30 December 2016

Kingdom Building Ministry

During the Holidays, I am able to spend more time than usual with
our donors, volunteers, and friends of the Mission.  What a blessing!
     Just a couple of days ago, we celebrated the great gift of the Christ child once again.  In the midst of it all—getting together with family, giving and receiving gifts, the festive dinner, and the reflective warmth that Christmas always invokes –I pray that we were all able to take time to express our deep appreciation to the Father for His life-changing gift.
     As Norman Vincent Peale once put it, “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
     My husband Steve and our children join me in expressing our genuine thanks for your party in Open Door Mission's Kingdom Building ministry as a staff member, donor, volunteer, or friend.  And we want to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year! 
     “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” said Charles Dickens.

Candace Gregory

29 December 2016

Little Addy

     Little Addy started her own drive this holiday season to raise money to buy hats and gloves for homeless men, women, and children.  She raised over $1,150.00 and purchased over a 1000 sets of hats and gloves!
     Be sure to never underestimate a person because of their age—Addy was able to make a huge difference for people she has never even met because of her passion and compassion.

Darryl Price
Day House Supervisor

28 December 2016


     Last week we had our monthly BINGO night at the Permanent Supportive Housing Building.  It was an extra special family night as the theme was Christmas!  The number of people who came to play and have fun together was wonderful, and the community is a blessing to our hearts.  We have fun building this community at the Permanent Supportive Housing Building, taking a moment during the craziness of the season to spend together.

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

27 December 2016

GED Achievement!

     Please join me in congratulating Justin on obtaining his GED! He started the Journey to Work Program in August and completed his GED last week, right before Christmas.  He now plans to go to college to study mechanics after he graduates the Journey to Work Program.  God is good—praise Him for opportunities!

Anna Razamazova
Learning Center Director

23 December 2016

Generous Donors

     During the Christmas season, myself along with other staff members get the opportunity to visit our donors in person, deliver a tin of cookies baked by our Lydia House women, and let them know how much they are appreciated.
     Talking with my fellow staff members, we all agreed that this opportunity is our favorite part of the season.  All of us were touched by the homes we were able to visit, the warm conversations we had, and the loving hugs we received.
     What inspires us the most is visiting donors who live in humble conditions –not all are in huge mansions.  These people are giving sacrificially, and what a blessing it is to change lives alongside them!  I believe that meeting these donors is a huge testimony to all of us, and affirms the scripture of the widow’s mite:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” –Mark 12:41-44

     Merry Christmas!  May you all be blessed for your generosity!

Meredith Seaman
Heartland Circle Coordinator

22 December 2016

Star Wars Blessing

     Friends of Open Door Mission, Constance and her husband, have collected Star Wars figures throughout their marriage.  But last week, they donated every figure to Open Door Mission so they can be given as Christmas gifts to teenage boys.  What a special moment!

Cynthia Mier

21 December 2016

On National Radio

     On the way home last week, a 20 year old girl from Bellevue, NE named Amber had called in to the radio station KLOVE with some cool news.  She said the she and her friend go door to door caroling in their neighborhood every year, asking for canned good donations.
     Here’s the kicker – they donate these canned goods to OPEN DOOR MISSION!  It was awesome to hear the Mission mentioned on a national radio station!  And what a blessing to hear yet another way our donors think of us during the holidays.

Sonya Holland

20 December 2016

A Gift From Their Own Tree

     These two little girls, Calista and Lillian, were with their mom at Christ Community Church’s Christmas concert last weekend.  There they heard a presentation about Open Door Mission and our urgent needs for Project Santa.
     They wanted to help, but instead of going out and buying toys, they each chose a gift that had already been wrapped and put under their tree for Christmas.  That means these girls each gave one of their own presents so two other kids could have a great Christmas.  Now THAT is the spirit of Christmas!

Meredith Seaman
Heartland Circle Coordinator

16 December 2016

Project Santa is MONDAY

Thank you to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
employees and hundreds of other toy sorting
volunteers who made Project Santa possible!
     Thank you to everyone that helped out with the Project Santa sign up day a couple weekends ago!  It was an amazing day!  Everything went smoothly, and that is because of all our dedicated staff members and volunteers!  We signed up thousands of kids to receive toys for Christmas day, and now that day is on Monday!
     We’ve had hundreds of volunteers on campus, and out in Elkhorn, Council Bluffs, and South Omaha, all helping us get ready for the big day!
     Thank you to all who have helped sorting and bagging toys as well as loving our guests and clients.  You are making a difference in the lives of people on mission field in our own community!
     On Monday, Project Santa day, will be such a blessing to many families as well as staff and volunteers.  Please pray with us that it goes just as smoothly as our sign up day, and against any snow, ice, or adverse conditions!

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director

15 December 2016

Making Someone Feel Special

     Working at the Timberlake Outreach Center, I often get to speak with people bringing in donations for the poor and needy in our community.  Last week, one little boy just melted my heart with his donation.
     Four year old Connor came with his mom to bring some personal care product packs he had made, saying he just wanted to make someone feel special this Christmas.  Each one included Kleenex, hand sanitizer, lotion, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand wipes, Vaseline, raisins, a candy bar, 10 quarters, a first aid kit, and was wrapped in a pair of socks.
     He had a big smile on his face, and I know God was smiling too. 

Evelyn Valdez
Bilingual Intake Worker

14 December 2016

More Than a Statistic

     As it gets colder, Open Door Mission sees an increase in people seeking shelter.  These people just trying to get warm, fed, and rested.  Some may think that during these bitter cold days, everyone that lives on the streets comes in for shelter.  However, this is just not true—we come in contact with people every day during our Streets of Omaha program that are still living out in the cold.
     "I don't expect you to understand or even to accept me, but you are here and you do,” said one man that we serve on the streets.  “I am amazed."
     He had been sitting under the interstate bridge all afternoon.  He was hungry and alone.  We talked with him, gave him a few sack lunches and bottles of water, and then simply spent time getting to know him.  As we got up to walk back to the van he said, "Thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to just let me be a person." 
      Today He felt less like statistic or an addiction, He felt the way he deserves to feel and that is like a person who God calls his child. 

Jessica Coffey
Volunteer Coordinator

13 December 2016

Tell the Kids, and the Parents Follow

This is Reagan Elementary, another school making a difference
in their community!  They collected over 248 pounds of food to
feed the hungry and homeless this Holiday Season!
     I had a last minute speaking engagement at a third grader class yesterday, and what a blessing it was!
     They are collecting diapers for the 94.1 Diaper Drive this weekend, and are having a competition between classrooms.  They were so excited about their drive that they couldn't tell me enough about things they and their families have done for those in need.  I also was asked a million questions about everything at Open Door Mission.
     The teacher told me that the week before she had invited her kids to ask their parents to bring them to volunteer with her that Saturday.  Much to her surprise, she had six kids and their parents come!  Tell the kids and the parents will follow!
     If only all adults could have their enthusiasm!!  I do believe God speaks volumes through the innocence of children.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.  –Matthew 19:14

Valerie Ridpath
Heartland Hands Coordinator

09 December 2016

Lasting Change

     Once I a while, I receive lovely, encouraging notes from the men, women, and children whose lives have been changed by Open Door Mission.  Here is a nice note that I wanted to share with you:
     My name is Tom, and firstly I would like to thank the Open Door Mission for everything that they have provided me with in my life so far.  I can never truly express my gratitude for everything that has been extended to me spiritually, physically, and mentally.  I now have a full time job and soon will be a full time college student.  I am so grateful for Open Door Mission, the amazing opportunities they have given me, and for the program I was able to graduate from.
     To God be the glory for this man’s lasting change!  Join me in praying for him and every other man and woman in our programs, that God would bless and protect them.

Candace Gregory

08 December 2016

Gracious Words

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  –Proverbs 16:24

"And to say gracious words is brave.  To speak life into someone else takes courage.  Whether you are correcting in love, standing up for the voiceless, praying for the sick, or praising and loving others, your words are changing the atmosphere.
Don't be afraid.  Be brave.  Say the things that will speak truth and heal.  Hold your tongue in anger or fear--those are the times when a coward speaks.  But when the moment comes to say the gracious thing that will make a heart forever?  Say it.  Speak love, and watch as beautiful things come to life."  –Annie Downs, "Let's All Be Brave"

     I read this recently during my morning devotions, and this Proverb stuck out to me.  Gracious words.  What does it mean to have someone speak a gracious word over my life?  It is a rare gift indeed when someone chooses gracious words.
     Gracious means showing God's divine grace, which is kind, compassionate, and merciful.  When situations are hard, how much easier is it to react in frustration, anger, blame?  It is so much easier!  But it takes more courage to speak love to others. 
     When we hear a gracious word spoken to us we feel validated, accepted, and sometimes it's just what we need to heal us to further move forward.  Words can have death and life in our lives.  What we speak can change the trajectory of someone's life forever.  We never know unless we take that brave step and decide to encourage, not tear down. 
     I pray that we stop and think what we say and that we will be more gracious, especially during the Christmas season.  Then it would truly be a season of blessing!
     Instead of getting burned out thinking all the extra tasks we have to do this time of year, may we thank the Lord for giving us the chance to show God's grace to the community we serve.  Let’s pause and be gracious to one another and speak life to each other, our guests, our families, and our friends.  Even when our backs are pushed against the wall, would we choose to be gracious!
     I believe that our gracious words can point others to Jesus.  I believe that this Christmas, words can be used to bring beautiful things to life, to change stories, and to break chains forever!

Trudy Woodward
Permanent Supportive Housing Director

07 December 2016

Stop by and say, "Hi!"

     Brian decided to come by the Timberlake Outreach Center’s Receiving Area and say hi to the team.  It's always a pleasure to have Brian and his moral support around, but he may need to work on figuring out how to drive through our drop off area.  This is NOT correct!
     Be sure to bring your donations or our urgently needed items to any of our four conveniently-located Family Donation & Outreach Centers (Timberlake, Council Bluffs, Elkhorn, and South Omaha) this Christmas!  You’ll always be greeted by a friendly face and hopefully get a little joy out of our goofiness.

Scott McDowell

06 December 2016

New Member of the Kingdom

     I would like to introduce a new member to the Kingdom of God! This is Alexis and her family.  She came to Council Bluffs Family Donation & Outreach Center six weeks ago.  We met and she told me at the time that she was a week clean from meth, determined to stay sober so she could get her daughter back home.
     Ever since that week, she has returned weekly to the Outreach Center just to talk.  Last Thursday, Alexis finally realized how much God loves her and is there for her, and on Sunday she attended church and was baptized!
     Please pray for Alexis as she starts this journey with Jesus.  She has the greatest weapon in her now to help fight this external enemy of drug addiction!
     To God be all the glory!

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Manager

05 December 2016


     Last week for #GivingTuesday, Open Door Mission friend Larry joined the #Unselfie movement!  He volunteered for over 10 years and was such a bright light at the Mission to volunteers, staff, donors, and guests all the same.  He stopped by my office for hugs as it was his last day teaching.
     Larry is leaving behind a legacy of making a difference at Open Door Mission, and we will miss him dearly!
     Were you able to give back on #GivingTuesday?  If not, make sure to mark your calendars for next year and take your #Unselfie so you can inspire HOPE for lasting change.  Maybe what’s in store for you is to be the next Larry?

Victoria Leuthold
Director of Development

02 December 2016

Into the Holidays

     I just wanted you all to know I appreciate each and every one of you!
     My heart is overjoyed through this Holiday season and every day, really.  Being able to see the other side of Open Door Mission brings me to tears sometimes.  I am so thankful that God has blessed me in my position here at the Mission.
     I have the ability to meet/greet the generous donors, volunteers, staff, and guests as they come through our doors.  I get to talk with people both in person and on the phone.  God knows my heart and has given me more love for each of these people that I interact with than I could ever have imagined.
    I am joyful to share the hope I have with others.  I have been made new in Christ.  He is my Author, my Creator, my Protector, and my Father.  
     As we go through this Holiday season I am reminded of how each person’s struggles and hardships are so different.  Please be in prayer with me for all of the programmers and people who are coming in seeking shelter from brokenness.  I pray that God comes into their lives and removes all the thresholds of evil.  
     Thank you in advance and have a blessed day!

Cynthia Mier

01 December 2016

Faithfulness in the Small Things

     A couple of days ago I had the most wonderful morning, and I wanted to share it with you.  It started with a really good devotional in the morning which talked about faithfulness in the small things.  
If we were to take our cues from Scripture, focusing on the relationship between the Father and the Son, we could make the case that God receives love through obedience.  Succinctly stated, “Christ emptied himself in order to be filled up with obedience.”
     And then as I was driving to work, admiring the beautiful pink clouds as the sun rose, I saw one of our Open Door Mission trucks on the road.  I looked up at the driver, and there was Peter with a big old smile, waving at me.
     It's the little things in life that make me happy, and I am grateful to God for all my blessings. 
     Praying today that God will show you some amazing blessings in your life. 

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director