Events Posts

Hit a Home Run Against Hunger

Join the Colorado Rockies, King Soopers and Denver Rescue Mission for the “Hit a Home Run Against Hunger” drive.

Join the Colorado Rockies, King Soopers and Denver Rescue Mission for the “Hit a Home Run Against Hunger” drive.

Please bring nonperishable or canned food items to the Colorado Rockies game on Friday, June 28 to help feed the poor and hungry in our community!

And when you shop at King Soopers from June 23 through July 20, be sure to show your support by making a monetary donation as you check out.

For more information please contact Lisette at Lisette@DenRescue.org or 303.313.2414

Easter Egg Hunt Brings Happiness & Excitement

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blog 2The afternoon rain had just stopped and groves of kids from the Mission’s STAR Transitional Program started to skip down The Crossing’s sunroom hallway. As they passed the windows, they would stop, point and look out at the amphitheater courtyard.

There outside in the grass were brightly-colored, neon Easter eggs freckled among the grass. You could feel the excitement, and almost soon to be sugar rush, as the kids continued to fill the room.

But, before they could go racing to grab their eggs and candy, Joe Birmingham, the Mission’s youth coordinator, had a question for the group — “This is a fun event, but what is Easter really about?”

Several kids excitedly blurted out things like, “Easter eggs,” “the Easter Bunny,” and “Candy.”

Then one kid raised his hand and said, “The resurrection of Jesus.”

Blog 1The parents that had accumulated around the sides of the room “aww’d” at the answer and a soft clap filled the room.

Joe exclaimed, “Exactly!” He then went on to give instructions. It was go time!

3-2-1… the youngest kids went outside first, followed by a thunder of enthusiasm as the older kids and teens hit the courtyard a few minutes later. Immediately thereafter laughter, the clinking of eggs hitting together in each basket and feet crunching on grass filled the air. It was the sight of pure happiness.

Once all the trees and bushes had been looked through and every corner of the lawn had been searched, the group headed inside for an ice cream party with candy, sprinkles and more.

blog 3It was the perfect Saturday Easter egg event full of joy. And, none of it would have been possible without the handfuls of the Mission’s donors who supplied the hundreds of Easter eggs. We are extremely fortunate to have donors who go above and beyond to make sure the individuals we serve feel loved. Thank you.

Fort Collins Rescue Mission is Honoring Volunteers this Month!

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Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Harvest Farm Honoring Volunteers this Month

Here at the Mission and Harvest Farm, volunteers are our heroes. They help us prepare and serve meals to guests with a caring smile, dedicate time to mentor and encourage program participants, as well as share messages of hope and possibilities of a new life. Volunteers are an invaluable resource that help our organization flourish as we do God’s work.

Last year, volunteers provided over 14,000 hours of service at Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Harvest Farm. This is equivalent to having an additional 6 full-time employees! It’s because of their dedicated service, that we’re able to meet the needs of the broken and lost in our community.

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and the Mission, along with numerous non-profit organizations across the country, are taking some time to celebrate. Throughout #VolunteerAppreciationWeek (April 15-21), we will honor and thank our volunteers for their tireless service.

We’re excited to share the passion and commitment of four featured volunteers. We are so grateful for them, and all our amazing volunteers, for everything they do to #SERVENoCo!

 

Jim Lord

Jim Lord

Jim has been serving warm meals to our homeless guests at Fort Collins Rescue Mission for seven years. He enjoys filling this need in the community and says, “It keeps me humble and helps me appreciate what I have more often.”

Jim loves trying to make our guests smile. He has made it his mission to help our guests feel important while they are here.

We appreciate the work you have put in at Fort Collins Rescue Mission Jim. Thank you!

 

Laura Steven

Laura Stevens

Laura has been volunteering with Fort Collins Rescue Mission for the past two years. She loves being a Mentor and helping our homeless guests. Specifically, she has a heart for helping women feel good about themselves. Often, she donates clothing to fulfil this passion.

“Being a Mentor has been the most fulfilling experience at the Mission so far. In the midst of sadness, challenges and pain, we manage to find the humor and faith and laugh a lot together.” – Laura

Thank you Laura for showing compassion to our guests at Fort Collins Rescue Mission!

 

Marilyn Calcatera

Marilyn Calcatera

Marilyn wanted to use her hair cutting skills to do good in the community. That’s how she got connected to Harvest Farm.  Each month, over the past year, she has been offering free haircuts to men in the New Life Program.

She loves being able to have spiritual conversations with the men in the program and helps encourage them in this journey of their lives. “I can show some motherly love, provide encouragement and share a hug” said Marilyn.

Thank you for using your skills to touch the lives of our New Life Program participants, Marilyn!

 

Ryan Carter

Ryan Carter

Ryan serves as a preacher for chapel services at Fort Collins Rescue Mission and he has been doing this for the past year. His goal is to assist the staff in connecting the Mission with pastors and community leaders to maximize the care and service to those in need.

“I see the Mission’s guests as some of the richest and most gifted people in our city.  Darkness has marginalized many people who are desperately needed and deeply loved.”  Ryan loves the Mission because he gets to work with Jesus in the restoration process!

Ryan’s most impactful experience at the Mission was preaching to a man that had never been to church before or heard the Gospel.  “I saw this man two weeks later, and he grabbed me and said, “Everything is changing!”  He had started to read the word of God and exclaimed, “It’s really making sense to me!”  Also, in that two week span, he was restored with his mother in San Diego, and was leaving that week to be with her again.  I will meet this man in heaven!” Ryan shared.

Thank you Ryan for diligently doing God’s work with us at Fort Collins Rescue Mission!

These are just a few examples of passionate volunteers committed to doing the Lord’s work alongside us. If you’ve been inspired to give back and make a difference, we encourage you to serve with us! There are many ways to get involved.  To learn more and sign up, visit: http://bit.ly/Volunteer4FCRM

 

 

We’re Honoring Volunteers this Month!

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Denver Rescue Mission Honoring Volunteers this Month

Here at the Mission, volunteers are our heroes. They serve meals with a caring smile, tutor kids who are behind in school, spend time mentoring adults & children, care for kids in transition, sort donations, and so much more. Volunteers provide 122,276 hours of their time at Denver Rescue Mission each year, which is equivalent to 59 full-time employees.

Throughout #VolunteerAppreciationWeek, volunteers will be honored and thanked for their service to the Mission on our social channels. We’re excited to share the passion and commitment of these seven featured volunteers. Read their stories below and consider signing up to make an impact at www.denverrescuemission.org/volunteer.

Thanks for all YOU do to #ServeDenver #VolunteerAppreciationWeek.

Kyle Gjersee

Kyle Gjersee

You can find Kyle serving breakfast five, sometimes six, days a week at our Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC) in downtown Denver over the past year. Kyle recently became a mentor for a New Life Program participant at The Crossing as well.

“I enjoy giving back to the community and being part of something bigger than myself” -Kyle.
Thank you Kyle for your servant heart!

Scott Farleigh

Scott Farleigh

Scott has been a volunteer with us for nine years! He volunteers primarily in the Denver Broncos Youth Center at The Crossing tutoring kids. Scott donates his money as well as his time, working to organize projects with the Eagle Scouts. They most recently replaced some fencing and put in a new flag pole in front of The Crossing.

“The greatest experience I’ve had so far was teaching one of my third grade kids in the Bronco Room how to read. He started at a 1st grade reading level and is now almost up to a 3rd grade reading level.” -Scott

The kids are blessed to have had your help in the Denver Broncos Youth Center over the past 9 years, Thank you Scott.

Carroll Dannettell

Carroll Dannettell

Since 2008, Carroll has been tutoring our kids at The Crossing in the Denver Broncos Youth Center.

“I enjoy knowing I am making a difference in a child’s life,” Carroll says.

Carroll also loves working alongside the Interns in the Denver Broncos Youth Center because she feels she has been able to mentor them as well. She enjoys watching both the interns and the children grow and mature. Carroll believes that her life has been changed by volunteering at the Mission.

Thank you Carroll for your ten years of service with Denver Rescue Mission!

Jenelle Wilson

Jenelle Wilson

Jenelle has been a Youth Mentor since November. “Serving my mentee and her family brings me a joy I cannot express. She reminds me that God is alive and present even in the youngest of lives and being part of something so much bigger than just me, it’s humbling and exciting,” Jenelle says.

Jenelle brings her mentee with her to church every Sunday morning. She loves how her mentee sings during worship even if she doesn’t know the words and always holds Jenelle’s Bible when the pastor speaks to follow along. “It’s amazing how much she retains! She is thoughtful and connected to the message. God is doing great things in her!”

Thank you Jenelle for bringing God into the lives of your mentee and her family at The Crossing!

Rylee Bennett

Rylee Bennett

For the past year, Rylee has been mentoring one of our STAR Transitional Program participants. “I knew that when I moved to Denver about a year ago, that I was craving a deeper, more meaningful relationship with someone in need.”  Rylee was thrilled to find Denver Rescue Mission and applied to be a long-term volunteer immediately.

Rylee’s most impactful experience as a Mentor has been watching her mentee persevere despite adversity and stand as the determined, selfless, God loving woman that she is today. “When I first met her it almost felt like our time spent together was a one way interview as she would only give short little responses to my pleading questions to get to know her. Since then our relationship has done a 180 and she’s been able to open up her heart to me and allow me to encourage her and just love on her.”  They’ve tackled topics that she initially wanted to stay so far away from, like going back to school to get her GED, building a resume and applying to jobs, getting her permit, and seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus. Rylee is so grateful for this opportunity and wants to help others be able to have the same experience as a Mentor at the Mission!

Rylee, we thank you for showing God’s love and grace to your mentee. We are blessed to have you.

Laura Skladzinski

Laura Skladzinski

Laura is a Mentor to one of our STAR Transitional Program participants. She also tries to serve meals at our Lawrence Street Community Center at least once a month. Laura loves how easy it is to serve meals even when she has a busy schedule. “Although the line moves quickly, I try to at least say hi and give a smile to everyone who comes through.”

Becoming a Mentor for the STAR Transitional Program has made her feel like she is truly making a difference in someone’s life by getting to interact and help someone one-on-one. Laura really enjoys meeting with her mentee and is grateful for the opportunity to not only help but also make a new friend. “I often think my mentee has helped me more than I have helped her, in that my time with her has given me a different perspective and made me appreciate the many blessings I’ve been fortunate to receive.”

Thank you Laura for serving with us over the past two years!

Dan Polizzi

Dan Polizzi

Dan combines his love for music and kids by teaching the children at The Crossing guitar and piano lessons, over the past eight years! “I feel a part of the community/family when I’m there.” – Dan

Dan has always volunteered for causes he has felt strongly about and giving music lessons at the Mission was a perfect way to show his gratitude for what people have done for him. “Knowledge is power and can open doors to opportunities you otherwise would never have access to” said Dan. His hope is that the kids he works with will have a better quality of life having gained some ability to play an instrument.

Dan, thank you for sharing your passion for music with the kids and with us at the Denver Rescue Mission.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Did you know that April is National Alcohol Awareness month? Substance abuse is something we see frequently in Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program. Addiction can be all consuming and can drastically affect every area of someone’s life. However, our goal at the Mission is to ensure that every person who enters our New Life Program knows deep down that their addiction does not define them and that there is always hope for renewal and recovery.

This idea that “our mistakes do not define us” is important for us all to remember, especially those struggling with addiction. This verse from Psalms is one that our program participants reflect on often…

Psalm 25:7

Participants in our New Life Program often come to us struggling with addiction, without hope and without any connection to a stable community. They also struggle with maintaining employment and finding a stable place to live. Their abuse of alcohol and other substances is often a pathway used to cope with deeper issues. Our program provides them with the chance to deal with those deeper issues head-on, reestablish positive relationships, maintain a stable living environment, give them a sense of purpose through work readiness, and, ultimately, lead them into a spiritual connection with God.

No one knows more about teaching others the love of God and the power of His forgiveness than our New Life Program staff. I sat down with some of our program staff to get their perspective on alcohol awareness.

“[Our] staff embraces the Mission’s mission statement of ‘Changing lives in the name of Christ.’ We tell our New Life Program participants that they have a purpose in life and that they are gifted to accomplish many things.  The guidance of the Holy Spirit gives us the advantage to help our participants uncover and rediscover their gifts and guide them into becoming what God created them to be,” says Patrick Mary, Counselor & Clinical Supervisor at the Mission.

Every day in the New Life Program, which can last up to one and a half years, our participants are encouraged and counseled by our staff. One participant recalls life before the program, “Before, alcohol was killing me; today, I am really enjoying life, my wife, family sunrises, and sunsets. Finding God in the New Life Program has changed my life. Before, my work day was mundane; today, I am enjoying the work readiness program in the program.  I have rediscovered the truth of enjoying work.”

Our New Life Program recognizes the wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Step Program, which, in a way, become a part of what we do. A Recovery Support Group – facilitated by Patrick Mary – meets weekly to inspire discussion, mutual encouragement, bonding, and sobriety. Along with elective groups, each participant is required to attend individual counseling and group sessions. These sessions are designed to “dig deeper” into childhood trauma and other issues related to present-day addictive behavior.

“It is a joy to see the transformation that occurs when freedom from bondage is realized,” says Steve Swihart, New Life Program Graduate Chaplain.

“A misconception exists that addiction or homelessness is simply a matter of will-power or choice. This is not always the case. Each participant that we come in contact with has a story. Each story comes with layers,” says Austin Morrow, Next Step Community Coordinator.

“The first step in correcting these misconceptions is to listen. Not just listening to someone’s problems and immediately trying to find a solution but truly listening to someone’s story and understanding that there are more layers than what may be seen initially. Addiction and homelessness can be difficult to understand.  It can be messy. But, through the love and grace of Christ, lives can be changed and misconceptions can be corrected,” adds Morrow.

“The Mission’s approach to helping people struggling with alcoholism isn’t going to be the right fit for every person who walks through our doors. But, over the years, I have seen so many lives change – fathers who reconnect with their children after years of being estranged, men who find newfound self-confidence and energy in their sobriety.”

This month, as we acknowledge Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s an important reminder that rehabilitation is a journey and it’s different for everyone. May we all listen a little more and judge a little less.

 

 

 (Contributors to this article include Austin Morrow, Zach Titus, Patrick Mary, Stephen Swihart.)

 

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.

When Seeking Help Is The Smart Thing To Do

Many people shy away from counseling; they think that if they seek help with their lives that others will label them as “crazy”. In fact, the exact opposite is true! Scripture tells us that:

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.  –Proverbs 1:5

and

Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days. –Proverbs 19:20

In other words, asking for help is the smart thing to do! Seeking input from others as we go through the seasons of our lives is an important part of becoming – and staying – mentally fit.

Not everyone needs to see a professional counselor. But if you or someone you know is feeling depressed, having difficulties in relationships or struggling in some way, a visit to your pastor, a chat with good friend or talking to a professional can make a world of difference. And, like a cavity in your tooth, if you handle things sooner rather than later, the problem will stay small and be more easily resolved.

However bleak the present may appear we can always have hope for better times ahead. That is one gospel promise that we see played out daily here at Denver Rescue Mission.

mental health awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we acknowledge that mental health is an important component of overall health and wholeness. The STAR Transitional Program Counseling Department sees its mission enfolded in the Mission’s overall mission statement: we “meet people at their physical and spiritual points of need” to address their unique challenges. This includes helping them with life issues and problems like depression and anxiety as well as in their relationships with themselves, with others and with God.

In our Counseling Department we support people on their way to becoming self-sufficient. We meet with each person or family in the program and see how we can help them individually with their mental and emotional challenges.

Through workshops, individual sessions, groups for teen girls and teen boys, and play therapy for children, we have the joy of watching participants grow and flourish in their relationships with God and with others. Along the way, we also help future professionals get the real-life experience they need to hone their skills through our intern program. In the future, we hope to add to our list of services by introducing group counseling as well as support groups for those who need extra encouragement.

Our counseling department is a place where our guests and program participants can find help, hope and healing as the Holy Spirit continues to form them into the image of Christ. And we are so grateful to serve this community in need.

To learn more about how you can help #breakthestigma around mental health and get involved in your own way, visit www.nami.org.

1,000 Happier Feet This Easter

Easter Banquet Banner

As the Denver Rescue Mission staff member who oversees all of our events and corporate engagement, one of the best parts of my job is getting to see the greater community of the Denver area come together to make a difference in the lives of our guests and program participants. Hands down, my favorite event that I get to be a part of is our annual Easter Celebration.

The Easter Celebration is all about restoring a sense of dignity to men and women by providing a holiday meal and a clean pair of socks and shoes. In addition to a new pair of shoes, they enjoye an Easter chapel service, a traditional Easter meal and the opportunity to have their feet washed and examined by a podiatrist. This year we were fortunate to distribute nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes.

Easter Banquet 2017 Shoes

Our Easter Celebration wouldn’t be possible this year (or any other year for that matter) if it weren’t for our corporate partners like Runners Roost Denver and New Balance. As ambassadors of the local running community, perhaps no one understands the value of clean socks and new shoes like the teams at Runners Roost and New Balance. They have served and partnered with us on multiple occasions for our Easter Celebration. Each year, they are willing to not only donate shoes, but also to come and serve at the event to help distribute the shoes to our guests.

I have been honored to work with Runners Roost and New Balance in previous years. I’m always struck by their graciousness, willingness to say ‘yes’, desire to serve those in need and just how “on the ball” they are in regards to communication, efficiency and partnering with us. It’s so awesome to me that these companies believe in: our community; providing and restoring dignity to those Denver Rescue Mission serves; and building community in their own organizations through service opportunities like these.

 

If you are a part of a company or your company is looking to partner with an organization to help make a lasting change in the lives of those in need, please reach out to me at JLittlejohn@denrescue.org. Let’s start the conversation and see what kind of change we can make together!

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.

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.