14 January 2014

Assisting the near homeless in our community...thank you.

Today was our first day being open after a major water line broke at the Timberlake Outreach Center.  The water damage was severe enough that we had to close the Timberlake Outreach Center for almost a week.  The closing was so we could clean up the water and damage it had done, make repairs and restock some of the areas.  We still have some remodeling to complete in the offices, cubical and chapel area.  But enough repairs have been completed to enable us to open for business today.  And what a busy day we had serving our near homeless in the community with food, clothing, household items, diapers, and furniture.   We helped over 200 families today and stretched their income by receiving our services free.  

We are grateful for staff and volunteers who have diligently worked to get us up and running again.  Without our faithful volunteers we would not be able to serve the community in the capacity we do each month. 

We give thanks to God for allowing us once again to serve people who are in extreme crisis, the near homeless, and our working poor.   And we give thanks to all our donors who give their gently used goods to us so we might give them to people in our community.   Thank you for partnering with us to help prevent homelessness one family at a time.

Blessing to you and yours,

Judy Collins, Timberlake Outreach Center Director, Open Door Mission

08 January 2014

Counting my blessings.

As we enter into 2014 this would be great time to take inventory and count our blessings.  Growing up there was a song we sang in our church that goes “Count your blessings name them one by one.  Count your blessings see what God has done.”  Being on staff here at Open Door Mission reminds me each day of how good I have it in life, and how many wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon me.  I have a family who loves me, a place to live, food on my table, gas for my car, and friendships that I treasure. 

One of the greatest blessings I have is being able to see how God works through people in our community to help meet the many needs and bring blessings to the hungry, homeless and near homeless we serve each day.  I had the opportunity to coordinate Open Door Mission’s Adopt-A-Family/Homeless Individual Christmas gift program this past Christmas and saw first-hand beautiful acts of kindness that made Christmas a little brighter for those who have so little.     What a blessing this was to those who received these gifts.   So many were touched just knowing that people in the community – complete strangers -- would care about them at Christmas time. 

As we enter into 2014 I encourage all of us to think of ways we can bless others.  I know for a fact that giving is one of the greatest blessings I can receive.   May your 2014 be blessed beyond imagination! 
Celeste Norman
Special Events Coordinator, Open Door Mission

07 January 2014

Thankful heart.

This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for love, friendship, memories, and inspiration.  Although the day-to-day often obscures the many blessings we have, this year more than any other, I am grateful for the life lessons and daily affirmations that helped me learn and grow.  I am surrounded by an amazing community here at ODM, one that sustains me personally, intellectually, and spiritually.  I am blessed with the love of family that supports and loves me unconditionally.  Thank you for the laughter, love and understanding that helps get me through the days that we’re working together. Thanks for holding me accountable and making sure I don’t disappoint, and being forgiving when I do.  

President John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  The holiday season invites all of us to take a moment for self-reflection, to take inventory of our actions relative to our Christian beliefs and recommit ourselves to working towards achieving positive change in the world.  This holiday season, let us be the agents of change that God wants to see.
Russell Jansen, Rebuilding Lives Center, Open Door Mission.

06 January 2014

Opportunity to encourage!

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
~Hebrews 10:24-25
I had a guest that came to me talking about her problems and she was really struggling.  While in Omaha she has experienced prejudice due to the color of her skin.  She and her family come from one of the most violent cities in the United States.  Many of their family members have been gunned down.  When her and her husband arrived in Omaha, they got jobs right away and started looking for housing.  They are very motivated.  Through all of that, she has gotten discouraged due to most of her family members still living in that violent city and just worrying about them. 
I have helped her get set up with community resources, but something was still missing.  The family has accepted Christ into their lives, but through the busyness of everything else they neglected to get involved in a church.  I told her about how I believe that you need community and God created community to support and love us.  I told her how her family needs a church, the body of Christ.  I gave her some numbers to different churches and she remembered when they lived in Omaha a few years ago and went to a church that they fell in love with.  I helped her find that number.  When she left my office she was so excited to call different churches and get connected back into finding a home church.  Her whole demeanor changed, and not because of me, but because God gave her HOPE. 
Here are Open Door Mission, Jesus is constantly working giving families hope and encouragement everyday.  So glad that I serve a God that desires that true transformation and spiritual growth for all people.  So blessed to work for Open Door Mission, where we bring the message of HOPE to all people!
Trudy Woodward, Case Manager Lydia House,
Open Door Mission

03 January 2014

My part in sowing love.

It is compassion that heals us.  It is compassion that moves us.  When God deals with our hearts in this area we are never the same.  Compassion is what brought me to work at Open Door Mission.  It is the simple fact that I know so many of the guest we serve have never had a real friend.  Have never even felt the touch of a mother or father that truly loved them and wanted them.  For if that were the case...they wouldn't be here.  Now that may not be the case in ever scenario, but I would venture to say it is a large part of our population here at Open Door Mission.

In my "perfect world" I would want every family/single person to be adopted by a loving family.  To be taught what love feels like. To be shown what forgiveness feels like.  To have the room to fail and the strength to pick themselves up because they know they have a strong safety net to catch them should they fall again.  Until then I will do my part in sowing love.  In accepting everyone for who they are in this moment.  And to offer a smile of friendship.  To offer a peaceful place that surpasses all understanding. 

You can help too.  By volunteering a few hours a month you are saying that serving others is worth it.  That sharing of your time is important.  It's an example to so many who have lived without healthy examples.  To volunteer your time and to volunteer your smiles.  Our guests are so very thankful for all you do.  They are blown away by you.  In fact many times I have seen the look in their eyes as if saying, "I never knew people this nice existed."  For they come from the darkest and most broken places than most of us could ever imagine.  Please  visit our website http://www.opendoormission.org/volunteer and start your part in making a difference today.

Thank you!

Tami Hungerford, Open Door Mission.

02 January 2014

A Drop in the Bucket


By Kat Swartzfeger, Open Door Mission

Interactions with many of the sweet souls residing here at ODM reveal a common element found in our society today. It’s encouraged by microwaves and high-tech gadgets and other supposed time savers. It is preyed upon by marketers galore….

It is immediate gratification, or a lack of foresight. So many people have been struggling for so long just to make ends meet- or just plain survive- that they have no clue how to set goals, or even remotely be able to picture what they could do with their lives in a month’s time or longer.

It is a crucial part of healing, when we can establish reliable shelter, food, and clothing. Many times, people that should be on regular medication can get help with filling their prescriptions through community services that work with Open Door Mission. This helps to further stabilize individuals. When people feel safe and have a baseline of balance in their lives, they can start to look beyond the here-and-now.

I have had numerous conversations with women who feel like things are going nowhere- every day is a repeat of the day before. They feel like they aren’t learning skills, or they aren’t changing fast enough, or obtaining services/housing is just taking too long.

I like to point out that this season of shelter life is really a drop in the bucket. It is really a small blip on the timeline of their lives. This era at the mission is not a time to squander. It is a time to truly rebuild lives and dare to look beyond these doors to opportunities that are available for those who choose to persevere.

Scripture encourages us similarly in Romans 5:2b-4 (NIV), “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Would you consider praying for the men and women here at Open Door Mission right now- that they will develop this ability to set and plan goals? This ability that we often take for granted, is a huge asset for those seeking help to get their lives on a healthy path.