blog series Posts

Rachel’s Lens // “I’m new to this”

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

I was very, very sick this week. This post may reflect that in its length.

I’m extremely excited for June’s issue of our Changing Lives Newsletter. Without giving too much away, below is a sneak preview.

I’ve spent most of the week running around and having some very interesting conversations…can’t wait to fill you all in next month. :)

Rachel’s Lens // Moving for the 23rd time in 8 years

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

I’m moving today…for the 23rd time in eight years. I know, I know, that sounds a little crazy. But it’s also very true. I’ve lived in cramped studio apartments, college dorms, rat-infested houses, other people’s guest rooms, century-old row homes, and even in a mansion. But I have never once been able to call one place my very own. I don’t decorate, I don’t arrange furniture well and truthfully, I don’t think I’ve truly unpacked all of my belongings since 2005.

There were parts of that lifestyle that were so appealing. If I didn’t like the small kitchen, it was fine because it was only temporary. If the toilet or showerhead broke, someone else paid for the repairs. Bad roommates? I was out in three months. I could fit almost all my stuff into my tiny Honda.

But there were gaping holes in my life when I was constantly in flux. My relationships could only reach shallow levels since I never knew when I was leaving a place behind. My mind constantly chased the “next big thing.” Because I hadn’t committed to a place for long-term, I never settled into a job long enough to genuinely invest. Community? How do you build community without consistent neighbors?

So many of the people that I interview here live a life in flux. Some are forced from their homes because of overdue mortgages or abusive relationships or something as simple as bed bugs. Some live on the streets because of loss or addiction or mental illness. Life happens. But at some point, their trials led them to Denver Rescue Mission, to community. For most of our program participants, this is the first time in years or even decades that they have found stability in the midst of a wandering lifestyle. Some have been craving it without knowing it and relish in the new support system. Some try to put up a privacy fence around themselves, keeping others out. I relate to the second group.

Can I be honest? I’m scared – terrified even – to grow roots and settle down. Life is so much easier when you get to start over every couple months. It’s like getting a bunch of second chances at being the person you want to be and ignoring all the mistakes you made in that last place. But, because of my conversations with our program participants, I’ve realized that this is a completely unrealistic way of living life. What is life for if not for connecting with others, building community and growing together in Christ? How do I improve without the insight and experiences of others? The people I meet each day remind me that even though community is hard, raw and honest, it’s also the only way any of us are going to make it.

Not one person I’ve interviewed has said: “Yes. Living a life of isolation was WAY better. I hate having all this help.” Sure, it was more difficult for some to embrace community living with a smile. But I can guarantee that each of them would tell you that the tough conversations, the probing and unwelcomed questions and the intentional prayers are the sole reason they are living a self-sufficient lifestyle today.

Many people call Denver Rescue Mission home for a season in their lives. They are changed forever by Christ. It’s because of these stories that I welcome this permanent and hopefully final move. I’ve chosen Denver. I’ve chosen these people. And as scary as it is to anchor my feet somewhere, it gets less scary when I realize it’s at Denver Rescue Mission.

Rachel’s Lens // It snowed this week!

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

So Wednesday was May 1st. And it snowed. Not like, “Oh cool! It’s flurrying in May!” kind of snow. More like, “Do I really need to wear boots and scrape the ice off my car?!” kind of snow.

I had packed my sweaters up and pulled out my flip-flops. I was ready for summer, not expecting a storm at this time of year. But this seems to be a winter that just won’t end. We’ve had 80 degree days interspersed with sudden storms for the last month. My sinuses and allergies have no idea what to think and I’ve been sick multiple times.

Can you imagine dealing with these sudden weather changes if you spent the majority of your time outside? If you had to carry all of your possessions in a small backpack? Can you imagine trying to be prepared for winter and summer for an entire month? I whine about the changing temperatures. But does my life depend on being prepared? Absolutely not.

Our shelters have to be prepared for a massive influx one night and a calm one the next. We have to make sure we are staffed appropriately, enough meals are made, linens are washed, and systems are firing on all cylinders. The more extreme the conditions, the more support Denver Rescue Mission needs.

Though as a city we are all collectively crossing all fingers and toes that there will be no more snow, we covet your prayers and support in times like this!

Rachel’s Lens // Simply Learning

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

When I looked out the window on Tuesday morning, I let out a complaint about having to get the snow and ice off my car. Ugh, typing that makes me a bit mad at myself.

While getting ready for the day, I decided to drive down to the Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter and see if they opened the doors for the men who didn’t have anywhere to go during the harsh conditions.

They had opened the doors, but on my way inside, I saw a man standing across the street. I invited him in but he said he was OK. In my 3 minutes outside, my hands started to cramp and I couldn’t feel my toes. I can’t imagine how cold he felt. I asked if I could take his photo and he said yes. His name was Tony.

I thought about him and others like him for the rest of the day. I don’t know his story and I don’t know why he stood outside in the cold.

This post has no neat, wrapped-up ending. I am simply learning. Learning who we serve and why. Tony is significant to this process, I just don’t know how yet.

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.