05 February 2016

Snow Day! Part 1

     During the recent Blizzard Kayla, I spent two nights sleeping over at Open Door Mission’s Campus.  How was it?  It was an adventure that I loved.  What a reassurance to know that staff were safe at home and so were our guests.  This was only the second time that I can remember spending the night on campus in my more than 20 years at the Mission.  The only inconvenience was the windows in the Administration building rattling loudly due to high winds as I tried to sleep…That and being so close to the work on my desk, knowing that it was not getting done. 
     As I reflect on those two days, the experience makes me more determined than ever to serve our guests with quality services.  I want to serve them not half way, but all the way with respect, dignity, grace, and God's love.  I want to spend more time in God's word, pray more for our guests and staff, pay attention to even small details at the Mission, and listen.
     Having to bundle up in layers to walk three blocks between the Administration Building and the Garland Thompson Men’s Center in freezing cold, bitter wind, snow, and sleet was a powerful reminder of how blessed I am.  I am grateful to have a warm home and vehicle, but also extremely sad thinking that some people have no choice but to walk in this weather.  My biggest heartache is for the many homeless who are choosing to live outside in this weather.  Yes, mental illness and addiction are factors, but I also wonder what I (we) can do to be more inviting to them.  

Candace Gregory

01 February 2016

Taking it to the Next Level

     Kim Schiltz, co-owner of Authentic You Salon, reached out to me a few weeks ago with a question.  She already blesses the WorkNet program with haircuts and colors before mock interviews, but she wanted to know if we had professional clothing for our women.  I told her that we didn't have a lot available, and she said she had been going through her closet and had some things she no longer wanted.
     So Kim asked if she could donate these professional clothes to the Lydia House specifically to set our WorkNet women up for success.  I told her how awesome that would be, and she went a step further and posted on the Salon's Facebook page that customers could also bring in professional clothes to her shop.
     This picture is what I picked up from Kim last week!  Thank you Lord for continued blessings!

Gerry Ford
WorkNet Director

29 January 2016

Becoming a Man of God

“How can a man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to Your word.  With [his] whole heart [he] seeks you; let [him] not wander from Your commandments!”  -Psalm 119:9-10
     The Lord gives clear instructions in His Word on how to live a godly life.  But without guidance, how is a man supposed to learn these ways?  Gary grew up without direction, never learning the importance of the future, of being independent, of being a man.
     He was surrounded by bad influences—a brother in prison, parents using drugs, and a place to stay without any expectations of him.  Throughout high school, Gary was convicted of several misdemeanors, even kicked off the football team for using pot.  He did have dreams of joining the service after high school, but it never happened.
     Gary's mother was in the hospital with pneumonia, close to death.  His father fled to New York with his new girlfriend, abandoning both his wife and his sons.  “Everyone else can support themselves—why can’t you?” were the last words Gary heard from his father.
     Without the means to support himself, Gary took to the streets.  He began to drink heavily, and was banned from a couple of programs in the area.  His pride got in the way of receiving real help, and Gary distanced himself more and more from his friends, too ashamed to admit the truth.
     “It got to where I had no confidence, no dignity, no respect for myself, and no happiness,” Gary said.  “I was sleeping outside in the mud, but where could I shower?  Down by the railroad, I would just sleep on the street, holding my book bag, and praying.”
     To fill the time, Gary would walk all around Omaha, sometimes taking the train in between cities in the area.  One day the train took him to Open Door Mission.
     “I knew enough was enough,” said Gary.
     He felt safe the moment he entered Open Door Mission’s doors.  Now, having joined the New Life Recovery Program, Gary sees becoming homeless as a blessing.  God used his time living outside to transform him, make him new.  Due for a Program Promotion soon, Gary can’t believe how far God has brought him.  The Director of Men’s Ministry even baptized Gary at Calvary Christian Church.
     “I still have a long ways to go, but I know where I’m going,” Gary said.  “I know that God’s leading me.”

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

28 January 2016

Respect and Dignity

     I want to take a moment to say, “Thank you!” to the team working in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center Emergency Services.
     Each staff member working in this area treats the men who come in for food and shelter with respect and dignity, both through their words and their body language.  I’ve witnessed several staff members take time to answer the men's questions during a house meeting, and they always answer with an emphasis on the need for Christ in their lives.  They’re not afraid to express love for the men.  I know these staff members are great listeners, as after a house meeting, men line up to speak with them.
     I am very grateful for the Godly men that are on our team, and for the lives that are being impacted for the Kingdom.

Candace Gregory

27 January 2016

Breaking the Cycle

     Recently I was speaking to a donor, and she gave me the Quote of the Day:

"I am calling to make a donation.  I am sending my check this year and every year till the day I die.  Open Door Mission helped me when I was younger and didn't have a place to live.  It's my turn to help needy people.”  – Carol

    What a blessing it is to work somewhere with a mission to Break the Cycle.  I love seeing God’s work here!

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

26 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 4

      After I was released from the hospital, my mother let me stay at her place for a few days.  But she knew I needed to get into a program.  One day she asked if I was ready and I said, “Yes.”  Deep down, I was terrified.  She walked me into Open Door Mission, and I had no clue that this action would change my life forever.
     I was very ill, pacing, throwing up, and not eating—I was in the middle of detox.  But the staff at Open Door Mission accepted me all the same.  They were by my side the whole time.
     One particularly rough morning I saw a staff member.  She joked that I looked, “Grey and deathly.” 
     “Can I pray for you?” she kindly asked. 
     I had my doubts, but was desperate for anything that would help.  So we prayed, and for the first time in my life I listened to the Lord.  Later on in the day, I felt no form of detoxing at all.  I was actually hungry.  How could this be?  I was hardly able to move this morning, but now I felt no effects at all.  This had to be God. 
     Soon I was feeling better and finishing the detoxing process.  I became myself again.  My Child Protective Services workers saw the change in me, and allowed me to get my boys back permanently.  It was such a relief when my case was closed, because I no longer had someone watching over me.  I had my life under control, and I was going to fight for my kids no matter what.
     The last I heard from my husband, he is currently homeless.  I pray that someday he will find the will and understanding of what life can be like without drugs.  He is a great father, and our boys love him so much.  God works in mysterious ways.  If my husband were to find his way to God, I’m sure He would lead him the way He led me.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

25 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 3

     “Where would you like me to drop you off?”  my mother asked.
     “Anywhere.  You could careless anyway,” I stated.
     “You know I love you, and in the long run you will understand why I have to do this,” she replied.
     “Understand what? I just lost my kids and now you’re just leaving me on the streets to just figure it out?” I shouted.
     “You have to learn to fall before you can get back up,” my mother replied softly.
     “Whatever, you just hate me,” I muttered.
     At that time I hated her.  I couldn’t understand how she could drop us off on the street and leave without worrying about us one bit.  I didn’t understand that this was tough love.
     We asked my mother to drop us off in a nearby parking lot.  So we were left and told that we were loved.
     Although my husband’s family was furious with him for losing our boys, they gave him a place to stay.  However, I wasn’t welcome.  He chose to go, and I was abandoned to forage for myself.  I was lost, it was cold.  I had no one but my drug dealer “friends.”  No food, no shower, no warmth, and I had to beg.  I would sit with my luggage in any warm area I could find with only my thoughts for company.  I hated my life and needed to fix it.
     I called my mother and told her I was ready and it was time. I couldn’t handle being away from my children any longer.  My best friend came to pick me up and allowed me to stay in her home until my mother was off work.  Then my mother took me to a hospital where I was admitted into the psychiatric ward.  I spent my Thanksgiving there.

This story will be continued tomorrow, January 26.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

22 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 2

     My husband and I did what we could to keep our children warm, trying to find places to stay where we were not a burden.  We didn’t have the best options, which resorted to long, cold nights sleeping in cars, our storage unit, and drug dealers’ houses.  Sure, we knew this wasn’t healthy for our boys, but what choice did we have?  At this point, we had no way out. We cared more about our drugs than our children, plain and simple.
     My sister in-law let us stay with her for a couple weeks with the condition that we would have a job within the first week.  Of course, my husband and I didn’t care about a job or pleasing her.  We cared only about our next high.  So we stole from her to make money off the items. 
     Then one day, everything changed.  My sister in-law was at work and the boys were at school.  It was only my husband and I in the home when we heard a knock on the door.  We both knew it was Child Protective Services, and we knew they didn’t have good news. Hoping the problem would just go away, we didn’t answer.  After the coast was clear, we found a card on the door directing us to contact the agent immediately.  We called her, and set up an appointment for her to come speak with us at the house.  Not only did she show up, but so did my mother and sister in-law. 
     My husband, the agent, and I sat on the front porch and had a very long conversation. We admitted to everything, and with tears in our eyes stated that we couldn’t take care of our children.  They were to stay with family until we could get our lives together. 
     The agent gave us an hour to pack our things and say goodbye to our children.  This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  It felt like I was saying goodbye to my children forever.
     As my mother drove us away, tears wouldn’t stop rolling down our cheeks.  My husband and I loved our children and wanted the best for them. But our addiction had gotten the best of us, and we were unsure if we really had the will to quit.

This story will be continued Monday, January 25.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

21 January 2016

Katie's Story Part 1

     We knew the dreadful day was coming when my husband, my two boys, and I would be evicted from our apartment.  We had refused to pay any of our bills and we also refused to work.  Why, you might ask?  My husband and I had a drug addiction.  Our relationship didn’t start that way, though.  We were once a strong, happy family.
     It all started when I had severe stomach issues and was hospitalized for a week.  I felt as though I was dying, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.  They just fed me with pain and nausea medication and keep running tests.  I was later released without a diagnosis.  Soon, I realized the pain medication made me feel wonderful and happy, and I no longer felt nauseous when I took it.  I became addicted.
     Not only was I taking a medication that was highly addictive, but my husband and I had begun using methamphetamines.  My family knew that this caused our homelessness, and felt that we could no longer be trusted.  We had no problem stealing our loved ones to support our addictions....

This story will be continued tomorrow, January 22.

Former Open Door Mission Resident

20 January 2016

More Like Him

     Just think!  God has chosen you, selected you personally and individually, to believe, belong, and become more and more like His Son, Jesus!
     This is what God calls us, as His children, to.  We are meant to take on more and more of Christ’s character, to know Him better, and to trust Him more completely.  What a beautiful duty!
     Being in full time ministry at Open Door Mission gives us a wonderful opportunity to help others along this journey with us.  Each day, God is helping us to shape hearts and change lives.

Laura Keen
South Omaha Family Outreach Center Director

19 January 2016

Why we do What we Do!

     A young lady came into the Administration Building last week, and the look on her face was one I know oh too well.  It was a look of sadness, hopelessness, and brokenness.
     She began to share her story with me, that she was losing her home and had nowhere to go.  I saw that she was fighting back the tears, but I let her know that it was okay to let them flow.  As she cried, I let her know that she is loved and that there is HOPE in Jesus.
     I asked if I could pray with her, and she said yes.  As we prayed, another staff member was able to join us and speak some words of encouragement and love to this woman.  When she gathered her things to drive over to the Lydia House, she hugged us both.  I saw a look of renewed hope in her eyes.
     Praise GOD that we were able to meet this wonderful woman and share the love of Jesus with her!  This is why we at Open Door Mission do what we do!  PRAISE GOD for opportunities! 

Jessica Coffey
Development Associate

15 January 2016

Gems in Our Life

     I am reminded on a daily basis of the blessings I have, and how I need to humble myself.  How the Lord has blessed me with very supportive family and friends!
     When I talk to future guests/tenants and hear their stories, each one is full of is life situations they encountered alone, without the support and financial means to pay rent, pay mortgage, pay bills, etc.  They did not have people in their life to help them.  Those people that support us are gems in our life! 
     Often I take that for granted my support system.  I just pray that God would place in me in that state of humility and gratefulness!
     God teach us to be more like Jesus everyday.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  -- Philippians 2:5-8

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

14 January 2016

Blessings for WorkNet

     Last week was Salon Day for the WorkNet class.  WorkNet is a program at Open Door Mission that works to set our guests up for success in the workplace with training on things such as interviews, applications, and resumes.
     The wonderful ladies at Authentic You Salon blessed the WorkNet class with makeovers--haircuts and colorings.  It was awesome to see the huge smiles on their faces when these hardworking men and women saw the result of their transformations!
     This was like icing on the cake for these men and women that have worked so hard on making changes in their lives.  Not only do they feel refreshed spiritually and personally, but they now feel refreshed physically.  These makeovers gave each of them the boost of confidence they needed.
     This is a great example of the community caring and giving back.  Now we are ready for mock interviews, promotions, and graduation!

Gerry Ford
Evening House Supervisor

13 January 2016

Young People can Change the World

     One of the greatest pleasures of my job at Open Door Mission is to share with schools (elementary, middle, and high) about the Mission and to, hopefully, change misconceptions about homelessness.  I am blessed to have teachers who regularly ask me to come and share with a large variety of students.
     People often ask me, “What can young people do?”  My answer is that they can change the world, starting in their own backyard— they just need to know how and where.
     I was recently blessed to speak in Mrs. Mach’s class at Millard West High School.  They were asked to write what they learned. Here are a few quotes:

“I will not think of homeless people the same way I did before you came.”  --RI

“The thing that has shocked me the most is that the things I would think that are not so important can be someone’s most prized thing.”  --CB

“I was inspired…I plan on telling my family we need to go and help out.”  --BG

“…my thoughts have changed about homeless people…I also realize how expensive it is to live a ‘comfortable life’.”  --AP

“…made me think a lot more about being grateful for the things you have. It’s the little things that matter.”  --Anonymous

“I learned how much people in poverty struggle for essentials, the effect of poverty on children, and why it is difficult to escape poverty.”  --Anonymous

“…made me realize how important it is to give just a few hours of your day to help make someone else’s.”  --Anonymous

“…learned a lot more about the importance of Open Door Mission…I’m hoping to be able to volunteer more there to help myself and people in need.”  --JD

     Can’t wait to watch these kids change the world.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

12 January 2016

Dangerously Low Temperatures

Thank you to Lifegate for a donation of urgently needed toilet paper!
     These last few days, the temperature dropped drastically.  The high winds made it below zero, which is not only frost bite damaging, but deadly.
     In Open Door Mission’s shelters, we are encouraging our guests to have hats and gloves or mittens to cover their skin.  Extra blankets were pulled out for those sleeping on the floor to get rid of the chill.
     This type of weather will drive people out of the homeless camps, abandoned buildings, and cars this meaning an increase in numbers and services.
     Join me in praying that the homeless will seek refuge and safety at Open Door Mission.  Also be praying for the Open Door Mission team on the frontlines, that they would have the love, compassion, and understanding, as well as the strength and patience to serve.
     Our urgent needs, due to this increase in numbers, now include blankets, pillows, towels, and toilet paper.  Click here for a list of drop off locations, if you wish to donate.
     Buckle up, God is in the driver seat.  It's going to be an awe struck 2016!

Candace Gregory

11 January 2016

Be Bold, Testify

     So it is an amazing thing to have hope when you have been hopeless.  When darkness surrounds you and seems to be gripping even your heart, the beam of hope’s light shining casts it out.  A sense of hopelessness can set in for anyone who has a deep disconnect in their life.  I’ve seen this to be true among the men in our shelters.
     The Lord wants to shine the HOPE that Christ offers as brightly as possible to cast out the darkness of hopelessness!  You can always to be part of that.
     Consider your testimony and its power to offer hope.  No matter what Christ has brought you through, big or small, it is a glimpse of God's power and love and hand at work.
     Great, now that you have considered your testimony, and know its value, listen as God calls on us to share His work.
     There can be a tendency to think our testimonies are not powerful enough, if we have not struggled with addiction, homelessness, or other hardships.  But this is a lie!  Whatever God has done in your life, His truth in your story can bring hope to many.
     Your testimony is powerful and important.  People can gain hope in the One True God from it.  Please be bold and share.  Be it with your neighbors, your coworkers, or even down here at the Mission.

Taylor Clinch
Rebuilding Lives Center Director

08 January 2016

Medicine Against Discouragement

Turn to the Word of God whenever discouragement darkens your life.
     This is a good reminder for any who feel weary.  It is easy to get discouraged, but when we wait on the Lord, are patient, and trust in God's perfect timing, that is when He will answer us.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” -Isaiah 30:21
     God's word warns us not to try and speed things up and do things in our own strength.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  - Proverbs 16:25
     God's answer to your prayer may be to wait for a time before He gives you your desires. Every gift that comes from God is worth waiting for.  Throughout the Bible, there are lots of examples of God providing deepest desires.  In 1 Samuel, Hannah wept and prayed out of great anguish before the Lord for a child.  God answered her prayers.  In the book of Esther, God called Esther to a position of influence, and used her to save the Jewish people.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. - Habakkuk 2:3
     So be encouraged.  Wait patiently on the Lord.  Trust in God.  Know that He will work things out.
     God will use you as you are, if you make yourself available to Him.  God is faithful, and He calls you to trust in Him and His perfect timing.
     It can be easy to get discouraged when working in full time ministry, but in God's timing, He always comes through for us.  Thank you, God! 

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

07 January 2016

Rumor Has It

Coming to the Mission, I was scared out of my mind,
but the help I receive here continues to strengthen
me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I wish I
could tell all of the supporters, 'THANK YOU!'"  -Kim
     Scuttlebutt is gossip or rumors.  I am not usually one to pass this on, but it has been too juicy lately.  Here are some of the quotes I have to share with you. I hope that you find these details as tantalizing as I did. 

     "I have been in several other treatment programs before.  People always talked down to me.  I love it here because people talk to me like a normal person, which I am."

     "I figured I could come here and after two days, cut my monitor off (motions to ankle monitor), and leave.  But I am still here."

     "I love the Mission because out of everywhere I have stayed, it really feels like home. Actually home."

     Be encouraged by the fruit your work produces through Christ Jesus.  No matter what role you play at Open Door Mission, be it staff, donors, or volunteers, you are part of the culture, face, and results of God’s ministry.  Your touch in your area spills over into others, making the Mission what we are.
     We are Open Door Mission and Christ is our head.  Let us continue to push forward, following His leading!

Taylor Clinch
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

06 January 2016

Power of a Testimony

     Words cannot the joy that has filled my heart while serving the Lord at Open Door Mission and working alongside such wonderful staff.
     I have grown so much in the Lord since I first came on staff, and I'm grateful that this job has been a ministry platform for the Lord to be high and lifted up.
     I have been able to share my testimony with the ladies at the Lydia House on many, many, many occasions.  What a blessing it is to share how I have OVERCOME by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony on what God has done in my life.  I love seeing God use my story to encourage these women and teach them that they too can have the same victory and freedom as me.  Jesus already paid for their ransom on the cross!  And He uses me to share this Good News with them!
     The Open Door Mission staff family has been a huge blessing to me as they allowed me to bloom where the Lord planted me.  Working here helps me truly understand this great verse:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you.  Plans to give you HOPE and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Overnight Support Worker

05 January 2016

It's All Worth It

     Earlier this week, I was speaking with a man who had just recently joined our New Life Recovery Program.  We were talking about Christmas, and he wanted to know what gifts I had received.  I described a couple of the gifts I had been given, and then asked what Santa had brought him, thinking about Adopt A Guest.  His answer stunned me.
     Grinning, he said, "Jesus gave me a warm place to sleep and food in my stomach.  Without Him, I would have been out on the streets, breaking into abandoned houses just to survive.  But now, my mind is strong and sober.  I'm thinking clearly for the first time in a long time.  I wouldn't have any of this without Jesus!" 
     That was my best Christmas gift, getting to see firsthand that it’s all worth it.

Teresa Leishman
Case Manager

04 January 2016

A Platform for God's Work

A donation of hats, gloves, and socks had a major impact
...on the donor.
     Around Christmas time, I had a woman come to my office and hand me three bags of new socks, gloves, and hats.
     This situation was a little unusual, as she had requested to see me specifically when she dropped off these donations.  As we were talking, what she did was most unexpected.
     She broke into sobs as she explained to me what was in the bags she had brought.
     I gave her a hug, thanked her, and asked if she was okay.  She could not contain her weeping, but managed to tell me that she was fine.  She was crying because she is so thankful for the work Open Door Mission does.  It was overwhelming for her to be a part of God’s work here.
     What an honor it is that we get to be a platform for people to be faithful as God tugs on their hearts to serve!

Joshua Smith
Gift in Kind Director

11 December 2015

In His Perfect Peace

     Five days after Laura graduated from Open Door Mission’s New Life Recovery Program, she suffered a heart attack.  “I was sitting in my room, getting ready for bed…and I called down to staff to come to my room, 'stat',” Laura said.  “…That was just a wakeup call from God.”
     Growing up on a farm in South Dakota, Laura was very close with her father.  When Laura was 13, her father suffered from liver cancer, spending five weeks in the hospital before passing away. “I was really upset with God for taking him away

when I was so young,” Laura said.  “And that was when I started drinking.”  Laura’s addiction to alcohol was a reoccurring battle throughout her life.  A never ending cycle of achieving sobriety and relapsing, Laura’s drinking eventually led to losing her Certified Nursing Assistant license.
     Desperate for help, Laura arrived at Open Door Mission in October 2014.  “When I walked in, I was crying,” Laura said.  “The staff made sure I got a bed and something to eat, and I surrendered that day.  I knew the moment I walked in that God had brought me here.” 
Laura has since successfully graduated from the New Life Recovery Program. She has learned to embrace God’s peace. “I have been learning to love myself again and to trust other women,” said Laura.  She has also found closure after the death of her father and reconnected with her sisters.
     She enjoys being a support for the other women at the Lydia House.  “This year will be fun and exciting!...I’ve been encouraging [the other women]...it is overwhelming to see how much the donors love us and want to make our holiday the best ever.”
     Laura’s heart attack brought an unexpected blessing. While in the Emergency Room, Laura prayerfully called her teenaged daughter to tell her the situation. Years earlier, Laura’s daughter had moved out due to Laura’s drinking, and it has been three years since they have seen each other.  When Laura's daughter heard about the heart attack, she came to Omaha to visit Laura, and their relationship was restored.
     Laura’s daughter has forgiven Laura's mistakes and is proud to see progress towards lasting change. Laura is currently working full time at a nearby hotel, is close to getting a car, and plans to renew her CNA license.  Laura expects this Christmas to be even brighter, with hopes that she and her daughter will get to spend it together. Her daughter plans to pursue being a pediatric assistant, being a nurse just like her mother.
     As for the heart attack, Laura says “It taught me to slow down and enjoy life. I can trust God and live in His peace.”
For more stories of HOPE, click here.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

08 December 2015

A Place at the Table This Holiday Season

Choosing a Gang Family
     Steve’s story begins with a family that started falling apart following a divorce.  His mother was forced to work two jobs to make ends meet and raise two children.  Steve’s older brother joined a local gang, in search of a place to belong.  Missing his older brother, Steve ran away to the same gang.
     At age 15, Steve's home life was living in abandoned cars and buildings, jail, and prison. Holidays were lonely and filled with guilt and shame, without joy.
     Steve’s rebellious life continued for 15 years, in and out of prisons, breaking parole, continuing gang activity, and being arrested for felonies.  He gave no thought to how his actions were affecting others, much less himself.
     Then one day his mother visited him in prison.His mother had never stopped loving him, but decided on tough love.  She said that if Steve didn’t change his attitude and ways, she would no longer visit.  As he walked out of the visitation room, his mind reeled with the prospect of never seeing his mother again.  God began quietly working in Steve’s life.
Finding God’s Family
     Steve was told he could possibly parole to Open Door Mission, which seemed unlikely. He did a phone interview with Open Door Mission’s Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director.  The final question of the interview stayed with Steve.  It was, ”Do you know Jesus?”
     God opened a path for Steve to be paroled to Open Door Mission.  When Steve arrived at the Mission, one of the first people he saw was a former gang member, Dustin.  But this wasn’t the Dustin he remembered. 
     Dustin was a new Christian, and a student in the New Life Recovery Program.  He began mentoring Steve and encouraging him.  Dustin helped Steve see the need for Christ, for forgiveness, and for a new family. 
     This holiday season, Steve will find joy and thanksgiving as he and his mother attend church together.  Christmas will have more meaning as they celebrate the gift of the Savior’s birth and forgiveness.  This holiday season, Steve will be surrounded by those that truly love and want the best for him—a real family.  Once again, God has quietly and lovingly brought the lost lamb home.
For more Stories of HOPE, click here.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator

07 December 2015

Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry

     I had an opportunity several weeks ago to chat with a lady who was donating buns, bread, condiment packets, and bottles water.  Her husband had been recently killed in a motorcycle accident, and I know it took courage for her to share that with me.  I pray that God would comfort her, comfort her family, and start a mighty work in her life.
     This encounter made me think about how we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry.  Hurries and prayer; hurries and God; hurries and contentment—none of these are compatible.  If I had been in a rush, this opportunity to hear a hurting widow’s story would have been missed.
     I am SO blessed to be in a ministry where we can take time to see the hurting, hear their stories, and pray with them.  If you find yourself being in too much of a hurry, ask the Holy Spirit to help you slow down and let God move.  Embrace His peace and see what He has planned for you today!

Brian Springer
Head Chef

04 December 2015

Note From a Graduate

Each graduation is a launch of these men and women
into a fresh start at life.
     I recently received this note from one of Open Door Mission’s past graduates:
    “Hi Candace,
     I just wanted to let you know I have been accepted into the nursing program at a local college.  I couldn't have done it without you and my experiences at Open Door Mission.  I am working to give back in any way I can help!
     I will be forever grateful for your service and sacrifice.”
     One of our past graduates is furthering her education, and is looking forward to giving back what has been given to her.  This is so exciting!  These notes are just the encouragement I need to keep serving, keep investing, keep loving.  Thank You, Lord!

Candace Gregory

03 December 2015

The Fruit of Their Actions

     Last week, I went to a Friendsgiving celebration, put on by a local ministry.  I recognized a few Open Door Mission guests there.  At first, noticed one of them off in the corner reading his Bible.  Later on when they opened the microphone to any who would like to share, a couple of the guys even went up and shared a quick testimony of why they were thankful this Thanksgiving.
     It was very encouraging to see how God is clearly moving in their lives, and to see their boldness in sharing what God’s done for them.  At the end of the night when everyone was leaving, I noticed these same Open Door Mission guests had, without hesitation, started  helping with clean up from beginning to end.  They were some of the last people to leave.
     I was so encouraged by them!  God surely is doing amazing things in their lives.  There is no better way to tell what’s in a person’s heart than by looking at the fruit of their actions.  And the fruit of our guests’ actions is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Lindsay Wyant
Leasing Specialist

02 December 2015

Working in the Kitchen

It's hard to believe the Grand Opening of the Garland
Thompson Men's Center was over 3 years ago in 2012!
What a blessing it has been these past years.
     I had the opportunity to serve Thanksgiving Dinner last week, and what a blessing it was.  Every time I volunteer in the kitchen, I am reminded of the kitchen that was in our old Men’s Center.  It was small and cramped, lacking much of the equipment we needed to feed so many people.
     That is why I am so grateful and thankful for the beautiful facilities that we have today.  It is truly amazing how much is being accomplished by our Head Chef, Brian, and his team in this area of our ministry.  Although Brian has more work, resources, and storage space than ever before, we are hitting our limit once again.  They are using the available space to the best of their ability, without complaints, and with good stewardship in mind.
     I left that evening inspired and energized for a new building campaign!  It is such a blessing to be a part of a continually growing ministry.  Thanks be to God for His provision!

Candace Gregory

01 December 2015

#GivingTuesday: My Giving Story

     #GivingTuesday is a day dedicated to giving back, to celebrating generosity, and to giving.  Part of today’s movement is to share our great giving stories, so I thought it’d be perfect to share mine with you all today!
     I’ve grown up in a generous home, with two of the most giving people I know as parents.  They taught me to hold material possessions with open hands, willing to give whenever a need arises.  They taught me to value the Lord, family, and friends above money.  They taught me to serve without questioning or complaining.  They taught me these ideas through example.
     I first heard about Open Door Mission from a friend at church, and came down for a Volunteer Orientation.  The magnitude of lives being impacted by this one organization floored me, and I knew I needed to get involved.  I signed up to volunteer in the kitchen twice a week, helping with food preparation and serving lunch.  Those hours spent in the kitchen flew by, as I jumped in wherever needed.  I peeled more eggs than I could count, washed dishes until my hands pruned, and handed out desserts to men, women, and children (all of whose eyes lit up each time at the sight of cake or pie).
     It wasn’t what I was doing that impacted me so greatly, but rather being a part of something larger.  It was the knowledge that these small acts of service help hungry and homeless men, women, and children feel HOPE.
     So when the opportunity arose for me to come on staff at Open Door Mission, I took it.  The Lord had grown me up with an appreciation for giving, and now He was providing a chance for me to give daily as my full-time job.  God is so great, and He truly is the greatest giver!  Let’s learn from Him how to be outrageous givers.
     Click here to learn more about #GivingTuesday.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

30 November 2015

I Smile

     I was having a discussion with a guest at the Lydia House the other day, and this question came up: "Ms. Jessica, how can you smile and be so happy when life is so hard, sad, and full of disappointments?"  I pointed to the sky, then to my heart, and then said, “Because I am loved and watched out for by my Father.”  Then I quoted these lyrics from Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile.”  They have literally been my theme song for my life:

I almost gave up, but a power that I can't explain
Fell from Heaven like a shower
I smile, even though I hurt see, I smile
I know God is working, so I smile
Even though I've been here for a while
I smile, smile
It's so hard to look up when you been down
Sure would hate to see you give up now
You look so much better when you smile, so I smile

     It’s amazing to see God use what you’ve been through to encourage others.  May I always  be willing to be His vessel.

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

25 November 2015

'Tis the Season!

     It is the Holiday Season.  With the holidays right around the corner,  this is a very busy time for Open Door Mission.  There are decorations to be hung, special programs to set up for. Drumsticks on Wheels has already come and gone, and next up is Project Santa.
     Although we are busy, it’s good to see the people we are helping.  The Mission helps many in the community have a Thanksgiving without the worry of where the meal is coming from.
     When you see Open Door Mission booths around town this season, please stop and say, “Hi.”  If you can help us this holiday, it will be appreciated.  You will be helping those less fortunate have a holiday without the worry of where the meal is coming from.
     Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and help.

Gregory Crocker

24 November 2015

Notes From the Thankful Box

     It took me a while to gather up the Thankful Box notes last week.  I am pleased to report that they have multiplied dramatically!  Here are two entire notes that I found to be truly inspiring:
     "I am thankful that God has not given up on me, knowing what I have deliberately done in my past, over and over again.  It makes me wonder why He has not turned His back on me. How could He love someone like me? Why has He given me not only few, but a hundred chances to start over?  Now, since coming to the Lydia House and joining the New Life Recovery Program, I see that to Him, I am perfect.  His love is so passionate and unconditional.  He leaves me speechless"
     "I am so grateful and thankful to God for giving me LIFE, because what I had before was not even living!  No matter the problems that I have been through, God has given me strength and He has delivered me from the hate that I kept in my heart.  I have been shown more love in the past few months at the Lydia House than I have been shown after years on the streets.  Most of all, God has given me that love that I cannot live without."
     As we enter this holiday of Thanksgiving, remember just how much there is to be thankful for!

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

23 November 2015

Thankful for Unicorns and Jackets

     This morning I grabbed the Thankful Box that we leave at the Lydia House’s front desk on Thursdays and started looking through all the notes that were left by guests.
     Our guests are always leave notes of gratitude for staff, their children, and second chances, but this time I noticed that numerous children had put in notes.  These truly touched me, so I thought I would share them!
1. I am thankful for the staff that has helped my mom and dad, so we have a place to stay.
2. I am thankful for my jacket, it's so warm.
3. I am thankful for unicorns!
4. I am thankful for this place.
5. I am thankful for my birthday present from staff and for finding a new house.
6. I am thankful for clean blankets.
     Another one that really touched me was, “I am thankful for difficult people, they teach me patience and forgiveness.”  Can I get an, “AMEN?”

Shelly McCullough
Day House Supervisor

20 November 2015

My Favorite Mission Memory

     Open Door Mission has been celebrating our birthday during the whole month of November.  From Open Door Mission Day on November 1, to an all-staff purple out, to last night’s 60 Years of Blessings A Diamond in the Rough Gala, it has been quite the celebration!
     It is amazing to know that God has worked through Open Door Mission for 60 years, and that He is not finished!  More is to come!  During my time serving at the Mission, I’ve had many life-changing experiences from hearing guests’ stories, seeing God always provide, and interacting with wonderful staff.
     One of my many favorite Open Door Mission memories was watching Candace "accidentally" start bulldozing the old Men's Center.  I know Candace’s favorite day in the fall of 1997, when Open Door Mission held our first Graduation ceremony for women and families with children!
     Whether you’ve been a friend of the Mission for decades or a few weeks, please take time to reflect on your favorite memory.  And please share it!  Can’t wait for what’s to come.

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

19 November 2015

Cancelled Wedding Leads to Banquet for the Homeless

     76 students in Open Door Mission’s Life Changing Programs recently attended the Mission's Sobriety Luncheon.  Each of them were celebrated for their progress towards lasting change.
     The banquet style luncheon at the D.C. Centre Banquet Facility was made possible due to a wedding cancellation.  This echoes other recent headlines of cancelled wedding celebrations being donated to the hungry and homeless.  What a beautiful way to turn a sad occasion around, to give back.
     While our hearts go out to the family during this very difficult time, we are honored to have been included.  These men and women have proven their determination and desire for a better life.  It is a blessing to see them served today.  We hope the family can take comfort in that.
     On a side note, we have a record-breaking 91 students enrolled in Open Door Mission’s Life Changing Programs.  I have goose bumps and tears of JOY.
     God is drawing people to Open Door Mission, so our staff is ready and open.  We will not miss our opportunity to BE Jesus, so people can SEE Jesus, so people can KNOW Jesus.  I know the best is yet to come at Open Door Mission.  God is not finished yet.

Candace Gregory

18 November 2015

Still Alive to Tell Their Stories

Open Door Mission is so grateful for every volunteer
who makes the Free Health and Healing Clinic
a success.
     I wanted to share two occasions from this past week that prove God is at work at Open Door Mission.  Last week, a guest came into the clinic with fuzzy vision in his right eye.  After one of our volunteers assessed him, she decided to take him to Emergency Room.  There, he was immediately taken in for laser eye surgery.  His retina was tearing in two places, and had he not come into the clinic, he may have completely lost his eyesight in that eye.
     A couple of days ago, a Garland Thompson Men’s Center guest came for a blood pressure check.  After talking with him, the man revealed that he had heaviness and a stabbing pain in his chest, and that his left arm was going numb.  The paramedics were called and an EKG was performed right in the clinic.  He was indeed having heart problems, and the paramedics immediately started medication, moved him onto the gurney, and took him to the hospital in the ambulance. 
     Had either of these men waited to come in, they may have different stories to tell today.  I am praising God for being in the right place to serve His people just as they need.  God is good, and He loves to care for His people.

Kate Fischer
Free Health and Healing Clinic Director