30 September 2009

Thanks for Volunteering

It is an awesome privilege to work at Open Door Mission! Not only do we get to see God at work in our clients’ lives; but we also get to meet awesome volunteers. These volunteers are passionate about serving their community and love to see lives transformed through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The purpose of my blog is to say thank you to volunteers like Earl who drives over three hours from his home to lead chapel services for our men. There are others like Lucille, Lewis and others who make our work at the mission enjoyable and efficient.

Thanks to all who volunteer and God bless!

Corine Sawadogo
Volunteer and Partner Assistant

29 September 2009

Mrs. Kawecki's Honors English Classes

Last week I was honored to teach four classes at Burke High School. Mrs. Kawecki’s Honors English classes are reading Oliver Twist and discussing poverty and homelessness. I shared with the class about present day poverty and homelessness, especially here in the Omaha area. What we discovered, by comparing the situations then and now, is that society’s opinion and treatment of the homeless hasn’t changed all that much.

Whenever you teach teenagers, you are never sure how much they “hear” and “retain”. When I speak, I always hope that I’ve changed a least one person’s attitude or opinion about homelessness. Mrs. Kawecki’s classes listened and learned! The students overwhelmed me with their personal notes about what they had learned and how their perspectives on poverty and homelessness had changed. These notes were a great encouragement to me personally-I know these students have a new understanding and compassion toward the homeless and near homeless. These students will make a difference in their neighborhoods, city, state and nation because they now look at a social/economic situation with a new perspective.

I invite you to bring your high school students to Open Door Mission for a tour and to see how they can make a difference in someone’s life and help break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Consider volunteering at Open Door Mission. If you give only 2 hours a month, every month for a year-you have given just one day of your life to change someone else’s forever. Please help Open Door Mission provide basic needs for the homeless and near homeless in our community. Please help us provide more than 1,500 meals a day so men, women and children won’t go hungry. Call today to find out what you can do to make a difference.

Maggie Cope
Communications Coordinator

22 September 2009

Changing Seasons

Fall is hands-down my favorite time of year. I have two beautiful pictures of autumn scenery hanging in my office, and I never grow tired of looking at them. One has these words: “Change is not only inevitable, it is essential to survival. Why fear it or fight it when you can simply embrace it?” This picture is a dazzling display of fall colors at their best, and the trees are vibrant with a glorious range of hues.

The next few weeks will offer a glimpse into the marvelous artistic skills of our Wonderful Creator, but the season doesn’t wait around very long. If you don’t get out there and pay attention, you will miss it altogether and have to wait an entire year for another opportunity.

The English word, “opportunity” has a very interesting origin. The word comes from the Latin, “opportuna”, which was used to describe specific water levels and tides when it was best for a ship to leave port and head out to open water. For the ship captains, there was a brief “window of opportunity” for which they had to be prepared or else wait until the next day.

The wise sailor did not wait to prepare until “opportuna” arrived. He knew that he had to be ready to go before the moment of departure, or miss it altogether.

I find that I sometimes resist change because, for whatever reason, I was not prepared. I have a hard time viewing unanticipated change as an unexpected opportunity. I only embrace change when I have a say in it and am convinced that it is for the better. Like everyone I know, I like being in control even if the sense of control is not based in reality.

The truth, of course, is that only God is ultimately in control, and He doesn’t find it necessary to confer with me before He implements it. Could it be that He already knows what needs to change even without my input or well-reasoned recommendations?

My wall hanging asks, “Why fear it or fight it when you can simply embrace it?” The oft-recited Serenity prayer is both wise and eloquent: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” While I might resist change, I also detest the boredom that comes from the same old thing over and over.

My mother always told me that, of her four kids, I was her ‘difficult child’. Some things never change…. If you stop by my office at Open Door Mission, I will be happy to show you my fall pictures. Better yet, I urge you to take advantage of the wonderful fall scenery that is about to unfold around us!

Dick Arant
Program Case Manager

18 September 2009

Timberlake Outreach Center

Candace recently asked me to transfer to the Timberlake Outreach Center as a Community Case Manager. My major area of responsibility is to provide Christ-centered case management to low-income families and single individuals from the community who are in need of furniture and appliances. A mouthful right? Basically, I meet with people who come to the Timberlake Outreach Center, and visit with them to access their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I then offer to pray for them, and help pick out furniture, appliances or electronics and assist with loading their vehicle.

Although I have only been doing this for a week or so, I have learned quickly that there is great need in our community, but also, that God's blessings are abundant. On any given month, between 5,000 to 7,000 people come to the Timberlake Outreach Center. It is a great joy for me when we have everything a client needs to be able to share God's provision with them for free. Some items are always in short supply, including washer and dryers, refrigerators and beds.

Today, I was working with a lady who needed beds. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I had already served several families before her. She had waited for at least an hour to meet with me and I simply did not have any toddler or queen-sized beds to give her. She was kind and accepted a toddler mattress, but I felt bad that I was not able to find a bed frame to go with it. She had been shopping for clothing when I called her name, so she said she needed to finish picking out clothes and thanked me.

Not more than 5 minutes later, I came out of my office to see our receptionist leading someone I recognized in my direction. To protect the innocent, let’s just say he is a very influential member of the steering committee for the Rebuilding Lives Campaign. He was concerned because he had dropped off a toddler bed over the weekend, but had forgotten a crucial part of the bed, and was worried we may have already discarded it. My faithful volunteer, Will, was right there and said he had saved the bed in case we found the rest of it and knew exactly where it was. I happily informed my distinguished visitor that I had just been working with someone in need of a toddler bed, and that she was very likely to still be shopping the aisles.

You should have seen the look on this client's face as I was placing the now complete toddler bed parts in the back of her truck! God is awesome and I want everyone who reads this to know that this is not just a freak occurrence at the Timberlake Outreach Center. It happens very often, and I am thankful to be a part of this ministry. The next time you are trying to decide what to do with some "previously enjoyed" furniture or appliances, please consider delivering the items to Open Door Mission’s receiving area, or call 402-422-1111, ext. 1517 and talk to Amy.

Darren Timberlake
Community Case Manager

17 September 2009


In the midst of working with staff and volunteers preparing for the opening of Open Door Mission’s Permanent Supportive Housing units in October, planning for occupation of the new Lydia House, and improving our HMIS system, I am planning our next graduation.

A host of volunteers makes graduation a special day, including an uplifting ceremony, an amazing luncheon and reception. For many graduates this may be the first time they have worn a cap and gown and have received such positive praise.

The graduates--two men, three women, and three moms--have worked many hours over the last few months improving their lives through daily life skill, recovery, and Biblical classes, counseling, GED education, and career training programs. The most important change in their lives is that they have a relationship with Jesus Christ and are committed to walk and grow in the teachings of the Bible.

The weeks before graduation are often tough with the final push in classes, the attention, and the extra activities involved with preparation. Sometimes, a graduate will feel unworthy of such praise and may sabotage their progress – so I need your help to pray daily that our graduates keep working and believing.

Also, please mark your calendar to join us for the celebration on Saturday, October 10, at 11:00 a.m.

Thank you and hope to see you there,
Ronda Nelson
Lydia House Assistant Director

12 September 2009

"Blessings from Above"

Here at Open Door Mission, our clients may connect "Blessings from Above" with the area where they may receive toiletries and other goodies.

We in the Volunteer Department connect "Blessings from Above" with all of you! The many volunteers and donors that connect with us on a daily basis are Open Door Mission’s "Blessings from Above"!

Today, we were blessed with a group of 10 adults joining us through Urban Plunge. These wonderful volunteers made up over 200 toiletry kits that will be distributed on Fridays during our Streets of Omaha Project. These kits include shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap, body lotion and a Gospel tract. God is good!

We also had a group of 60 8th graders, along with their leaders, volunteering through their confirmation class at St. John Vianney Church. These kids were a big help serving in the kitchen, organizing our warehouse and helping accomplish many projects that were on our "honey-do" list at the Timberlake Outreach Center…4 hours times 60+ people = priceless!

Thank you for being Open Door Mission’s "Blessings from Above"!!! I look forward to seeing you all in the near future!

Patti Cummings
Volunteer Associate

10 September 2009

The Story

As the Senior Development Director the main focus of my work is to tell the story of the Open Door Mission and invite one and all to become a part of the narrative. What an uplifting story we have to tell. For over 50 years the Open Door Mission has been providing long-term solutions that break the cycle of homelessness and poverty through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are about changing lives, now and for eternity. Each changed life is an exciting story!

Every man, woman, and child can become a part of the story at the Open Door Mission.
How? Keep the staff and those they serve in your prayers.
How? Come on down and volunteer your time and talent in our life changing activities.
How? Make a regular financial donation to support the many programs that change the story line of those we serve.
How? Tell the story of the Open Door Mission to someone who has not heard it and invite them to join in.

Jesus, our Lord, Savior, and great story teller, blesses the Open Door Mission every day and that is why we have a great story to tell, it is the story of Good News!


Scott Shreve
Senior Development Director

09 September 2009

Children Help Open Door Mission

Jack and Kristen live in Gretna and their parents have a yard sale every summer. Jack and Kristen help make lemonade and homemade cookies to sell at the yard sale. All the proceeds go toward helping hungry and homeless men, women and children at the Open Door Mission. This summer they were able to raise over $300.

This is a great example of how you don't have to wait until your older or and adult to make a difference in the lives of the hungry and homeless. With the Holiday Season soon upon us maybe your children would like to do start a food drive or even come and volunteer. Call Cris today at 422-1111.

08 September 2009

An Exciting Day

It is an exciting day! Open Door Mission's first ever Permanent Supportive Housing program is entering a test phase in the old Lydia House Buiding pictured to the right. In preparation for this new program, many of our current program members are moving to new areas of Open Door Mission's Campus. Please pray safety and protection for those who are moving today, and that God will guide the leaders of the effected programs in helping their clients adjust to a new environment.

The men in Open Door Mission's Veteran's Program are moving over to the Garland Thompson Men's Center bunkroom. The men in the New Life Recovery and Journey to Work programs are moving into wing "C" of the main building.

This will vacate the old Lydia House building so that the Permanent Supportive Housing test pilot program can open up with 7 families and 14 single individuals enrolled, on September 15th. This test program will help prepare Open Door Mission for the eventual move into the new 41 unit, 2 & 3 bedroom Permanent Supportive Housing building pictured to the left.
Darren Timberlake
Community Relations Coordinator

01 September 2009

Amy's Favorite Scripture

Hi I am Amy Buss Open Door Mission’s Human Resource’s Director

Today I want to share my favorite bible verse.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

This is one of my favorite verses for a couple of reasons; my grandparents wrote this verse in a bible they gave me and second, because it tells us of the love God has for us and that he sacrificed His only Son on our behalf. It gives me great joy that I can cling to this verse and know that I will have eternal life in heaven through the love of God and death of Jesus Christ.

Inside the Open Door Video - Kaplan University Health Fair