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

11 June 2015

We Are Floodlights

“If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a FLOODLIGHT were filling you with light.”  -Luke 11:36
     As a messenger of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at Open Door Mission’s Lydia House, what an honor and privilege it is to be a “FLOODLIGHT “of the Light of Jesus into the lives of broken souls who have known and lived in nothing but darkness their whole life!!! 
     I remember when I lived in total darkness and despair, and now I get to tell these precious ladies and families about Jesus.  I get to tell them about how much He loves them and how they can receive the LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Jesus Christ, into their hearts so that they can be a FLOODLIGHT of light too, shining brightly for Jesus wherever they go!!!
     Are you letting your light shine like a FLOODLIGHT where it can be seen by everyone? 
Someone around you, everywhere your feet go, you will find someone who needs the Light of Jesus that’s in you to SHINE into their darkness as a beacon of hope in their time of deep despair! 
     Are you a light that shines as bright as a FLOODLIGHT for Jesus?

Lisa
Overnight Support Worker

10 June 2015

Watching God at Work

     Every night of the year, Open Door Mission holds a largely volunteer-run chapel service, open to all who wish to attend.  There are nights when I am called upon to fill in for chapel, and I see this as a gift.
     One night, I shared about Acts 16 when the Philippian jailer asked the Apostle Paul, "What must I do to be saved."  Just like the jailer who received Christ, Tim came up after the message and asked the same question.  We talked and he prayed to receive Christ.  Pray for his growth in Christ.
     Another night after chapel, a man staying in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center came up to me.  He told me his story.  We talked, and God gave me the right words to share with him.  He decided to pray and ask Jesus to be his Savior. This is nothing short of a miracle—hallelujah!  Pray also for Harry, that he would grow in his faith in Christ.  I encouraged him to consider the New Life Recovery Program. 
     Join me in praising God for His grace at work among the guests at Open Door Mission.  And whenever you think about our men, women, and children, pray for more interventions of His Spirit to inspire HOPE for lasting change!

Greg Johnston
Intake/Case Manager

09 June 2015

Snapshot of the Elkhorn Outreach Center

      I have the best job ever at Open Door Mission, working in the Elkhorn Donation Center (or as I call it, the "Blessings Store”).  There is a generous spirit of giving from the community there.  And every day is different!  The one daily consistency is having the opportunity to hear about the love of Jesus, show the love of Jesus, and be Jesus to all I meet!
     I work with a terrific group of volunteers who help clean, sort, hang clothes, and other things around the Outreach Center.  WE all love to talk, so we all have been able to share what Jesus means to us, and what He has done for us all.  The outpouring of giving to help the poor and the homeless is very evident.  God is good.
     The best part of all this is being able to give these donations away for free in the name of Jesus to our neediest neighbors!  Does it get any better than this?
     Finding yourself with extra time on your hands?  Sign up to be a volunteer out in Elkhorn or on the main campus!  Click here for more information.
     See you soon!

Gary Struebing
Elkhorn Donation Center


08 June 2015

The Art of Learning

     I teach a class called Everyday Learning to the women who participate in Open Door Mission’s New Life Recovery program.  In this class, we cover a wide range of topics that each focus on the need to be learning and growing every day.
     A program guest recently approached me and asked to teach one class on Art Therapy to allow the ladies time to express themselves through art.  The class was a huge success!  The women were able to express not only who they are but who they are in Christ through their amazing creativity.  It is a blessing to watch our guests grow in recovery and find their true selves.

Vickie Gregorio
Lydia House Director

05 June 2015

From Volunteer to Staff

     My name is Sonya Holland, and I have been working in Open Door Mission’s Accounting Department for about seven months.  My main responsibility is Accounts Payable, meaning I enter bills and manage the payment process.  I am a single mom with a 13 year old daughter, who has been volunteering with me in the Mission’s kitchen since the fall of 2012.
     Last year while I was looking to leave the accounting firm where I worked, I prayed that God would help me find a Christ-based organization like Open Door Mission looking for an accountant.  I left it in God’s hands to place me where He wanted, trusting that He would let me grow and bloom wherever I was planted.  Imagine how awestruck I was after months of looking and waiting that I found a job opening here.  I was so overwhelmed and grateful that this was where God chose to plant me!!  I have always felt called to care for the hungry and homeless who struggling and fight to find hope for lasting change.  
     My most amazing experience I have had working here so far was at the Project Santa sign up.  All staff working that day were reminded and encouraged to pray for everyone who sat down with us.  That day, probably seven out of ten families shared prayer requests with me and let me pray over their family.  We are so blessed to be allowed to share the good news of Jesus Christ while we work.
     If you feel the Lord beckoning you to volunteer or work here, I will be the first to say that you will receive so much more than you give when you follow the calling that has been placed on your heart.  We all need Jesus to lead our lives, and Open Door Mission is a spirit-led Gospel Rescue Mission.  We meet our guests’ immediate needs of shelter and food, as well as helping to lead our guests to Christ.  
     “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love…may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…!”  Ephesians 3:17, 19-21
     May our Lord bless your journey!
     Click here for employment opportunities or click here for volunteer opportunities.

Sonya Holland
Accounting

04 June 2015

Valedictorian Inspires with Story of Homelessness

     “Never let anyone tell you (that) you can’t do something, because I’ve been told that all my life,” said First Coast High School’s valedictorian, Griffin Furlong.  “People would tell me I wasn’t smart enough, and now I am here at the top of my class.”
     Griffin’s mother died of leukemia when he was just six years old, and he began living in shelters the next year.  Through times of hunger and homelessness, Griffin never quit.  Very few people knew about his hardships, and he shocked everyone with his inspirational speech as the valedictorian with a 4.65 GPA.  He plans to attend Florida State in the fall, majoring in engineering with a scholarship to pay for his home allowance.  Griffin is determined to achieve a better life for his family.
     Open Door Mission’s Lydia House is home to children from all grades and all ages, each with unique dreams of what their lives will be like when they grow up.  These are some of the strongest, tenacious, and loving people you will ever meet.  They know what matters most, and they aren’t afraid to fight for a better life.
     Although this story is about a teen in Florida, it could easily be about a teen in the Heartland.  In May, one of our guests graduated high school, receiving a prestigious scholarship.  She is a single mother to a one year old son.  Miracles happen daily, and it is through God’s grace the guests at Open Door Mission can overcome any obstacles.

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


03 June 2015

Scouts!

"I will do just about anything to help them (Scouts)
make a success of their drives or projects."
     I love Scouts!  I am not partial to Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, as I have and have had both in my family.  Why do I love Scouts so much?  I love them because they love to give back to the community.  I love sharing with them about homelessness and poverty, and then seeing them respond in so many ways to make a difference. 
     I will do just about anything to help them make a success of their drives or projects.  For example, this picture is of me with a “pie in my face” because I challenged a certain troop to meet a goal, which they exceeded.  When I go to share with them we can be serious or laugh or even cry a little (not so much with the Boy Scouts).  Either way, it always ends up being a good time.
     Thanks to Girl Scouts Bronze, Silver, or Gold projects, Lydia House children have received Bedtime Bags.  The men have received a new pair of socks filled with basic toiletries.  Donations of snack food have been delivered in bags decorated with pictures and words of encouragement.  And of course, our guests have been blessed with boxes and boxes of delicious cookies (but never enough!).
     Boy Scouts, especially through Eagle Projects, have provided book shelves for the Garland Thompson Men's Center.  Once, 500 pounds of handmade fleece blankets…yes, Boy Scouts can make blankets!  Over 1,000 pairs of shoes have donated.  The shelves have been stocked with sets of new and gently used sheets, not to mention towels too.  They have even donated a ton of canned goods to help us provide over 2,000 meals a day. 
     YES…I love Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts because they have the compassion and drive (no pun intended) to meet the needs of our neediest neighbors in the Heartland.  I am thankful for every time I get a chance to speak to them or take pictures of what they have done.  They have not only blessed Open Door Mission, they have blessed me.

Maggie Cope

Community Relations Coordinator

02 June 2015

Exciting Happenings Along the Road

     Have you ever been on a long road trip?  I don’t mean a trip from Omaha to Des Moines; I mean something that you have to divide up into days of travel.  The kind of trip where each minute that passes seems longer because your destination seems unobtainable in its distance.
     That is the kind of trip God has placed us on in our lives.  We have this wonderful destination we are headed to, but a long time (at least it seems) until we arrive there. 
Brothers and sisters, don’t forget the road between here and there.  We stop at rest areas for gas and are recharged as we are stretched.  We see amazing creatures in “the wild” going about their business.  We laugh so hard at the silly things our travel companions are saying.  We see beauty at its finest and get to enjoy silence.  We are touched by stories told us by other travelers.
     Take a look around at the people on the journey with you that live here at Open Door Mission.  God has delivered them to sobriety for the first time since they were 12, and now at 54 they are taking responsibility for their kids.  They are gaining the employment they have always dreamed of and have worked months, if not years, to be able to attain.  They are experiencing God in new ways and appreciating His grace.  They are not settling for low end jobs, but are dreaming big and running hard towards it in faith…
     Do not sit with your head down in the car, ignoring all that is happening around.  Take a look out the window or in the seat next to you.  See the great works our God is about, and enjoy all He is doing. 
     I hope to see you next to me soon!

Taylor Clinch

Permanent Supportive Housing Director

01 June 2015

The Door I Wasn't Expecting

     Hello!  I’m Lisa Brovold, the newbie in the Administration Building.  After spending 22 years at one large institution, it is weird to embrace the fact that I am the new kid on the block.
     Now I am a part of Open Door Mission.  Well, I can tell you a few things about doors.  Jesus says knock and the door will be opened to you.  I had spent three years knocking on doors and searching for the right one.  I made 41 knocks and all of them remained shut!  How could that be when Jesus said He would open the door?  Many times I had to deal with my frustration and impatience while waiting for God to show me His plan!  God also states that He opens doors no man can shut, and shuts doors no man can open.  He does open doors, but waits for the right one.  I knew if I stopped leaning on my own understanding and acknowledged Him, He would direct my path to the right door.  
     Then I knocked on a door I wasn’t really expecting to open – have you ever been there?  Just knocking but not believing?  Well, I knocked and God flung open the door!  In less than a week, I had walked through that open door and God had provided me new direction.  I am now at the Open Door Mission, knowing that God has a plan not only for me, but also for the Mission.  I am here to use my gifts and serve the Mission, and in turn Open Door Mission will also help me to grow and become more like Jesus!
     I am excited to see what God reveals and does in the days ahead.  Do not grow weary or become discouraged when doors seem endlessly shut.  One day, God will open just the right one at just the right time.  Only He knows which one it is.

Lisa Brovold

Executive Assistant

29 May 2015

Fulfilling my Purpose

     My name is Jennifer VanLaningham, and although I have helped in several areas here at Open Door Mission, I am officially the Administrative Assistant to Senior Program Manager, Steve Frazee.  I have been an employee since July 2014, and have never questioned my decision to work here. 
     My life’s journey thus far has taken me through many dark and lonely times, but I am consistently reassured that God has a plan for me.  Beginning eight years ago with a failed marriage, spanning to today as a single mother of two children (dare I tell you they are both teenagers…AND girls??!!), I am learning to sit back and have faith.
     Little by little, I have stopped trying to control my life, trying to make “all the right choices,” and have started trust that God is taking care of me.  Working alongside fellow employees who live and breathe the Word of God humbles me daily.  I want to be like them.
     I left the corporate world in order to grow personally in faith and in my passion for helping the broken.  But isn’t it crazy that I get PAID to grow into the woman God intended me to be??
     Working here has never been dull, and every day I have a new excitement about coming to work.  I just want to “be.”  I just want to be here to see God work in the hearts of the staff and in our guests.  It truly is inspiring and awesome.
     It is no coincidence that during a dark and stormy time in my life I “stumbled” upon Romans 5: 3-4.  It has been imprinted on my heart, and I have realized since working at the Mission alongside my coworkers and speaking to the guests who come and go, I cannot argue its truth.  I thank God every morning for giving me yet another day to serve Him and fulfill His purpose for my life.
     I love you all.
Not only this, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
-Romans 5:3-4

Jennifer VanLaningham

Administrative Assistant

28 May 2015

Nighttime at Open Door Mission

     I have worked at Open Door Mission for a little over a year, and each day is still exciting to come to work not knowing what is going to happen.  We do a lot of paperwork and straightening up during the overnight shift.  And then we are the start of the day when the men wake up and get ready.  It is important that we are able to have things prepared for them such as their medications, their things, and a nourishing breakfast that has been prepared by the kitchen staff. 
     Hopefully if we’re able to have these things put together and ready for the guests in the morning, it will positively impact their outlook throughout the day.  We are continuously praying for them as they are coming and going throughout the night, to and from work.  It is a joy to be able to serve them now, so they can better prepare for what lies ahead. 

Darryl Price

Night House Supervisor

27 May 2015

Inspired Daily

     In July 2014 I was given the opportunity to serve God by working at Open Door Mission’s Timberlake Outreach Center.  We help the Heartland’s neediest neighbors receive resources that lessen some of their burden of providing for their family.  It is a blessing to be used by God in this way.
     I enjoy sharing God's Word and offering to pray with the guests we serve.  These men, women, and children are so grateful that many times they also pray for me!  I also enjoy the children that come to find toys because the joy that comes to their faces is priceless. 
     Recently, I have met up with a nurse I used to work with and who goes on many mission trips. She is retired and enjoys sharing her experience as a nurse to help others gain health and well-being.  Once a month, she volunteers in the Timberlake Outreach Center, always with a smile on her face and a story to tell.
     Last Thursday, she left for Nepal to help the earthquake victims.  I think she is an awesome woman, is filled with grace to go on missions and help others in this way.  She is just one of many amazing volunteers who donate their time to help the hungry and homeless.  It is a blessing to work alongside such inspirational people.
     This also inspires me to do my job with God in my heart and love for others in our community.  Thanks be to God for this opportunity, praying that He lets me continue serving here for many years to come.
     God bless you all!

Linda Pirruccello
Guest Services Coordinator

26 May 2015

The Courageous Ones

     I have been working as Open Door Mission’s Head Chef for a little over six months.  I came from a restaurant, and there are many similarities with working here at the Mission, but even more differences.  The greatest difference is seeing the blessings, provision, and handy-work of the One True God on a daily basis!
     Being in ministry full time is a great place to be.  I have been stretched, molded, and conformed to look and act more like Jesus.  Some would say doing full time ministry is courageous, and I would agree.  I have learned there are many courageous men and women here, both staff and guests.
     One of the programs at the Mission is called the New Life Recovery Program.  The goal of this program is to help people learn how to overcome their addictions, pointing them to Jesus Christ.  I had the opportunity to sit in with the men who were candidates to move to the next level of the program.  There are different levels of the program, and several of our Directors acknowledge those who have moved up to the next level.
     Let me tell you, this it was an awesome sight to behold!  As these men went forward to receive their given certificates, the Lord spoke to my heart the word COURAGEOUS.  To see these men to be so humbled, desiring lasting change was very convicting.  There were about 30 guys in the room all, at different levels of the program, and they all cheered each other on, congratulating each other.  This was such a cool experience to be a part of.
     They were transparent and honest about their lives, of which I thought, “Wow, what a great example of Jesus!”  I would like to encourage everyone that we not let our pride, selfishness, and fear get in the way of our living courageously for Jesus.  One of my life verses is:
No temptation has overtaken you but what is common to man: and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
     This is a courageous verse!  When life happens, which it will God, will not allow things that we cannot handle.  WOW!  How awesome is it that even when we think we can’t handle something, GOD DOES!  The key is that HE will help us, showing us the way.  Things might not turn as expected, but God is so good to amaze and surprise us with how HE works.
     So remember when you are scared and feel like giving up:  look to Jesus.  He is the solution!  Glory to God and God alone! 

Brian Springer

Head Chef

25 May 2015

Helping Without Hindering

     “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.”
- Deuteronomy 15:11
     As Christians, we are called to love the poor, to “minister to orphans and widows” (James 1:27).  However, we are also told that “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  What a daunting dichotomy!  How are we to judge who should or should not receive help, who should or should not eat?  How are we to know when we are truly helping, and when we are merely enabling ungodly and destructive actions?  The Scripture seems very clear on this: when in doubt, we are to use the test of work. 
     It’s not enough just to provide handouts to anyone who will take them.  Our task is to “teach a man to fish,” to provide opportunities, training, and resources for individuals and families to become self-sufficient.  It doesn't matter what they have or haven’t done.  What matters is what they’re willing to do now.  It matters if they are willing to work, to sacrifice, and to engage in a disciplined process of lasting change.
     They won’t always succeed, but there is grace to continue trying. And God doesn't force people to change, so neither can we.  All we can do is offer opportunities.

Seth Hendrickson
IT Help Desk

22 May 2015

Storm Chasers Suit up to Serve

     The Storm Chasers, formerly known as the Omaha Royals, are in their fifth season at Werner Park in Sarpy County.
     Even during their season, the players and staff care about serving in Omaha, starting their first annual Chasers Community Week the first week of May.  In an effort to give back, they assisted an elderly woman in Midtown with painting and yard cleanup, visited Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, and volunteered at Open Door Mission.
     Although they served lunch as a part of their Chasers Community Week, the Storm Chasers have volunteered several times.  Amy Harvey, Volunteer and Partner Director at Open Door Mission, explained that it’s not typical to get help from athletes at that level.  “It’s exciting for guests when they see someone from the team, just the fact that someone from the team is supportive of them,” she said.
     The Storm Chasers have earned a reputation for their involvement in the community.  The group’s outreach ranges from volunteering and attending events to donating money, averaging about 75 hours of community service from players and office staff per month.
Last month Cordaro received the Jack Lewis Community Service Award at the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
     Martie Cordaro, the team’s President and General Manager, is a big part of the community outreach.  When Cordaro joined in 2007, the group was involved in some 20 community-driven organizations. Today the Chasers help more than 60.  The community involvement isn’t required, but highly encouraged.
     “I think it empowers people to know that if they need to take a two-hour lunch, not necessarily to go have lunch, but to go down to the Open Door Mission ... it’s OK.  We want you to do that,” Cordaro said.  “I’ve never told anyone no for volunteer hours, because our staff finds the time to get their day-by-day tasks done.”
     Buddy Baumann, a third year pitcher with the Storm Chasers, does something in the community about once a month.  The team often offers serving opportunities, and he enjoys signing up, despite a busy schedule.
     “It’s nice for people to see a sports figure...doing good and showing love to the community,” Baumann said.  “It’s nice especially to be that ambassador for athletes.”


This blog post was adapted from Emily Nohr, Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer’s story.  To view the full story, click here.

21 May 2015

Transformation at the Lydia House

     I have worked at Open Door Mission for almost three years, but only in the past few months have I gotten the opportunity to work in the Lydia House.  A personal joy is being a vessel used to help meet people's practical needs of food, clothing, and shelter.  From that, spiritual needs can also be met.
     It is exciting to see people come in off the streets and begin to transform before my very eyes.  It starts with a meal and a hot shower, and continues through conversations with staff who passionately love Jesus and can show His love to them.  Seeing God transform a person's life is a special thing to be a part of.  
     I am grateful to all the supporters who help make Open Door Mission a place where both people's physical and spiritual needs can be met.  I am grateful for the donors who give sacrificially so that homeless men, women, and children can receive fresh socks, toiletry items, and even a toothbrush.  These seemingly small items are huge to those who do not have them. 

Bethany Loux

Evening Family Support Worker

20 May 2015

Denver to Omaha: Same HOPE

     As a Gospel Rescue Mission, Open Door Mission is not only providing people with shelter and food, but is also continuously presenting the Gospel in a very real way. 
     Recently I was traveling in Denver, and had the opportunity to volunteer at the Denver Rescue Mission.
     It was so interesting to see how this particular Rescue Mission serves their community.  Compared to here at Open Door Mission, here are many differences in how they carry out their day to day tasks.  But as guests were enjoying pancakes (which I must note were bigger than their faces), I began to have some conversations.  This is when I started to see the similarities, and almost felt like I was back home.  I heard stories of being broken, but now having newfound HOPE in Jesus.  It was exciting to see the same transformation happening in Denver that I get to see at Open Door Mission on a daily basis.
     There are about 300 Rescue Missions around the United States.  It is a humbling experience to say I work for a Gospel Rescue Mission and that I am a part of God’s plan for Omaha!
     So I will leave you with this:  In what WAYS is God CALLING you to help the hungry and homeless here in our community?

Lindsay Wyant

Leasing Specialist

19 May 2015

At Your Neighborhood Hy-Vee

     For the entire month of May, Hy-Vee is donating $1.00 for every $30.00 Meal Builder Bundle sold.  Click here for the list of what is included.  To promote this deal, Open Door Mission sent staff to every Omaha and Council Bluffs area store this past Friday and Saturday, and I got to represent!
     What a blessing it is to just talk to the community about Open Door Mission!  I was able to serve at the Hy-Vee where I do my grocery shopping, and it was a blast seeing people from my very own neighborhood get excited about Open Door Mission.  I even saw my next door neighbor!
     So many people shared about their volunteer experience, how they donate monthly, the clothes and furniture they’ve dropped off at the Mission.  We truly are surrounded by faithful friends—people who make the life change at Open Door Mission possible.
     Thanks to each one who took a moment to say hello this weekend to me or any other Mission staff.  And thank you to all who bought a Meal Builder Bundle!  We truly appreciate your support.  For those who haven’t snagged this deal yet, it’s not too late!

Beatrice Krause

Marketing Coordinator

18 May 2015

A Life Recommited

     Several nights ago, I went through the intake process with a new guest named Frank.  He is joining the New Life Recovery Program.  As we went through his basic information, I asked how his relationship was with Christ.  He said, “I have left the Lord.”
     He received Christ seven years ago, but left Christ after two years of walking with him.  I shared some precious promises of forgiveness and asked if he wanted a do over.  He did and we prayed.  He said afterward, "I feel like a weight has lifted off of my shoulders."
     Please keep him in your prayers.  Our Day House Supervisor will be able to follow up with Frank very soon, as discipleship is key in building a lasting relationship with Christ.  What a blessing it is to see God radically change lives at Open Door Mission!

Greg Johnston

Intake/Case Manager

15 May 2015

Dine Out to End Hunger

      Last night I had the opportunity to represent Open Door Mission at our monthly event, Dine Out to End Hunger.  Each month, different restaurants in and around the Omaha-Metro area partner with the Mission for one day, allowing a percentage of their earning on that day to benefit the hungry, homeless, and hurting on our campus.
     Our community partner this month was Noodles & Company, and it was such a blessing to be able to represent Open Door Mission at their restaurant.  I was allowed the opportunity to share about the myriad of opportunities for our community to get involved.  It brings me joy to be able to talk about how people can serve.
     There were a few families that came to Dine Out to End Hunger who were very familiar with the mission and are regular volunteers!  It was awesome to see some familiar faces at this event.  Many people also who came out last night because they saw our event on Facebook or heard about it from the radio.  I do some work on the public relations side at the Mission, and it was so fulfilling to hear that our efforts are being recognized and acknowledged.
     I came up with a simile that describes some of the work that I do at the Mission: I am like a megaphone, sharing the important happenings to our community.  I am thankful to work in fulltime ministry to bring Open Door Mission’s volunteers, donors, and advocates closer to the Kingdom.
     Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  - Ephesians 5:20

Alexandria Ewing

Donor Relations Coordinator

14 May 2015

Learning to Lead


     Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Leadercast: Omaha Conference.  This is a conference focused on building up Christ-like leaders in every workplace, with impressive speakers from all different walks of life.  It was all that I expected it to be plus more. I went into this conference very excited to learn what it is to be a leader and not just to get tips and tricks of the trade but to learn, in the core, what it is to BE a leader. My Open Door Mission position in the Volunteer Department requires me to lead volunteers by communicating what needs to be accomplished, so leadership is key.  The topic of this year was Bravery and that is something that I lack in the field of being a leader.
     The 107th Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, said that you need to know what you believe in and stand for it. The first thing I thought of when he said this was the name of Jesus.  His name carries power, which should produce bravery in all who stand in His name.
     The mayor of Compton, Aja Brown, expanded on the statement, “We are all human.”  I like that because no matter if I am leading people that make tons of money, or youth group kids that are looking for a fun Wednesday night, I need to understand that we are all humans created by God, plain and simple.
     Peyton Manning made the point that we are all leaders in something, even if we do not think so. The ability to lead is present on some level in every person, and all we have to do is find and practice it.
     The CEO of Pixar, Ed Catmull shared the wisdom that a leader must be willing to forget there are levels in a company for a little bit.  Everyone should be able to speak openly and listen to each other’s ideas.  A good leader listens to their employees/followers, which allows for non-biased ideas from people that may surprise you.
     I came away with a lot of good characteristics of a leader in this year’s Leadercast and it is hard to fit everything into this one blog. Thankfully I have a notebook full of the words of the great leaders that attended this conference. I feel very fortunate to have been able to go and learn what I have learned. The next step is to review the notes and apply what I have learned to my everyday life as a Volunteer Coordinator at Open Door Mission, or in any other areas the Lord calls me to lead.

Corey McClain
Volunteer Coordinator