Denver Rescue Mission Posts

The Feeling of Family at Thanksgiving

During my childhood Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Most often we would spend the holiday with my maternal grandparents in Longview, Texas – surrounded by my mother’s siblings and extended family. Papa was always in charge of the cooking. His cranberry salad is a must-have for all of my brothers to this day. Some years the day began with an early morning round of golf. There was always a TV on for James Bond marathon. Endless games of Spades provided the quickest way to get Mema worked up and laughing until she cried.

 

This Thanksgiving will be our second without Papa. Mema hasn’t been the same since her stroke several years ago; and was recently diagnosed with cancer. When I stop to process the gravity of this reality, I start my list of should haves, wish I’d have and ought tos… Why didn’t I make the time to visit more often? I wish my boys would have gotten to know their great grandparents better. I ought to make trip to see Mema soon.

 

My wife and I moved to Denver a decade ago, soon after being married. Our closest family was and is 700 miles away in Oklahoma and Texas. After we moved it was hard to get home for the holidays – especially Thanksgiving, due to school, work, life. From our first Thanksgiving in Denver, we decided that we would never spend the day alone in Denver. We had plenty of friends, transplants just like us, who couldn’t travel home for the same reasons. While our traditions differed from many of our friends (I’ll never forget my first, and only, vegetarian Thanksgiving); we were thrilled to spend the day with folks we cared for; many of whom we now call family.

 

As I think about this year’s Thanksgiving, I’m excited that we will be traveling home to be with my family. Lord Mema is with us; and we will hopefully see some extended family. As my two boys grow up I desire them to feel firmly rooted in their family – never in doubt of where they came from or who they are. At the same time, I want them to learn to draw new, wider boundaries around how they define family.

 

Family has a different meaning for everyone. And for our homeless guests at the Mission, holidays are often times some of the hardest. They think of family that they’ve lost or not seen in while and the one sliver of joy they may feel for the day is a warm greeting at the Mission.

 

Today, we served 600+ guests at our Great Thanksgiving Banquet. 600+ helpings of turkey, stuffing and pies. 600+ warm “hellos” from our volunteers. 600+ gift bags filled with scarves, hats and gloves. Our hope is that all of our guests felt that little piece of love and family that we all yearn for so much.

 

 

I pray that your Thanksgiving will be filled with lasting memories, and that you will be firmly rooted in your family and seeking new ways to make room for someone else.

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.

Harvest Farm Fall Festival Bridges Family Fun and Addiction Awareness

The leaves are changing color and the smell of autumn is in the air.  That means it’s time for family fun at Harvest Farm’s 14th Annual Fall Festival & Corn Maze!

While there are other corn mazes to choose from, Harvest Farm’s Fall Festival & Corn Maze offers so much more than just twists and turns.  In fact, the event serves to advance Denver Rescue Mission’s sission statement in several ways.

First, it promotes “productive, self-sufficient citizenship” by involving the New Life Program participants in the preparation and operation of the festival. For example, the men use their God-given talents and trade skills like carpentry, electrical work and welding to construct nearly all of the festival grounds. Others in our program have artistic talents which are channeled into the design and creativity of the attractions. Because everything is meticulously hand-crafted with love, it sets our festival apart from the commercial, pre-fabricated feel of other fall festivals.


Additionally, the men assist with the festival operations by staffing the attractions. From greeting guests as they enter the corn maze to preparing hand-popped kettle corn, the men are a critical part of the event.

 

By providing opportunities for our men to engage with festival guests, they have a chance to shatter guests’ stereotypes of what it means to be an “addict” or “homeless”. With these interactions, our men begin to realize these terms are simply labels; it does not define who they are as person. Through hard work and positive reactions from festival guests, they gain a sense of self-worth and pride. For many, this is a new and welcomed feeling.

The Fall Festival also provides a chance for the community to learn about how Harvest Farm is “changing lives in the name of Christ.” Taking turns as hay wagon tour guides, our program participants explain to guests the unique opportunities for life change through the New Life Program. They share personal stories of obstacles they’ve faced, challenges they’ve overcome and their hopes for the future. This aspect makes our Festival so unique and truly sets us apart from the competition.

Attending the Fall Festival means guests are directly supporting the New Life Program and helping once broken men turn their lives around. Proceeds from ticket purchases, concessions and merchandise sales are reinvested into the program to ensure it thrives for years to come.

Not only does the Fall Festival & Corn Maze provide opportunities for fall time family fun, it supports a great cause.  We hope you’ll join us this October!  For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, visit: www.harvestfarm.net/fall-festival.