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We are excited to announce the launch of our new children’s program starting October 10th.

Two of our amazing staff members, Wendy and Doyle, will be directing a program for the younger Sox Place “kids” which will involve constructive games, crafts, and a specifically designed curriculum. This program will also provide much-needed access to food, clothing, toiletries, and other resources for young children and their parents. As always, we will be building intentional, one-on-one relationships with children and their parents, while providing them with the resources they need to properly care for their children.

 

This program, for children ages two and up, will begin on Thursday, October 10th at 2:30 and will run until 3:30 in the upstairs loft of our drop-in center.

We are looking for volunteers to help us care for these children. This position would involve volunteering once a week or more between the hours of 12:00 and 4:00 Tuesday through Friday. Other duties would include:

  • Help the parents get food, drink, or any personal items they may need when asked.
  • Read and color with children of various ages.
  • Assist parents in getting clothing for children and sort children’s shoes and clothing by size.
  • Assist in various cleaning tasks such as picking up toys and maintaing a clean play area.
  • Be able to lift 10-20 pounds and walk up stairs.
  • Pass a background check.

Volunteers do not need to be experienced; we simply ask that you have a loving and willing heart for His kids. Volunteers will undergo training before entering the program.

If you are interested in volunteering, email us at info@soxplace.com.

Two of our good train-riding friends, Face and Milenia, share how Sox Place has impacted them during the time they have spent here in Denver. Train riders are often seen as dirty and lazy, but we see them differently. Our hope is to be able to share the Father’s love with every single individual that walks through our doors, regardless of how other people have treated them.

Doyle,

When you met me back in 2008 I was really lost. I didn’t know how to live or how to think for myself, and I had a bad problem with drugs. I didn’t think I did at the time, but we all need somebody to open our eyes every once in a while.

Well, I left two years ago to try to find a better life for my family, or so I thought. But I realized that what I really needed was solitude. I had to get away from everybody and find myself. I had to break away from all the partying and the drinking. It was really hard to separate myself from everything and everybody, but I realized that I needed to. I began to travel to find new places to establish my business, but I always seemed to be late getting there — the insurance was too high, the permit was too expensive, or they didn’t allow open-air venting. Every time I got close, it was like God took it away from me and told me I wasn’t ready for it. I would get so depressed and sad because I felt like I let myself and my daughter’s mother down.

By this time, I had control of my drinking and I wasn’t dependent on it anymore. I realized that I just needed to fix myself and change they way I thought. I had to overcome my ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’ (as I like to call it). I realized that I wasn’t a street kid anymore. It can be difficult to overcome the street life when the street life is all you know. You don’t see yourself and your problems. You think everything is normal and that you can still live the same lifestyle and have a good life. But I realized that I was wrong.

Not much later, my daughter was born. I was still stuck in my old ways for the first two years of her life. Her mother stuck by my side until she couldn’t deal with it anymore – for the sake of our child. I don’t blame her. I would have done the same thing. The first couple of months were really tough for me. I got worse before I got better, Some mornings after falling again, I would wake up and just cry, and ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”, until I gradually started to change. The first barrier I had to overcome was the drugs and drinking, and the second was changing the way I thought about life. I had to figure out what I needed to do for myself and for my child. It all seems like a figment of my imagination now. If I were to stand next to my old self, it would be like seeing two completely different people.

I have realized that I have been affected by my past and how others have influenced me. I was always trying to make it go away and attempting to leave from my gradually worsening lifestyle. But I needed to forgive myself first. One day I woke up and saw that I was really just a lost and confused soul. I knew then that it was time for me to grab my footing, so I went to every place I could think of to just be by myself. It was rough, but i did it. I took that journey on the mountain and faced every fear and every demon I had and I conquered them all. By this time I realized that I needed to get my relationship with my daughter back and get right with the people that cared the most about me.

So I guess this is why I’m writing you — to thank you for helping this ex street kid get food in his belly and socks on his feet, and most importantly for knowing that somebody cared about me. Thank you for being there to talk to when there was that feeling of being alone. You were always there to listen and give good advice and help when needed. Because you showed me compassion and love, I can now show it to others. I am still working on getting my life back in order, but it’s easier now because of the change that has happened in me. I have been able to come to this point in my life through God’s help, and by knowing that in my most desperate and dark places, there were people there for me who were willing to lend a hand to me to bring me UP. Now I can lend a hand to others. Thank you for being there for me.

Much love,

Worlds of Color

 

We at Sox Place would love to hear your story. Whether it be about transitioning away from life on the streets, breaking drug addiction, or having a place to call home, we want to hear it. We will be allowing our youth to sign up to share their story on camera starting today. We hope to put together a short video of how the staff at Sox Place have affected Denver’s street youth and look forward to sharing it with those who support our organization. We also encourage written submissions, poems, and art. We would love to see how Sox Place has impacted you over the years. Email benten@soxplace.com with any questions.

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His head and arms are covered in tattoos. He speaks with an air of superiority and won’t do what he’s told. He can’t hold a job – he can’t even show up on time. He disappears for weeks on end, only for us to discover that he has been using again.

She doesn’t know how to be a mother. She struggles to hold a job doing very basic office work and often has emotional breakdowns, returning to drugs when times get hard.

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Over the past two years that I have worked at Sox Place, I have come to learn many things our youth. When I first moved to Denver, I had a very basic – and admittedly – naïve understanding of those who struggle with homelessness. (You can read about my first time working with the homeless here.) Since then, every single misconception that I have had concerning the homeless has been utterly obliterated.

As a detached observer, it can be all too easy to simply label the kids that walk through our doors: hopeless, irresponsible, drug addict, unlovable, dirty, unwanted. But upon closer examination of each of these youth, one can begin to unravel the stories that lay underneath, the stories so desperately straining to find their way into the ears of those who would listen, those who would care, for just a few moments, to acknowledge the struggles they face.

I have learned that it can be easy to judge someone you don’t know, but it is impossible to judge someone whose story you have heard, whose struggles you have come to understand, and whose life has become entwined with yours. It is far too easy to stand at a distance and place labels on those you refuse to relate to, and those whom society has deemed worthless and unlovable. When you stand at a distance, it is impossible to know what stories lie underneath.

As the great theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes,

“When we judge other people we confront them in a spirit of detachment, observing and reflecting as it were from the outside. But love has neither time nor opportunity for this. If we love, we can never observe the other person with detachment…

Judgement is the forbidden objectivization of the other person which destroys single-minded love. I am not forbidden to have my own thoughts about the other person, to realize his shortcomings, but only to the extent that it offers to me an occasion for forgiveness and unconditional love… ”

If you were to ask, you would learn that he grew up in a ‘family’ that was so deeply rooted in the dangerous and lucrative business of drug dealing that he had no other choice but to follow in their footsteps. He would tell you that he was imprisoned by the time he was twelve, and that over the course of his life, he served a total of twenty-two years in prison. He has never held a job, and he would rather serve time or deal drugs than be constantly told what to do in exchange for what to him is very little money. He does not respect authority because he has been so used to being able to tell anyone what to do and get whatever he wanted. He was the one of the biggest drug dealers in Denver and has been banned from ever entering his home state of California due to the number of felonies on his record. You would learn that he doesn’t know what it means to be loved, and that he feels that he doesn’t deserve love.

If you were to ask, you would learn that her alcoholic, mentally ill and drug-addicted mother kicked her out of her home at the young age of eleven. That at such a young age, she had to deal with the news of her fourteen-year-old sister being gang-raped and murdered. You would hear her tell you that she was placed in 24 different foster homes in two and a half years, forced to provide for herself, and soon became addicted to the drugs that began to sell in order to stay alive. She ended up serving five and a half years in prison. But to her, all of this seems normal. “It’s not that bad,” she would say.

Perhaps now you might understand.

Maybe now you know why he doesn’t know how to hold a job. You know that the only things familiar to him are jail cells, gangs, and drugs. He’s had it all – the money, the possessions, the power – and he doesn’t see why he needs to change, to forgo a familiar life for one that is confusing and hard and that asks so much of him. You would understand why he feels like everything in life has to be earned, including love. He has to make his own way, and nobody can help him.

Maybe now you know why she doesn’t know how to be a mother to her newborn. She never had a mother to look up to, or even one to provide for her or love her. You know that she never really chose to be a drug addict, but that she had to deal just to stay alive. Maybe now you know why things can be so hard for her. She was continually rejected, abused, and thrown away. She has been told that she wasn’t worth anything, and that love was only a thing of fairytales.

Perhaps you might ask them a question before judging, labeling, and neatly packing them into a box. Maybe you might ask, “What’s your story?” By engaging with the broken, the beat down, and the bedraggled, you might actually learn something. Maybe you will understand that life is not as easy for others as it can be for ourselves. You would see that behind those weary eyes, a story is begging to be told. A story that yearns to say, “If you only knew…”

Maybe you will understand that we should “stand in awe at what [they] have to carry rather than stand in judgement at how they carry it.” You are only continuing the build a dividing wall between ourselves and the poor by placing judgement on them. You are only serving to hurt and separate yourselves from others when you refuse to acknowledge the pain that they have experienced. You undermine their worth when you judge them, and you blind yourselves to the real issues that plague our world on a regular basis.

It is time to start being a part of the solution, rather than being a part of the problem. It is time to choose love over judgement, and understanding over ignorance.

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves… to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

Judgement is blinding.

Love is illuminating.

 

-Benten

 

Sox Place Screen Printing is a small, alternative screen printing company based in downtown Denver. Sox Place Screen Printing provides employment and job training opportunities for homeless and at-risk youth through one-on-one mentorship, allowing them to gain job and life skills that can be utilized to break the ruthless cycle of homelessness. Revenues generated from screen printing services are used to directly fund Sox Place – a homeless youth drop-in center that provides food, clothing, shelter, and meaningful relationships to the street youth of Denver.

Contact us today at benten@soxplace.com to place an order or get involved.

Why would a teenage girl (under 18) prostitute herself on the streets of Denver? I asked her…

“No father, I guess, or no relationship with him. When a man gives me money it means I have value.”

The next time you see a girl or even an adult woman on the corner, stop a moment before you pass judgement. We at Sox Place strive to help those caught up in prostitution to get help. Many of our youth prostitute themselves just so that they can find a place to stay. One such girl, J, said, “I’ve given sex to stay somewhere.”

According to San Diego youth services:

  • One million teens in the U.S. are involved in prostitution each year.
  • Everyday over 1.3 million teens are homeless or runaways and vulnerable to sexual exploitation. By some estimates, ninety percent of these children will sell their bodies as a means to survive.
  • The median age for a prostituted child is fifteen and a half. The average age that a child enters prostitution is fourteen.
  • Each year 5,000 teens will lose their lives on the streets due to assault, rape, suicide and illness.
  • Up to 400,000 children in the U.S. are lured into the sex trade each year.
  • A child is propositioned for sex within the first 72 hours that she/he is on the streets.
We want to prevent such desperate measures from being taken in the first place by providing these girls with food, clothing, and the means to find a safe place to stay.

-Doyle

 

In the next few days, for every dollar you give to Sox Place it will be matched by two generous donors (up to $7500.00)! You can give through www.coloradogives.org or PayPal or mail a check to Sox Place, PO Box 544, Denver, CO 80201-0544. You can tangibly affect the lives of our youth in a positive way by financially supporting us. Donate today!

Here’s what Cast Away, one Sox Place youth said about Sox Place: “I just wanted to let everybody know how wonderful Sox Place is to the homeless youth of downtown Denver. With out Sox Place I have no idea who or where I would be right now. Thanks to Doyle and his family, myself and others have been able to call somewhere home when we did not have one. I was able to go there the past 5 years knowing I was always welcome when I didn’t even feel welcome at my own house. Even to this day I know I can always go into Sox Place and be welcomed with love and help if I need it. Thank you to Doyle and Jordan for never judging or giving up on the homeless youth of Denver and for ALWAYS being there.”

 

 

 

Here’s what one Sox Place youth said about Sox Place: “I just wanted to let everybody know how wonderful Sox Place is to the homeless youth of downtown Denver. With out Sox Place I have no idea who or where I would be right now. Thanks to Doyle and his family, myself and others have been able to call somewhere home when we did not have one. I was able to go there the past 5 years knowing I was always welcome when I didn’t even feel welcome at my own house. Even to this day I know I can always go into Sox Place and be welcomed with love and help if I need it. Thank you to Doyle and Jordan for never judging or giving up on the homeless youth of Denver and for ALWAYS being there.” -Cast Away

 

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America gives up too easily. We try to help someone and they don’t respond as we think they should, so we throw them away. We think that we have done a great thing, but in reality we’ve only perpetuated the cycle. How do we do this?

Yesterday I talked to one of our kids, Joey, about why Sox Place is necessary, getting his opinion about what Sox Place means to him. He said that we are here while others have come and gone and have failed to keep their promises. The street youth that come through our doors have been hurt by what parents, foster care, school, churches, politicians, and other care-givers have called “love”. This “love” consisted of only empty promises of not leaving them or using them or hurting them; only to leave them, use them, and hurt them.

 

 

Joey remembers his mother using him to get drugs and then leaving Joey to a stranger. He remembers riding in his dad’s car while he dealt drugs. He remembers other family members “throwing him away” at ages 4, 10, and 12. I would be high or drunk or violent or homeless if that had happened to me. But I had two older brothers and two older sisters take care of me when my dad left the family. Joey had no one. He had no one to show him true love until he came to Sox Place, and we are happy to have him.

-Doyle

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