The Crossing Posts

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 

 

Mission Employee Interviews // Meet Aric

(Written by Valerie, Public Relations Intern)

Processed with VSCOcamHelping people move in. Conducting drug tests. Settling arguments. Handling paperwork.

These tasks are all part of the day’s work for Aric Wauzzinski, a Facility Assistant (FA) at The Crossing. As an FA, Aric is on the front lines of the Mission, making sure things run smoothly at a facility that houses about 500 people.

After packing his bags and moving here from Indiana, Aric became an Youth Intern at Denver Rescue Mission. Three years ago, when his internship ended,he knew he wanted to work here full-time. He’s been an FA for one and a half years and loves it. It’s a job that continually reminds him of the miracle of Christ’s transformation in peoples’ life.

“When you least expect it, when you’re having a bad day, you’re reminded of why you’re here and why God brought you here,” he says.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes participants aren’t used to the structure and policies that are part of life at The Crossing. This can present a challenge when implementing rules which are meant to help people.

The great conversations he has with participants on a daily basis keep him encouraged and energized when dealing with obstacles.

“To be quite honest,” Aric says, “It strengthens my faith too because you see how Christ is working in people.”

Aside from positive conversations, another perk of life at The Crossing is getting to go on field-trips, like when Aric accompanied the New Life Program participants on their rafting trip.

“90% of those guys had never been rafting in their life and seeing their excitement and reaction was really cool,” he says.

Overall, the best part of his job is seeing people graduate, Aric says without hesitation.

He continues, “People completely change their lives going from homeless and drug-addicted to getting a new life in Christ.”

He gets to see first-hand the miracle of transformed lives, the blessings that pour in from the outside and gets to work closely with great supervisors (shout out to Jeremy Stubbs!) and a great team.

“I work with the best people in the world. I know that sounds corny, but I really do. That’s part of the reason I’m still here. They make everything that’s negative turn into a positive. So I just really love the people here: the participants and the staff.  And that’s really the highlight of my job,” he says.

The Best Reflection // Lisa’s Story

(Posted in the Changing Lives Newsletter – May 2013)

Lisa was always good at making money. It seemed that everything she tried, she did well. She succeeded effortlessly and made a comfortable living by the young age of 17. She met her husband at work, fell in love and got married.

But after her wedding, Lisa worried about her appearance. She restricted food and overexercised to lose weight. Four years after giving birth to her two daughters, her marriage fell apart and her relationship with food took another turn. She began purging everything she ate. Eventually, the habit took control over her entire life. “It’s an addiction like anything else. When I was done with all my obligations for the day, I would turn on the TV, sit and eat, binging and purging until I went to sleep at night,” says Lisa.

Her health was failing as well as her relationships with those around her. After spending most of her fortune on expensive houses, vehicles and vacations, her savings account dwindled. “At that time, I was running my own mortgage company. Though I was doing really well, I was spending over $100 a day on food. I was a workaholic, negating my responsibilities as a parent,” says Lisa. Her eating disorder became so severe that she couldn’t think straight and could barely work. In 2006, she weighed 80 pounds and was waiting to die.

Lisa’s daughters, then in high school, wanted nothing to do with her. For the next three years she was in and out of treatment facilities and hospitals. There were months when Lisa would be in a facility and her daughters lived alone in her small, rented apartment.    “I have so many letters from doctors saying that I wasn’t going to make it. My heart was failing,” says Lisa. Her only thoughts revolved around food and her daughters.

Finally, out of money, with no way to pay the next month’s rent or to afford her eating habits, Lisa sought help. She heard about the STAR Transitional Program offered at The Crossing. She had three weeks until her rent was due. In May 2012, she went to The Crossing and was put on a waiting list. Just days before facing eviction, she was able to move in.

“I was so scared and nervous. I came here wanting to maintain my lifestyle. I couldn’t imagine a day without binging and purging, but I had no other place to go,” says Lisa. She did try to keep her old habits. But one of the requirements of the program is that each participant meet with a counselor. Loyce, a volunteer counselor at the Mission, began meeting with Lisa each week. “I met Loyce and loved her. She is an amazing mentor. She prayed for me, and one morning I woke up and decided, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ All of her prayers were heard,” says Lisa.

By August 2012, Lisa had stopped binging and purging and felt free from that burden for the first time in 15 years: “The Crossing played a bigger role in that than anybody did. It was the community, as well as the support that I had from the staff…there were people I was able to reach out to. The Crossing made me realize what life is all about.”

Lisa’s biggest loss in the last 15 years was her relationship with her daughters. They moved out, started college and became young women. It crushed her that she wasn’t a part of their lives. But as she continued to grow and heal, they saw changes in her. In October 2012 Lisa met with her oldest daughter, Arielle, for lunch. At the end of that meal Arielle looked at Lisa with tears in her eyes and said, “Mom, I see hope.” Lisa felt it, too.

Now, she sees her daughters twice a month when they visit her at The Crossing: “The fact that I have this relationship with my daughters—I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s like heaven on earth. And it just keeps getting better. This is what community does. It’s so powerful,” says Lisa.

In five years, Lisa sees herself closer than ever with her daughters. She sees herself healthy, living in community, having a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Missions, and working with children. “Getting my degree has nothing to do with money. I want a simple life and I want to teach children,” says Lisa. The Crossing provides the opportunity for STAR participants to earn a degree on-line through City Vision College. Lisa plans to take advantage of this program and start classes in the next few months!

For now, she’s volunteering at a children’s center every week, feeling more fulfilled than ever before: “Through it all, my whole life, I never felt like God left my side. If there is something going on beyond my control, I let go and let God. Whenever I’ve prayed, I’ve always gotten an answer.”

Lisa spends time volunteering at Colorado Miners, a community center for at-risk youth.

To post a note of encouragement for Lisa on the Mission’s Facebook page, visit Facebook.com/DenverRescue.

Rachel’s Lens // Mile for Mile

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

This week, I’ve been visiting my family in Pennsylvania. My little sister is getting married tomorrow, so I’ve been hanging lights, cutting out bows, baking brownies, and drinking gallons of coffee with little sleep. It may sound tedious and busy, but it’s been wonderful. I’ve had the chance to spend my sister’s last days as a single lady by her side.

One thing that she asked wasn’t so fun though. She wanted to be in shape for the big day, so asked me and all my sisters to join her in running a half marathon. So, last Sunday, we bundled up and headed to Delaware to run 13.1 miles. I was NOT looking forward to it. Two weeks ago, on my last training run, I decided that I needed a plan to get through it. I had heard about people using long runs to pray and thought, “Why not give this a try.”

But I couldn’t decide who or what to pray for. Then it hit me. After interviewing an awesome woman for a story at work last week, I realized that I’ve interviewed 13 people so far while working at Denver Rescue Mission. So I spent the first three minutes of each mile praying for the incredibly strong people that I’ve had the privilege to connect with over the past five months.

my family!

Mile 1: I prayed for Dallas, an ex-addict I met at Fort Collins Rescue Mission who has overcome trial after trial in his life. He has finally found sobriety and feels like the people at the Mission are the first to ever care about him.

Mile 2: I prayed for Eddie, a chef at Fort Collins Rescue Mission who is putting his life back together through the Steps to Success program.

Mile 3: I thought of our Emergency Shelter guests, up to 150 men on the coldest nights. I prayed that the shelter will be more than refuge from the cold, but the first night of a new beginning for these men.

Mile 4: After chugging some Gatorade, I remembered Fedline, a young, strong, single mom who earned a spot as a Dental Assistant and received her driver’s license in a matter of months. I praised The Lord for His providence in her life.

Mile 5: I prayed for Angeline, Fedline’s two-year-old daughter. I prayed that she will always know her mother for exactly who she is: a strong woman who loves God and fought for a good life for her family.

Mile 6: The Fort Collins Rescue Mission is Denver Rescue Mission’s newest facility and the staff there are working tirelessly to keep it running well. I prayed for strength and wisdom for the men and women who work to change lives in the name of Christ there. I thanked Him for their servant hearts and passion for Fort Collins.

Mile 7: I thought about and prayed for Ida, the first woman I ever interviewed for our Family and Senior Homeless Initiative newsletter. She sat in her chair with her Bible, quoting scriptures and praising God. Her kidneys were failing but she had nothing but positive things to say.

Mile 8: I prayed for Latrice, another person from our Family and Senior Homeless Initiative. She is expecting her second child in June and just moved into her own home. I prayed for a healthy baby and that Latrice will continue to grow and thrive in her church community.

Mile 9: At this point, I was praying for my cramping hamstrings and my aching knees. But I also lifted up Monique, a single mom who just found housing and is working through some difficult times. I prayed for clarity, strength and support around her.

Mile 10: I smiled as I started this mile, remembering Robert from Fort Collins. He didn’t stop smiling for a second while I interviewed him. He glowed with joy next to his new bride the whole time. I prayed that his marriage will make him stronger and that he will continue to work with such excitement for his future.

Mile 11: Shelly was next, Robert’s bride. I prayed that she will support Robert in his successes and hold his hand through his trials. I prayed that she will be able to reconnect with her children.

Mile 12: Praying for Tim got me through this very difficult mile. I thought about him at work, operating all the heavy machinery, beaming like a little boy. He takes such pride in his work and I prayed that all of our program graduates will find that joy.

Mile 13: After a high five from my sister for making it to the final mile, I prayed for Towai. I prayed that he will continue to flourish in his position at Goodwill and that he will be able to find a community where he can serve others as he so deeply desires.

I finished. The half marathon was significant for so much more than a long run. It reminded me of all the people who have shared their story with me and once again, it gave me the chance to marvel at the work God is doing in Denver.

 

NEW SERIES // Rachel’s Lens

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

Denver Rescue Mission is a place with some serious history. In my “New Hire Orientation” we went over all 121 years of it. With that much experience working with Denver’s most vulnerable people, there is a lot to cover. But rather than becoming overwhelmed, I felt enthused. It’s exciting to be a part of something so much larger than myself and to be in on the action.

I’ve been working at the Mission for four months now as the writer and photographer. But with more than 200 people in our New Life Program, up to 450 men sleeping in our overnight shelters this winter, 170 employees, and 6 different locations, I’m still learning something new every day!

I need to take small bites, learning about the Mission one piece at a time. I can’t walk into The Crossing and expect to interact with each family, child or adult. I can’t visit Champa House for an afternoon and hear all the individual stories of each single mother living there. I couldn’t possibly capture all that Harvest Farm has to offer in a day’s visit. The Lawrence Street Shelter serves over 1,000 meals a day; I can only share a table for three meals each day (let’s be honest, I could eat four). But even in my own building here at the administrative offices, I have yet to hear the story of how each fellow employee ended up working here. But this is my job: to give everyone outside the Mission a glimpse of who we are and what we do. The “why” of what we do can only be expressed through our stories. The people we serve give us a reason to keep going.

Each Friday, I’ll discuss something new that I’ve learned throughout the week or a story I’ve come across. It could be a sentence, it could be a novella. I’ll try to include photos when relevant. I’m already a little intimidated by a weekly commitment, but when your business is Changing Lives in the name of Christ, I can guarantee there will be a lot to say!

Bio:

I’m Rachel!

My job title says that I’m a writer and photographer, but I’m best at being an aunt and baking sweet treats. I own a cardigan in every color, all my good ideas come while sitting in church, I love terrible reality television, and I would rather be wearing sweatpants.