Posts by Josh Dickinson

Josh's Bio

Josh Dickinson

Josh is the Warehouse and Fleet Coordinator at Harvest Farm. He was born to Ken and Sherry Dickinson on December 2, 1976 in the great state of Nebraska. Ken was the pastor of a small Assemblies of God church, so Josh was given a good education on how the church works. There are two paths that preacher’s kids usually take in life, Josh decided to take the one that was traveled by many. This decision (amongst many others) ultimately landed Josh in the long-term rehab New Life Program at Harvest Farm. When Josh joined the New Life Program he was spiritually and mentally detached from the person who he had been raised to be. However, over time he developed a relationship with the Mission community that led to his current job as the Denver Rescue Mission Northern Colorado Fleet Supervisor. Josh loves his job - it allows him to share and use his own experiences to help men who are in the New Life Program as well as see and work on himself. Josh lives near Harvest Farm in Wellington, Colorado with his wife and daughter.

The transformative process of Work Therapy at Denver Rescue Mission

Oct. 10, 2008 is the date I graduated from the New Life Program at Harvest Farm.

This date is important to me because it is the anniversary of my new life, freedom, and happiness. The anniversary of my sobriety is June of 2007 which is also when I joined the New Life Program. It is meaningful, but not nearly as important to me. I feel that rehab wasn’t the start of anything; it was more like the end of a nightmare. Before entering the New Life Program at Harvest Farm I had been in two other “sober living programs.” The first program I attended was 60 days long and consisted of a lot of group therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous and DUI classes, (I attended this specific program twice, so I guess you could say I was in 3 programs.) The second program focused on mental health disorders and how they affect addiction. I don’t think these programs were inconsequential, but they definitely did not give me what I needed to change my life. What I did need to help change my life was a realization that I could change it, for the better.

When a person gets used to doing the same thing (good or bad) every day it is very hard to get out of that cycle. It’s like that job that you hate but you keep going to because you’re afraid to quit because you don’t know how to do anything else. Being an addict is a job in itself, except you lose money. It takes all of your time, burns you out, makes you angry, and ruins your relationships.  I came to Harvest Farm needing something to replace the monotonous, destructive, disastrous work that my addiction had become and work is exactly what I got.

Josh Dickinson

Starting my journey to sobriety back in 2008 at Harvest Farm’s New Life Program.

Work Therapy was one of the highlights of my time at Harvest Farm and every day I see it change the mentality of the men who come into the New Life Program at Harvest Farm. After getting sober at Harvest Farm, I was actually hired as the Work Therapy Supervisor. In this role, I am charged with figuring out how the men who are assigned to work with me can be utilized to benefit their program and Harvest Farm. Every man has different skills; some have been doing the same job every day for 25 years and don’t know that life is not about work, others have barely lifted a finger to do anything and they don’t know that work can be fun. It’s incredible to work alongside such a diverse group of guys trying to change their lives for the better.

Me (back row second from the right) and fellow staff members at Harvest Farm

Me (back row; second from the right) and fellow staff members at Harvest Farm.

At Denver Rescue Mission, our goal is to help New Life Program participants understand that becoming a productive, self-sufficient person can be enjoyable. The program provides education, life skills training, and spiritual and emotional counseling, which sets a strong foundation for a self-sufficient life.

Even after graduation, many New Life Program graduates participate in our Post-Graduate Program, which provides further mentoring, accountability, counseling, and financial assistance. Graduates also mentor others, as well as volunteer for the Mission. Just like me – these graduates get a chance to inspire other men and help them towards sobriety.

October 10 has come and gone and I celebrated eight years of being a New Life Program graduate. I’m proud to say that life doesn’t feel like “work” any more.

Finding Light in a Town Ravaged by Alcoholism: The Whiteclay Mission Trip

Every year, our staff and New Life Program participants at Harvest Farm make a short trip to Whiteclay, Nebraska to work with Lakota Hope and Hands of Faith, two ministries that are trying to help people when they need it most.

If you’re like me, many of you have probably never heard of Whiteclay, let alone the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Whiteclay is located two miles south of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where alcohol consumption and possession is prohibited, but just because it’s prohibited doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. A significant part of Whiteclay’s economy is based on alcohol sales to Pine Ridge residents. According to a recent article by the University of Nebraska, alcoholism rates on the Reservation are estimated at upward of 80%; and other alcohol-related problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and domestic abuse are rampant.

As you can imagine, this causes issues, not only with the Pine Ridge residents, but with state and local government as well. You can go on YouTube right now and find 50 different news programs and documentaries showing the deterioration of Whiteclay and the number of people who have gotten caught up in alcohol addiction.

Image Credit: Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News

Image Credit: Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News

Denver Rescue Mission encourages trips to Whiteclay to motivate the men in our New Life Program to get out of their comfort zone and find out how much of a difference they can make on other people’s lives. At the Reservation, Mission staff and program participants work on projects ranging from gathering wood, so people can keep their families warm, to constructing new buildings from the foundation up.

 

These experiences instill in our men the idea that helping others is often the best way to help yourself. Not to mention that it gives them a glaring example and realization of how substance abuse can lead to the destruction of families, communities, and even entire cultures.

One of our New Life Program participants, Steven Leasa, had this to say about his recent trip to Whiteclay:

“As a participant in Harvest Farm’s New Life Program I went on the Whiteclay mission trip in 2015. I had been in the program for 2 months at the time and was excited to connect with Native Americans. However small that help may have been, it was worth every second I spent with each individual on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The amount of emotional distress on those peoples was more intense than I ever could have imagined. It was harrowing to empathize with them but it was necessary for me to perceive a greater picture of what is going on in the world.

I learned how creativity, innovation,  and compromise are all necessary parts of life in places where the struggle to figure out who you are is so intense–it extends beyond the individual and throughout the community as a whole, eventually revealing the fact that unity is the most important aspect of healthily overcoming adversity. Although there seemed to be no light in Whiteclay, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation will live on, and hope will maintain the strength that their ancestors embodied so well. Whether or not they return to their traditional ways, and rediscover their spirituality, or take on the modern world as the only resort they know of, people will relate, establish community, move on, and life will continue.”

The annual mission trip to Whiteclay means so much to me as a Denver Rescue Mission staff member, but also for all our guys in the program. I get to see Christ’s love pouring out of them each time they empathize with a Pine Ridge resident or the pride that they feel when they build a new home for the community.

It’s a trip I look forward to going on year after year.