31 July 2018

Making A Difference

     Calvary Lutheran Vacation Bible School kids are making a difference. They met several Open Door Mission needs with their donations during Vacation Bible Study. If a group of kids can choose to make a difference, so can you! 
Please go to our website www.opendoormission.org, for details and posters. Any questions please email mcope@opendoormission.org.

Maggie Cope
Gift In Kind Coordinator

27 July 2018

A Tale of Two Summers Part 4

Summer is a more challenging season than winter for so many people we serve at Open Door Mission.  

A Tale of Two Summers began on this blog a few weeks ago. Here’s the story of Mimi and Pete from last summer: 

Mimi and Pete barely scraped by during summer, having to stretch their budget to the limit to provide most breakfasts and lunches for their three school-aged children. When school was in session, those meals were covered—but not during summer break. There are often places kids can go for those meals during the summer. But with both parents working, it becomes the responsibility of the child to go get that meal. Sometimes, that just doesn’t happen.

This summer, Mimi and Pete make it a point to visit our Council Bluffs Family  Donation/Outreach Center, where they supplement their household budget with clothing, food, household items, and even box fans to help beat the heat.  Open Door Mission’s Family Donation/Outreach Centers keep hundreds of families in food and clothing when money is tight. 

One summer finds a family making choices between paying for the groceries or paying for rent; the next summer they can receive just what they need to thrive. It’s a tale of two summers, and you make a difference through your gifts of time, resources, and prayer on behalf of Open Door Mission.

Candace Gregory

26 July 2018

Evelyn's Anniversary

     This month of July marked my fourth year of serving at the Timberlake Outreach Center (TOC) at
Open Door Mission (ODM). It has been four amazing years, there have been so many divine encounters in which I've experienced the love of God for everyone. God works in many ways,  every day, every week, every month every year  is different. Some are better than others, but we see God's work in all of them. His timing is perfect. 

     I have learned so much. It has been a wonderful experience spiritually and personally. Throughout these years, I've heard stories of sorrow and happiness. I have had the opportunity to cry, laugh and rejoice with so many of our guests. I have been able to build relationships and cherish each moment as I share the good news, share some of my testimony and hear their powerful testimonies how God has blessed them here at the TOC. Guests have the opportunity to come and not only meet their needs, but also experience the love of God. Every time a guest will come back with a testimony, they will give the glory to God and thanks to the ODM/TOC  for being here in their time of need. It's interesting how God works in my life as I have been able to see other lives transformed. I am
amazed how just a smile, a hug, a positive word, a prayer, opens the heart of people. What I have
learned is that God has something new every day for us and we have to be ready to listen and
be doers of his word.  My patience has been tested every day, but I know that I am growing
spiritually as I have reacted in ways I have never thought I would have. I am so grateful for the
opportunity to serve here. This is the right place for me.  I want to share some of the testimonies
our guests have shared:


"I want to say thanks for everything you guys do here. I was here six months ago and I was hopeless  and homeless. That day I felt discouraged and disoriented, but you listened to me and prayed for me. I felt the love of God and since then I starting going to church. God gave me a good job, I just got my apartment and I feel great, loved and hopeful". 

"I came in like 3 months ago and you asked me, 'How are you doing? You look sad.' I said yes my mom is sick, she has cancer- you said, 'Let's pray God can heal her even if she is not here with us. God will touch her where she is and she will be healed. We only have to believe He can.' I just talked to my mom. She went again to see the doctor to start treatment they made more studies and they did not find it, she is healed. Thanks to God."

"Remember me? You prayed with me. I was excited because we had just bought a house. It's a small house, but I had the opportunity to make it mine. You gave me some advice and prayed that God would give me wisdom to pay it. It is a small house, but after four years I paid it off. Now it's mine. I sacrificed a lot, but God always provided me. Now I am saving to start fixing what needs to be fixed. I am so thankful God guided me and gave me the strength to do it. "

There are so many testimonies. Not just our guests, but from our wonderful volunteers that come
and serve along with us.

ROMANS 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel [c]of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Evelyn Valdez
Bilingual Intake Worker

25 July 2018

A Graduate One Year Later

     Yesterday I was carrying some glass jars filled with goodies and encouraging notes to our guests.  There were three boxes and I heard a familiar voice ask me if I wanted help.  I replied, "Yes, actually.  Thanks!"  But when I looked at the man coming to me I had to do a double take.

     He was a graduate of our program last year. The transformation was AMAZING!  I will call him Jay because I did not talk to him about using his story ahead of time. I remember when Jay first showed up with a lot of piercings and a crazy hairstyle.  His attitude was not great.  He tried to manipulate people, find ways around work, and was very quick to lose his temper too.

     As Jay's time in the New Life Recovery Program continued, I started to see the change in his life.

     He accepted Christ as his savior and everything changed.  A complete 180 in his attitude and behavior!

     Fast forward a year after graduation, Jay is clean cut and looking good!  He also gave me his business card. I don't know if you caught that. His business card means he has a job.  Not only does he have a job, but he has helped others that have graduated from Open Door Mission to get jobs because his employer was so impressed with him!  He now is a supervisor and representative for his company!

     To see people's lives changed so dramatically is a joy of mine for the last 5 and a half years here.

     Thank you to all those that give financially and with their time and talents to invest into changing a person's life so profoundly!

Joyfully In Christ.

Joshua Smith
Heartland Hands Coordinator

24 July 2018

Garden Update

Illuminate Ministry out of Vinton, IA pulled weeds and harvested 9 lbs. of peppers and 76 lbs. of cucumbers! Thank you for helping Gary the Gardener provide fresh veggies for our community kitchen!

Open Door Mission Staff


23 July 2018

Baseball Game

Summit Dental donated 20 Storm Chasers tickets so 20 of our students in the New Life Recovery Program could enjoy a baseball game. Sober and thriving, not just surviving! 

Candace Gregory

20 July 2018

A Tale of Two Summers Part 3

     Summer is a more challenging season than winter for so many people we serve at Open Door Mission.  

     A Tale of Two Summers began on this blog two weeks ago. Here’s today’s installment featuring the story of JJ from last summer: 

     Last summer, JJ was one of the hundreds of schoolchildren in the Heartland who began to lose her fourth grade math skills over the summer. Like many low income and homeless children, she also lost two months of reading skills that she may never get back. The “summer slide” for students often puts lower income kids nearly three years behind the reading level of their higher income peers by the end of fifth grade.

     This summer, JJ is part of Open Door Mission’s Kids to Camp program, which includes tutoring sessions so the students we serve stay on track – instead of falling behind – during summer break. Kids to Camp is a strategic part of summer programs for children and students reached by Open Door Mission, bringing homeless children three nutritious meals daily, supervised outdoor activities, field trips, water sports, math and reading skills reinforcement, and Bible classes.  

     One summer a homeless child can struggle to remember reading skills; the next summer she can receive reinforcement to be a confident, competent student. It’s a tale of two summers, and the needs are still great – but you make a difference through your gifts of time, resources, and prayer on behalf of Open Door Mission.

Candace Gregory 


19 July 2018

God's Love Made Known

     In our Conflict Resolution class this morning, I was joined by six new ladies. Having new people in my class always excites me because those are new opportunities to help someone who is trying to get their life back on track. This also means six new people to pray for and encourage. 
     Anyone who has ever taught a class here will tell you that we create relationships with our guests.  It's not just a class, but an opportunity for ministry, friendship, and a chance to show them God's love. They are wrestling with things that are sometimes much more tragic then we can imagine. 
     One of the new members of the class today commented that she was able to recently give her testimony at our Friends of the Mission luncheon, and was so touched by the love that she saw on the faces of those in that room. She said, "They had no idea what my background was. I could see their hearts breaking for me as I told my story. I really sensed how much they cared. I don't think that I have ever felt so much love in one room". 
     One of the most amazing blessings about the Mission is to be able to witness how God uses all kinds of people and all kinds of situations here to make His love known. 

Meredith Seaman
Heartland Circle Coordinator


18 July 2018

Praying is POWERFUL

     At Open Door Mission, we set aside a time once a week to pray for our leadership team. 
     Human Resources Director Amy Buss left a message of thankfulness for all of us praying for Senior Leadership.
     I have had Candace and Amy both come up and ask if I would bring a prayer request to those that meet to pray for them.
     Prayer is such a game changer!  We get to literally TALK TO GOD!  Are anyone else's minds blown at that? As I learn more about God's character the more I'm convinced that it is honoring to HIM to honor those in authority over us. Not only honor them, but fight for them! 
     If our leaders are healthy, then our organization is healthy. Pray these qualities continue to blossom from our leaders. Let's continue to lift up our leaders! God put them into a position of authority with heavier burdens to carry.

Josh Smith
Heartland Hands Coordinator

17 July 2018

The Way, The Truth, The Life

     Our Sunday morning devotion led by our new staff member Terry, was a great encouragement. Terry did an excellent job of opening up The Word of God to our dear friends (guests at the Garland Thompson Men's Center).
     He shared compassionately and clearly the Gospel message from key verses in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, 1 Corinthians 15:2-4, and John 14:6. He encouraged the men to choose life by choosing Jesus to be Lord and Savior. Because of that, three men responded to our gracious Lord and His Word of Grace, two made professions of faith in Jesus and one made a reaffirmation of his faith.
     To God alone be the glory and let's pray for wisdom as we and the Holy Spirit follow up with these dear guests. Thank you each for your service and prayers for the eternal glory of Christ and His Kingdom.

Ed Schoenberger
Garland Thompson Men's Center Floor Support 

16 July 2018

Fresh Veggies

Straight from Open Door Mission’s garden: 71 lbs. of cucumbers and 4 lbs. of peppers - and this is only the beginning! 

Garry Struebing


13 July 2018

A Tale of Two Summers Part 2

Summer is a more challenging season than winter for people who live in the streets. 

A Tale of Two Summers began on this blog two weeks ago. Here’s today’s installment featuring the story of Paul from last summer: 

Paul received two mosquito bites on his hand while sleeping on the cool concrete of a drainage ditch. It seemed like no big deal. But when he scratched them, life on the summer streets meant those bites were open to the elements. Paul watched with alarm one morning as red lines of infection climbed up his arm. For homeless people seeking a cool place to sleep in a park or wooded area, mosquitoes and ticks not only keep them awake all night, but also spread diseases or leave wounds that become infected – as happened to Paul.

Paul made his first visit to the Open Door Mission Free Health & Healing Clinic in time to clean and treat his wounds last summer. In the last year, he’s come back to the Clinic for a few basic needs like glasses and blood pressure checks. Just a few weeks ago, Paul decided to explore our residential recovery programs, where he is focused on sobriety, job training, and educational skills. The added benefit to the public for someone brought to sobriety and job readiness is an additional $21,745 to the $35,000 per person, per year, for rescuing a homeless person from the streets.

It’s a tale of two summers for our hurting and homeless neighbors. One summer they can be at great risk from the heat; the next they can be sheltered and on their way to a better life. Thanks to people like you, the tale is getting better for hundreds of people in need this year. 

Candace Gregory

12 July 2018

Jesus Is Lord and Savior

     During devotions in the day room at the Garland Thompson Men's Center, three men made professions of faith in Jesus.
     During dinner time while I was on cafeteria supervision, a 62 year old man with a rosary around his neck accepted Jesus in the hallway; his name is Bob. 
     We had a wonderful chapel service at the Garland Thompson Men's Center where I led the singing and prayer. Terry, our new staff member, did a great job sharing the word from Jeremiah 29:11. I closed the service with a short Gospel presentation and prayer resulting in one man accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior and one man reaffirmed his faith in Christ. 
     Terry prayed with these two young men after the service. To God alone be all the glory for Jesus wonderful grace changing lives!! Please pray for growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ as we follow these men up. 2 Peter 3:18, Psalm 115:1, Romans 1:16

Ed Schoenberger 
Garland Thompson Men's Center Floor Support


11 July 2018

A New Car

Today our friend Eunice received a car and we are so excited! Thank you to our friends who have donated a form of transportation to Open Door Mission. A car is a vital step in being able to go to a job, go back to school, pick up children, and so much more. 

Russell Janssen
Permanent Supportive Housing Director


10 July 2018

Note to Self

Just a cute note from a programmer to herself for the week! We all need to encourage ourselves from time to time!

Liana Martinez 
Case Manager


09 July 2018

Little Caesar's Love Kitchen

     Little Caesar's Love Kitchen stopped by to deliver cheese and pepperoni pizza, a favorite at Open Door Mission! When asking the men and women what they thought, they responded with two thumbs up. They only question they had? 

Do we have enough for dinner? ☺

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

06 July 2018

Donate Socks and Underwear!

     A fresh pair of socks and underwear are hot commodities at Open Door Mission. So often we have men, women, and children coming in with nothing but the clothes on their backs. As CEO Candace Gregory says, "There's nothing like putting on a new pair of underwear and socks that no one else has worn."
     We are honored that Riverside Presbyterian Parish hosted a sock and underwear drive.
 "People might not think that it changes a life, but it sure does instill dignity to someone when you pass those to someone. It's a basic need-a basic necessity," says Gregory. 
     Reverend Suzanne Gorhau, the Pastor of the Parish leads a group that deeply cares for our hurting and homeless neighbors. "We wanted to share God's love. Sometimes sharing God's love means sharing a cup of cold water, sometimes it means giving money after a disaster, and sometimes sharing God's love means giving someone a new pair of socks and underwear." 
     We are so thankful for Riverside and their commitment to help transform lives through hosting a sock and underwear drive! 

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

05 July 2018

Donate Treasure!

     Open Door Mission received an email from State Farm Agent Tyler Peschong, expressing interest in
Open Door Mission being his business' nonprofit of the month. We accepted his offer and were excited to partner with him for the month of June. 
     Tyler took his involvement to the next level. He not only gave a gift through his State Farm Insurance Agency, he took his involvement a step further by asking if he could come down for a tour and an interview that he could share with his social media followers. What a cool moment to show our guests at the Mission people in the community care about them and are in support of their purpose here.We are thankful for business' like Tyler's who give back to their community!
     You can find the video here.

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

03 July 2018

Donate Water!


     Recently Open Door Mission was in a bit of a pickle - our bottled water inventory was running dangerously low. Hundreds of bottled waters are given daily to the homeless who often frequent the front desks seeking hydration and the streets ministry passing out bottled waters in order to hydrate the homeless who are living in triple degree weather. 
     To say we were in a bit of a pickle 
might actually be an understatement. We were in real trouble. 
We advised our needs every way we knew how: television, radio, and digitally we asked for help. Enter donors. Since our call-to-action, our community has rallied together to provide a need that will SAVE LIVES! 
     Do not underestimate the power of a donation as simple as bottled water. That bottled water will be the difference between life and death for some. So THANK YOU to our donors. We do not do what we do without your support!

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist

02 July 2018

Donate Clothing!

     This week, I want to focus the blog on our amazing donors. Whether they are donating their time, talent, or treasure, we are SO lucky to have each and every one of them. 

     Our friend Kate faced a difficult loss two years ago- the passing of her daughter, Emma. In honoring her memory, Kate made the brave decision to host a "stuff-a-truck". Members of the community, friends, and family could give clothing, food, water, etc. and she would end up transporting all donations to the Timberlake Outreach Center - 1,441 pounds of housewares, food, clothes, and 20 cases of water in total. 
     Kate could have chosen many different ways to react to her daughter's passing, but she chose to honor Emma in a way that not only helps hurting individuals and families, but honors her memory in a beautiful way. 
     Although we did not know Emma personally, we can tell from her Mother's actions she was a kind, compassionate young lady. Thank you Kate for choosing Open Door Mission to honor Emma. 

Lauren Catlett
Communications Specialist