31 May 2018

Family Is Worth Fighting For

     Lisa talks with passion about the ministry God has given her at Open Door Mission. “What I love
about the New Life Recovery Program is that there’s not an unrealistic pressure to get through it. People have time to see the miracle God is doing in their hearts unfold.”
When Lisa encounters families on the job at the Lydia House, she speaks from experience. Fifteen years ago, she was recovering from a life of abuse and addiction as a young mom with her own family at Lydia House. Today she knows that God is using that experience, from a tough time in her own life, to help other families tackle the challenges they face.

     Lisa sees herself every day in the women who have suffered in abusive relationships. “It can be so difficult to get through to someone who is in an abusive relationship. For me, the relationship warped my understanding of love. I had to respect the fact that I had worth, and because of that I needed to be treated better. It’s the same reminder I give to so many of the women at the Lydia House. ‘You’re worth more. Especially in Christ, you’re worth more.”
     Lisa sees families as people worth fighting for. “We have to draw the line and say ‘No more!’ to the enemy,” Lisa says. “We can’t let our families fall apart around us.

     “So many of the children we see in Lydia House come out of a life of insecurity and fear,” Lisa says. “They have roots of rejection, abandonment, mistrust – and even hate – that define their relationships with their family members and others.

     “My own kids hated me for awhile. I had let them down so often. I’d choose alcohol and meth over them, and they knew it. But the whole situation got better when they realized that my reason for coming to the Lydia House was to get help. I had to pray that God would change my kids’ hearts.  It took time, but they began to forgive me.

     “I know from my own family experience how powerful forgiveness can be. As hard as it might be for children to believe, the power of forgiveness that they hold is mighty. It’s amazing. And God uses it to restore families in miraculous ways.”

     Lisa will soon join her new husband in Maryland, where they hope to continue her ministry to families and women in crisis. Thank you for your support that has had such a positive impact on Lisa, both as a student and as staff, for so many years!

Steve Wamberg
Grant Writer

29 May 2018

Reaping the Harvest of Sobriety

      After nine months, I have graduated the New Life Recovery Program. I cam here of my own free will because I wanted to change my life and turn bad decisions into good ones. Because of Open Door Mission's program, along with Journey to Work and Work Net, I have been able to do that. They have given me the assistance that I needed at that point in my life. 

     I have acquired full-time employment at K&M tire and will be starting that job soon. My next plans include finding safe and affordable housing close to my new job, and to also acquire a vehicle. That way I can get to work and it would also help me progress towards an independent life. 

     I would like to thank Open Door Mission for all they have done in my life. 

New Life Recovery Program Graduate

28 May 2018

Children Are the Future

     Education is one of the most important tools to empowerment. The Mission will go out on speaking engagements to schools, churches, and businesses in order to educate our community on homelessness. 

     I was given a stack of paragraphs written by young adults from grades 6-12 and was asked to read them. Children are capable of so much, and compassion is one of those capabilities. Below are two students who were asked to write a reaction to Open Door Mission's presentation: 

     "I learned that homelessness is a lot more than a man with holey clothes and a beard on the side of the street. It's upsetting to see the world we live in and the things children and adults are exposed to only a couple blocks away from where I live. I hope to volunteer through the Open Door Mission or to at least donate soon." 

     "I enjoyed this presentation because we don't really hear about the hard situations people go through. Most kids here do not think about poverty around West Omaha or realize their own friends could be homeless so this didn't make me feel bad for people in poverty. This presentation opened my eyes to see what even a child could go through and how I can help even a little bit. Thank you for speaking to us, because it did impact people in here, even if we didn't show it." 

     Education, education, education. Children are capable of SO much, and if there is anything I have learned while working here, it is making a difference can start at ANY age. 

     We are blessed to live in a community where the children are compassionate and they do care. Children are our future and we are blessed to have the ones that we do! 

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist 

25 May 2018

The Generation of Caring

     I retired from full time at Open Door Mission on January 1, 2018, but Candace made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I came back January 3rd part time. The offer I couldn’t refuse? I would continue teaching a class for the ladies at Lydia House and I could go teach Open Door Mission information classes at schools (elementary through college). I love sharing with students and opening their minds and hearts to those I love, the homeless.
     When I share at schools I am amazed at the number of students that have no idea about poverty and homelessness. I actually had one student who does not speak to people who live past 72nd Street. This is sad because the majority of the students are compassionate and caring, wanting to make a real difference in the world. What better place to start than their own metro area? 
     Going into the schools, sharing facts, stories and the Mission’s needs demystifies the homeless/poverty situations. When sharing, statistics become people, families like theirs and students just like them. They can begin to understand the needs of their community. They can help stop prejudice against certain groups. They can begin early giving back by volunteering and helping less fortunate. These are our future leaders, our legislators, judges, medical care givers, business developers, educators and even our neighbors. Knowledge is a powerful force and by educating students about poverty, homelessness and Open Door Mission, we set the hope for a more compassionate and caring world.
     I am just one very small part of Open Door Mission, but I like to think that by educating others I will help change the world. I have great faith that those I teach will be the future volunteers and donors to continue God’s work of love & hope at Open Door Mission.

Maggie Cope
Gift In Kind Coordinator

24 May 2018

God's Reminders

     First, I wanted to send this picture that I took of the ladies helping each other study verses! They were working so hard and had the best time building each other up and studying together.

     Second, I want to say that I LOVE the interviewing inmates part of my job. Today, I met with a young lady that I interviewed while she was in prison. She told me that she lost her dad to an overdose. Her mom used drugs. Her sister was an addict and she walked that same path. She was put in foster care as a child and she too lost her daughter to the state. After her dad died, her drug use and criminal behavior led her to prison. She said that she went to a Bible class and the leader asked her if she wanted to accept Jesus and have a relationship with Him.

     She did this and she said weirdly everything seemed to start to come together!  She said things started lining up and she did not even know how it was happening. 

     She was told it would be months before she had a court date, but she ended up having one sooner than expected. She was then interviewed by me and was accepted into our program. She was released within two days to come here.  She told me today that God and this place saved her life! She is so thankful! She has been here 6 days and she cried when she talked about her struggle, her dad, her family, but she is still so positive and full of life! 

     Sunday she went to church, but just could not stop crying during the service. One of the other ladies asked her if she wanted to go forward and pray and they did. She said three of the women knelt and prayed with and for her.  She was so encouraged!

     I was inspired by her (and these women), I needed to meet with her today although she thought she needed me. This was a divine appointment as the last few days have been so tough. Today, I am teary as I write this only because I am so overwhelmed by God! Sometimes, I get down and let the problems of the day cloud my mind, but this girl showed me once again that the ladies we work with are encouraging, they are strong, positive, leading in love and they are an inspiration! It also showed me that there are so many good things happening here at the Mission! God is good!

Shelly McCullough
Case Manager

23 May 2018

Reunited for a Purpose

     Yesterday, one of our wonderful volunteers shared a story with me and I felt it worth sharing.
     Mary has been faithfully volunteering for the past 8 months here at the Timberlake Outreach Center. She shared with me that she knew God had brought her to Open Door Mission, but was not sure why. 
     She said it was made clear to her one day a few weeks ago when her estranged brother showed back up in her life. After 10 years of silence, her brother Charlie told her the past 10 years he has spent strung out on meth and living on the streets. Now he has serious health issues and has chosen to go back to the streets to live out his life. 
     Through tears she shared that coming to Open Door Mission has educated her about homelessness and has given her a heart of compassion for those in need. Her volunteering had prepared her to be reunited with her brother. 
     There is much more to her story but for now I would ask that we say a prayer for Gods peace to rest on them. 

Laura Keen
Homeless Prevention Director

22 May 2018

Tips From Training

     As Candace Gregory, Open Door Mission's President/CEO says, "I am a slow learner BUT not a give up learner. So I HOPE that counts, God is not finished with me yet." 
     At the Mission, we are always trying to learn, trying to better ourselves, trying to better our Mission. At a recent training, there were many useful tips, but one that stuck out and I reasoned needed to be shared with all of you. This tidbit is a lesson we can bring back to the workplace to be better than we were the day before. 
     The training emphasized the need for self care. Work can be a draining place in the caring profession. What are you doing to care for yourself? Did you pray, read your Bible? Do you fellowship and worship every week? Do you go to movies, hang out with friends, go for hikes, and other fun things? If you will, it is okay to be self-focused instead of other-focused some of the time. So, I challenge you this week, take an evening and rest WELL, however that looks for you. Making this a weekly habit will give you more energy for what lies ahead. 

Steven Frazee 
Senior Program Director

21 May 2018

Sometimes, there isn't necessarily a story to tell, only a beautiful moment to show. God has blessed the Mission immensely, and these pictures are here to prove it. 

Men in our New Life Recovery Program taking a day to help plant potatoes on a beautiful sunny day.

A group of students out of Louisville, NE filled a bus with donations, donating what was inside, along with the bus. 

Omaha Gives! sign made by one of the students in the New Life Recovery Program pictured with a few of the Lydia House children.  

A New Life Recovery Program student, Tyler, obtained his GED Friday, May 18. 

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

18 May 2018

Unfiltered Joy

     There's joy in the small things. If you have never taken the time to stop and really think about that, you may be missing out on a key part of the joy God so freely gives. I am fortunate to witness the joy of the small things in my day-to-day work as the Streets Ministry Coordinator. There's an apartment complex I visit regularly because I am aware of the unfavorable conditions of the structure and the people who reside there. Today, just like any other day, I pulled up with my volunteer and we get out of the van to serve the people approaching. We were approached by a young boy who looked to be no older than 4. As he ran toward us, he had one hand out, "asking" for a sack lunch. He smiled when his request was granted and ran away to tell his buddies what he had just received. While we were still serving others, the little boy returned to ask for two more lunches, thinking they would be for other friends or members of his family. We were wrong! As we were exiting the apartment complex, we saw the little boy, sitting under a tree with all three lunches. He smiled and waved as we drove away. 
     What power something as simple as a sack lunch and soda have! The power to put a smile on a little boy's face while he sits under a tree enjoying the beauty of nature created by God all around him. Luke 10:21(NIRV) says,"At that time Jesus was full of joy through the Holy Spirit. He said, “I praise you, Father. You are Lord of heaven and earth. You have hidden these things from wise and educated people. But you have shown them to little children. Yes, Father. This is what you wanted to do." When was the last time you stopped to appreciate the small things, the gentle breeze, the warmth of the sun on your skin? I challenge you to find joy in the small things!

Misti Mitchell
Streets of Omaha Volunteer Coordinator

17 May 2018

God Hears our Prayers

     Prayer is a powerful tool the Mission uses on a weekly basis. Whether that means praying for a guest, a donor, or another Mission employee, the Mission PRAYS! So on National Day of Prayer, it was wonderful receiving multiple prayer requests from the community. The Mission strives to be praying for all who need it. 
     There was a prayer request that stuck out to me when sifting through the list of requests. A woman who had recently been diagnosed with MS. She says, "I have days where i'm okay and then days where I have trouble walking, body numbness, vertigo, and other weird symptoms. I just want to be healthy. I hate having to do my life around this." And as if this wasn't heart-wrenching enough, she says this, "Sometimes I don't think God hears me, but I trust He hears others." 
     I wanted to give this woman a hug, to let her know God hears her cries. But, I cannot do that. So, I will blog and hopefully, by Grace, someone reading this will learn from her story. 
     I want to encourage you today to pray. Even if the situation seems hopeless, to cry out to God regardless. Believe that God can hear your prayers, because He can! If you are ever curious on what to pray, I encourage you to start with the Lord's prayer: 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. They will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

     My prayer for you today is a fruitful prayer life. That you come to know and understand a relationship with the Lord is fueled on prayer. That your prayers are about HIM and aligning our minds and hearts with what He is doing, not necessarily just to get what we want. That this brings you closer than ever to your Father in heaven. 

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

16 May 2018

Other Duties As Assigned

     We all have that line in our job description that states, "other duties as assigned." We joke about this phrase, but I took a couple of pictures of Russell, the director of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), living it out!
     This is Russell cleaning windows at Permanent Supportive Housing. Not only is he cleaning windows, but he has a PSH guest helping him.  I am sure that it would not only be faster, but easier to clean by himself! I love Russell's heart here because he is intentionally choosing to build a relationship with a guest while doing something that she enjoys, but that is not specifically on his list of tasks for the day. Thank you, Russell, for being such a great example! 

Amy Harvey 
Community Relations Director

15 May 2018


    Erick, one of the guests staying in the Garland Thompson Men's Center, approached me this morning and asked me if I knew an older man with the walker that was also currently residing at the Mission.
     I acknowledged that I did know him, and what I heard next is a story I can't make up.  Erick said, "I just found out, he is my Grandpa!"  
     He hasn't had much, if any, contact with that side of his family throughout his life.  The last time he remembers seeing them was when his grandmother passed away in 2000.  Erick said something drew him to his grandfather yesterday to help him with some coffee.  When the elderly man looked up, he immediately knew who Erick was and called him by name. Erick then realized it was his grandfather who he was helping.

     Pray for this as they are reunited with each other and catch up.  I guess now we know another reason why Erick was brought here to Open Door Mission. 

Darryl Price
Day House Supervisor

14 May 2018

A New Way of Life

     Just because you are homeless, does not mean you are talentless. Open Door Mission is blessed to see this truth all around us every day. So, when the Mission was in need of an artist, men staying at the Garland Thompson Men’s Center recommended we visit Mitch, a student who was in the New Life Recovery Program. 
     He was asked to help create a sign for Omaha Gives! and he gladly accepted the challenge. As he was drawing, he shared why he was so happy to help. “I used to be involved in a lot of bad stuff. Drugs, prison, you name it. When I was ready to clean my life up, the Mission gave me a place to go.”
     Mitch has been drawing ever since he can remember. He gives credit of his penmanship to his mother and his artistic side from his Father. “I’ve taken bits and pieces of advice and style from different artists from where I’ve been over the years and created my own style.” When asking him how his art helps him, he states, “My art helps me stay sober. It gives me an outlet to release my creativity and thoughts onto paper.“
     “What happens when someone gives to Open Door Mission?” We ask him. He replies with confidence, “When you give to Open Door Mission, you’re giving to hope. You’re giving to a second chance. A true change. A new way of life.“

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

11 May 2018

Free Pet Clinic

     We are grateful that Dr. Nels, a very experienced veterinarian, joins a small group of dedicated volunteer vet techs and animal lovers in a periodic Free Pet Clinic at Open Door Mission. I had the honor of greeting guest dogs and cats, along with their humans, at the most recent Clinic. It was a steady stream of barks, yips, purrs and meows that certainly kept my attention. 
     The Clinic gives pet owners with limited means the opportunity to catch up with their dog’s or cat’s vaccinations. The doctor performs nail trims and overall health checks on the pets, encouraging each owner to keep the pet they’ve chosen in good health. And it all comes at no charge to the owner. 
     The Clinic also offers complimentary pet food, the occasional treats, and even pet clothing and collars provided by the generosity of Omaha Wags to Riches, a local animal-foster and care organization. 
     Yet for all the organizational and professional care these events offer, there is one unmistakable element in the Clinic room: the very real understanding that, for these people living on the edge, the animals they bring in their arms and that walk at their side are part of their safety net of relationships. Perhaps more so part of that safety net than many of the humans they’ve known. 
     There is a special element of respect shown by Dr. Nels and the volunteers toward each pet and each owner.  They recognize the link forged by shared experience. They see that certain pets belong to certain owners and vice versa. It isn’t about legal ownership, either. It’s more about acceptance and belonging. It’s about the value of a companion that has a proven track record in tough times. It’s about telling a friend things no one else will hear.
     It may be part of the reason why God created dogs and cats and human beings and called the arrangement “good.” And why, today, it’s still good for so many of us. 

Steve Wamberg
Development Director

10 May 2018

Answered Prayers

     Our kitchen here at the Mission runs primarily on donations. 80-90% of everything we use comes from donors. Manufacturing plants give us meat ends that we take and turn into hundreds of sandwiches and sack lunches. Local grocery stores and bakeries provide baked goods for our guests during meals and supply our monthly birthday parties. In the fall, local farmers will share fresh produce left from farmer’s markets which give our guests the opportunity have healthy meals.

     Frankly, we rely on these donations. Without them, we could not do what we do every day. The Streets of Omaha team wouldn’t have anything to give to the homeless and low-income neighborhoods we have the opportunity bless each day. And what Midwest meal is complete without bread and butter? The Mission’s meals would be incomplete without the bread donations we get. 

     Still, running on donations has its drawbacks. Often we have to get creative with what we have.  We don’t have taco Tuesdays or pizza on Fridays, but you’d be shocked with what our chef’s can do with the odds and ends we have to work with sometimes. Everyday is like an episode of Food Network’s “Chopped”.  There are weeks where all the fruit is canned. There are days where all I can do is pray that desserts will show up.

     Prayer is one of the few things at the Mission we don’t run low on. Yes, we pray before meals, but it's more than that. Walking through the halls, you can see programmers praying with each other. Everyday I receive multiple emails about joys, concerns, and updates that staff have come together to lift each other up in prayer. Although this is not a unique phenomenon in a Christian community, never before have I seen prayer answered in the way that prayer is answered here in the kitchen. 

     For example, a couple of weeks ago all three of our cereal containers bit the dust. These containers are used everyday (save hot breakfast on Fridays) for our guests to have cereal for breakfast. Using containers that pour easily allow us to maintain a hygienic experience and keep sickness at bay. Although it’s not the end of the world, it is a problem when we didn’t have any cereal containers and an expensive problem at that. Shortly after praying about this need, he received a call. A donor had four new cereal containers and wanted to know if we could use them.

     We eat stir fry at least once a week in the kitchen. Two weeks ago, two of our chefs were talking about how great it would be to have a certain ingredient for stir fry. It wasn’t a priority though, so it didn’t make the list of necessities. Later that day, a case of it was donated.

     Salad is a staple at all hot meals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been short lettuce to last all through the next meal. I’ll begin to wonder what the plan is and how I’m going to fill this need.  Then someone will donate three or four big salad bowls untouched from an event. 

     Every single week in the kitchen there is a moment where the Lord shows up through a donation. These are only samplings of answered prayers that happen here in the kitchen. These are moments that in our weakness and need, we can see a reflection of God’s abundance and glory. 

     If you found this blog encouraging today, please take some some to consider if you could be an answered prayer. It's the untouched boxes of donuts from your staff party, it’s your presence during a walk-in time at the kitchen, or even that check you’ve been meaning to bring down. That is the Lord trying to work through you. And who knows, while you’re here maybe you’ll find that we’re the answer to your prayers as well. 

Molly Cox
Kitchen Coordinator 

09 May 2018

Mission Wellness Motivation

     I LOVE to hike and spend time with God and have been doing that more here lately as the weather is FINALLY so nice!!!! What a good reminder that we need to take time away from our busy lives to spend alone time with the Lord. 
     I know our lives can get especially busy during the summer, but I can assure you that you won't regret taking a day off with the Lord. I encourage you in the month of May to disconnect, even if its for one hour, and spend some alone time with the Lord. 

Amy Buss
Human Resources Director 

08 May 2018

Volunteers who Advocate!

     The Mission has a family that volunteers regularly at the Council Bluffs Family Outreach Center (CB) that has become passionate about what CB does for families in their community. First a volunteer, the family has invested even more by advocating for the Council Bluffs Outreach Center. She will post on different media platforms asking for people to be looking out for underwear and sock sales. She asks them to purchase and drop off donations at her home. She also loves to find sales and purchase some for families in need. We are SO appreciative of family's that not only volunteer, but advocate for breaking the cycle! 

Candace Gregory

07 May 2018

Supermarket Sweep!

     Sarpy County Young Professionals (SCYP) hosted their annual Supermarket Sweep, inviting local businesses to compete for a trophy, bragging rights, and an opportunity to support their community here at Open Door Mission. 
     The aisles filled vibrant energy as each team scoured the shelves for the items on their list. The air was filled with excitement as each team checked in at their cash register. Grocery items were being counted and each team was ready to hear who was the winner! 
     In the end, there were was a tie between two teams. Their tie-breaker consisted of walking (or running, although that was against the rules) the fastest to the bakery and grabbing a bag of fresh donuts. Hillcrest Health Services came out victorious with their superior "power walking" skills. There was celebration and a gift of $670.00 to help break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. 

Thank you SCYP for changing lives while also having fun! 

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

04 May 2018

Drawing Near To God

     Here at the Timberlake Outreach Center, we have the opportunity to establish a relationship with our guests. It is an opportunity to minister those who are hurting without hope and in the mist of giving up.
     Every day we pray as a team for God to guide us to divine encounters and every day 
we have them. I want to share a beautiful story of one of our female shoppers. 
     For months I have been listening to her talk about her struggles, fears, and everything that was going wrong in her life. I had this opportunity to minister and God gave me words of comfort, love, and assurance that HE had everything in control. We prayed almost every month and every time we asked God to help her in every moment of difficulty and HE did. 
     Yesterday, she was looking for me to share great news: she is getting her children back and got a house! She is very excited and is painting rooms for her children, getting ready for them. She's sober, ready for a new life, being guided by Jesus. She is thankful for the Timberlake Outreach Center and all the help she's gotten here.

Evelyn Valdez
Bilingual Intake Worker

03 May 2018

Treynor Day of Caring

Words truly can NOT express the gratitude and appreciation that the Open Door Mission team has for the Treynor Day of Caring team of students, teachers, bus drivers and administration. 438+ left their hand print on the Campus making a difference for others. WE stand in awe of the energy and enthusiasm of the Treynor Cardinals! 

        Candace Gregory

02 May 2018

A Life Well Lived

     I was born in Omaha, NE but soon moved to Houston, TX. This would be
where I grew up and became an addict. After years of this, I found myself enrolled in Open Door Mission's New Life Recovery Program. Nine months later I am clear headed, sober and a God-loving man. After graduation I plan on staying for three months, continuing to go to my home church Empty Tomb, and patch up some relationships in my family. I'm committed to living a good, sober, and productive life based on what I have learned in this program. 
     My favorite bible verse is Titus 2:12. Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. 

Craig Arandus 
New Life Recovery Program Graduate

01 May 2018

A Familiar Face

      At few nights ago at the grocery store, I heard someone call out my name. I looked up to see Frank. He was one of the first students I worked with when I started working in receiving at the Timberlake Outreach Center. He had the biggest smile on his face as we chatted about what he has been doing since he left Open Door Mission. He is working for his church and staying connected to keep his sobriety intact. It is a joy and a blessing to bump into people who are doing good and gives me hope to serve another day.

Shawn Bartlett
Receiving Clerk