31 July 2015

Fond Farewells

     When you work in full time ministry, your coworkers become like family.  That’s how it is among Open Door Mission staff.  This past week we had to say goodbye to two dear staff members as the Lord called them to a new adventure in His work.
     Greg has always been such a light and a blessing on Open Door Mission’s campus, to guests, staff, and volunteers alike.  Please pray for Greg as he transitions into a pastoral role, ministering to the homeless in Tekamah, NE.  Greg, thank you for sharing the Good News of Christ with the hurting and broken at Open Door Mission's Garland Thompson Men's Center for the past 2+ years!  You let the Lord work through you every day, and many lives are changed because of that.
     Betz has been with Open Door Mission’s Accounting Department for over ten years.  Those were years full of ministry, laughter, and hard work.  You will be missed!  But thankfully this isn't goodbye to Betz, but a, “See ya later!”  Thank you for your dedication!
     “There is no words to say how blessed I was that God lead to Open Door Mission ten years ago,” said Betz in farewell.  “I have been ministered to so much by the wonderful people I had the pleasure to work with.  Open Door Mission is under wonderful leadership with Candace, Richard, and Mike, and all the staff are inspirational.  I had the pleasure of training some wonderful people in the Accounting Department, and a lot of times when they trained me.  God bless you all!”

Beatrice Krause
Marketing Coordinator

30 July 2015

I Answered the Call. Will You?

     Every morning I wake up and feel refreshed.  Daily, I find joy in knowing that my efforts as Donor Relations Coordinator at Open Door Mission are helping to secure funding and items needed to support the men, women, and children we serve.
     The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  And I confidently say that I do!  I love serving in full time ministry at Open Door Mission.
     The first Saturday of every month, Open Door Mission hosts a Stuff-A-Truck event at two Dingman’s Collision Center locations (144th and L, and 84th and Lincoln in Papillion) from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.  Part of my job is to represent the Mission at the Papillion Stuff-A-Truck each month.  This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone and everyone in the community to give new life to their gently used donations like food, furniture, clothing, books, shoes, toys, and etc.  This event is so special because all of the items being collected will be given away freely in the name of Jesus and put into the hands of families and individuals in need.
     This is just one of the many outreach events that Open Door Mission hosts to serve the Heartland’s neediest neighbors.  I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to do God’s work full time at Open Door Mission.

Click here to learn about more events at Open Door Mission.

Alexandria Ewing
Donor Relations Coordinator

29 July 2015

Back to School

     It is almost time for Back to School for the children at Lydia House, as well as all children in the Omaha-metro area.  How are you and your family getting ready for the school year?  Is it the fun of getting a new backpack, lots of basic supplies, and some fun extra ones?  Are you buying new clothes (because last year’s are too small) and shoes?
     Or are you one of the thousands of families in the Heartland living in poverty or homeless, trying to figure out how to fit the required list of school supplies into your budget?
     The children at Lydia House are blessed to be adopted by many sponsors who ensure they are ready for the first day of school.  When someone adopts a student, he or she buys new clothes, shoes, backpacks, and supplies fitting their student’s favorite color and personality.  Receiving a brand new outfit helps a child feel special, and gives him or her a boost of confidence.  Donations of new backpacks and school supplies mean our children will start off just like all the other students, not standing out in a negative way.
     Education is a primary way out of homelessness and poverty, and it is important at Open Door Mission.  All the school-aged children remain in their schools, do homework, and can visit with Open Door Mission tutors to help them stay on track and even soar to new heights.  We are proud to say that a majority of our students are on their school honor rolls.
     Would you consider helping Open Door Mission continue to ensure all our students succeed by picking up a few extra school supplies to donate?  Maybe even some of the fun extra ones?  Make a difference in a child’s life now, to give them a future of HOPE.

For more information on our urgent Back to School supply needs, click here

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

28 July 2015

Like a Box of Chocolates...

     Working at Open Door Mission's Garland Thompson Men's Center is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.
     During most of my shifts, there will be an unexpected knock on my office door.  When I open it, I will see a new gentleman, greet him, listen to his story, and answer his questions.  Then he will turn to look at my picture of Jesus holding up a broken man.  Sometimes the man asks, “Will he do that for me?”  Others say, “That is profound.”  Or I even hear, “That is pretty scary.”  Each man has many different questions.
     But now the door is open, so I ask, “Where are you with your faith right now?”  Many will say, “I do not know,” or “I do not trust anyone.”  I then share with them that Jesus can fix that lack of trust.  When asked if they would like to be able to trust again, some say, “I don’t know.  It has been this was for a very long time.”
     I let each man know that God loves him and wants him to feel peace in his mind and heart.  Some will ask me how to receive this peace.  I explain that the first step is to admit to yourself that you are a sinner.  Once there is that realization of sin and separation from God, I will direct him to further his acceptance of Jesus, correct his errors in his thinking, and change his way of life.  These next steps may involve introducing him to the New Life Recovery Program, or asking him to join us for chapel that night.
     There are other times when the man will refuse everything about the Lord.   In cases such as these, I help provide for any physical needs that he may have, such as food, clothing, shelter, and/or health issues.  I am probably one of the most fortunate staff members at Open Door Mission because I get to see these men grow and recover during their stay.  And I always have opportunities to revisit the topic about Jesus, praying the previously closed off men will be more reception once their basic needs have been met.

Diane Ward
Resource Case Manager

27 July 2015

Men on the Mountaintop

     The world needs men whose lives prove they are men, not by the world’s standards but by God's.  Biblical manhood is a matter of the heart, it is manifested and matured by commitment and obedience to the Word of God.  Real men are men of integrity, internal strength in Christ, and courage.  They are willing to do what is right and to stand for truth at all times and in all circumstances.
     This is what our upcoming trip to Colorado with the program men is all about.  It's about men from Open Door Mission becoming the men that God wants them to be.  It's about these guests being around staff who live their Christian lives daily, so they can learn from them how to do the same.
     My prayers are that the mountain top is only part of why we’re going to Colorado, and that the real reason for this trip is for these men to become the men that God has called us all to be.
     Please pray for God to do big things in the lives of these men, and that they would return forever changed.

Russell Janssen
GTMC Case Manager

24 July 2015

Salvation is Here

     After teaching a class today for our Program men, I had the privilege to talk to a man named Brian who did not know Christ as his Savior.  He knew he did not have eternal life.  After presenting the Gospel (the good news of salvation through the shed blood of Christ), Brian prayed and received new life!  He proclaimed his new faith and assurance.  Hallelujah!
     Please pray for Brian as he plans to leave the state soon for a job.  I gave him my phone number, encouraging him to call me every week for support and accountability.  Pray he does this.  Also pray that Brian finds a Bible-believing Church to attend, develop good accountability relationships with godly men, be mentored in the faith, and grow in the Lord.  Pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit in his life.

Greg Johnston
Men’s Intake Worker

23 July 2015

Pay it Forward

     This is my friend Clyde.  He always has an encouraging word and smile.  It is a blessing to say that Clyde is no longer homeless, but he still takes time to stop by the Garland Thompson Men's Center, volunteer in the kitchen, and say, “Hi.”  His is a story of hope that inspired lasting change.
     All who know Clyde say he is one of God’s miracles, is a blessing, and the most positive part of their day.  We have nothing but love for him, and are so grateful to see him paying it forward.
     Thanks for your support.  Click here to watch more Stories of Hope.

Candace Gregory
President/CEO

22 July 2015

My Grandpa, Speaking Truth

…We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
…So the next generation would know (truth) … and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.  –Psalm 78:4-7
     When I was in high school, my family moved to Omaha, meaning I finally had the chance to get to know my grandpa.  It was a struggle because he was very quiet, and I really only saw him at family dinners with the rest of the crowd.  One thing I did know was that he volunteered at Open Door Mission, almost daily.
Thank you to Kaylee Hallgren and her grandparents,
Rich and Sue Hallgren, for serving a meal together.
     One day he called to ask me if I would help him at the Mission.  I jumped at the chance to spend time with him one-on-one, and agreed.  Soon we had a routine and I volunteered with him often.  Back then, the Mission was downtown and staff and volunteers truly “served” in difficult conditions.
     As I look back on this time, I realize my grandpa never lectured me, never told me what to do, and never told me how to be a Christian.  But he taught me truth.  I learned faith and faithfulness from the adults I volunteered with.  I learned about how God answers prayer.  I learned to love and care.  I learned the joy that comes from giving.
     Now I work full-time for Open Door Mission, and I love seeing kids who come to volunteer with their families, church groups, etc.  I’m excited knowing that these kiddos will one day become the donors, volunteers, and employees that will allow Open Door Mission (now 60 years old) to continue to serve those in need.
     Do you have a child you want to influence?  Sign up to volunteer today, and speak truth.

Rachel Gillespie
Major Gift Officer

21 July 2015

Watching Them Succeed

    I have been a Case Manager at the Lydia House since January 2015.  During these past seven months, I have found that one of the best parts of my job is seeing the growth in each guest, and watching them succeed.  One of my guests recently found her own apartment.  She shared with me that during her whole 37 years of life, she has never had her own place, making this a first for her.  I was shocked when she shared that, but statements like hers help me to remain humble and always serve my guests as best as I can.  I carry the understanding that every guest here at the Lydia House has a unique background.
     One of my favorite verses that I feel can relate to almost any guest here at the Lydia House is Romans 12:12:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
     This inspires hope that tomorrow is a new day.  Although they will always ride the waves in the sea of life, if they remain constant in prayer they can trust that everything happens in God’s timing.  Which it truly does! 

Danielle Howard
Case Manager

20 July 2015

Brand New Car

     Lindsay Wetzel walked through the Open Door Mission parking lot Tuesday with her daughter, Frankie, by her side.  As the two rounded a corner their faces lit up with smiles at the surprise waiting for them.
     A red Hyundai SUV was parked in the middle of the lot.  Wetzel saw the black and silver bow on the hood and knew the vehicle was a gift for her.
     “You'll never know what it means and how thankful I am that there are such wonderful people that will do something for someone they don't even know,” Wetzel said holding back tears.
     The vehicle is a symbol of a smooth future after a bumpy past for Wetzel.  She spent the past 14 months working the 12 steps of recovery as a member of the New Life Recovery Program at the Open Door Mission.
     “I came here, pretty much a broken, lost mess,” Wetzel said.  “And, Jesus and everyone here at the mission have been wonderful in helping me find myself in Christ, and just giving me life and a future and hope.”
     She has recently gotten a job and says the SUV will allow her to get to work without having to bow to public transportation schedules.  She also looks forward to being able to take her daughter to and from school and other activities.
     The gift comes as a donation from Chariots for Hope—a non-profit that donates cars to individuals rebuilding their lives after life-changing events.
     “It's worth every sweat, every dollar we put into this. All the time, we put into it...to see the faces, appreciation, and see a big challenge, barrier, has been removed,” Hurt said.

This blog post was adapted from KMTV’s Kelly Bartnick’s story.  To view the full story, click here.

17 July 2015

Christmas in July

     Open Door Mission’s Christmas in July tomorrow, July 18th.  Low income families and individuals will enjoy a sit down turkey dinner and receive items to supplement their income and prevent homelessness.  Many of these families are one paycheck away from being homeless themselves.
     We have an URGENT need for volunteers.  It will be the best three hours of your weekend!  Please join us and make a difference.  Click here to sign up.
     Here is a recipe in the Christmas spirit from our Open Door Mission’s Head Chef, Brian Springer:

Honey Glazed Ham Honey Glaze
8 oz. unsalted butter, 4 oz. apple cider vinegar, 24 oz. honey

1)  Melt butter on medium heat
2)  Add honey and whisk in until incorporated
3)  Add vinegar and stir
4)  Taste, and add salt pepper if needed
5)  Pour over ham and cook at 350° for 35 minutes

Alexandria Ewing
Director of Community Relations

16 July 2015

In the Open Door Mission Kitchen...

     Here in Open Door Mission kitchen, we experience the abundance of God’s provision on a daily basis.  Whenever we have a need we pray, and food comes in, a true harvest of His bounty.  We stand amazed at His goodness! 
     This week I experienced the true harvest of God's heart.  We asked for some volunteer help in the kitchen, and two of our male residents came in to give of their time.  As they worked together, I overheard the one gentleman who is in New Life Recovery Program describe his experience to the other.  He bore witness of how God has met him here through the program, saving his life both physically and spiritually.  He gave God the glory for where he is today in his life, and encouraged the other young man to consider coming into the program.  I was sooooo encouraged at the power of God’s love being poured out from one man to another!
     The true witness of God’s work is in the life of those who further the Gospel by simply sharing how great our God is.  Truly the fields are white for harvest…Planting, watering and reaping…
     Each of us has a part in this.  Thank you Father God for those who enter into this glorious work!

Laura Keen
Hospitality Director

15 July 2015

Donating While Shopping? Done.

     I don’t know about you, but Amazon is one of my favorite online shopping sites.  I may be biased because they are based out of my hometown (represent—Washington!), but they are a respectful business.  And they take care of their customers.
     Amazon Prime Day is today, a day with more deals than Black Friday.  The catch is, it is only available for Amazon Prime Members, but what a way to treat your customers!  So all you Amazon shoppers, know that I fully support any pre-Christmas shopping you do today (although I forbid any Christmas songs or decorations until after Thanksgiving Day).  Take advantage of those cheap prices.  Be a good steward of your money.
     But before I wish you, “Happy shopping!” let me make one plea:  do not forget about Open Door Mission.  Amazon has a wonderful program called Amazon Smile, a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you.  All you have to do is click on this link, choose Open Door Mission (we are the one located in Omaha, NE), and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Open Door Mission—at no cost to you!
     Yet another reason to love Amazon.  So now I will say, “Happy shopping!”  May your savings be great.  And don’t forget to choose Open Door Mission for free donations through Amazon Smile!

Beatrice Krause
Marketing Coordinator

14 July 2015

Sticky Note To Do List

     If you have ever been in my office at the Lydia House, a few things may have stuck out to you, but the most striking is sure to be that my office is full of sticky notes!  On my desk, wall, desktop…if there is a free spot, it’s up for grabs.  My guests ask why I have them, my co-workers add notes of their own, and I am constantly making new ones.  I have a deep love for sticky notes.  I use them as reminders to call someone, to write down a new resource, and as a way to feel more organized. 
     I love sticky notes not only because they are functionally brilliant, but also because they allow me to easily rearrange the priority level on my never-ending to do list.  They allow me to have some form of control in my ever fluid schedule.  When I accomplish something on a sticky note I cross it off and throw it away.  Easy, right?
     But what if you were feeling so overwhelmed with sticky notes you did not know where to begin or when to throw them away?  My clients are often in this situation, and they feel they don’t have any control.  They feel that their sticky notes have been written for them, and glued to their agenda. 
     My guests, like me, have needs and lists of things to achieve, but for the moment are lacking the understanding and ability to get through them.  Their lists aren’t on sticky notes, easily moved around.  Whether they come from a drug addicted home, a bad domestic violence relationship, or a time of being down on their luck, at some point they have lost control of their sticky notes.
     The goal at Open Door Mission is to equip them with the life skills and resources needed to go out and become productive members of society.  I like to think that I help give them the tools to organize, consolidate, and accomplish their sticky notes.
     In life, there is rarely anything constant but God’s love.  With our strengths-based case management, I hope that I am able to convey my love and ultimately Christ’s love for them as individuals, and my want for them to succeed.  My prayer is that through this love, they will one day have control over their sticky note to do lists, and over their future.

Victoria Dentler
Case Manager

13 July 2015

Stick Around for the Blessings

     I will absolutely testify that it is an incredible privilege to work and minister here at Open Door Mission.  The words our Men’s Ministry Director, Pat will run through my mind frequently, "Stick around for the blessings.”
     I have seen more blessings here than I can count.  The friendship and fellowship in Christ is ongoing.  It is a humbling experience to be able to talk and pray with many of our guests staying at the Mission.  Lives are changed because Open Door Mission exists.  The prayers and donations of many faithful friends in the community allow the opportunity for hungry and homeless men, women, and children to receive the help they need and give their hearts to Christ, either for the first time or as a recommitment.
     Watching men join one of our life-changing programs, the New Life Recovery Program or the Journey to Work Program, is a great blessing as well.  People that come through our doors are either the “players” or the “stayers.”  The “players” maybe aren't quite ready to surrender to Christ, and still have misguided intentions for being here.  We as staff still love them and show them Christ, praying for breakthrough.  The “stayers,” though, have come to the place where they truly want change.  They are willing to do whatever it takes to forge out a new life for themselves.  I have seen these men become true disciples of Jesus Christ.  They find that it is not them forging this new way, but rather allowing Christ to lead and teach them how to be men of integrity.  They find out how to be men of God.
     This is what I get to see every day.  It becomes the reality of Pat's statement, "Stick around for the blessings."
     I have seen this ministry at Open Door Mission as a continual training ground for me.  Working here prepared me to serve as a Pastor in Tekamah, Nebraska.  How this all developed is a whole other story, but I know God's has called me to serve Him there in Tekamah.  Faith Family Baptist Church is a mission church with a rescue shelter that can house 14 men.  This small church reaches out to bless the town of Tekamah. During storms where trees and property damage has occurred, the men at the Mission have chipped in and helped.  At Open Door Mission and at Family Baptist Church, men are given the opportunity to have their lives rebuilt.  What a joy to be able to be a part of that. 
     Life is an adventure, and I am grateful my adventure was and will be to be a part of the Open Door Mission family, which is a pretty big family by the way.


Click here to watch a story of how Pat's words encouraged a guest to join one of Open Door Mission's life-changing programs.

Greg Johnston
Men’s Intake Worker

10 July 2015

"I am a Better Person Today"

     My name is Jacqueline Johnson, and I am a Case Manager for the Lydia House.  I did not choose this position—it chose me through the will of God.
     I have been doing this type of work almost all my life.  In the past, I have dropped people off at the Lydia House.  These people were homeless or victims of domestic violence, and I knew they would find help at Open Door Mission.  Never did I imagine the quality of care they would receive, including an abundance of resources, Christ-centered classes, Bibles, and loving staff who follow the Lord.
     Since I was a young girl, I have always been a helper and listener.  No matter what, I loved people with all my heart.  Now, I get to do that every day at my job—what a blessing!

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you”’ Matthew 25:35-40

     A guest had called me a couple of days ago to update me on she is doing.  When she was a guest here, she had only her newborn baby with her with spread out visits to see her four year old.  “Staying at the Lydia House changed my outlook on life, and my view of being a good and responsible parent,” she told me.  “Now my four year old lives with me, and I am a better person today.”  I am grateful to work with the most vulnerable of the Heartland, and to see God move in their lives.

Jacqueline Johnson
Case Manager

09 July 2015

My Friend Thomas

     I have been working at Open Door Mission for almost two years, and have had the opportunity to work in a couple of different departments.  Currently, I am working in the Timberlake Outreach Center’s Receiving Area, and I feel so blessed to have this position.  Not only do I get to see how much the Lord daily blesses Open Door Mission with many wonderful donations, but I am even more blessed by getting to work side by side and build relationships with our guests.
     This picture is of my friend Thomas.  I was privileged to get to know him as he helped out around the Timberlake Outreach Center.  I got to build a friendship with him as we worked together, and we often talked about our struggles and our relationships with Christ.  Every day I could see that Thomas' faith was growing.  Sadly, the Lord called Thomas home not too long ago.
     However, I am SO thankful for the time we all had with Thomas and for the development and growth in his relationship with Christ while he was a guest at Open Door Mission.  I know Thomas is with Jesus, and I look forward to seeing him again.

Daniel Harvey
Receiving Area Manager

08 July 2015

Update on the Buns

     Do you remember our earlier post about the Upcoming Family Reunion?  Our 60 Years of Serving Riverboat Event on the River City Star was a huge success!  And our overflow date of September 20 will be quickly approaching, the spots for which have also been filled.  So Open Door Mission will continue preparing for yet another Family Reunion!
     Here is a quick update from the kitchen staff on hamburger buns, hot dog buns, hamburgers, and hot dogs needed for this event.  On Thursday, July 2, our Head Chef Brian sent a prayer request for 1,000 hamburgers, hot dogs, hamburger buns, and hot dog buns.  Since Saturday, July 4, we have received 1,600 hamburger buns, 1,600 hot dog buns, and yesterday we were blessed with a pallet of hamburgers!
     Please join us in praying for the final 1,000 plus hot dogs we need for the Riverboat Event.  GOD IS GOOD!  ALL THE TIME!  GLORY TO GOD AND GOD ALONE!  Thanks be to Jesus for His provision, and thank you Holy Spirit for directing us in prayer!

Brian Springer
Head Chef

07 July 2015

Courage to Change

     Dalon grew up a single child in the heart of North Omaha, his father taking care of him.  “I had everything I needed,” Dalon said.  “He was there.”  He also saw his mom every weekend and on days off from school.  He’s still close to both of his parents. 
     But at a tender age of nine, he started down a path that would change everything: he started smoking weed.  Marijuana was always around, so Dalon had easy access to it.  Marijuana was a gateway to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, experimenting with other drugs, and even adding “malis” (which is like pure ecstasy) to the mix.
     He started living a life of surfing from couch to couch, house to house.  He stayed with whomever would let him (friends, relatives, his dad), but grew tired of this life, deciding he needed a change.  So in August 2014 he chose to come to Open Door Mission.  Dalon had heard the Mission offered real help to get back on track.   
     Dalon’s life would have become a total mess without the help from the Mission.  He probably would have ended up on the streets or living in his car.  Reflecting on his time at the Mission, he said, “It’s been hard for me.  I stood there.  I didn’t turn around;  I didn’t run back, and I picture myself at graduation.”
     Now Dalon is living in freedom.  Dalon has joined the New Life Recovery Program, eyes focused on graduating and earning his GED.  He’s also dived into a relationship with God.  A staff member has been discipling Dalon, encouraging him to know the Lord better.  “He gives me scripture passages, prays with me, and guides me on what I should be working on spiritually,” he said.  Each day he also reads a devotion book called Jesus Calling.  “I’ve come a long way in spirit, in my mind, and my outlook on things,” he said.  “I’m not negative all the time.”  Dalon looks forward to gaining more freedom each day in Christ.
     A driving force in Dalon’s life is his desire to be a good father to his three boys, aged 11, 8, and 4.  He wants to provide for them.  “I have been hungry before.  It [was] really hard, not knowing where to get food and then asking for food,” he said.  “When you have kids that are hungry, that’s even harder.”  He wants more for his family.
     Dalon said he encourages others to come to Open Door Mission.  “I tell them to come down here and give it a try.  It doesn’t hurt to try.  If you put your best foot forward, you never know what will happen.”  A life of freedom and future awaits.

Ann Freestone
Open Door Mission Volunteer

06 July 2015

Advancing to Graduation

     "Ms. Victoria, look:  I got promoted!"  A few of our program ladies told me this the last time I saw them.  They are ecstatic, and so excited to be advancing toward graduation.
     Our Lydia House ladies work hard, and each has such a unique story.  One woman shared that she was a former federal worker, living a double-life.  She was a stellar federal employee with impeccable attendance by day, and abused domestic violence victim using drugs to numb the pain by night.  Another story involves a 60-year-old high school dropout who is now sober for the first time in her life, and weeks away from attaining her GED.
     Each story so unique and I'm privileged to work with and for them all.  The obstacles these woman overcome through the Lord’s help to inspire hope for lasting change are unimaginable.
     If you've not yet been to Open Door Mission’s campus for a tour, I would like to personally invite you to join me for lunch on July 14th at 11:30 a.m., followed by a tour.  Come hear more stories of hope, and see firsthand the work God is doing among Open Door Mission’s residents.
     Please contact Celeste at 402-829-1508 or cnorman@opendoormission.org to reserve a spot as my guest.  I'd love to share with you more stories from behind these walls.

Victoria Leuthold
Development Director

03 July 2015

Haden's Story of Change

     Seeing people get to know and walk with God, and watching Him inspire hope for lasting change in their lives, is the reason why I love my job.  Sometimes those that seem the most lost are the people that will have the biggest turn around.
     On my first day I was sitting in my Director (Pat’s) office, and he brought in a young man named Haden.  Haden was in tears and you could tell he was emotionally at the end of his rope.  He was in an unhealthy relationship with the mother of his child and had made some mistakes that had strained his relationship with his parents.  He was lost and didn’t know what to do next.  After talking with Pat, he agreed to join the Journey to Work Program.
     It wasn’t long before I saw Haden forming bonds with the other men in the program and getting closer to the Lord.  It was very rare that you would see him without a smile on his face.  He started to rebuild his relationship with his parents, and had begun regular visits with his daughter.  Haden left here as a man with direction and a deep relationship with God.
     I am still in contact with Haden, and he continues to grow.  He is working full time, is engaged, and has full custody of his daughter.  It only shows how great our God is and that He will never cease to amaze us in His works!

Gerry Ford
Evening House Supervisor

02 July 2015

365 Days of Chapel

     For those of you who don’t know, here at Open Door Mission we have a chapel service every evening that guests can attend, if they so choose.  Guests are not required to attend, but we invite and encourage them as much as we can.  Each service is provided by different churches and many faithful friends who come to give their time and abilities to preach the Gospel, helping lead our guests closer to Christ.
     Recently, I’ve had the privilege of calling and checking in with all of our Chapel Teams.  What a blessing it has been!  When calling, I want to express our gratitude for their willingness to serve.  Many of these teams have been coming for ten or more years.  What’s even more incredible is the fact that during every phone call, each of these teams wants to share how blessed they are to share with our guests.  It’s been such an encouragement for me to hear that they are blessed by blessing us!
     The truth is we couldn’t do what we do here if it weren’t for our volunteers.  Chapel teams are just one component of the whole volunteer force that helps make what we do possible.  I’m humbled by the amount of people who selflessly donate their time and energy to care for the people we serve.  What a blessing it is to cross paths with theirs! 
     If you are interested in volunteering, click here to sign up today!

Erica Julsen

Volunteer & Partner Administrative Assistant

01 July 2015

We Have the Best Supporters!

     I want to give a big shout out to all of the Open Door Mission supporters! Without you, Open Door Mission would not be able to meet the many needs of the hungry and homeless that we served through our programs each and every day.  
     As I walk through our campus, I see many supporters engaged in volunteer activities, sacrificially giving of their time and talent to serve others.  
     As I make phone calls to donors, I am blessed by conversations I have with wonderful friends who are giving of their treasure to make sure the doors at Open Door Mission stay open wider than ever.
     As I coordinate events, I have the wonderful opportunity to engage with supporters through the RSVP process.  I always enjoy putting the faces to the names when I meet many of you at the various events you attend!
     Open Door Mission is all about people.  People serving people!  People being served!  People being a blessing!
     Thank you Open Door Mission supporters for sharing yourself with others!

Celeste Norman
Heartland Hands/Events Coordinator

30 June 2015

History Makers

     I heard a story about a man who donated a jersey to a charity in his home town.  A few months later, while serving as a missionary, he ran across the same jersey he had donated. In awe, the two met, and history was made.  
     In a quick web search I've found a few other stories just like this one.  Then I began to wonder, if donated items could speak what story would they tell?  Would they speak of a young child giving a brand new toy to a child who does not have any of his own?  Would they speak of the warm-hearted woman who donated gloves to warm the homeless man in a nation around the globe?  What would be the story of these donated items?
     Part of my position is to record the Gift in Kind items (donations other than financial) that are donated.  As I enter each item into our database, I think of the story behind each one. Whether it be a toy, shirt, or desk, behind each item, a story of person's generosity is told.  Each comes wrapped in its own fashion of love, care, and compassion.  Such kindness inspires HOPE of lasting change, impacting more stories than one could ever know about.  Won't you consider being a history maker?
     Click here for more information about our urgent Gift in Kind needs.

Chris Yelinko
Development Associate

29 June 2015

A Story of True Love

     “I was just 12 years old, Holly was 13 when we met,” Scott recalls fondly.  The two have always loved each other, holding on to one another through troubled times.  Life has not been kind to Scott or Holly.
     Holly grew up in an abusive, dysfunctional, and constantly moving family.  After Holly’s father threatened her with a gun, she confided in a school counselor.  This lead to six months in foster care and unhealthy ways to cope.  She jumped from boyfriend to boyfriend, and became addicted to drugs.  “Eventually it became my life,” Holly said.
     Scott grew up with a mother and step father addicted to drugs and alcohol.  “I was expected to provide for the family.  Rent was on me, so I started selling—and I was good at it,” said Scott.   At age 12 or 13, Scott was already on endless probation for charges of vandalism, possession, and more.  Eventually Scott’s mother grew worried the violence and drugs would be the end of him, so she turned him in at age 16.
     One year later, Scott chose to be released into a foster family who began introducing him to a relationship with God.  However, before long he was back to selling drugs, the ability to make good money was too tempting.
     Though Scott and Holly had children with other people, they had been off and on since childhood.  They got married in 2012 and encountered struggles immediately.  On their wedding day, Holly’s mother kicked them out due to a dislike for Scott.  The couple stayed with her sister and couch hopped until finding a place of their own.
     Dysfunction, selfishness, and addiction caught up with them.  Scott landed in jail, leaving Holly evicted and homeless with two young boys.  They went from shelter to shelter with no real rest or recovery.  Then Holly heard about Open Door Mission.
     “It was amazing!  I was told I could keep my boys and we could stay together,” said Holly.  “I cannot begin to imagine having to choose between my boys and homelessness.”  Open Door Mission is the only option for families seeking recovery without resorting to foster care.
     Holly later heard from Scott’s mother that he was in treatment.  Despite wanting to file for divorce, Holly called Scott.
     “To hear from her after all that…I knew God’s hand was in it,” said Scott.  “Holly was my first love.  If there was any way to get that back, I wanted to try.”  Holly accepted Scott back, provided that he come to Open Door Mission.  They were finally back together as a family again.
     Scott and Holly leapt into the program head first together, even taking extra parenting classes.  Holly graduated June 6, and Scott this past February.  They were recently awarded a car through the Wheels of Hope program.
     “God has redeemed our marriage and family!  We are growing closer together more than ever…and we are so very in love now that we have that spiritual foundation,” said Holly.  Their family has been made new, and they look forward to living each adventure God will set before them. 

26 June 2015

Upcoming Family Reunion

     It’s always an exciting time preparing for Open Door Mission events, especially ones that celebrate our donors and volunteers.  This weekend, the Mission will celebrate 60 Years of Serving on Omaha’s beloved River City Star, with several cruise times throughout Sunday.  
     The response for this event was overwhelming, so we had to open up a second date of cruise times, which was also quickly filled up.  How exciting is that!?
     Yesterday, Rotella’s Italian Bakery donated 1,000 hot dog buns and 1,000 hamburger buns for the Riverboat Event, and there is sure to be no shortage of tasty food at the dock.  The chefs have been preparing the meat in anticipation of this weekend.  All the details are falling into place.
     As the final loose ends are being tied up, I think about how Open Door Mission is like a family.  All of our staff, donors, volunteers, and supporters are bonded together by a common cause: to inspire HOPE for lasting change.  So as we gather together on a sunny summer afternoon, it will feel like a family reunion, celebrating all God has done in the last 60 years.  And like family reunions, when this one ends, I will look forward to the next when we can share stories of what God did over the next 60 years.

Click here to check out our other upcoming events, to become a part of the Open Door Mission family!

Beatrice Krause
Marketing Coordinator

25 June 2015

Part of the Open Door Mission Team

     Since beginning my new journey at Open Door Mission eight months ago, I have seen God at work in so many lives.  Every day I am growing in my walk with God, and I am blessed to be a part of the Open Door Mission team.
     I first started in the Volunteer Department, a ministry that grew on me as I worked with volunteers and guests alike.  As a Volunteer Coordinator, I had many opportunities to share the love of Christ and be a support for both the staff and guests at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center.  I love getting involved with the different activities such as leading a morning devotion time for the men and hearing their awesome testimonies of life change!
     I have recently moved to a new position as Office Manager in the Development Department, and I am excited to see the ways that I can make a difference in this position.  I am reminded of a saying that my mom used to have, “In Christ’s love, EVERYONE is SOMEONE!”  

Rick Ziegler
Office Manager

24 June 2015

Roger's New Ride

     Roger grew up with two hard-working parents and six older brothers in Shreveport, LA.  Raised near the swamps, he spent most of his childhood fishing.  However by the time Roger hit his teen years he began to dabble with drugs.  Before long, he was addicted to marijuana, which eventually led to an expensive habit of shooting cocaine.
     Roger obtained his first job at the age of 16 and continued to work and hold jobs.  This is when he made the decision to move to Omaha, NE.  He felt the move to a new place could be the beginning of a new start. He had a steady job and a place to live.  However, Roger was still bound by addiction, and ended up with several citations for driving under the influence and began using methamphetamine.
     Roger found himself homeless and sleeping under the South Omaha Bridge, where he received meals from Open Door Mission’s street ministry, Streets of Omaha.  This is a group of volunteers who weekly pass out sack lunches, bottled water, and warm clothing to those living on the streets.  Any money Roger had he used for his addictions to gambling and drugs.
     July 12, 2014, Roger decided enough was enough.  He entered the Garland Thompson Men’s Center and within four days began his final journey to recovery by entering the New Life Recovery Program.  Eight months later, Roger graduated from this program.
     After 17 years without a driver’s license, he was able to retain one, and now plans to attend a diesel driving school in Bellevue.  His faith continues to increase every day.  He prays to maintain the wisdom he has gained through God and the love, care, and help he has received through the wonderful staff at Open Door Mission.
     He says, “The mission is the best place in the world. If it weren’t for the mission I would have died on the streets of Omaha.”  Roger is living proof that the New Life program is the finest road to sobriety.

Jennifer Frost
Open Door Mission Volunteer

23 June 2015

Kids to Kamp

 Summer is here and our kids at the Mission are having a blast because of donors and volunteers like you!  This summer a record-breaking 50 of our kids are experiencing summer camp for the first time.  They are canoeing, gardening, fishing, swimming, geo-caching, learning archery, playing laser tag, bird watching, hiking, going on educational field trips to nearby museums, and much much more.
     Every afternoon as I get them off the bus, I am greeted with exuberant smiles and a million stories. 
"Ms. Rachel, Ms. Rachel, guess what we did today?!"
"Ms. Rachel, Ms. Rachel, I went hiking and I saw a deer!"
"We grew tomatoes and other stuff in our garden, and today we made salsa and it was delicious!"
     It is such a blessing to be able to tell a mother or father that they won't have to quit their job this summer because their child(ren) will have a place to go during the day, which will not only provide them with three square meals, but also a ton of amazing experiences that are fun, educational, and eye-opening.
     Thank YOU for your support and providing a Summer of HOPE for the homeless men, women, and children at Open Door Mission!

Rachel Fisher

Children & Youth Director

22 June 2015

What a Blessing

     What a blessing it is to be able to work with broken, sad, and tired souls at Open Door Mission's Lydia House.  You may be asking yourself, “Why do you feel that way?”  It's heartbreaking to watch someone come through our doors with just the shirt on their, back seeking refuge after hitting rock bottom.  Most of the time they have lost all hope and have no faith in God's word.  I feel as though I've been called to help restore God's Word in the broken.  I will be the first to tell you that my job is not an easy task, but I love it with all of my heart.
     What a blessing it is to watch the same individuals who were once broken, walk back into the world changed, with their head held high, and basking in the glory of how God is moving in their lives.  It's amazing to see the transformation of lives with a lasting impact, from our guests gaining employment to overcoming addiction to signing an apartment lease.  Open Door Mission is full of love, faith, and hope.  What a blessing is to be a part of something so anointed.  I can't imagine anything better. 
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.  John 1:16

Shawntel Scaife
Day House Supervisor

19 June 2015

A Sweet Girl's Life Change

     I feel incredibly blessed to be able to work at Open Door Mission.  I get the opportunity to help others on their life journey, both volunteers and residents.  And those moments when I get to see real, lasting change taking place—those are the best times.
     One of the greatest gifts I have been given was from a darling little girl at the Lydia house.  She ran up to me one day, shouting in excitement, "Miss Jessica, Miss Jessica!  Look, look!  I made you something at school today.”  Of course, I was filled with excitement to see her little face light up!  She handed me a paper covered in drawings of hearts and people.  When I asked her what the picture was, she said in the sweetest of voices, "That’s my love for you and your love for me, so I can love everybody!”  Tears came to my eyes at her love, joy, and innocence!
     Wow, Open Door Mission is making a difference in this sweet little girl’s life, as well as the lives of many others!  I am so honored and blessed to be a part of it! 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

18 June 2015

Toxic Charity

     Last week, Open Door Mission hosted our second Faith Leaders’ Summit, featuring keynote speaker Robert D. Lupton.  Lupton is the author of the bestselling book, Toxic Charity:  How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It).  We hosted three meal meetings for different groups in the Omaha Metro area, the first being specifically for staff.
     The purpose of Faith Leaders’ Summit is always to facilitate conversations between those who truly care about the Heartlands hungry and homeless about relevant and essential issues.  At times, these issues can cause division, but Open Door Mission’s heart is to create an atmosphere where these can be discussed openly, honestly, and encouragingly.
     Lupton’s heart is to change the way non-profits provide aid for their neediest neighbors.  Instead of handouts that enable and create dependency in our communities, he encourages the re-thinking of systems with a focus on empowering people.
     One of Lupton’s points that really stuck with me was that each person has a sense of dignity.  Often, Rescue Missions require their residents to earn their room and board in one way or another, ranging from working around campus to paying rent.  The thinking behind these can be harmful.
     Rather than expecting people to earn their stay, staff should see that each person has a desire to provide for her or himself.  That is how God created us.  We are not meant to simply receive without doing meaningful work.  If we shift our thinking in this area, how could it impact our residents?
     I am grateful to work at a Rescue Mission where progress is valued.  Our leaders recognize that we can always improve, and that it is essential to grow as our society grows.  Asking hard questions, having difficult discussions, analyzing programs and regulations—all of these actions create a thriving, growing, adaptable non-profit.

     What are your thoughts on these issues?  Speak your mind in the comment section below!



Beatrice Krause
Marketing Coordinator

17 June 2015

The HOPE I Have

     I have been working at Open Door Mission for a little more than three years.  Working in the Maintenance Department has given me a unique perspective.  I get to see most of the guests and staff that live and work here, often right in their own rooms or offices.  For the most part, there is a different feel across the Mission’s campus than anywhere else I’ve worked.
     Here at Open Door Mission you feel hope.  Hope that I’m finally going to get my life right. Hope that I’m making a difference.  Hope that I’m serving the One who directs my life.  
     I’ve seen people come to the Mission who are down, discouraged, and watched them leave changed, knowing God has a purpose for them.  I’ve even seen that in my life.  Working here is ministry, a mission that gives an outlet for God to work through me.  
     I tell everyone that the worst day here is 100% better than the best day at any of my past jobs.  That’s because I can see God at work and know I’m a part of it.

Gregory Crocker

Maintenance

16 June 2015

Bringing Health and Healing to Open Door Mission Guests

     Katie O’Keefe is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner that volunteers her time every Monday in our Free Health & Healing Clinic.  Katie dedicates her skills to attending to the needs of the children living on the Open Door Mission campus and in our 2911 homelessness prevention program.
     It is amazing to watch her work with the children with such care and concern for their health.  Many of these kids have gone years without seeing a medical professional, despite any health problems they may have.  It is too difficult to make a doctor’s appointment without even a home address to fill out on the forms.  Volunteers like Katie ensure that our guests receive medical healing, which is often a vital building block in the foundation for recovery and lasting change.
     She is one of many medical professionals that volunteer to help meet the medical needs of the homeless in our community.  Would you like to be one of them?  Contact me at kfischer@opendoormission.org or call 402-829-1541.  Hope to see you soon!

Kate Fischer

Free Health & Healing Clinic Director

15 June 2015

Red Rover, Red Rover....Send Your Friends Right Over!

     If you are looking for more than just a job, join us at Open Door Mission and help minister to the hungry and homeless men, women and children here in the Heartland.
     Open Door Mission provides 24/7 emergency shelter, food, basic needs, and recovery programs for homeless men, women, and children.  Recovery includes Christian-based long- and short-term programs that address issues surrounding homelessness.  Emergency food, clothing, household items, and seasonal outreach programs are available for the community.  Open Door Mission accepts everyone without regard to race, ethnicity, ability, gender, or age.
     Employees at Open Door Mission are following the call God has placed on their lives to minister to the hungry and homeless through meeting their basic needs, and sharing the Good News of Christ.  Each employee is considered to be in full-time ministry.
     Currently, Open Door Mission has 102 employees.  We in the Human Resources Department care about the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of our employees.  We invested in our employees, with the goal of seeing them grow spiritually and professionally. 
     There are several job openings at this time.  Click here for more information about any of the following positions:
  • Development Associate (days) 
  • Facilities Manager (days)
  • Family Support Worker (overnight) 
  • Homeless Prevention Specialist  
  • Men’s Center Support Worker (evening) 
  • Receiving Clerk (days) 
  • Sous Chef (hours vary) 
  • SR Help Desk Support (days) 
  • Volunteer Coordinator (days) 
  • Warehouse – Forklift Driver (days) 

Amber Briggs
HR Generalist

12 June 2015

Give

     I was recently given a shirt at a conference that says, “Give Generously.”  It got me to thinking about other phrases we see floating around: “Give 110%,” “Give of Yourself,” “Give Until it Hurts,” “Give Your Best,” and many more.  At Open Door Mission giving is vital to what we do to help the hungry, homeless, and those living in poverty.  So how does giving make a difference at Open Door Mission?
     This week we announced an urgent need of baby formula, and I watched as shelves were filled within 24 hours.  Now, mothers of infants will be able to feed their babies what they need to grow healthy.  Once we had an urgent need of steel-toed boots for a young man to work in, and it was quickly filled.  Because someone felt the need to give, a lack of proper shoes did not result in a lost job.  So many of Open Door Mission’s urgent needs have been met within hours, and we are always grateful for the unbelievable blessing of giving.
     Then there are those individuals that give of themselves, spending hours volunteering, giving of their time and talents to help others find hope for lasting change.  Some people only volunteer once, and they still make a difference.  Other volunteers come daily, weekly or monthly, willing to do whatever is needed—sometimes dirty jobs, sometimes fun ones.  They give to make a difference for others. 
     There are organizations, businesses, churches, and social groups that give of their services or their time.  They do drives for items Open Door Mission’s urgent needs.  They have days focused on caring or volunteering that often provide items and volunteers.  They become advocates, spreading the word to their whole group.
     There are those that give monetarily so Open Door Mission can keep the lights on and the toilets flushing.  From the one time giver to the faithful monthly giver, we are blessed to have grown to be able to bless and give to those in need.
     I am thankful for all that give generously, from children who give their pennies, to donations of needed items, to countless volunteers, to faithful donors.  Thank you to those that give!  Those in need see Christ in all who give, and are blessed.

Click here for more information on the different ways you can give generously!

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator