31 October 2013

Celebrating Birthday by Serving Others

As a volunteer coordinator, I get to meet some of the most interesting people. We've had volunteers from all over the world come just to serve the homeless in Omaha. Over the summer, I got the privilege of working with one group from Germany and another group from Hong Kong. We have international students from Creighton University come help us out regularly. There's also the many that come from all over Omaha, just to help hang clothes or serve a meal. With all the people I meet, it's hard to remember all of the names or what they do. Every so often though, I meet someone who is hard to forget.

About a month ago, I had a group of girls come in to volunteer on a Saturday afternoon during our time to prepare for dinner. Four girls who were so excited to do whatever we needed. As I asked them to chop carrots and help us pan up food for dinner, they told me about their day.

Two of these girls were celebrating their birthday, and chose to serve others with their time and resources that day. It didn’t just start and end by helping us at Open Door Mission. They had already stood outside at a gas station pumping gas for people, given blood, and donated food. When they were done helping us out, they were going to do even more.

How often do young adults decide to do something to bless others? In a world where children are almost raised with an attitude of entitlement and selfishness, it was so refreshing to meet four young ladies so excited to give back. It was a blessing to work alongside these ladies, as it is to work with all of our volunteers. I’m so appreciative to have such dedicated people helping us do what we do here. 

Erica Julsen

30 October 2013


This past weekend we celebrated with 21 Open Door Mission program graduates. In the midst of their comments on achievements, hopes and dreams, and bright futures, many expressed deep gratitude for the kindness and generosity shown to them while on their journey--- hospitality.

Hospitality goes beyond providing for basic needs.  It’s receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.  The heart of hospitality is service. It stems from gratitude for blessings that have been given and a desire to give and share those blessings with others.  It takes shape with kind words, respect, good conversation, attention to detail, a hug, personal time, and actions that go above and beyond the expected. Above all, it provides community.

Like our graduates, I am thankful for so many volunteers and staff who routinely provide kindness and generosity each and every day to our guests--- Five-Star hospitality.  

Rachel Gillespie
Senior Development Officer

23 October 2013

Blessed by the faithful support of our donors.

This past Sunday, Open Door Mission hosted a special event, the Ladle of Love Festival, in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center. I just started at Open Door Mission this August, so this was my first time working at the Ladle of Love Festival. Walking into the dining hall at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, you were overwhelmed with the smells of 20 different amazing soups made by local chefs, who all generously provided their talents and time to make soup and serve it at this event. In the front, there was a beautiful display of artwork made by the women and children of the Lydia House. And last but not least, the Prairie Gators band filled the room with joyful Cajun music, putting a bounce in your step as you headed to the serving tables to get your soup.
As I served at the front, helping people get registered and signed up for door prizes, I was overwhelmed by the number of supporters that came out to show their love to Open Door Mission and our guests. From the many volunteers that came to do art projects with the children, serve soup, and bus tables, to the many donors who showed their support by bringing friends and family with them to the event; Ladle of Love would not have been a success without them. I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks to our supporters, and remind them that they are a vital part of our ministry.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Thank you for loving our guests and for serving Jesus!
Sarah Erwin
Heartland Hands Coordinator


22 October 2013

God's love for the least of these...

The Garland Thompson Men’s Center
 I am blessed to serve the people that happen to find themselves in the Garland Thompson Men’s Center Emergency Shelter.  I truly believe that God allowed them to enter the doors of the Open Door Mission by Divine appointment to interrupt their current focus in order for them to see God’s love for them.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with a man and after receiving help he said “You know when I first came here I didn’t know if I could make it, I was so scared, and I was afraid to knock on your door.  But I came in here to talk and you listened to me, I have never had someone to listen. You know when I told you that I was messed up and I’ve done some offal things, I thought you were going to tell me to get out of your office; but you didn’t.  When you said have you asked for God’s forgiveness? And I said yes, then you said then who am I? WOW! I could not believe it, someone that wants to help me.”  This man had not been on mental health medication since his arrival over two weeks ago, and mentally he was fragile and too afraid to ask for help.  We work to get him the help, support and medications he needed and today I saw him smiling.  We spoke briefly and   he said “I was able to sleep last night, I’m still afraid but I slept.  WOW!”   I said look how God is showing that He loves you and He heard your prayers.  He said “ Man that blows my mind.” Tears slowly rolled down his cheeks and he said “you know I go to Chapel every evening and I am so thankful and it all started right here.”   God continues to show His creation that He loves them and I stand in awe of the Awesomeness of God and the great things He is doing in the GTMC.

Jeannette Blackstone
Resource Specialist, Garland Thompson Men's Center

21 October 2013

Blessed by God's work at the Open Door Mission

I am privileged and very blessed to work in the greatest most compassionate place in all of Nebraska here at the Open Door Mission. I have seen many miracles and I see the best is yet to come. I work with the greatest of true genuine Godly men I have ever witnessed here at the Garland Thompson Men's Center and I am learning awesome stewardship and tremendous leadership from the very best I have ever seen in the Kingdom. A True example to follow, learn, apply and teach anywhere where God may send me or anyone of us. Our clients are always happy and they always express a level of blessed gratitude that shows in their countenance. I have heard them say that they do not get the kind of Love (Agape) anywhere else except through here at the Open Door Mission. I believe this is because, we have the best team that represents Jesus more now like never before. Our prayers are being answered. Let our Love for the hurting continue to increase and expand. God is doing something so great here I believe it will leave an awesome legacy for others to aspire to. 1ST COR 13:13  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Rey Rios
Day Support Worker, Garland Thompson Men's Center

18 October 2013

Palms...A poem from a guest.

In the learning center, our adult learners submit creative writing papers. One particular student happens to be a poet and recently submitted a poem that so clearly painted a picture for me of what life is like for so many that we serve. With her permission I have shared it here.

I’ll never forget the smell of the halls
The burning summer heat
And quick transitions to fall
I’ll never forget the homeless’ face
And the power of Prayer in this place
I’ll never forget the battle I feel
When satan opens wounds that Jesus has healed
I’ll never forget being surrounded
Being supported and being grounded
Feeling joy and feeling grief
I’ll never forget my minds relief
For where my treasure is there my heart lies too
I cling tightly to the trinity’s truth
I’ll never forget shelter living
Real blessings and how God is giving
I’ll never forget being afraid to let go
The catch is worth the fall I know
I’ll never forget feeling God like calm
Knowing nothing can take me from His palms

The talents of this young woman are currently helping her to work through her own pain and addiction. One day God will be able to utilize this talent to encourage the hearts of so many more.

God Bless,

Vickie Gregorio
Learning Center Director

17 October 2013

Have you heard about a program we offer...Worknet?

With ever advancing technology the world around us is changing. With that in mind, the class I have taught for the last 2 ½ years is changing as well. WorkNet has now integrated computers to our curriculum. WorkNet is a job readiness program that helps people with significant barriers to employment find jobs. Our curriculum is comprised of 10 workbooks and now a supportive, and interactive, internet based website. This small addition to our program has allowed the students the opportunity to become more familiar with technology and the ability to take personality and job assessments. This has allowed them to become more focused on finding a job that fits their unique personalities and uses the skills they possess.
Worknet Director
Noelle Pee

16 October 2013

In need of your help!

Autumn is finally here and the stifling heat is behind us!  Many people are relieved to finally be able to turn off the air conditioning, but for some this relief is accompanied with fear.   How will I buy my child a coat?  Where in the budget can I find room to pay for hats, gloves, scarves, and boots?
In the Lydia House and Crisis Center alone, we have almost 150 children and youth who need a winter coat, hat, scarf, and pair of gloves.  Whether newly-born or about to graduate high school in the spring, all of our children and youth are in need of your help. 
Please donate your new and gently used winter clothing to the Timberlake Outreach Center and get our kids prepared for winter. 
Thank you for your support and may God bless you in this coming season.
Rachel Fisher
Children & Youth Director

11 October 2013

Why we love our volunteers!

Being a part of the Volunteer Department, I have the privilege of working alongside groups of all ages, sizes, life stages, and motives.  It is a special honor to host church groups from all over the area, looking to donate their time and be Jesus to our guests.

We have four specific Omaha churches that have agreed to bring a group down one Saturday morning a month as a part of our Saturday Serve outreach.  The impact these volunteers have is phenomenal.  Not only do they bring a Christlike attitude and work ethic to their tasks, just their presence brings refreshment to our staff and residents.  How powerful it is when these groups lift Open Door Mission up in prayer!

                A further blessing comes in members from these churches that go above and beyond that monthly Saturday Serve commitment.  Some of these members are highly involved in our Friends of the Friendless Volunteer Club.  Others work to get the children of their church’s Christian school involved in volunteering, teaching them to pray for Open Door Mission in the process.  Still others encourage their church’s small groups to come volunteer together.  Saturday Serve events are just a catalyst for all the ways in which these churches help us out!

We are so grateful for these Christian brothers and sisters that hold special events, bring other groups to volunteer, are steadfast and reliable, and pray daily for Open Door Mission’s ministry.  It is such a blessing to witness Christ’s Body coming together to help those for whom God’s heart breaks.  Christians are powerful when we join forces!
By Beatrice Krause
Volunteer and Partner Administrative Assistant

10 October 2013

Seasons...in every capacity.


As we are in the transition from summer to fall, we are acutely aware of the changing seasons. Here in Nebraska we are very familiar with the four seasons, although maybe not always appreciative of what each brings. What we sometimes forget, however, is that we as individuals also go through seasons. Seasons of plenty, of scarcity, of hope, of doubt. And while the change from summer to fall is marked by the drop in temperature and rise in candy sales, the transition from security and stability to dependence and instability is less noticeable.

I receive calls from mothers who are not homeless yet, but they are one paycheck away from losing their apartment. Single women who turned to drugs to cope with fear. Whatever season these women are in when they reach our doors, our goal is always to provide hope for the next one.

We could not do that without your prayers and supports throughout the years, so we thank you. Every hour and every donation lets us provide shelter for over 300 individuals, meals, and community support services to the Omaha area metro, whatever the season.

Amanda Vanderpool

Housing Department, Lydia House

There is a time for everything,
                                and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

08 October 2013

Always has a smile...

Being in the Volunteer Department, I get the privilege of meeting and working alongside many different people from all walks of life. There is a family that comes in every Wednesday evening to serve dinner, and they always have smiles on their faces when they get here and when they leave. We have different church groups that come in once a month or every other week to help us out. There is one group of ladies who come specifically to make sack lunches, and they bring their own supplies to do so. One of my favorite things about my job is getting to know the volunteers and hearing about their lives. 
On Wednesday evenings there is a small church group that comes to serve in the Timberlake Outreach Center together. They bring all the kids and always seem to have a good time sorting through the bread, putting housewares on the shelves, and even folding all of the donated bedding. While talking with one of the adults, I got the opportunity to hear about what God is doing in her and her husband's life. She currently is a director for a day care that has four different locations, but for two years now God has been pressing her to give up her job and help run her husband's painting business. She shared with me that she ignored God for a long time, knowing that giving up her job meant potentially facing financial hardship. The painting business is not the most reliable, and the day care has been their main source of income. But God is persistent! She has made the decision to TRUST the Creator of all to provide their every need. 
I used to think that the only way to share Jesus' love with those around us was to preach to them or get them to church. As I've grown in my relationship with Him, I have learned that many times your life tells the story far better than words will. This volunteer's willingness to give up the one thing that provides her family with worldly security will be honored by God and inspire many others that see her sacrifice.  
By Erica Julsen
Volunteer Coordinator/Timberlake Outreach Center, Open Door Mission.