24 April 2008

Graduates Recieve Licenses

It is awesome to be able to praise God for the things He has done and is doing at the Open Door Mission in the lives of our graduates. Recently two of our graduates, one from the Journey to Work Program and the other from our New Life Recovery Programs were awarded nursing aide licenses by the State of Nebraska.

We just got back from Westside Career Center’s annual Soup Luncheon. This is a wonderful event! The students make soup bowls that are then sold for money to give to the Lydia House.

Along with the students and faculty of the school, several adult visitors from the Central office, District 66 School Board, and other agencies, including Superintendant Dr. Ken Bird joined in for a simple meal of soup and bread with water or lemonade. The meal was meant to be an example to these students of what the less fortunate may have for lunch on a given day.

This was the 5th annual Soup Luncheon. The event was started in 2004 and was by Mr. Brian Vance after he attended a conference and decided to step up and do something to make a difference.
Darren Timberlake
Community Relations Coordinator

Testimony from Chapel Team

Claudio Huang (pronounced Wong) tells a story about a guy that came forward after the En Gedi Chapel Team was here this past month. A man came to give us his testimony on how his life was changed. Before he came to Open Door Mission, he was so lost in the lust of sin and he tried to commit suicide several times by cutting his wrists. The doctors in the hospital treated his wounds, but his life continued bleeding. The antibiotics stopped the inflammation in the cuts, but sins continued to infect his soul. Until one day, when Jesus came into his heart... We prayed, blessed him and encouraged him to look forward in his new life in Jesus, and he appreciated very much. Thank you to the chapel teams that come and minister to the men.

22 April 2008

Fifth Annual Lemonade Stand

Jack and Kristin of Gretna will have their "Fifth Annual Lemonade Stand" at their Lyman Hylands neighborhood garage sale at 11963 Iva St. on April 24-26.

Monster-sized cookies and lemonade or iced tea will be for sale for $1, with all the proceeds from their lemonade stand being donated to the Open Door Mission. "Every year we are amazed at how many neighbors, friends and people from Gretna and Omaha remember our stand and watch for it each year," said Jeanne, Jack and Kristin's mother. Their goal this year is to collect at least $250. Jack, 6, and Kristin, 7, have worked their stand since they were 2 and 3 years old. The parents will be helping them with their sales this year, since they are both in school all day. The brother and sister will both be at their booth on Friday afternoon and Saturday to serve customers. Everyone is welcome to visit and purchase a cookie and drink to help support the homeless in our community.

18 April 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away..

It has a been a long week full of rain and mud and more rain and mud.

Thankfully, volunteers come out rain or shine. Volunteers are awesome and committed to the Open Door Mission and those that are served. Below is a quote from Open Door Misison's Public Realations Director, Trudi Bils.

SunRidge Village Retirement Community volunteers at Open Door Mission once a month, and never have trouble finding things to get into!Thursday, we found a large group of seniors doing some “bean counting” in our Timberlake Outreach Center. Grouped together behind long tables in the back of the room, they sat sorting and bagging thousands of uncooked legumes (black beans, to be precise). The beans were provided through a caring donor of Open Door Mission. We are so grateful for our volunteers, regardless of shape, size or age! Open Door Mission couldn’t get it done with them!

Yesterday, on the Inside the Open Door Mission radio show I had some great guests; Ed Shada whom coordinated the Homeless Connect event for 60 service providers and more than 300 homeless. He did a great job just check out his website www.homelessconnect.org. Tina a fabulous mother of four whom has lost her job due to health related problems with cancer. She has been empowered through the ministry of the Open Door Mission's Timberlake Outreach Center. Then Pastor Sara from the Presbyterian Church of the Master shared about their 45 youth participating in annual Round Town Mission Day during spring break. This group did some fabulous things for God at the Open Door Mission during their time off school.

Saturday is full of opportunities...we are cleaning our walk in freezers or so I am told. This will take a lot of manpower. I will look forward to showing you those pictures.

If you are looking for grrrreat music just stop by Presbyterian Church of the Cross on 1517 S. 114th St. On Sunday at 7:00 p.m. There will be a church choir festival to benefit the Open Door Mission and Lydia House.

Okay ..I am calling it a day. Tomorrow morning, I will be back on campus for an Open House from 9:00 a.m to 11:00 a.m with a breakfast buffet to boot.


15 April 2008

Serving a Cause

Students from Clarkson College came to the Open Door Mission
this past semester to work with our guests each week. After being here
they wanted to do something special to help Open Door Mission.

In the middle of March the Clarkson Students put on a Volleyball tournament as a fundraiser to help the Open Door Mission.

At the end of the day, the Clarkson Students had rasied a cash donation (more than $3,000) plus some 500 Taco Bell Value Meal coupons for our clients, Rose Theatre tickets, and some other goodies. A special thank you to Jennifer Silkett, Michelle Bittner, Joanna Fastje, Alisha Jones, Sarah Jordan, Dawn Longmeyer, Brandi Pfingsten, Tiffany Vermeline, Kelley Walther who were responsible for organizing what grew into a huge volleyball tournie. Here is Jennifer Silkett and 2 of the studends along with Darren Timberlake our Community Relations Coordinator presenting him with the cash donation and other gifts.

14 April 2008

The Empty Promises of Casinos

Omaha World-Herald 4/14/2008
The Empty Promises of Casinos
At best, destination casinos are in places that generally remain checkered destinations for daily living. This is worth remembering as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s claim of 30,000 new construction jobs for three resort casinos appears to be crumbling. An independent analysis done for the Globe says that as few as 4,000 to 5,000 jobs might be created. Even the Massachusetts Building Trades Council projects just 20,000 jobs. Just as important, it is unclear what casinos change. Take Atlantic City, N.J., Las Vegas and the state of Mississippi. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlantic City casino industry is in the midst of spending $20 billion to rehab its fading image as a Las Vegas wannabe. Las Vegas casinos are in the midst of spending $35 billion to brighten their already blinding image. And the first thing Mississippi did after Hurricane Katrina was to make sure the Gulf Coast casinos reopened, changing all kinds of rules, including ones that let them be built on land instead of being constrained to structures floating on water. Atlantic City, after three decades of having casinos, was described by The Economist as a place where “multimillion-dollar casinos are steps away from crime-ridden neighborhoods. A quarter of the 40,000 residents live below the poverty line.” The Associated Press described it a year ago as a place where “a stone’s throw from the glittering, billion-dollar casinos, thousands of people live in grinding poverty in rundown houses surrounded by drugs and prostitutes. These are the neighborhoods that the state requires casinos to help by setting aside a portion of their revenue for development projects.” It was exposed last year that New Jersey let the casinos take a significant portion of money supposedly meant to clean up such neighborhoods and funnel it back to their own projects. The New York Times wrote, “Atlantic City continues to grapple with blocks of dilapidated buildings and seamy motels that draw drug dealers and prostitutes, all within the shadows of towering, brightly lighted casinos.” In Mississippi, the Washington Post wrote, “Nowhere has the rebound from Hurricane Katrina been gaudier than along Mississippi’s casino- studded coast. “Even as the storm’s debris was being cleared, (Biloxi’s) night sky was lighted up with the high-wattage brilliance of the Imperial Palace, then the Isle of Capri, then the Grand Casino .... Yet in the wrecked and darkened working-class neighborhoods just blocks from the waterfront glitter, those lights cast their colorful glare over an apocalyptic vision of empty lots and scattered trailers that is as forlorn as anywhere in Katrina’s strike zone.” This is despite those casinos racking up in 2007 a new record for revenues, nearly $3 billion. Last fall, 24 ministers in the region said in a letter to state officials that “our recovery effort has failed to include a place at the table . . . for our poor and vulnerable.” Not to mention that Mississippi remains in the bottom five, according to statistics of the National Education Association, in per-pupil public school spending. Nevada’s casinos racked up a record $12.8 billion in revenues in 2007. But the Toronto Star says that “Nevada also leads in other areas, such as gun deaths, suicide and now home foreclosures. It has one of the worst public school systems in the United States. Bankruptcies are high. It ranks below average for the number without health insurance.” According to the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, Las Vegas ranks 43rd out of 50 major metropolitan areas for its high school graduation rate, second to last for its college graduation rate and dead last for its volunteer rate. The residents of Las Vegas are so disconnected that its volunteer rate of 14.4 percent is at least doubled by 25 other cities. The Toronto Star quoted William Epstein, a social work professor at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas, as saying, “The state is intriguing. It’s very wealthy. Yet the services are near the bottom.” There is little to suggest from the Atlantic City, Mississippi or Las Vegas experience with destination casinos that those at the bottom will rise up.
Derrick Z. Jackson BostonGlobe

Volunteering at Open Door Mission

This is an excerpt from a recent volunteer as posted on her blog. To visit her blog go to http://kas2008.blogspot.com/2008/04/open-door-mission.html

This past weekend was one of the most amazing weekends I have ever experienced.

So on Friday at about noon nine seniors, one youth pastor, and one adult who volunteered to chaperone left for Omaha, Nebraska for a mission trip. As we left, we expected a weekend of fun and of helping others, but I never expected what I got out of it.

I was super excited on Friday as we left because I was looking forward to spending the weekend with my friends. When we first arrived at Open Door Mission, which is a homeless shelter, I was really nervous about it. We went into the kitchen and cafeteria area to serve supper to homeless people. Throughout the night we brought the main meal, salads and sides, drinks, and desserts out to the people. These people are used to going through the line and getting their own meals, and were so amazed that we were serving them. There was not a single time that I gave a person something that they didn't say, "Thank you." I also heard, "God bless you," several times.

On Friday night we went back to the hotel at about seven. We all went into one of the hotel rooms and talked. Bryan, the adult chaperone, and Ben, the youth pastor, talked to us for awhile about the day. We discussed how we are not far from being in the same situations as the people at the shelter. If a few things went wrong in our lives, we could completely loose everything. Bryan also talked to us about some things he saw that day, and it was amazing to listen to him speak because he is such a wise person.

After that we went swimming, ate pizza, and had our fun for the night. As we went to bed that night, I thought it had been a good day, but nothing had really hit me yet.

The next morning we headed over to the Open Door Mission again. This time we worked in the Distribution Center. This is a place that allows people to come in every once in awhile and get clothes, food, furniture, and other necessary things for free. After a few hours of sorting we went over and ate lunch with the others at the shelter. Then we took a tour and saw how the people lived. We ended our tour in a area where the daycare is. While parents take classes for their recovery programs daycare is provided for their kids. It was so much fun to play with the kids and see how happy they were. We wondered if they really knew what kind of situation they were in or if they knew anything different.

Later we went shopping and had supper at the mall. We went back to the hotel and had fun swimming and hanging out. At about ten we went to the boys' room and talked. Ben had an amazing idea to go around and ask each person questions. We were allowed to ask anything about their lives. Then we prayed for them. Each person could say whatever they wanted during the prayer. It was amazing. We asked some really deep questions and I learned a lot about myself just by listening to others. We talked about our faith, high school, college, fears, struggles, and anything else we could think of. I got to know a new side of the people I have grown up with and thought I knew. It was absolutely phenomenal.

This morning we went to Salem Baptist Church. It was actually really awesome. I wish that our church services were like that. There were people who just stood up and shouted, "Amen!" or, "Alleluia!" They were dancing in the pews and the choir was amazing.

There was one guy who just randomly started tap dancing during one of the songs. I felt like I'd never had the opportunity to worship like that. Where I feel so strongly about Jesus the only thing I can do is dance and totally let go and not care what others say or think. It was amazing.This weekend I learned so much about myself and about my friends. I feel as though I'm a little bit more ready for college next year after this. And I know that no matter what.... I have God on my side.

Thank you for changing lives at Open Door Mission.

07 April 2008

Graduation and Gretna Lutheran Church

Good Afternoon,

I just have to share with all of you... Graduation was fabulous. It is a true celebration of lives being changed for eternity.

My favorite part is before graduation with the staff, graduates and pastors from the churches of the graduates having an intimate conversation with the graduates and prayer for their futures. Then during the ceremony hearing the moving testimonies of their lives transformed through Christ.

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of speaking and visiting the fellowship at Gretna Lutheran Church. Church Ambassador, Jeff Dittman , met me shortly before 8 a.m. and helped my family set up our display and handouts. Jeff is organizing the individuals and families for a great inner city mission experience at the Open Door Mission on May 3rd. This is super exciting, as the group will carpool to the Open Door Mission campus and have a tour and break up into groups to volunteer throughout the ministry. This is a great church flying under the radar with 1,100 members and 3 services offering traditional and contemporary. Plus, great children programs that my boys commented on after attending Children's Bible Hour. I am already looking forward to May 3rd.