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Three Things to Give the Homeless 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!

Together we serve header

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

 

Phillip Tello’s Story of Transformation

Below is an excerpt of Harvest Farm graduate Phillip Tello’s story which he recounted at an event on October 6, 2018. We hope his story encourages you as we work together to provide opportunity for our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and poverty. 

1810_Legacy-Giving_touchpoint_philip

“When I was 27, I was introduced to crystal meth. The first time I used meth I was instantly addicted. It was like someone put batteries inside of me and turned me back on. My depression was gone, I felt energized, and my drunken state vanished. I falsely believed that God had put this drug in my life to cure me of my alcoholism. But nothing could have been further from the truth. Once I was in the trap of addiction to meth, everything went downhill. I lost my job, my apartment, and my dignity. I lived for meth and nothing else.  I struggled with this addiction for close to 12 years. My mind played games with me that horrified me and drove me to insanity.  My only solution was to take my own life.  How I overcame that is nothing short of a miracle.  God was with me in this desperate moment and He showed me a new way.  God changed the direction of my life.

I needed a safe haven to rebuild myself and I found it at Denver Rescue Mission, where I became a candidate to join the New Life Program at Harvest Farm. I believed in my heart that the Farm would be the place where I would be safe, the place where I would heal, the place where God would take the shattered pieces of my life and put them back together.  This home turned out to be everything and more than what I had expected.  It was the most amazing place in the world to me, a vast open space where I could get away and be with God, or be with the animals, or build relationships with other guys that were in the process of healing like me.

I discovered that I wanted to go to school and study to become a nurse. I began a transformative journey into making this happen by joining Front Range Community College. At the beginning, school was hard for me because of the self-defeatist belief system that I had about myself that needed to be dismantled.

Now, as I think about the person that I am becoming, I must admit that my self-image has been completely transformed.  Four years ago, I began this journey of leading a new life and self-realization. Then, I did not have much to start with. I was insecure, fearful, and didn’t have a direction in life. When I decided to become a nurse, I was propped up on the shoulders of the Harvest Farm giants that showed me the way to lead a disciplined life that is fruitful and pleasing to the Lord.

It is my dream to become a nurse and I will achieve that dream because I believe that God has set me up to do so. He put people in my life to create a luminous pathway in the right direction.  At Harvest Farm, I have built the foundation that continues to bear fruit in my work and dedication at accomplishing my goals. I am no longer insecure, fearful, and without direction. I have overcome, and I am thriving!”

Shane Ray on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters

Shane Ray 2.0I know what it feels like to grow up and not always have things that you need. I also know the importance of having a role model. My mom, who was a single parent, worked hard to get promotions and make more money to provide for us. When I was kid, she would wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to go to work and support us. At the time I didn’t understand; I remember being six years old and thinking, ‘mom, you need to get some sleep, you’re going to be tired.’ She believed in hard work, and she was willing to make sacrifices to keep a roof over my head. Watching her do those things, it made me want to follow in her footsteps.

I believe in hard work, just like my mom. And I also believe that kids, especially kids growing up in situations like I did, need a role model. You know, kids look up to football players like we’re superheroes. For me, my mom is the hero. And because of football and the publicity that comes with it, I think it’s my turn to be that role model.

When I heard about the work Denver Rescue Mission was doing, and that they help out families living at The Crossing, I thought it’d be cool to partner with them. The work they do is really important, especially for families who are in a tough spot, working hard to get back into a home or an apartment. Anytime I can spare some time, even if it’s just an hour, I try to make it to the Mission. It’s always fun to go there and interact with kids and parents who are working hard to better their situation. The Mission does a good job of providing the support they need, and I just hope I can be a positive influence and a role model for the kids. – Shane Ray, Denver Broncos Linebacker 

Shane Ray is a fourth-year outside linebacker for the Denver Broncos. Established in 2016, Rays Awareness is Shane Ray’s charitable initiative serving low-income families in both Denver and Kansas City. Programs under Rays Awareness include Shane’s Shoes which is aimed at providing underserved families with shoes for school and sports. Shane’s Shoes is based on Shane’s own experiences and need for athletic shoes coming from a single parent home. For more information on Shane and Rays Awareness visit 56shaneray.com.