rachel’s lens Posts

Rachel’s Lens // “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

The first event I ever shot for Denver Rescue Mission was the winter graduation ceremony (you can read it here). I remember feeling a little nervous and overwhelmed, but so encouraged by all of our graduates. There was cheering and tears all around.

Well today was my first spring ceremony and it did not disappoint. In the prayer with the graduates before the ceremony began, Brad Meuli (CEO and President) said, “Today is one of the best days we have at Denver Rescue Mission.” And you could feel the palpable happiness in the room. We see a lot of hard stuff, but it makes the good stuff that much better.

Denver Rescue Mission celebrated 11 GED graduates

One of the speakers was Don, a former program participant and current coworker of mine at Denver Rescue Mission. I’ve known him for months, shared meals with him and interacted with him on a daily basis. I feel like I know him fairly well. But to hear the details of his story were incredible. I found myself coughing to choke back tears the whole time.

The other speaker was a local worship leader who has a story similar to a lot of our program participants. He rejoices in almost eight years of sobriety and encouraged our participants and graduates that they, too, can achieve their goals and the lives they seek. I was honored to sit with and photograph such strong individuals who have overcome so much.

The second speaker talked about how all of us are at a different point in our stories. Today we celebrated some really significant events, but communally acknowledged that some people are still in the thick of it, enduring some hard times. And that is the miracle of Denver Rescue Mission. The community is here to celebrate, lift up, guide, and encourage people at any stage of life, at any point in their story.

I’m reminded of the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It was incredible to see people come up victorious today.

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 // Good Food, Good Company & a Great God

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

For months now, my husband and I have driven past a little building with the sign Butcher Block Café above it. Underneath that sign, it says in simple, block letters: “HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS.”

I love cinnamon rolls. We have been meaning to check it out, but never got around to it. But one day in March, my coworkers and I decided to give it a go and see if these rolls were worth the effort. They were. If you’re wondering, they are worth the effort any and every day of the week. We liked them so much that we decided to make The Butcher Block our go-to restaurant on Thursday mornings.

For the last three weeks, we’ve started our day fellowshipping together around a plate of cinnamon rolls (and other tasty foods). And yesterday I was reminded, for the umpteenth time, why my place of work is so invaluable.

My coworker Aneta had the brilliant idea of using part of our meal time to do devotions together. We’ll take turns leading and sharing what’s going on in our hearts and lives. Don took his turn yesterday and shared about God’s peace. He talked about how it’s a free gift every day. But he wisely pointed out that because of our finite minds, this is not a one-time gift; it’s something we need to ask for on a daily basis. What a great way to start your day, being reminded to keep Christ at the center of all we do.

To have a workplace that encourages me daily in my faith is so rare. Days like yesterday remind me to be grateful for the magnificent blessing we all have to work and serve together.