Denver Rescue Mission Posts

Plans to Build A New $2.5 Million Shelter :: The Holly Center

We have an exciting announcement to share!

Earlier this month, after much prayer and consideration, the Mission’s Board of Directors approved a plan to renovate a section of our current Ministry Outreach Center (MOC), our warehouse facility in northeast Park Hill, to create a new overnight shelter for men called Holly Center. This renovation will provide 228 beds, the first new permanent shelter beds for men in the City of Denver since 1989, as well as shower and restroom facilities. All guests will be transported to Holly Center from our Lawrence Street Community Center downtown in the evening and back again in the morning by bus, in partnership with the City of Denver. Construction will begin as early as May, with a projected opening in the fall of 2017. JHL Constructors will be the general contractor. The project’s architect is Wayne LaGrone of DEC Architects.

 

For the last decade, it has been the Mission’s desire to expand overnight shelter services downtown to meet the growing demand of people in need. Since 2012, in order to meet these growing community needs for shelter, the Mission has partnered with the City of Denver to operate an overflow shelter in a city-owned facility offsite – currently an office building near I-70 & Peoria – which offers mats on the floor and no shower facilities on site. Originally, it was a cold-weather shelter, but has since expanded, out of necessity, to a year-round facility.

During the last two years, our leadership team developed plans to build a more dignified permanent shelter inside the MOC, and we are pleased that God is now opening the doors to make Holly Center a reality. We have zoning and neighborhood approval, and are just a few weeks from beginning construction. While we still expect to operate a City-owned overflow shelter in the future, Holly Center will add both capacity and stability to Denver’s emergency shelter network at a time that it is desperately needed.

Lives are transformed every single day because of our community of supporters, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to minister to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in our community, not only at the Holly Center, but at all of our Mission locations now and in the future.

Over the next coming months, we ask for your prayers over this project and God’s ministry to the poor we serve.

 

Denver Rescue Mission among faith-based groups leading the way to help the homeless

Back in February, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for the unveiling of a new homeless study completed by the Baylor Institute for Studies for Religion on behalf of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). It was a privilege to be in a room full of dignitaries and nonprofit leaders who are making a significant impact on homelessness across the country. And the study had some impressive results.

ASSESSING THE FAITH-BASED RESPONSE TO HOMELESSNESS IN AMERICA: FINDINGS FROM ELEVEN CITIES was compiled in 2016 with data from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and local agencies in 11 “sample cities” — Baltimore; Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta; Indianapolis; Omaha, Neb.; Houston; Denver; Phoenix; San Diego; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle.

Denver Rescue Mission was one of the local agencies to participate in this research and we are eager to share the results. Overall, faith-based organizations (FBOs) and missions are at the forefront when it comes to not only providing the homeless with shelter beds, but also effectively dealing with the root causes of homelessness. 

Some of the key findings from the Baylor Study include…

  • 58% of emergency shelter beds in these 11 cities are provided by FBOs
  • These FBOs save taxpayers $9.42 per every $1 invested by government funding
    • Essentially, $119 million in tax savings in the 11 cities over three years
  • FBO homeless ministries are at the forefront of program innovation to improve their ability to increase positive outcomes for homeless individuals and families
  • Cities with more FBOs tend to have less unsheltered homeless individuals and families
Faith-based organizations provide nearly 60% of the Emergency Shelter beds, what many consider the “safety net of all safety nets” for the homeless population. Graphic courtesy of Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion

Faith-based organizations provide nearly 60% of the Emergency Shelter beds, what many consider the “safety net of all safety nets” for the homeless population. Graphic courtesy of Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion

Find a link to the full report here.

The report itself is over 140 pages long. Denver’s portion begins on page 44. If you are passionate about our cause and homelessness, I encourage you to browse through these pages and explore for yourself how FBOs are changing communities one mission at a time.

This study, I believe, reminds us of the importance of the faith-based community in meeting the needs of the homeless as well as the significant effort that needs to continue to be made to collaborate with you (our community of supporters) and the government in working together toward solutions to issues of homelessness. We couldn’t do this soul-saving work without you!

A Love Made Stronger

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I began reflecting on some of the wonderful couples I’ve had a chance to meet at Denver Rescue Mission. I’ve met the Lopez family who just moved into our STAR Transitional Program with their four children – both parents are working and trying save up money. I’ve chatted with couples at our banquet meals downtown who are grateful to have somewhere to go during the day where they can spend time together. Another couple that sticks out in my mind is Denise and Thomas Martin.

The Martin’s met back in October of 2012 and were married six short months later. “We’re always wanting to spend time together,” says Denise.

They’ve had their share of hardships — with Thomas suffering from an eye condition that prevented him from working and Denise battling heart problems and breast cancer. In fact, they were homeless for the first six months of their marriage and had to spend dozens of lonely nights in separate shelters. But, these two always seemed to find a way back to each other and soon they found solace in our STAR Transitional Program at The Crossing. The Martin’s lived at The Crossing for two years and were able to get their lives and health back on track.

Nearly a year after they graduated our program, I caught up with Denise and Thomas to see how they were doing. They were proud to report that they still live in a beautiful two bedroom apartment at Park Hill Station, an affordable housing complex just down the road from The Crossing.

What really strikes me is their steadfast faith. Even when their situation looked dire, they leaned on God, and each other, day in and day out. Denise reports that their health is doing much better and she attributes this to “God’s healing hand”.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Denise and Thomas are looking forward to spending a romantic evening together going to dinner and a movie and are thankful to now have a place to call home.

You can read more about their love story in the Mission’s Changing Lives newsletter and listen below to a piece of our conversation. 

As I make my own Valentine’s Day plans with my husband, Matt, and reflect on our three years of marriage, I feel inspired by the Martin’s love for each other and God and will always keep Denise’s words close to my heart…

“Make your priority God and if the other person is making their priority God, you’ve got a good foundation.” – Denise Martin 

 

A Beautiful Cloudy Day

My wife woke up the other morning and opened the window exclaiming, “Oh, what a beautiful, cloudy day!”

Since Colorado gets nearly 300 days of sunshine a year—even though that’s technically kind of a myth—I could see what she meant. It’s not often that we get an overcast day. Even in the winter, the sky can be a brilliant blue with warm sun taking the edge off the biting cold.

Regardless, her comment made me laugh. “Only someone from up-state New York would say something like that,” I replied.

Now it was her turn to laugh. The weather around her parents’ house in up-state New York is often gloomy, especially this time of year. The gray shadow of rolling clouds is something my wife grew up with, so today reminded her of home. And as she put it, “The cloudy days make you appreciate the sunny ones.”

All I can think of when I look out my office window at the gray wall hiding the Front Range is how many people have to struggle in this cold outside on the street. Thousands of people have to face Denver’s winters alone. While I’m looking forward to a soft blanket of snow and snowboarding in the mountains, I also know this time of year brings more struggles to people in need than most other times of the year.

Thankfully, our homeless neighbors are not without options. The Mission’s Lawrence Street Community Center offers people a safe, drug- and alcohol-free place to be during the day and warm meals among other services. And men experiencing homelessness can find shelter each night in our 315 beds and about 300 additional mats at the emergency overflow location.

Denver Rescue Mission :: Lawrence Street Community Center

Denver Rescue Mission :: Lawrence Street Community Center

In fact, we serve nearly 1,000 unique individuals at the community center every day with meals, laundry services, restrooms and an encouraging environment.

So, as the snow flies and we bundle up against the cold, take a moment on a beautiful, cloudy day to remember those who are struggling to get back on their feet. And remember the staff and program participants at Denver Rescue Mission as well. We rely on supporters like you to help provide life-saving services to people in need. Without all of your love, faith, volunteer hours, donations and continuous encouragement, we wouldn’t be able to open warm and welcoming arms to the most vulnerable people in our city. Thank you for making it all possible.

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.