31 May 2007

Judy Collins - assistant director of community services at Open Door Mission

Hi my name is Judy and I am the Assistance Director of Community Services at the Open Door Mission, and this has been a very exciting and busy month. As many of you know, the community services department of the Open Door Mission serves people in our community who are in extreme crises or are nearly homeless. The services we offer help families in our community remain in their homes and not become apart of the growing homeless population in our country. Last month we served nearly 4000 men, women and children at the Open Door Mission Timberlake Outreach Center. These people came to our Outreach Center to receive diapers, food pantries, furniture or just to do their monthly shopping at our Kings Kloset. Our Kings Kloset is like a thrift store except every thing our shoppers receive is given to them free. We encourage our clients to take the money they are able to save through shopping at our Outreach Center and use it for their rent or utilities bills. Helping to supplement their income in this way, often times can makes the differences for between them remaining in their homes or becoming homeless.

Along with our Mission helping to supplement our client’s income through the above services, the Timberlake Outreach Center Community Learning Center officially opened its doors this past month. The Learning Center will provides an opportunity for our community service clients to improve basic academic and employment skills. This will empower them to effectively attain employment that will improve their quality of life and prepare them for future academic pursues, and employment advancement.

We will also be providing life skills classes that will enrich their lives, and give them the tools to help improve their physical emotional and spiritual lives.

Some of the classes we have scheduled for the month of June are as follows:
  • Job Skills Workshops: Completing the Job Application & Self Improvement, Creating a Resume that Works for You & Proper Interviewing Attire, Improving Your Interviewing Skills & Polishing Your New Look, Tapping the Hidden Job Market & Awards Ceremony Wednesday, June 6- 27, 1:30-3:00 p.m.
  • Parenting Basics "How to Really Love Your Child;" "Communicating With Your Child,"
  • "Effective Discipline," Monday, June 18 – July 2, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
  • "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Myers Thursday Starting June 7, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • OPPD Energy Workshop Wednesday, June 27, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

If you or someone you know are interested in attending one of these classes please call 402-422-1111 Ext 1510 to register or obtain additional information.

30 May 2007

Open Door Mission - Chapel Teams

Open Door Mission - Chapel Teams
This is a letter from one of our most active Chapel Teams. They are faithfully ministering to our clients with the love of Jesus and lives are being changed because of their dedication to the homeless, hungry and hurting.

Dear Candace:
I like to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to join you Radio program last Thursday afternoon. I truly appreciate your faith and vision to the Lord to serve the homeless, enthusiasm and energy to lead this great organization forward to a new dimension. I also want to thank you and your organization allowing us to be part of your ministry. God Bless.
Claudio K. Huang, BS, MS, MBA

Hope Tote’s and More

I had such a great time recently picking up Hope Totes from Marriot. Their employees are such great givers. They packed the totes full with all kinds of personal care items. My car was loaded down. The front seat, back seat and the trunk! What a blessing. I couldn’t make it back to the office to unload until the next day so I got the added bonus of enjoying the aroma of the soaps and perfumes for another day. Knowing that each item in the totes was selected specifically to bless a needy man, women or child made my day even more special. What a privilege it is to work with partners like Marriot who make a difference in so many lives. If you’d like to hear about some other creative ways that your business can make a difference – give me a call at 829-1522. Blessings! Brenda Banks, Business Relations Director

29 May 2007

Stan Latta - Director of Men's Ministries

Hey it’s that time again and I’m thinking that with all that has happened here in Men’s Recovery over the last two weeks, I could go either direction (serious or joyful) with this blog.

On the greener side of things, we have a new garden put in here and that really does something to see and appreciate the new life growing and producing. That has already proven to be therapeutic for some of the men. Just two days ago, one of the men who waters the garden every night, could not be here. He was so concerned that he came to me and asked me to please make sure to have someone water the garden while he was gone. Get the idea that our men really do care about things that we may not suspect they will?


On the blue(er) side of things we have really went through some trying times lately, growth pains come deep and move slowly, thank God for the lesson of His faithfulness to be learned by staff and clients in that process. But it has truly been growth. When I asked one of my staff what to put in a current praise report, he said, “For sure the recent growth of the men” – Amen! Yet, it’s funny that in many ways we remain a kid and one of those ways is in the growth process. A kid wants to be grown right now, overnight, measuring himself daily to see if there is any difference from the day before. However, he doesn’t want to eat the necessary kind of foods to produce healthy growth or to sacrifice to get there. That’s the way I am, searching God’s Word, looking for new insights, new developments in my relationship with Him ( Like a kid, I love to eat), but I don’t like the discipline it takes to put those things into practice ( Like a kid, I hate to exercise, I’d rather play).


So, what do we tell our men? Well, growing healthy isn’t necessarily fun, but it is rewarding! That doesn’t make it easier for them, but it helps them to stay focused, especially during the tough times. You know, we fight an enemy that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and never takes a break, a day off, or a vacation. But we serve a God that doesn’t either! To be like Him, we need to learn perseverance. There’s something to be said about the value of stubbornness, I guess.


On the sunnier side of things (yellower)? Yeah, I know I’m stretching now, curse my obsessive need for consistency! But there is a new closeness amongst the men that is noticeable and they actively talk about it. The reward is always greater than the effort.


The men are actively leaning to do recovery as a team. That is something you can’t teach them in a classroom and it’s a huge step forward for all of us. I guess that means that you have to give the credit to God and not to us as a staff. How would we have taught the men that? In fact a lesson to all of us about perseverance -- When we meet our Lord none of us will say, “Gosh, is this all I get, it wasn’t worth all of my effort”, every single one of us will say, “ If I could have known, if I could have seen what I would get, I would have put in even more effort.”


Praise Him! Stay the course!

24 May 2007

Deb Wylie - After Care Case Manager

Recently, I have had opportunities to broaden the horizon of the program member who attend my Professional Development Class. I am always looking for activities in the community that will help some one to obtain employment like the workshop held recently at the YWCA. Topics like “How to handle Fear in Your Job Search”, Winning Resumes and Job Hunting Tips are invaluable to our program members.

Tonight, I was able to take a group of program members to an Interview Forum held at Christ Community Church. What an awesome opportunity to hear from professionals in the community where our people where able to ask hard questions and get positive feedback to areas that need some work in the interviewing process.

I was able to make some contact for professionals to come to Open Door Mission and speak at the Professional Development Class. God is good and our program members are blessed with these opportunities.

Deb Wylie
After Care Case Manager

23 May 2007

“FREE DINNER”.

Every few days in the mail I receive an invitation to a “free dinner” at a local restaurant. The catch? In exchange for the culinary delights I might experience, I can listen for an hour (or so) to a financial planner talk about my investments. If you saw my “financial portfolio”, this would only make you laugh.

Whenever I get these well-intended invites, I am reminded of the hundreds of people in our area who would give anything for a delicious meal in a nice restaurant. I picture some of the homeless guys who come in off the street for a meal. They are so grateful for whatever they receive. I think of the smiles on the faces of the mom and her kids who are eating their first well-balanced meal in a long time. And my thoughts go to Chefs Brian and Jim and all of their helpers who do such a fantastic job in Open Door Mission’s Food Service Department.

The challenge over the next few months is FOOD. Our kitchen needs fresh fruits and veggies – the surplus from your garden. They need canned and non-perishable food items. And they need MEAT! This will help us provide a Summer of Hope to those we serve - Remember hope begins with a meal.

As you picnic this summer with family & friends, or go out for a leisurely dinner – or maybe when you receive that “free dinner” invite in the mail, would you stop for just a moment and remember the hungry and homeless men, women and children at Open Door Mission?

Thanks for letting me share. I can’t wait to get home and see what’s in the mail!

Joan Meradith
Director of Development
Open Door Mission

22 May 2007

Karen Applegate Director of Advancement

I am not sure if many of you know this, but Open Door Mission is a member of Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM). We are incorporated locally and governed by our own Board of Directors. AGRM consists of over 300 “Rescue Missions” across the United States. Last year “Rescue Missions” served more meals and provided more nights of shelter to men, women, and children than any other organization.

This is a wonderful fellowship of missions that’s number one goal is to present the gospel to hungry, homeless, and hurting people. Last year thousands of individuals were not just fed physically, but spiritually.

This past week I had the privilege of attending the annual AGRM convention. It was inspiring to hear the stories of changed lives throughout the world. God continues to move in mighty ways. It is always encouraging to hear the struggles and victories of people working in the same type of ministry as Open Door Mission.

At that convention we said goodbye to Steve Burger, President of AGRM for the past 18 years. Everyone who knows him understands that he will never really retire. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and reminiscing about past accomplishments. Now we will begin a new era with AGRM. I wanted you to know so you could add AGRM to your prayer journals. With new leadership comes change. We are all looking forward to God’s next chapter with great anticipation and would ask that you would pray for our new leader.

I value each of you and thank you for your faithfulness to Open Door Mission. Without you we cannot do any work at this ministry.

We are soon approaching summer which is always a challenge. Lydia House serves more families during the summer than any other time of the year and donations drop during the summer months. But, the staff is believing this to be a “Summer of Hope” for those we serve remembering that “Hope Begins With A Meal.”

Ronda Nelson Lydia House Assistant Director

One of my responsibilities each week is to prepare for our Streets of Omaha project. I am getting an early start this week, because this week is packed full of children/youth activities and volunteer events - yeah!

Streets of Omaha was started in the summer of 1999. Candace, our then Family Ministries Director, knew that there were many homeless living on the streets that did not know about the Open Door Mission / Lydia House services or did not trust to come to live with us and did not know Christ - so we started to go to them and we have not stopped. Each Friday Lydia House program members and volunteers make 500 sack lunches in less than two hours and then deliver the lunches throughout North and Downtown Omaha.

It takes many resources to accomplish Streets of Omaha:

First we need food. I 'shop' each week from the ODM food pantry for items that are donated that can make a nutritious lunch. At times the pantry is overflowing and this is not a problem - but right now our pantry bare, so I have to be pretty creative to find enough for the lunches. To make a lunch we use bread, lunch meat, a chip product, a dessert product, and a bottle of water. Also the bags and baggies are needed (The bag your daily newspaper comes in works great as a lunch bag.) I would love any donations of these food or bag items.

Next we need the hands to make the lunches.

We are blessed that Creighton Prep has written this project into their sophomore curriculum and during the school year ten students from their Social Justice class come down and help prepare and deliver the lunches.

Clarkson and Methodist Nursing Colleges and the Community Alliance day program will also send volunteers during the school year. But, it is now summer and we are in desperate need of extra hands. Please consider coming down and working along side our program members - it is a fun time.

Then we deliver - and love :)

We have been blessed that 2007 volunteer of the year, Lisa Harrison, has been with us from the beginning driving the ODM van to deliver the lunches. What makes this program so special is the relationships that Lisa and the other volunteers develop with the people receiving the lunches. The lunches are given in Christ name and to show His love to all. We pray that someone will come back to ODM and receive help, but if they do not, we want them to know that they are loved. Lisa does an amazing job building this trust with those on the streets. We have several stories of women who did come back with Lisa and have now completed the recovery program - A changed life forever!

I love getting ready for and seeing the results of Streets of Omaha.

Please consider donating food items or your time - most importantly pray for the people served through this project.

Have a great week and maybe I will see you this Friday!

Ronda Nelson, Lydia House Assistant Director

21 May 2007

Ronda Nelson Lydia House Assistant Director

I pray that you are having a blessed Worship day. After my family attends worship, we are off to our niece's H.S. graduation celebration. This reminds me to praise God for the educational opportunities that the Open Door Mission/Lydia House offers.

The average grade level of an adult living at ODM is a 6th grade education - it is very hard in today's job market to make a living-wage without further education or a trade. Nationally, a child that is homeless is three grades behind their peers, because of their frequent school moves, absenteeism, and the stress in their young lives.

At Open Door Mission's Lydia House we make education a priority. Our Learning Center offers individualized learning programs. OPS offers GED twice a week during the school year. Our case managers encourage further education and career development by taking program members on field trips to local colleges and career fairs.

OPS, also, provides a year-round tutoring lab for our children, complete with the best tutors in Omaha. The tutors that serve, are so passionate about encouraging a love of learning that they pack up the tutor lab and follow the children to our summer Bible Day Camp! There are numerous stories of children coming in struggling and after just a few weeks of additional help and living in the supportive/safe environment of the Lydia House they are thriving and enjoying school!

This spring is already full of educational praises at Lydia House! Just this past Friday, a single mother of five passed her Medical Assistance and CNA tests ensuring that she will be able to support her family. Three teens are graduating HS - breaking the cycle of poverty!
Two adults have finished course work for their GED and are ready to test.

And from our alumni, families that have graduated from the New Life Recovery Program, three young adults are excelling as well! Princella is graduating Creighton with a Public Relations degree, Maria is finishing her first year at Metro on her way to a child-counseling degree, and Roshan is heading off to the police academy.

Please pray for these learners and consider coming down and volunteering your time in the learning centers.

Thank you for your support!
Ronda Nelson, Lydia House Assistant Director

19 May 2007

Chris Morris Volunteer & Partner Director

Spring has sprung, and things are greening up! All over the metro area, partners of ODM are sprucing up their yards and planting their gardens. We are so grateful for the faithfulness of our friends, and the homegrown vegetables that they (with God’s help) will grow and share with the people of our community through the Timberlake Outreach Center.

One partner, Pat , felt a very special call this spring to take her garden up a notch. Pat felt that God wanted her to organize a community garden right here at ODM and has been working tirelessly with others over the past few weeks to make it happen. Pat has been raising funds for this Outreach Garden one dollar at a time. She asks each person to contribute just one dollar, and encourages them to ask someone else for a dollar and so on. The Power of One is paying off as our funds for this project and community awareness are growing one dollar and one person at a time.

The community garden here at ODM is in the final planning stages. Pat intends to get plants in the ground in the very new future. It will take many hands to plant, tend weed, water and care for our garden. A community garden really will take a community of people working together to make it happen. We can use your help!

Please pray about how God might want you to be involved with this project, or in some other way here at Open Door Mission. Pray hard, and then follow His call right to our doors where you are always welcome to share your gifts and blessings as you bless others. Hope starts with a meal, and with your help, that meal can start with homegrown vegetables from God’s garden right here at ODM.

18 May 2007

Lydia House-Guest Blogger Angela Casper

Hello from the Lydia House,

My name is Angela and I am the full time, overnight supervisor for the ladies and families at the Lydia House. My shift is a quiet one, with everyone tucked in safely for the night. My night is spent with a computer and the Lord by my side. There is an occasional night when a person can’t sleep and I am there to listen to their problems and then we are able to pray together. I also will be the first friendly face people see, when they come to the mission in the middle of the night. My heart wants to break in two, when I see the lost and hopeless look on their faces when they show up.

Just recently my days shifted around and I am now blessed with the fact that I am working on Sunday mornings. I had the privilege of witnessing God in action. I was on the Recovery side and everyone was getting ready for church. I could hear songs of worship coming from everywhere. Those who passed by the office I was in, had huge smiles on there face and hope was shining from there eyes as they looked inside. What a huge difference from just a few months ago. When these same people who came in hopeless and depressed, were now singing and praising about our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. Praise God.

17 May 2007

Diving In with Our Volunteers-Guest Blogger Carol Chamberlain

Diving in with our Volunteers:

A couple of Saturdays ago, 5-5-07, at the Open Door Mission we had a lot of Volunteer Groups come to help out in the Timberlake Outreach Center. We had a blast! I came up with the idea of playing a game- it was a race game to see who could finish their Gaylord box first. The Volunteers thought that was a great idea also. There were three big Gaylord boxes full of clothes. We all started at the same time, three different groups, we all finished our boxes in less than one hour. I think it is great that we work along side of the Volunteers. I’ve been told by the long time Volunteers that they like having us with them as well; in case they have a question or need something we are close by. They say it makes a big difference. That’s why it is called Team Work. Here at the Open Door Mission & Lydia House we view our Volunteers as unpaid Staff.

Volunteers Rock!

Candace From Atlanta, Georgia

Good Morning Omaha,

Myself and seven staff are in awesome Atlanta. We are attending the National Association of Gospel Rescue Mission's conference of Rescue workers throughout North America. It is an opportunity for training, networking and learning. I have been out of the hotel twice since Sunday, and following are both experiences.

#1:

Well, I have to tell you Atlanta's public transportation is much more economical and efficient. People of all walks of life are using the MARTA for $2.25 round trip 24/7. Imagine, the job opportunities, housing searches, medical appointments, educational opportunities,that are available because of the equal opportunity through public transportation. Plus, the MARTA is clean in appearance from the outside and inside appearances.I don;t want to sound ungrateful because after 10 years of lobbying the Open Door Mission is finally on the bus line BUT have you used the MAT public transportation system, lately? Oh, by the way they do have panhandlers here in Atlanta. They are much more innovative. When tourists request directions from panhandlers, after giving very good directions, they lift their hand up rubbing their fingers together, requesting payment. This seems to work better than the cardboard sign, "Will work for food." Something more to think about.

#2

Well, the bottled water in the hotel is $6.00 and that is ridiculously ludicrous. So, The Open Door Mission's Director of Finance and Administration and I spoke to the hotel concierge to research options outside the hotel. We found that there was a Walgreens four blocks from the hotel BUT we would have to walk through a homeless park, his words not mine. Richard and I just laughed. It was a shady area that we walked through and there were quite a few people that appeared homeless BUT we didn't bother them and they didn't bother us. WE found something better than Walgreens, a PUBLIX, and right inside the grocery store door cases of water $4.99. We loaded up our grocery cart and away we went. We were feeling pretty good about our adventure.

Well, off to another training seminar, I am learning so much and have so much to learn..

From the Night Desk-Guest Blogger Brad Polchow

We are so blessed to have such great community support for the mission.
At 3:00 in the morning a woman came by to donate food. She is a local caterer. She donated about 80 lbs. of grapes, strawberries, fruit kabobs, lettuce, potato and chicken salad, and crab salad sandwiches. I put it all in the refrigerator, minus a couple of crab sandwiches. How often does a person get to eat crab!! The men expressed their happiness the next day for having fresh fruit. She said she would be back another time, since she knew where to go now.

A man came up to me last week wanting a King James version of the Bible. I went searching for one to give to him. I found one, but he didn't want that one. I found a different one and he was happy with it.

About a half hour later, he wanted to return it to me. I told him to keep it. He argued with me that it wasn't his to keep. I told him that I was a servant of the Lord and that this Bible was his. He thanked me for it. Here it is a week later and he still has that Bible. This is a man that loses everything. He can't keep a toothbrush for two days, yet he keeps this Bible with him. I asked him if that's the same the Bible that I gave to him. He told me that I didn't give him one. The Bible he has came from a servant of the Lord.
Praise God!!!

Bradley Polchow
Night Supervisor MM/ES

15 May 2007

Timberlake Outreach Center-Guest Blogger Amy Grills

It’s been another busy day at the Timberlake Outreach Center! We had a great chapel team today from Omaha Bible Church. They brought in a gentleman who plays guitar and sings and they handed out Bibles for our clients to follow along with as they were reading from it during chapel. It was so great to hear the clients singing along with the chapel team and praising God!!!

Tomorrow is our Seniors King’s Kloset day for the month of May! It is so exciting and rewarding to get to see these folks come in that have worked for so long and be able to receive things that they truly need but cannot afford. It is a great time for them to be able to get out for awhile and get to talk to some people and get some things that they need for their houses and for themselves without having to pay for it. It is so soothing to my soul to see these folks shopping and SMILING the whole time!! Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging comes out and does case management with our Senior clients and gives them resources as well and that is so great!

We have begun GED classes in our new learning center and it is so awesome to see our residents as well as community members in there improving themselves and the futures of their families!

Also, I would like to mention that I am so thankful to God and to our donors for giving us full size and queen size beds to give to people in need. We have been praying for a long time that we would get some beds in so that more clients would be able to get off the floor at night and God really showed us his goodness! We really need twin size beds! It seems that we never have enough beds to meet the needs of all of our clients, especially for children. We are always in need of more beds, other furniture items and appliances for our clients. If you would like to donate any of the above items, please contact Dan Applegate at 829-1517.

14 May 2007

Spring has Sprung-Guest Blogger Cris Morris

Spring has sprung, and things are greening up! All over the metro area, partners of ODM are sprucing up their yards and planting their gardens. We are so grateful for the faithfulness of our friends, and the homegrown vegetables that they (with God’s help) will grow and share with the people of our community through the Timberlake Outreach Center.

One partner, Pat, felt a very special call this spring to take her garden up a notch. Pat felt that God wanted her to organize a community garden right here at ODM and has been working tirelessly with others over the past few weeks to make it happen. Pat has been raising funds for this Outreach Garden one dollar at a time. She asks each person to contribute just one dollar, and encourages them to ask someone else for a dollar and so on. The Power of One is paying off as our funds for this project and community awareness are growing one dollar and one person at a time.


The community garden here at ODM is in the final planning stages. Pat intends to get plants in the ground in the very new future. It will take many hands to plant, tend weed, water and care for our garden. A community garden really will take a community of people working together to make it happen. We can use your help!

Please pray about how God might want you to be involved with this project or in some other way here at Open Door Mission. Pray hard, and then follow His call right to our doors where you are always welcome to share your gifts and blessings as you bless others. Hope starts with a meal, and with your help, that meal can start with homegrown vegetables from God’s garden right here at ODM.

04 May 2007

Guest Blogger Stan Latta Men's Ministries Director

Sometimes it’s hard to offer a praise report because you just don’t know which items to select, but this week, in order to keep it short, I’ll pick a drop of water out of the ocean to share with you.

Today we promoted Sahara to Basic level on the NLRP. He was not able to do that the first time he was here, but with a little of God’s grace and lot of effort from my staff, this made it worth the effort for everyone the second time around.

Hey, Art and Jesse did the radio program yesterday with Candace and you should have been tuned in. It was great to hear two men truthfully and openly share from there lives in hopes of encouraging others and glorifying our God. I wish I could share with you the depths of progress and growth we have witnessed lately with our men as a group. It’s exciting to see the leadership that is developing among our men themselves.

This week, the men were able to participate in the National Day of Prayer at Glad Tidings and were expressing all kinds of praise and excitement over it this morning, it is really beneficial to have our men out in those large events to see the vastness of God’s grace in the lives of multitudes.

Tonight they will participate in a rally at Crossroads church in Council Bluffs and are very anxious about the chance.

We are off now to do Keep Omaha Beautiful in the wet conditions, be sure and tell the men thanks for picking up the litter when you see them.

02 May 2007

Methodist Nurses

Last week, some wonderful nurses brought in toiletrie and care items to donate to the homeless men, women and children. They not only had enough time to take this picture with me but also stayed for a tour with me. You can have a tour, too, email me at cgregory@opendoormission.org or give me a call to book a tour at 829-1505.

Dodge Cares

For many years, NP Dodge employees have gathered toys at Christmas time for homeless children. Dan Egan an NP Dodge employee has even dressed up as Santa and delivered the gifts to the Lydia House children. Many employees, volunteer on a regular basis reading to the children and serving meals.

Dodge Cares is a local 501 c 3 that is helping to provide food, shelter and comfort for the homeless, displaced and abused in Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa. Dodge Cares recently coordinated a fundraiser, Creating Hope.. From the Ground Up building two homes and donating the proceeds to several organizations in the community. This was a partnership between Brau Builders Inc., Jeff Rensch, Jordan Michael Signature Homes, Dick Blume, NP Dodge Builders Services and Copperfields LLC

Excitingly, this was a tremendous blessing to receive designated gifts for the work at Open Door Mission and Lydia House. I might mention that individual NP DODGE AND SALES AGENTS CONTRIBUTED, TOO.

So, a great big, THANK YOU, from the Open Door Mission and Lydia House. The next time, you see a sales rep. or employee form NP Dodge tell them, "Thank you for making a difference in our community."