Force he went home and lived with his mom.

“Six months after I moved in with her, she died,” he says. “I didn’t grieve; I didn’t try to be strong. I went off in my own world, and I went out of control.”

Donald started using crack cocaine. For the next 33 years, when he felt alone and weary, he turned to drugs, causing him to go in and out of homelessness. “One day it hit me … I’m going to die,” says Donald. “That wasn’t something I was prepared for. There was a lot of people out there who were disappointed with me—my mom, my sister, my kids. One day, I decided enough was enough.”

The day is etched in Donald’s memory. “It was April 15, 2018,” he says. That’s the day he began looking for help, and the day his sobriety started. As a veteran, Donald has access to several services, knowing that, he began calling around. “Everywhere I called, they told me that they were full, that there’s a waiting list. But I didn’t have anywhere to wait. I was on the street.”

On April 21, Donald found Next Step, a service provided by Denver Rescue Mission that offers men an opportunity to create a tailored path toward permanent and sustainable living situations. Each Next Step community member is paired with a case worker, assigned a permanent bed and expected to fulfill community involvement hours, such as helping to clean up after meals. Members also work closely with their case workers to prepare an individualized plan suitable to their specific needs. For some, that is a long-term rehabilitation program. For others, it’s transitional housing or moving back in with relatives. For Donald, he and his case worker have located a program that will provide him with affordable housing.

“I should be accepted in the program in the next few months,” says Donald. “For now, I’m just thankful for Denver Rescue Mission. I’m here in Next Step working with my case worker, working a full-time job and saving money.” Donald has also been working on one more thing, too, his sobriety. “I’ve been sober for over four months!”

Thanks-for-Giving!

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November is for thankfulness

And we want to thank you for giving because,
without you, we wouldn’t be able to impact the lives of thousands of people.

 

TURKEY DRIVE

Donated Turkeys

15,000. That’s how many frozen fowl we’re hoping to collect this year, and we need your help!

Each turkey will be given to an individual or family who needs it, helping them have a special Thanksgiving. You can donate turkeys online or in-person at the Lawrence Street Shelter, the Ministry Outreach Center or The Crossing.

THANKSGIVING BANQUET-IN-A-BOX

Lady donating turkey

3,000. That’s how many boxes of food we will give out when we take over the parking lot at Broncos Stadium at Mile High later this month. Each box will be filled with a Thanksgiving feast—turkey, potatoes, veggies and more!

Because of your generosity, thousands of families in our city will have a meal to eat on Thanksgiving.

GREAT THANKSGIVING BANQUET

A person eating

800. On Wednesday, November 21, we’re treating 800+ of our friends and neighbors experiencing homelessness to an enormous Thanksgiving meal!

Hundreds of people will fill the Lawrence Street Community Center to enjoy good food, community and gifts. Because of your generosity, thousands of families in our city will have a meal to eat on Thanksgiving.

For people experiencing homelessness, “Happy Thanksgiving” starts with you.

Give Now

 

Read the Full Newsletter

October 2018 Newsletter Cover

Also in this issue:

  • Letter from the CEO
  • KBCO Radiothon
  • Colorado Gives Day
  • Brad Strait, Senior Pastor, on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters

Download Now