22 June 2007

Guest Blogger - Men's Director Stan Latta

It has been a busy and exciting week here in Men’s Recovery Services. Our men attended not one, but two wonderful prayer breakfasts this week. One was with Dr. Eckman, president of Grace University speaking on what it means to be a man, and the other was the 9th Inning prayer breakfast with John Knicely from channel 6 and a professional baseball player sharing his testimony. Those tickets were $40.00 a piece and we are sincerely grateful to the donor. What an exciting time for our men that was. Keeping with the baseball theme, our men have had the opportunity to attend a couple of college world series games and will get to go one more time as well. ( Gosh, I’m kink of thinking I should join the programs) Jody one of our Step-Up men, or should I say, former Step-Up men, just moved back into the community and we are thankful for his success. Great work on the part of his case manager as well. Art did a radio interview with Candace yesterday to help us out with the Radio-a-thon and did a great job. I also was very impressed with Greg ,as well. Although he is now on the Family side, he still does his classes with us and we have a lot of love and respect for him and his efforts at raising two young boys. If you didn’t here his interview, you genuinely missed a very touching experience. Say congratulations to these men who are making such a tremendous effort and haven’t given up on life, but have fully embraced it’s challenges and are trying so hard to serve our God. As I sign off, I am going downtown to speak to a local businessman who has been calling us about some homeless men. He received one of our cards that were given out during National Homeless Awareness Day and instead of calling the police, he called us to come and help these men. God is good and continues to bless!

Summer of Hope Radio A Thon

Well, the last two days have been exhausting a great BIG thank you to KGBI and KCRO listeners for providing more than 8,000 meals through the Summer of Hope 2 day Radio A Thon. With the recent closing of two local day facility programs the Open Door Mission is feeling the pressure of extra needs to be met. So, again, thank you.

18 June 2007

Open Door Mission - Opens Wider Taken from Channel 6 News Omaha

Open Door MissionThis article was posted at channel 6 news Omaha, and has been generating a lot of comments.

With Day Facility services being discontinued at two area shelters, the Open Door Mission’s Day Facility is preparing to handle an increase in traffic to serve the homeless.

The Mission says breakfast, lunch and dinner are being served. Showers, laundry facilities, Internet services and shelter from the weather are available.

MAT bus service runs directly to the Open Door Mission and Lydia House, and the Mission provides shuttle services to and from downtown Omaha.

The Open Door Mission will be sending vans to pick-up homeless who are no longer able to receive day facility services at the Sienna Frances House due to the closing of their day facility.

Candace Gregory, Open Door Mission President/CEO says, “With the closing of other day facilities, Open Door Mission expects the need for our day facility services to increase 100 fold."

Gregory says during the first three months of 2007, Open Door Mission documented a 70 percent increase in services.

She says that while the need for services is increasing, donations typically drop during the summer months and the Mission is in urgent need of food and bottled water.

$39 A Month For Three Months Will Feed And Care For 20 People Each Month This Summer At Open Door Mission. We want this to be a Summer Of Hope at Open Door Mission ... Hope Begins with a meal, and you can be a part of that hope today.

15 June 2007

Open Door Mission Partner's with Pacific Life in a Canned food Drive

Open Door Mission Partner's with Pacific Life in a Canned food DriveWe were so blessed by the canned food drive from Pacific Life Annuity Operations. 138 Employees collected over 3500 canned foods and non perishables.

We Hope this will become an annual event.

Thank You for making this a "Summer Of Hope" for the men women and children at Open Door Mission. "Hope Begins with a meal" and you can be a part of that hope today, by hosting your own food drive, volunteering, or giving on line.

11 June 2007

development associate - JoAnn

Working at Open Door Mission is truly a fulfilling experience. No matter what part of the Mission you work in, you know that you are doing your part to lend a hand in God’s work.

Creating flyers about activities taking place at the Mission can be just as rewarding as taking the kids on a fieldtrip. It just goes to show that God made us all with different talents that He wants us to use in our own special way to serve His people.

Graduate & Development Associate - Kathleen

Years ago, as I entered my senior year at Grace University I had one P.E. class I was required to take. I elected to complete my requirement all at once through a backpacking trip across the Colorado Rockies over an extended (five day) weekend. Even though I was in good shape, forty miles in five days can be difficult for anybody.

When I look on that experience, I can relate it to those who are on the New Life Program. Having also completed the program myself I can truly relate. It is the hardest thing a person can go through. During the time on the New Life Program one doesn’t just get “fixed” and leave. During that nine month to one year period God refines a person, and molds them into the person that He wants them to be.

Although it is difficult in the end it is rewarding to the person who has been refined as well as the people that have been a support to them and even watched the changes from the sidelines.

As you pray please pray especially for our New Life Program members and graduates that the Lord will continue to refine them and that we watching from the sidelines celebrate the victories-whether it be the “forty miles across the Rockies” type victories or the small ones that you may not even notice right away.

09 June 2007

Big Things Come In Small (But Wonderful) Packages!

For the past three years, Jack and Kristin Ralston of Gretna have run a successful business, donating their profits to the Open Door Mission and other non profit organizations! That sounds pretty cool, but it’s even better than you think! Jack and Kristin aren’t a husband and wife team, but brother and sister, and they are six and five years old!

The business the Ralstons run is a lemonade stand, and they are quite the entrepreneurs. While they mix and pour their refreshing drinks, their mom, Jeanne, bakes monster cookies. While mom watches, Jack and Kristin sell lemonade and cookies to friends, neighbors and passersby, and everyone leaves with a smile!

Those smiles follow these very cool kids right to the door of Open Door Mission. Their lemonade stand brought in quite a bit of money this year, and they gave almost $200 to ODM! Do you remember the story about the poor widow from the Gospel of Luke? Jesus loved her and said to those gathered that her gift was more than all the others because she had essentially given all she had. Jack and Kristin Ralston do the same thing by opening their lemonade stand with the sole purpose of giving to the poor and homeless.

So you see, big things, in this case hearts, do come in small but wonderful packages. We want to say thank you to Jack, Kristin and Jeanne Ralston, and may God bless you very much! What a wonderful example you set for the rest of us!

07 June 2007

National Hunger Awareness Day

I had a wonderful opportunity to participate at the National Hunger Awareness Day at Kountze Memorial Church. The music was wonderful and the speakers motivating. Hal France does a wonderful job organizing this event and I look forward to next year. Plus, you can see France and many of the talent at the Blue Barn Theatre. One speaker stood out above the rest and it was not me. He has given me permission to post his speech. I sure hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Hunger Awareness Day Speech June 5, 2007
Vic Schoonover, Founder of Omaha Food Bank

I hope you are all feeling affirmed and appreciated by now. It is well deserved. I was privileged to be a founder of the Lutheran Pantry and the Omaha Pantry System and the Food Bank over 30 years ago, so I know from years of experience how well deserved the thank you’s are. You strive to meet ever-increasing needs with shrinking resources and long hours at little pay. You deserve all the thanks we can muster. But I would like to take us in a different direction - perhaps a more controversial direction. Please know that what I am about to say in no way negates the thanks you deserve.

There is a movie titled A Day Without a Mexican. The people of Los Angeles wake up one morning to discover that there are no longer any Mexicans in Los Angeles County. Overnight they have all disappeared. All of a sudden there are no nannies, no maids, no gardeners, no roofers, no fast food workers, no construction workers, no one to pick the crops, and on and on.

The point being, that system required Mexicans to keep it going. Now - what if? What if all of the privately funded services represented here this evening… all the food givers, homeless shelters, volunteer services… what if this whole network would suddenly announce, “For one month we will no longer provide these services to our community.” Imagine the outcry and the upheaval.

For over thirty years now we have described what we do as emergency assistance. Folks, when the same things happen week after week and year after year for over thirty years they are no longer emergencies. They have become a part of a system; they are no longer a surprise. They are identifiable, predictable and entrenched. And we - all of us and our agencies - have become a part of that system. We have become invisible line items in the budgets of city, county, state and federal agencies. In the language of addiction treatment, we have become enablers. Not of the clients we serve, but enablers of those governmental agencies who should be doing most of what we do. And because we do what we do there is less public outcry to change the system. We are a safety valve. We help keep the lid on. We help keep hidden and less urgent the need for change, the need to change the system.

You know what I’m talking about. When minimum wages and welfare payments do not provide enough money to live on, the lines will continue to form at the pantries the fourth week of each month, and the shelters will always be full. When there is inadequate affordable housing… when people are spending over half of their incomes on rent… should we be surprised when our agencies are overwhelmed with requests for utility assistance? When there is an inadequate health care system for those without insurance, should we be surprised when emergency rooms become the doctor’s office or when the free clinics are overwhelmed? Here’s a tough question. Is our compassion today helping assure that our compassion will be needed tomorrow and tomorrow?

Is there some other way? This is an old illustration but still valid. You know the story of the Good Samaritan. The man traveling down the highway who found a man thrown in a ditch, beaten, robbed and left for dead. He took this man to the local innkeeper, and told the innkeeper to bathe his wounds, feed him and care for him. And he left money to pay for all of this. Now suppose that compassionate man passed by that same ditch every day for a month and each time found a person in the ditch beaten and left for dead. How many times could he stop to help before his personal resources were gone? Just maybe he should sit down on a stone and wonder why so many people in need were ending up in that ditch. And maybe he could better spend some of his time and resources in trying to change those circumstances. Maybe system change was needed there.

The predators in our communities are taking advantage of our present system and the crises that they create. How many Pay Check Advance offices are in your neighborhood?

So am I saying close the pantries; close the shelters; stop being compassionate? Of course not. We are not the kind of people who could let that happen. But I am saying we need to go further. We need to work to change the systems that keep putting people in the ditch. We need to add aggressive advocacy to our agendas. We need to be in the faces of our representatives and legislators demanding changes in a broken system. When hearings are held in Lincoln we should have busloads of people there. The offices of Hagel, Nelson, Terry, Heineman, and Fahey should cringe when they see us at their doors again speaking on behalf of our clients. And we have a right to do this. We have bought that right with millions of dollars in aid given and countless hours of staff and volunteer time given. We have bought a seat at the table where these decisions are being made. If marches are held we should be at the head of the line. Flood the letters to the editor’s column. Forcefully address these topics in our churches. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someday we could hold a service that celebrates how we helped make changes in a system that now beats people up and weaers out people like you who want to help.

I leave you with this challenge – that someone or some agency here will convene a meeting of all these agencies to address the topic of how you can become aggressive advocates for systems change.

Hi! My name is Dan Applegate. I am Director of Community Services at the Mission

If you’ve ever wondered what my department does it’s quite simple. We provide services to the community. Yes, anyone from the surrounding area can come into the Timberlake Outreach Center and receive one of the many services we have available.

Guests are invited to come in once a month to shop for clothes, shoes, linens, houseware items and many other common everyday things all for free. Some of the more popular services asked for arefood pantry boxes, diapers for children and prayer for themselves or a family member.

It’s not uncommon for us to serve 4,000-5,000 people in a month’s time. That just shows you what a great need there is in Omaha to help the homeless and near homeless.

We are seeing a growing number of the working poor coming to the Timberlake Outreach Center for more and more services every month. Through the grace of God and an absolutly wonderful staff we are able to help a lot of these families with many different needs.

It is a real faith builder for me to see God work in the lives of people every day. I am truly blessed. Thank you for letting me share with you today. To learn more about the Mission I invite you to email me . I would enjoy sharing with you how lives are being changed at Open Door Mission. God bless!

06 June 2007

A Custom Day

Hill Custom Homes held an Open House Fundraiser to benefit Open Door Mission last Friday. We were at a beautiful home at 12602 South 81 Ave in Papillion. I’m telling you, Bill and Tim Hill really deserve to have ‘custom’ in their name because you can see the extra special touches everywhere. It was a beautiful place to hang out for the afternoon and evening ~ enjoying many friends and associates that stopped by. As well as relaxing for a while in the fabulous media room watching the large screen video.

Guests brought pantry items and financial gifts for Open Door Mission, toured the home and enjoyed wonderful fellowship while feasting on hors d'oeuvres elegantly prepared by Attitude on Food.

Angela Brant with In The Details Events & Marketing did a spectacular job arranging this event ~ she paid attention to every detail and made it an awesome experience for everyone. We appreciate Hill Custom Homes, In the Details Events & Marketing, Attitude on Food and all those that stopped by for helping us make a difference in so many lives.

Call me anytime to learn more about how your business or place of employment can also make a difference. Brenda Banks, Business Relations Director. 402-422-1111 Ext 1522