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
President/CEO

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
President/CEO

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
Maintenance

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
President/CEO

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

17 November 2015

The Tale of the Same Birthday

     Last week, as I was helping a guest fill out her Adopt A Guest Christmas form, I realized that we have the same birthdate, different years.  When I pointed it out to her, she asked me what year, and I told her.  She told me that on that exact date and year, as I was being born, she was beginning her sobriety! 
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”.  –Luke 12:7
     This woman was very encouraged by how God cares about every detail in our life.  My guest said, “As you were being born, I was being reborn into a Child of God.  I made the decision to give my life to Jesus and be sober!”
     She was encouraged what a beautiful picture that was, saying she felt we had a spiritual connection and that she felt empowered by me.  That is Jesus at work, my friends!  What is awesome is that even when I was being born, God knew that someday I would meet this woman.  Praise God for divine callings and divine appointments!  We have a good, good Father!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

16 November 2015

Humbled...Part 2

     The next stop for the morning was at Hy-Vee to pick up the 22 boutonnieres and three sheet cakes for Graduation.  At the floral department, I waited patiently, and was greeted by a young, beautiful girl who was very willing to help me (after all, it IS Hy-Vee and there IS a helpful smile in every aisle - including floral).
     She volunteered to help carry my purchases to the car, and as we are loading them in, she asked a lot of questions about graduation: what is it, who is graduating, where, etc.  Honestly, I was thinking, “What is the deal?  With SO many questions, why not just go online to check it out?”
Our graduates' stories of lasting change inspire
HOPE in all who hear them.
     But then I turned to look at her, and see her eyes begin to tear up.  She told me that this day (Graduation Day) was her 120th day of sobriety.  She was weak in that moment, revealing how her close friend was just killed and she was trying to contact her sponsor because she needs help, reassurance, and encouragement to stay sober.
     Wow.  My church talks about kairos moments, divine intersections, and for me, that was one.  This was no chance encounter.
     I invited her to come to Graduation.  What better motivation than to listen to the stories of men and women just like her who have walked her path, who can express their love for Jesus and strength in Him when they are weak?   She said firmly that she would be there, and I pray she was able to make it.
     If I had only kept to myself, just going through the motions, I would have missed these two beautiful encounters.  These encounters reinforced what I feel my purpose is in life: to love others.  I can’t help but wonder how many other moments I  have missed.  I don't want to miss out on divine intersections because they change me, they change that person, and God smiles down on us!  I wish I could have bottled up my emotions on Graduation Day, to hold onto those feelings forever.  They were amazing.
     My prayer for all of you is that you listen to our guests; listen to the Walmart checker, listen to the person in line next to you at the store.  Listen with your heart, and I promise it will change you.

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

13 November 2015

Humbled...Part 1

22 Graduates wearing those 22 caps and gowns.
     I wish I could bottle up the emotions I felt while attending Graduation.  I truly believe that as each day ticks by, we miss precious moments.  Graduation was my reminder that I need to view the world through my heart, and not my eyes.  
     I remember feeling inconvenienced that morning, as I picked up the graduates’ cap and gowns.  On a normal occasion, I would have pulled up front, run in, grabbed the gowns, and head back to the Mission.  On the morning of Graduation Day, however I was told to go around to the back of the building.  Ugh!  Seriously?  I walked back to my car, waited for traffic to clear enough to turn around, and drove to the back of the building. 
     When I eventually found my spot, I was greeted by a disheveled man standing on the dock, with our rack of 22 graduate gowns.  I greeted him, and he helped load them into my car.  Then he turned to me, looked straight into my eyes, took my hand, and said, "Thank you.  Thank you for doing what you do.”  I knew it was me, personally, that he was thanking for doing what I do; it was all of us, it was Open Door Mission.  It was the look in his eyes that spoke to my heart.  He didn't express why he was thanking me, but I knew that at some point, somehow, someone he knew we must have helped.
     I left humbled and appreciative that I had to go around to the back.  

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

12 November 2015

Holiday Hope

     MMM…the smell of turkey or ham baking fills the house, a variety of favorite side dishes wait for their time in the oven, and the tempting pies cool down in time for dessert.  Laughter and memories being exchanged, greeting new and old friends, and the love of family surrounds.  This is how the holidays are portrayed, and for many of us it is the way they are spent.
     Holidays are for going back home or welcoming others to your home, but what if you are homeless?
     For the homeless, holidays are often lonely and full of regrets and pain.  They are often estranged from family and are seeking ways to ease their physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.  The holidays are a special kind of hurt.  That is why Open Door Mission is truly an “open door” during the holidays.  All seeking a hot, nutritious meal and a warm bed are welcome here.
     However, without the help of those that can help, we could not be able to meet the needs of so many seeking help, seeking HOPE.  Thanks to awesome donors, tireless volunteers, and dedicated staff, Open Door Mission will provide 5,000 families in the community with a complete Thanksgiving meal to fix in their own home.  For 5,000 others, there will be a Thanksgiving brunch and traditional dinner.  Each guest living at the Mission will be “adopted” and given Christmas gifts.  For the 6,000 children in the community there will be a bag of gifts, including books, a blanket, a hat, a scarf, and gloves.  All of this can only be done because God’s people love, and love unconditionally those who need the most love.  This is the spirit of the holidays, to love and give as Christ did: unconditionally.
     So as the commercial once said, ”We’ll leave the light on for you”…the light of Jesus, showing the way to hope through Open Door Mission.

Maggie Cope
Community Relations Coordinator 

11 November 2015

Thousands of Families Helped This Thanksgiving

     It's been another record-breaking year for Open Door Mission's Turkey 'N' Fixin’s sign-up, as thousands of families lined up to get a little help for Thanksgiving.
     The line last Saturday morning wrapped around the facility, and some people showed up as early as 6 a.m.  Staff opened the doors about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled due to the line.
     Open Door Mission’s annual giveaway provides free turkeys and a box of traditional sides to families in need.  One working mom said there is absolutely no shame in getting a little assistance during the holiday season.
     "I don't make much money," said Angela.  "I mean I work a minimum wage job, I got four kids and I don't get help, so I figured I'd get all the extra help I could get."
     People like Angela are exactly who the Mission aims to help with the Turkey ‘N’ Fixin’s program.  "This empowers low-income families to be in their own homes at Thanksgiving so they don't have to come to Open Door Mission," said Open Door Mission’s President/CEO, Candace Gregory. "We will serve a Thanksgiving brunch and banquet, but it's so exciting to know that we're empowering families to be in their own homes."
     Hundreds of volunteers help make this possible each year by boxing up the food, and delivering it the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  Open Door Mission is still about 2,000 turkeys short, so donations are needed.  Click here if you'd like to help.

This blog is adapted from WOWT6 News’ article, “Line Winds Around Open Door Mission for Thanksgiving Meal Sign-Up.”  To read the original article or watch the video, click here.

09 November 2015

Being Jesus With Skin On

     I pray that we as Christians always remember to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
     As I was driving home from work the other day, I saw on the other side of the road a homeless man lying halfway in the road, halfway on the sidewalk.  This was in downtown Omaha, and I know people saw him.  Runners were just walking over him, and no one was stopping to help.
This story is the real-life version of the Good Samaritan.
     I parked a block away, got out of my car, called 911.  Then I went to the man, and could instantly tell that he was drunk and not very coherent.  I asked if he lived at any of the nearby shelters, but he shook his head.  So I bent down to his level, prayed for him, and told him I would stay until the paramedics came.  I let him know I cared for him and that God does too.
     No one else stopped to help us, it would have been impossible for people to not see us.  My heart broke at their apathy.  When the paramedics came, I explained that I worked at Open Door Mission and couldn't just drive by a man in need.  The paramedics thanked me, told me they know who he is, and said they would take him to the hospital.
     As I continued my drive home, I was in shock.  People just don't care for others nowadays, and I know it is because they themselves need Jesus.  I thank each staff, volunteer, and donor who cares enough to be Jesus to our guests.
     It's easy for the world to walk by and not care, but our eyes are more open than that.  We know that man is someone's son, uncle, nephew, or brother.  We know that if he was our family member, we would hope someone would stop to show him compassion and love.

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

06 November 2015

Purple Out

     In case you missed it, November 1, 2015 was officially Open Door Mission Day.  Facebook pictures were purpled out, Chick Fil A handed out free chicken sandwiches in exchange for canned food donations, and the Woodmen Tower in downtown Omaha was lit up purple.  It was quite the occasion!  Our prayer is that all of our supporters, donors, volunteers, staff, and friends feel an attachment to Open Door Mission, almost like alumni to their high school.  That people enjoyed the opportunity to wear purple and represent all the Lord is doing at Open Door Mission.
     That was definitely the atmosphere among Open Door Mission’s staff this past week; just like Homecoming Spirit Week!  Staff were going great lengths to out-purple one another.  Attached is a snapshot of the many photos sent back and forth, showing purple pride.  Comments with the photos included, “Great runner up pictures,” "Still winning," and “Our purple beats yours.”
     It’s easy to get behind a cause that you truly believe in.  And Open Door Mission is definitely one of those causes. 

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

05 November 2015

The Value of Staff and Volunteers

     Whew!  We’ve had so many blessings in the Volunteer Department lately!
     On Halloween Day, we had 250 high school Juniors and Seniors in high school volunteer this morning with College Possible.
     My team of Erica, Corey, I were amazed by the teamwork of our amazing staff to make College Possible’s experience meaningful and productive!    We say, “THANK YOU” to all who helped in stepping up to host and work with volunteers in each of their areas.
     I was literally blown away by how much this group of volunteers accomplished across our campus in the short time that they were here.   AND, I was also blown away by this; as I was thanking students while they boarded their buses, I heard many talking about coming back to volunteer on their own.  What a blessing!
     THANK YOU to all staff who greet, thank, and talk with volunteers on our campus.  You ALL are making impacts in each of their lives.  Ultimately, that is what is going to get them back to Open Door Mission to impact the lives of the people we serve!
     THANK YOU also to all volunteers who come and show our guests that people care for them.  Open Door Mission's numerous programs could not run without the help of our volunteers.
     Let me share with you our motto among Open Door Mission staff, “Be JESUS, so people can see JESUS, so people can KNOW JESUS!”

Amy Harvey
Volunteer & Partner Director

30 October 2015

I Belong Here

     My name is Nyanhial Tot and I am a Family Support Worker at Open Door Mission’s Lydia House.  I work at Open Door Mission because I feel like I belong here.  We all know that feeling when something is the perfect fit for your life because you truly enjoy it.
     Open Door Mission has become a second home to me.  I worked in many fields before coming to the Mission, but never before have I enjoyed a job this much.  God brought me here to make a difference.  Colossians 3:23-24 says,
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
     God has a reason for allowing me to work at Open Door Mission, and I am looking to continuing to help others while working for the Lord at the same time.  It's such a great feeling when guests tell me, "Thank you for making a difference in my life."
     I also know my relationship with God is growing stronger and stronger each day as I work at the Mission, because I am learning about the Lord from all those around me; staff, volunteers, and guests alike.  May all the glory go to our Father in Heaven who makes all things possible. 

Nyanhial Tot
Evening Family Support Worker

29 October 2015

Going PURPLE

     In honor of Open Door Mission's Anniversary, we as staff have been going PURPLE all week.  I have learned two things about our staff this week.  One is that we LOVE Open Door Mission!  What better way to show our support than by dressing up in purple spirit.  Secondly, I’ve learned just how competitive we all are.  Keep an eye out next week, and I’ll post some pictures of just how far some of us will go to out-purple one another.
     But for now, I challenge YOU to go purple for Open Door Mission Day this Sunday, November 1.  All you have to do is go purple on your Facebook Profile Picture.  It’s very simple:

  1. Download and save this PNG file
  2. Open Microsoft PowerPoint
  3. Click “Insert Picture” and choose the file you just downloaded
  4. In the same PowerPoint document, Click “Insert Picture” and choose your Profile Picture
  5. Crop/Resize as necessary, be sure to send your Profile Picture to the Back
  6. Click and drag your cursor to select both pictures, or hold Control A to select all.
  7. Right click on the photo and choose “Save As Picture”
  8. Upload your new Purple Profile Picture to Facebook!  Be sure to crop the thumbnail correctly, so the words at the bottom are not cut off.
  9. Challenge three friends to do the same and #OpenDoorOmaha

     And for some extra Open Door Mission spirit, be sure to proudly wear as much purple as possible this next week.  We have even more ways to celebrate, too!  Click here to learn about them.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

28 October 2015

Perissos

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  --John 10:10
     The Greek word for abundant is perissos.  The adjective means more, greater, excessive, abundant, exceedingly, or vehemently.  The noun means preeminence or advantage.
     Jesus has come to give us ABUNDANT life.  With Jesus, our life is greater, exceedingly, and more.  This is the Word of the Lord!
     In Genesis, the serpent told Adam and Eve,
“You will not certainly die [from eating the fruit]…For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  --Genesis 3:4-5.
     The serpent told them a lie.  The truth is that God wants us to have that GREATER, EXCEEDINGLY, MORE life.  At times, we and our guests believe what the serpent told Adam and Eve, that God is holding out on them.  But that is not the truth.  God is our protector.
     I am praying for an abundant life.  Lord, let the guests we serve see our abundant life.  Let them experience that abundant life through us.  Let them see that God is our protector and so much more.  Let them choose Jesus instead of any other idol.  Let them not believe any lies. 

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

27 October 2015

An Amazing Place to Be

     I had the pleasure of picking up a young man from the local County Jail a little while ago to come join our New Life Recovery Program.  When we first walked into the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, I got called away for a moment.  I came back, and this is what I saw:  our friend from Isaiah 58:10 Ministries and our Events Coordinator praying with our new guest as he wept.  What a truly amazing place for each of us to be; staff, volunteers, and guests alike.
     I was blessed to see this example of the Lord leading HIS servants to the right people, at the right time and place.  Later, I was able to challenge this man to give his problems, cares, and concerns to Jesus, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  What a great promise He gives us.
     May Jesus keep using Open Door Mission to point people to Jesus.  I am so thankful for each staff member.  We all are making a kingdom difference.

Pat McKernan
Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director

26 October 2015

This Place IS Changing Lives

     Another of a long list of reasons why I love working at Open Door Mission is because of the courage our guests embody every day.  
     We recently had a night of encouragement and celebration for our men and women in programs.  I feel that had someone been standing outside of the Garland Thompson` Men’s Center Chapel that night, the building would have been glowing!
     As Steve, Open Door Mission’s Senior Program Director, called out the days, weeks, and months that our people had achieved in their sobriety, each one had the courage to stand up be recognized, and be exposed in front of a room filled with strangers.  The noise amplified, the excitement increased, and the ground trembled.  Men and women alike had HUGE smiles on their faces as everyone cheered them on.
     I sat behind a man who had earned the "Student of the Month," award and I noticed how many times he held that paper in his hand, just looking at it.  I wondered if this was the first time in his life that he had ever been recognized for doing something good?  I could sense his pride swelling!  If there were any new guests in attendance last night, my prayer is that it gave them insight as to the power of Christ.  If they didn't have the courage to enter the program before, I hope they do now. 
     This place IS changing lives.  
     I have never been as vulnerable as our guests.  It's just not “safe."  But to watch them bare it all, willing to be judged, challenged, and questioned reminds me of what I think my purpose is:  to love them.  It reminds me to not build my walls up too high, because I might miss the beauty.
     I feel that working here is almost a hidden secret.  People go through the motions every day, missing out on the small moments that make life truly worth living.  We as employees daily get to see amazing things happening.  As our guests’ lives are changing, so are ours.
     Driving home with my 12-year-old daughter after the night, I thanked the Lord for all my blessings.  It truly was a beautiful night.  As we rounded the corner of Abbott Drive, we saw downtown's beautifully lit skyline, and right in the middle stood the Woodman Tower, shining radiantly in purple.  It was as though God was shining on the city and declaring His love to the lost and broken.
Click here to find out the next time the Woodmen Tower will shine purple.

Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant

22 October 2015

Celebrating With the Angels

      Promotions Night is held each month to celebrate the accomplishments of the men and women in Open Door Mission’s programs.  When they’ve finished a part of the program, they are promoted to the next level, and showered with encouragement for their accomplishments
      The following are staff reactions from October’s Promotions Night.  I pray that through these words, all readers will get a sense of how important our guests are.  We as staff celebrate with the Lord and His angels over these accomplishments, because we know lasting change is just around the corner.

     “There was an electricity in the air from start to finish- what an amazing celebration!”

     “Thank you to every staff member who attended and participated.  I really appreciate all the staff involved in making this night happen.  Thank you all.  It was great to see the joy in each guest’s face as their accomplishments were celebrated!”

     “This just gives me goosebumps...I can hardly wait until next month!”


At Open Door Mission, there is always plenty of God's
great works to celebrate.
     “It is awesome to be part of this with you all.  When I look at the men and women who are in the Programs, I see courageous people!  They admit that what they have done in the past hasn't worked, want to better their lives, and are ready for a change.  Only through the Gospel of Christ are they able to do that.  I am truly honored to be doing ministry with each any every person here at Open Door Mission.  To God be the glory, and God alone!”

     “It was an exciting and fun night. I can't wait for next Promotion Night!”

     “I was so glad that I attended Promotions Night last evening.  I had tears of joy in my eyes all the way home after seeing the men and women holding their awards and taking that next step in their journey.
     When I got home, I told my wife that this is why I am in full time ministry, sharing the Gospel with so many here at the Mission.  God has a plan for each of us and I was so thrilled to be a part of the journey to share the love of God, to be His hands and feet.
     This morning at devotions, I shared these Bible verse with the men:
Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  –Joshua 1:9
      I love seeing how God is working in their lives, and will continue to encourage them to stay with it, and not to give up. God has a plan for each of them, and He will be with them every step of the way!  I am so blessed to be a part of this ministry and to see daily how God is at work!”

     “Amen! What an amazing night of celebration! God is faithful!”

     “It was awesome to see so many people become revived in their goals!  They all have ownership in the Program, and that made all the difference.  Thanks to all who coordinated this event.  God showed up in full force!"

     “It was a blessing to see the Body of Christ build up each other in love, and our most holy faith.   This celebration could be the needed incentive for other men and women to commit to our Recovery Programs.”
     Please continue to pray for more breakthroughs, for more of God's work in our guests' lives, and for more lasting change.
If you'd like to celebrate with us, consider attending Graduation this Saturday, October 24 at 10 a.m.  Click here for more information.

Beatrice Jones
Marketing Coordinator

21 October 2015

A True Testimony of Life Change

Daily, God is changing lives at Open Door Mission, just like
Gary (pictured) or the man whose testimony is shared here.
     I often receive the blessings of testimonies from people who have been impacted by Open Door Mission.  These are incredibly inspirational, reminding me that God is constantly at work, inspiring hope for lasting change.  Please read this testimony that was recently shared with me.  May the praises within it bless you as it blessed me.
     "I am thankful for Open Door Mission. I joined the Journey to Work Program in October 2013, and through God’s strength and the encouragement of staff and volunteers at Open Door Mission, I conquered poverty, drugs, depression, and the loss of custody of my daughter. Now I have full custody of my daughter, and I am engaged to the love of my life; we are getting married next April!
     I was facing five to seven years in prison last summer due to criminal activity from my past, but through God’s grace I am a free man, serving the Lord outside of prison walls!  My mentors were there for me and to this day continue to be a great support.  The men I met along the way will forever be my brothers.
     God works mightily, and He is working at Open Door Mission.  Seek it out if you’re in need of safe shelter or a hot, nutritious meal.  Their doors are open to help the neediest neighbors of the Heartland.
     Praise God for the Mission and thank you to all involved in providing the tools and support necessary to be a devout follower of Christ, a father to my daughter, a son, and now a future husband to a wonderful Christian woman."
     May these stories continue to prove God's great works.  Thank you to every staff member, donor, volunteer, and friend of the Mission.  You are making a difference.
Click here for more stories of HOPE.


Candace Gregory
President/CEO

20 October 2015

God's Moving at the GTMC

     My job at Open Door Mission is to walk each person who comes into the Garland Thompson Men’s Center through our intake process.  My favorite part of this process is the opportunity it provides for sharing the light of Christ.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  --1 John 1:5
So many of our guests find HOPE for lasting change in the
Word of God.
     This describes so much of my job at Open Door Mission.  Many of the people who come seeking shelter and food are in darkness, and do not know the light that Christ provides for all who believe in Him.  They do not know of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.  And to be the one able to share these truths is such an honor.  At the end of the day, this is the main reason I love working at Open Door Mission.  
     One of my favorite things I get to be a part of at the Men’s Center is chapel.  Since we are blessed with so many volunteers, we are able to offer a chapel each night at for any guests who wish to attend.
     I enjoy hearing the stories of men who go to chapel “just because,” and return sometime later and tell me and other staff of how that chapel impacted them to read the Bible or join a Bible study.  Getting to hear of these stories and see how volunteers are willing to give up their night just to witness to men and women reminds me of how important our job is at Open Door Mission.

Daniel Jones
Intake Coordinator/Case Manager

19 October 2015

The Golden Ladle Goes To...


     Open Door Mission was blessed with a full house at yesterday’s Ladle of Love event.
     A huge shout out of thanks to: all staff who worked this event, the men from the life changing programs who set up tables and directed traffic, our Kitchen and Hospitality crew who kept the soup flowing, to each volunteer who pitched in to make the event a success, and to every attendee who supported Open Door Mission at this fun, fall festival!
     It was a great day with lots of smiling faces and full stomachs.  The Open Door Mission Chefs once again received Honorable Mention for receiving the most votes with their delicious Cheesy Smoked Pork Soup.  Let me tell you, it was good stuff!
     The Ladle of Love Awards went to:

Bronze Ladle – Charleston’s Midtown, Loaded Potato Soup
Silver Ladle – Nettie’s, Southwest Potato Corn Chowder
Gold Ladle – Upstream’s Smoked Gouda

     If you missed out this year, we hope to see you next time!  Click here for more photos of the event!

Celeste Norman
Events Coordinator

16 October 2015

Hope is Real

     On the way to work the other day, I saw these words posted on a church sign: "Hope Is Real."  I thought about it and (needless to say) agreed with the statement.  But as I pondered the simple little phrase, I realized that for many people hope is not real.  I believe that is one of the most important gifts we can give to another person: the gift of hope.
     You see, someone who is hopeless and alone usually cannot help themselves out of their situations.  They have a great sense of loss and helplessness.  We must come alongside and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ and all that He has to offer.
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10
     One definition for hope is to look forward to with confidence or expectation.  We must bring the Word of God with all its hope to someone who does not know it is real.  When we bring hope, we bring life.  It is life changing for a person to finally believe.  It is more than just asking God for something we need; we must instead expect our miracle.  Somewhere in the midst of asking, believing, and expecting God to answer, we will find what we are looking for.
     It is an honor to work at Open Door Mission where we can come and spread hope in what seem to be hopeless situations. 
     I think the song “At the Foot of the Cross” by Kathryn Scott, which paints a beautiful picture of what it looks like to allow God to be the Lord of our lives. 
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down at the foot of the cross
     My prayer each day is that I can help these wonderful people at Open Door Mission trade their “ashes in for beauty” and give them hope for the future!  

Adely Cooklin
Leasing Specialist