Posts by Rachel Greiman

Rachel's Bio

Rachel Greiman

Rachel Greiman was employed by the Mission from 2012 to 2014 as the writer and photographer. She did an amazing job capturing the real stories of homelessness.

Conversations About Anything // Maxine Duvall

This series was inspired by the book Anything written by Jennie Allen. Please follow me as I struggle with life’s difficult questions and walk down the path to find my “anything”!

Maxine is a part-time chef at Fort Collins Rescue Mission. She came to us after working for a decade at the Larimer County Jail as Kitchen Supervisor. She loved her job there, but was looking to slow down a little…

But slowing down doesn’t really seem like something Maxine is capable of. At 65 years old, she has seven kids, 15 grandkids, and seven great-grandkids. She is unassuming, quiet and humble. I’ve chatted with her here and there, but I heard pieces of her story from others. Adoption, working in a prison and before that, working for the Salvation Army…I needed to interview her.

I finally got my chance last week!

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RG: Have you ever prayed a prayer like “anything”?
MD: I’m sure I have. I pray quirky little prayers all the time.

RG: Tell me about your kids.
MD: Which ones?

RG: All of them!
MD: Well, I always wanted 10 kids. Now I say Thank God I didn’t have that many. But my children are the joys of my life. I’m really close to all of them and I don’t know what I would do without them. My husband had four children when we got married when I was 18. The girls were 7, 6, 5, and 3 years old when we got married.

RG: 18 and 4 kids?! That’s crazy. Did you have any more?
MD: At first, I couldn’t get pregnant. We did everything imaginable. We were married five years when I finally got pregnant. With a boy. It was so exciting. But I was sick almost the entire 9 months. It was so worth it. I had Bobby James in 1972. We tried for more children after Bobby, but I couldn’t get pregnant. Bobby is so special. He was the only boy but it didn’t spoil him. He always wanted to please everyone.

RG: So five kids total?
MD: Six, well, now seven.

RG: Puzzled look.
MD: We adopted my niece in 1979. She was five when we got her. Her parents had been absent for most of her life. I picked her up from the airport when she moved to Arizona to live with us. She asked what she should call me. I told her she could call us aunt and uncle or whatever she wanted. She said she wanted to call us Mommy and Daddy and she never called us anything different. She just fit in with us. She became the little sister. If anyone is spoiled, it’s her. She’s the baby of the family. She didn’t just have Bob (Maxine’s husband) wrapped around her finger, she had him wrapped around her whole arm.

RG: So, by 25, you had six children?
MD: Yep.

RG: So where does the seventh come into the picture?
MD: My husband  was always opening our door to people. We worked at a camp in Estes Park and Bob met him there. He brought him home one night and he just stayed. He was 17, just graduated from high school. His family lives in Alaska, so we adopted him like he was ours. To this day, when he has a problem, he calls me. We just went out to Pennsylvania for his wedding.

RG: It sounds like it’s not just your husband that opens his heart to people. You do it, too. Why?
MD: I was raised in the Salvation Army. It’s a giving environment. Because you grow up watching people give, it rubs off on you. You do it because of the Lord, but it becomes a part of you. My mom always had people in the house and took care of others.

RG: Tell me more about Bob.
MD: My husband was not a Christian when we got married. He knew who the Lord was, but he didn’t walk His walk. God made our marriage good. He was always a good man, but he glowed when he became a Christian. Four years after we were married, he started going to church with me. The Lord became his Savior. Then he was hooked.

RG: How did he pass away?
MD: I took him to the hospital on New Years Eve, 1999. We thought he was having a heart attack, but they discovered he had bone cancer. He only lived 10 more days.

RG: I’m so sorry.
MD: He was an incredible man. I’m jealous of him, that he got to go. This world is not my home. When he passed away, I had to turn to God in a completely different way. I never thought I would have to walk these years by myself. But I don’t. God carries me. He has never dropped me.

RG: So after that you came to Fort Collins Rescue Mission?
MD: I just couldn’t stay in Estes. It was too lonely and out of the way. After three more years, I came back to Fort Collins. I got a job at the Larimer County Jail. I was a Kitchen Supervisor. I told men what to do. It was the perfect job for a woman because she could tell 18 men what to do all day long and they had to do it. I worked there for 10 years and I really loved it.

RG: So why did you come to the Mission?
MD: It was time to slow down. And I love this job. I love to hug people. I couldn’t even make contact with people at the jail. It just wasn’t allowed. I can talk to the people here. I can pray with them, hug them. I pray for these guys every day. I prayed for the inmates too, but it’s just not the same. It’s more personal here.

RG: It feels like your life came full circle. You spent your younger years helping people, and now you’re doing it again. Why?
MD: I’ve always wanted to do things for everyone else. Even when I didn’t work, I still did things for other people. I was always the person who watched everyone’s kids in the neighborhood. We had an open-door policy.

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RG: So if you had advice for my generation, what would it be?
MD: Take the time to watch. God has already done everything and been everywhere. I think that this generation, who sees so much and has access to information, it’s harder for you to believe in a God. We don’t see him every day. We can’t feel him walking beside us and hear him talking to us. If we don’t have communication with our spouse, we lose each other. It’s the same thing with God. You have to talk to him constantly, pray to Him constantly. We need to communicate with Him and read His book. He shows us how to trust, grow and love.

RG: When you got married to a man with four kids at age 18, did you ever think your life would…?
MD: [Maxine cuts in…] Oh no, no, no. I was just taking it one day at a time. But I learned since then that God ordained this life for me. I would give up anything for the Lord.

 

Rachel’s Lens // A Goodbye of Sorts

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Well, the time has come. And it came a lot sooner than I thought it would.

A couple months ago, I started a very tiny, very unofficial business. Some families I knew wanted portraits taken and I wanted to do it legally, so I bought an LLC, got some tax ID numbers, and threw some of my photos online. And then a weird thing happened when more people asked for photos. And then I was all of a sudden waking up really early to work on photos and then going to bed really late trying to make my site look cooler.

And then this other thing happened where I stopped seeing my husband and I stopped cooking and I stopped exercising. My relationships were suffering and for what? Work.

Both my small company and my day job became a list of tasks to accomplish rather than something I truly loved. I resented both of them. My husband said something revolutionary one night: “You know, you could just pick one.”

So I did, after weeks of stubbornly telling him I was capable of doing both. But deep down, I knew if I stayed at the Mission, the side job wouldn’t go away. I would still have to work really hard at managing it and I would have to be very protective of my time. I hate that. I have always seen my time as something I can give as a gift to others. And lately? I’ve resented serving people and giving my time to them. I can’t tell you how much I want to get back to a place where I can give that gift again, and willingly.

So.

Today is my last day at Denver Rescue Mission. Cheesily enough, I’m tearing up a little as a write this. I have absolutely loved my time at the Mission. I could have never foreseen the personal and spiritual growth I experienced here. I am forever indebted to this place for teaching me about myself, about friendship, about being an adult, about selfless service, and about God’s love for us humans.

Thank you, all of you, who took the time to read this little piece of the internet each Friday. I hope and pray you will continue to serve the Mission and support the amazing work being done here.

Thank you, to the Mission, for the life lessons. Thank you for launching me into (hopefully) a career of writing for others.

Rachel at her going away party. She will be missed.

Rachel at her going away party. She will be missed.

Rachel’s Lens // Old Into New

Big things are happening at Denver Rescue Mission this week!

As you may have heard, we are starting construction on our Lawrence Street Community Center. This is exciting for many reasons, one being the demolition of the building. Everyone’s inner child comes out when giant bulldozers start ripping through buildings.

But before the bulldozing began, I got to walk through the building. It was dark and a little eerie, but exhilarating.

Abandoned buildings make you think about what was there and in this case, what is to come. I thought about the new space, the Community Center. I thought about the kitchen that will now accommodate men and women in wheelchairs. I thought about the showers where people can cool off in the summer and warm up in the winter, washing away the remnants of living on the street. I thought about the services and life-changing information that will be provided to people. I thought about the relationships that our staff will have the opportunity to build.

These are all things we could never accomplish in our shelter. We have people in our cafeteria for 10, 15 minutes at the most. Then they are back outside, exposed to the elements and the dangers of living on the street. Here, we can provide dignity and friendship, protection and conversation.

I found myself lost in these thoughts while looking at the empty building, photographing the light coming through the old, broken windows. There was beauty in this dilapidated building and excitement stirring for what is to come.

Isaiah 43:18-19 … Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.IMG_8336 IMG_8343 IMG_8369

 

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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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