Denver Rescue Mission Posts

January is National Mentoring Month

Ralph Waldo Emerson (2)
January is a month of resolutions and fresh starts. It’s also National Mentoring Month. Seeking out the guidance of others who can remain objective to life’s challenges can be extremely positive for anyone. Here at Denver Rescue Mission, mentoring is an important part of our New Life Program and STAR Transitional Program. The relationships that are built can last for years.

 
I was recently inspired by Jim, one of our Change Makers who has been mentoring the same kiddo since 2014! Here’s what Jim had to say about his experience:

 
“My experience as a mentor has been fantastic. You need to put work into your mentorship but the result is great. You will have to make the first big effort. Appointments probably will be missed and it will be difficult to find things in common to talk about in the beginning. Then when your mentee realizes that you are serious and this is not a passing fad, things will begin to change. So next you will draw on your creativity to find things to do and maybe you will decide to teach them something or other. This is the next hurdle, this relationship is for him or her, not for you. Be flexible. Listen. Adjust to the one you are mentoring. I have never regretted being a mentor.”  -Jim Lanyon

 

The opportunities to mentor include youth, individual men and women, homeless and refugee families. You can mentor one-on-one or with a group of colleagues or friends. Learn more about becoming a mentor on our website.

Faces of the Mission :: Marco and Bartet

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“I’m from Italy,” says Marco. “I worked at an Insurance agency there. I left my job because I didn’t like it that much. I was really depressed and I wanted another experience out of life, so I left. I went to Ibiza. I was alone there for four days before I decided to go to Columbia. That’s where I met Bartet.”

We’re inside Hi Rise Bakery, at the corner of Larimer and 22nd Street. Marco is sitting in front of Jennifer. And Bartet is outside, pacing the sidewalk. He’s jonesing for a cigarette, asking strangers if he can have one. I watch through the window as a stranger lends him a smoke.

Our coffees come to the table. Two lattes and a cappuccino. “Thank you for the cappuccino,” says Marco.

Marco is confident, but soft-spoken. His presence, coupled with his Italian accent, give off a calming energy. He sips his cappuccino, and looks into my lens as I take a photo of Jennifer and him conversing about the places he has traveled to.

“Rome. Naples. Columbia. Mexico City…”

Marco lists, in no particular order, place after place.

“…Ibiza, San Francisco, and then we came here, to Denver.”

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Bartet is still outside. With one hand he holds his cigarette. His other arm is wrapped around a lamp post. His feet are off the ground, one leg kicked up in the air behind him, as he swings around and around. He swings with a child-like zeal. People pass by and smile, some laugh, others stare. But Bartet just keeps swinging.

He sees me looking at him. I, too, smile. He waves, points his index finger in the air and says something. I can’t hear him through the glass, but I read his lips. “One second,” he says.

A few minutes pass. Bartet walks into the coffee shop and over to our table. Marco excuses himself, going outside for some fresh air. Bartet sits down and begins his story.

“My mom wanted me to go into Telecommunications and stay near her,” says Bartet. “She has a lot of children and she tried to get me to stay. But it was best to leave. My dad died when I was four because of alcoholism. And I picked up alcoholism back home, too. So I left.”

“I love Jesus, and that’s where I find happiness,” says Bartet. “God is everywhere, I think. From the lyrics of Pink Floyd to the streets. He is everywhere. That’s why I like to travel, because you see so much of God and people.”

He goes on for several more minutes, speaking about his spirituality and God. He talks about angels and spirits. He talks about how he believes they are watching over him, protecting him. He talks about his friend, Marco.

As he talks he does so with his eyes closed, pondering over his thoughts before he speaks them into words. A few decades ago, he would have been identified as a hippy. But to him, he is simply spiritual, connected to a power greater than himself. It’s this connection that inspires him to keep going, to keep traveling.

“Our experiences help define us,” says Bartet. “They connect us. I don’t want to stay in one place. I always want to be adapting. Changing. Growing.”

Faces of The Mission is a blog series written by Jordan Smith, Denver Rescue Mission’s Writer/Photographer (with contributions by Emergency Services Coordinator, Jennifer Fitzgerald), offering insights and real life stories from people experiencing homelessness and hardships.

Redesigning Denver Rescue Mission’s Residential Family Programs

A Special Announcement from Brad Meuli, President and CEO

 

As we head into the Christmas season and plan for a new year of serving the most vulnerable population in Denver, I wanted to take a moment to update our community on some important work taking place at Denver Rescue Mission.

During the past six months, the Mission has been engaged in a strategic planning process with the goal of improving our programs and services. In late November, we launched a strategic plan that includes 15 main initiatives that we hope to implement over the next three years.  One of those initiatives that is an immediate priority for us is: Redesigning Denver Rescue Mission’s Residential Family Programs.

The most vulnerable population we serve are families. Our goal has always been to provide a safe and caring environment as well as the necessary programs to enable these families to become self-sufficient. Employment and finding permanent housing are priorities toward reaching that goal. In order for us to meet these needs in a more effective manner, in January we will be moving our families from Champa House to our largest facility at The Crossing (where we have 100 rooms dedicated to our STAR Transitional Program and serve many families). These nine single women and their children will be given the opportunity to automatically enroll in our STAR Program, where they will continue to receive shelter, meals, life skills educational classes, case management, and mentoring. In addition, the children will gain access to our youth development programs in the Denver Broncos Youth Center. The Champa House property will then be listed for sale. Our Glencoe property, which is a four-plex that the Mission purchased in 2013 in the Park Hill neighborhood as a pilot extension of the STAR Program, will also be sold. These four families will also be moved to The Crossing in January and stay enrolled in STAR. These changes will allow us to focus our resources on enhancing the STAR Program at The Crossing to help more families transition out of homelessness in the future.

The Crossing / STAR Transitional Program (6090 Smith Rd.).

The Crossing / STAR Transitional Program (6090 Smith Rd.).

As an organization, and as individuals, we will grieve the loss of Champa House and Glencoe, and I ask you to join me in praying for our program participants and staff who are being impacted by this decision. The Mission has never been about a specific place or building.  Instead, we have always been about meeting the spiritual and physical needs of our neighbors who need help through our services and programs. We have always served single-parent households in our STAR Program and will continue to do so with the attentive love and guidance that our staff provides to all our program participants.

We look forward to another 125 years of service in the Denver community and exploring ways to continuously improve our programs and services to transition more individuals and families out of homelessness, which is our ultimate goal. Thank you for partnering with us through your gifts, volunteerism and support, to help change lives in the name of Christ.

Blessings,

Brad

Holly Center Officially Opens :: Sleeps 200 Men In Need

Tonight is the first night we will sleep men in our new shelter facility, the Holly Center! This means that, starting today, the Mission will operate three separate overnight emergency shelter facilities in Denver (48th Street Center, Holly Center and the Lawrence Street Shelter downtown) with total capacity of 800+ men on any given night.

At the Holly Center, we are currently setup with 200 beds with the capacity for 228. These are the first permanent shelter beds for men in the City of Denver since the late 1980’s, providing much-needed capacity and stability to the shelter system. The Holly Center also featured lockers for storage, restrooms, showers, water fountains, laundry and extra outlets where our guests can charge their phones.

 

Mission staff members have been working closely with crews from JHL Constructors and DEC Architects over the past several months to complete this project, along with generous support from The Denver Broncos, The Patten-Davis Foundation, Keith and Kim Molenhouse and The Anschutz Foundation to make it a reality. To learn more about the building plans, read my March blog post here.

This facility will allow the Mission to serve those in our community who are experiencing homelessness for many years to come. We were thrilled to hold a Grand Opening Ceremony for the Holly Center on Wednesday, November 15 where Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Erik Soliván from the Office of HOPE, Mission staff and Board members, program participants and community supporters all came together to celebrate this new shelter. Check out some of the photo highlights below.

 

Guests will be transported to the Holly Center at night after having dinner at our Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC). In the morning, guests will be transported back to LSCC for breakfast. This is the same procedure that  currently takes place for our 48th Street Center, which is an overflow shelter for men that the Mission operates in partnership with the City of Denver. The 48th Street Center can sleep up to 300 men. This is in addition to our Lawrence Street Shelter downtown which can sleep up to 315 men, making the total capacity of 800+ men receiving overnight shelter at Denver Rescue Mission on any given night.

We’re grateful to provide this safe refuge for our homeless and struggling neighbors, something that we’ve been doing since 1892. This year marks the 125th anniversary for the Mission and we’re grateful for all of our supporters and volunteers who walk alongside us to comfort and care for the most vulnerable in our community.

As winter approaches with frigid temperatures, the opening of the Holly Center has come at an important time. I am humbled that God has blessed the Mission with the opportunity to serve so many individuals in the name of Christ, and I pray that we meet their immediate needs well, with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.

Please join us in praying for the new Holly Center and each person who will be sleeping with us this winter at one of our three shelter locations.

God Bless,

Brad Meuli
President and CEO

Faces of the Mission :: Margarita

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“I don’t see myself as in poverty,” Margarita says. “My parents would come back from the dead if I was in poverty! You have to know who you are. I can say that my mother and grandmother always said that people determine who you are by how you look. So, it was necessary for me to look like I wanted to do something, to look like I was out to learn something, to have my mind and my dress and my attitude to look like I was going to move forward, never thinking about moving backward, always moving forward.”

Margarita has been experiencing homelessness for 18 months, which officially makes her chronically homeless. She used to live in a duplex out by Denver International Airport, but her landlord, unable to afford payments on the apartment complex was forced to sell, resulting in Margarita having no place to go.

“Some days I go through things that make me want to pull my hair out and just get dropped off by the river somewhere by myself. But I know that’s not the answer. For me, the answer is to help someone. Jordan, I never let a day pass that I don’t help somebody. I think that if you help someone move forward—you move forward.”

“Just being with people and talking is important—something will always come up that you can talk about. And as you talk, people begin to tell you their issues, and you can try to help them.”

She’s speaking to me as if I am her student, and in a strange way, I get it. To her I’m young and somewhat naïve—my passion does not match her wisdom, her experience or even her education. For the rest of the conversation I hardly speak, I don’t ask another question. I just sit back and listen to Margarita impart her wisdom and tell her story.

“I’m from Barcelona. I came to the U.S. to go to college. I went to Radcliffe, then to the University of Minnesota. I almost froze to death in Minnesota, not literally to death, but it was so cold! And I had the nerve to be a cheerleader. Can you believe that? I was so cold during the football season that I thought I was going to die!”

“After my experience in Minnesota, I hurried to California. I studied at the University there—at Berkley. I studied psychology and ended up working that field, helping parents and children.”

“I have a talent to sing. I sing opera—I like to do that. I’ve done that since I was a kid, and that excites me. I haven’t done any real work since I’ve been in Denver because this is not an opera city. In San Francisco, I did a lot of work. I worked for the city and then I would go across the street to one of the city organizations and be on stage. I’ve always liked to act.”

Jennifer Fitzgerald, our Emergency Services Coordinator downtown who was also a part of this interview, chimes in…“You’re so joyful, Margarita. What makes you that way?”

“Anticipation for life,” Margarita says. “I always ask myself, what can I do to help others today? What can I do to get out of this situation? And creating, just trying to create an interest in something, and holding an interest in something, because that’s the only way you can live out here. If you have no interest and you don’t do anything to help people—you don’t do anything to build, then what are you doing? You know? You have to do something to help others. That’s what I was taught.”

Faces of The Mission is a blog series written by Jordan Smith, Denver Rescue Mission’s Writer/Photographer and former Next Step Coordinator at the Lawrence Street Community Center, offering insights and real life stories from people experiencing homelessness and hardships.