As the days grow shorter and my last semester as a student at the local University draws near I find myself meditating on a question I have thought about most of my life. “What is my purpose?” “Where will I find my place?” I’ve been working towards the end of my college career for five years now and as much as I am excited, I am also scared. But I urge to know where can I be used to make a difference?
At a very young age I felt an urgency to make a difference in the lives of those around me for the better. I shuttered at the thought of anyone having to suffer and it broke my heart when I learned one of life’s lessons; that I can’t save everyone (or anyone for that matter) from the wrench getting thrown into the “well oiled machine” called life.
That’s when my eyes were opened to the difference between life saving and life serving. It’s easy to want to save others, especially when we are surrounded by so much hurt and tragedy. The kids at Sox Place are hurting and I want to save them from the elements outside, from the strangers on the street, from their abusive homes and families they fled from so long ago (or not so long ago). But that’s way above my pay grade.
Does this mean that we sit by and do nothing? Although no one can save anyone, it doesn’t mean that we can’t serve others. When we serve our communities and give to those in our neighborhoods we are making lasting changes in lives of people that we may never know. This isn’t about saving others, it’s about serving others. Sometimes we are just a stepping stone in someone else’s life, moving them a little bit closer to a place where they are free to dream and hope for the future.
This December 8th is Colorado Gives Day. Come along side us this time of year and make a difference in the lives of those kids that want to hope, but may be too worried about where they are sleeping that night to dream of a better life. Partner with Sox Place and become that stepping stone in these kids’ lives. We have walked along side these kids on a daily basis for thirteen years investing in the lives of the outcasts, and the overlooked, the lost and the broken. We invite you to walk with us by donating to Sox Place. Join the movement and give where you live this Colorado Gives Day.
I’ll admit when I first met Milenia and Face I wasn’t sure how they were going to feel about me, but almost right off the bat I knew how I felt about them. They certainly aren’t your average couple, but instead dynamic, interesting and I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone like them. It’s more than just the tattoos that each tell a story, and it’s more than the fact that they were once train riders themselves. It has more to do with the degree to which they serve those around them.
On day one that I began as a volunteer, Milenia showed me around the place, instructing me on how things worked. What they hygiene room was, and how many shirts people were allowed to take from the closet. All the while she was helping in the kitchen, being asked to check the email, and planning to somehow sit down and write thank you cards to some of our supporters. She never once showed an ounce of stress. She reminded me of a saying my mom used to use, “dynamite comes in small packages.” She couldn’t have been taller than 5’4” but that never stopped the way she gracefully managed what seemed to be utter chaos around her. It was an absolute pleasure to work along side you Milenia, to see what the meaning of hard work and compassion is. I admire how the kids at Sox Place always flocked to you, to boast of their success or vent in times of hurt. I strive to be a woman in my community, where people feel they can always come to me for celebration or advice, and know that I am there for them, much like how you were always there for the kids here at Sox Place.
“Face, what an interesting name,” I thought to myself when I first stepped into Sox Place. Maybe I heard them wrong when they introduced me to him. Sure enough that was his name. Face is the type of person that just gets more rewarding to know as time goes on. He’s the quiet type when you first meet him, but as time went on I felt like I got a little bit closer to discovering more about his personality, funny, joyful, and full of life. However what was evident from beginning to end is that Face is one of the hardest working people I know. He never let me fill up the water jugs, he never let me take out trash, and he was always available when we had a donation drop off that needed to be moved inside. When you need help, Face is the kind of guy that will absolutely be by your side. While he worked at Sox Place, he also sometimes spent his mornings working construction across the street. I remember one of the first days I worked with him, he had been working construction all morning, and then helped around Sox Place for a while. Later that afternoon I found him sleeping on one of the dog beds underneath the foosball table. I thought to myself, if everyone worked hard enough to find a dog bed a place of solitude, we might live in a very different society. More than hardworking, Face has a huge heart. As the days began to grow colder he would ask if we could open a little early so that the babies outside could get warm. On Face and Milenias last weekend at Sox Place, I got a picture sent to me telling me a story about how Face gave this little guy his skateboard because his old one was sold by his Dad in order to pay for rent. It was those “little” acts of kindness that Face performed on the daily that really made me understand the kind of person he was.
I only worked with Face and Milenia and Jeebus for five months, and I hope that someday again I will get a chance to see them, and meet their little boy that’s due this spring. Thanks for being such a blessing in my life and making such an impact here at Sox Place. I already miss you guys so much but I know that your new adventure of starting a family will be a wonderful time in your life!
As we think about our vote in the upcoming presidential election it brings to mind how we choose things and make decisions about who we serve and support. So my question is this: how would you vote for Sox Place? The snow and wind is coming to downtown Denver with our street youth out there in the cold! It is predicted to be a record snowfall this year and these kids need your help. Your vote for Sox Place and the hundreds we serve each week saves lives and provides support to the street youth like no other place in Denver.Will you vote for a hot meal, clothes, crisis intervention, and love for those that come every day to Sox Place? Will you vote to keep it open for those that need it most, like locals Danny, G, X, Anchors, Sunshine, Ashley, Marcus, little ones like Deliah, travelers like Scruffy, Scott, Toughy, and Kat? What is the value of Sox Place? It’s the value of the 150,000+ we’ve served in our 13 1/2 year existence!Right now we need to be able pay for December rent – $4300. God has always supplied through faithful generous people like you, giving to Sox Place. We need your generosity now! I’m asking for people to vote for Sox Place by donating to the mission in the next 2 weeks by providing funding for rent, meals and services to the youth. We pray for abundance to provide for these kids in this season! Thank you!
I met “Clutch” the beginning of October when the air was still warm and many travelers were making plans to get out of Denver before the air turned brisk and cold, much like how it is this morning as I write this post. He came off as tough, a little on edge, due to how the day was pan ning out, but incredibly intelligent and driven. He approached me when he noticed my camera sitting in my lap. We got to talking and he asked if I would take his photo so that he could send it to his family, and let them know he was okay. Of course I jumped at the chance and I began to ask him about his life story.
“I was born in South Carolina and then we moved to Rochester NY near Syracuse, and I lived there until I was 10 years old. But then my Grandfather passed away and we moved down to Florida: my Mom, Dad, two sisters and brother. I lived down there pretty much ever since 1998. My golden years were spent down there. Elementary school, Middle school, High school, well for the time that I was in High School,” he said.
Clutch eventually enrolled in online school and graduated early with a 4.0. Although society typically applauds students who can accomplish school early by labeling them “driven” and bound for success, Clutch believes that due to his early success, he found himself in more trouble.
“I wasn’t really too thrilled with school so I homeschooled myself and finished early. It’s both a curse and a blessing at the same time. I got done with school but I had so much time on my hands, I ended up just ripping and running the streets without any care. I’m kinda doing the same thing now, I’m just a little bit smarter,” he said with a laugh.
Having that much free time, he quickly found himself leading a life that eventually lead right to prison.
“I was put in a juvenile program when I was 17 and then got out a couple years after. But when I was 19 I went to prison for aggravated battery with a weapon for bodily harm and a strong arm robbery. I got set up basically” he said. “I was selling drugs, and there was a dude who wasn’t happy with my services. So he made up a bunch of lies to his wife’s brother who was a sheriff and he got me roped off. I was stupid, young and naive and I spoke too much when the police came to question me about it, I sealed my own fate. I was young and stupid. I’ll be 26 this month, so I’ve done a lot of growing up.”
Although he’s spent a good portion of his young adult life in the prison system, Clutch claims he tried to make the best of his time.
“I got my degree while I was in prison. I went to prison pretty young, I was 19 years old and got out when I was 23, and I tried to make the best of my time. People would get involved in politics and the negatives of prison. I just wanted to work in the kitchen, workout, eat and go to school. I made the best of it. Unfortunately studying horticulture turned out not to be really a lucrative career choice but it made me knowledgable, I’m sure I can use it in a couple different fields of work. Plus I can not just grow my food, but I can tend to livestock too. I can basically generate my own homestead if I wanted to. Plus since I lived in Florida I’ve had a lot of landscaping experience, so I can do all sorts of tree work and construction. I could pretty much build a house from the ground up.”
Although Clutch has had no serious felony trouble since 2010, when I had spoken with him he had just gotten out of jail after spending a month in Salida for driving on a revoked license and not going to court for the ticket, so his next step is to get back home to Florida.
“My whole family is out there…I’ll probably catch a train out of here with some friends or maybe by myself. I’m headed back that direction because that’s where I want to be. Well it’s not really where I want to be, but that’s where I need to be. Get my life back on track ya know, so I can come back out here. I originally came out to Colorado because I was cultivating marijuana and it was really cool and very profitable, kinda thought I’d be able to do it again when I came back out and it just backfired on me. I’m really starting from nothing right now,” he said.
Sox Place is a place where street kids, travelers and gutter punks can be “okay.” It’s a place where they can gather themselves after time in prison or even just a tough day out on the streets, and re-plan their strategy for life. Many times I have seen kids walk in knowing almost no one and be embraced by the community here as one of their own with little to no judgment. I haven’t seen Clutch since that warm October day, so I’m hoping he made it to Florida and has been reunited with his family.
Sox Place is more than just a building located on 2017 Lawrence st. in Denver, Colorado. It is a place where hearts are poured out and relationships are made. Kids that are cold can find warmth. Kids that are hungry can find food, and the tired can find rest. This only scrapes the surface about what is being done here at Sox Place. Relationships are built with travelers and street youth, so that when they do visit our building they have a place they feel they belong.
From the beginning Sox Place was founded on faith, and faith alone. Over the thirteen years that Sox Place has been open, there have been times where money was scarce and just the ability to pay our rent seemed impossible. However, God has always provided for Sox Place, a check in the mail, a surprise donation or gift to cover the necessities. Sox Place is an organization that finds it’s certainty and builds it’s foundation on faith. If the money stops coming, then we know and trust that God might have a different plan and we remain obedient to Him and His word.
Recently we looked into our bank and we are currently sitting on $114 dollars. Are we worried? No. Are we panicking? No. We know and rest in the word of God that assures us no matter the circumstance, he is Lord. Just the other day one of our kids said that we have no idea what Sox Place has done for him and his life. We may never fully understand what this building has done for everyone who has walked through these doors. What we do know is we have a heart for these kids that aren’t being reached by many others. We ask you as supporters to consider giving to Sox Place, either on a monthly basis, or even a one time gift. Right now we are in prayer that we will receive the funds to make rent ($4300 per month). We are in prayer that our needs will be met, just like they have been met for the last thirteen years, month by month. We know that our God will provide if that is his will.
If you would like to contribute and be apart of the lives of street youth, please visit our donate page on our website. www.soxplace.com/donate. If you cannot make a donation to us at this time, please keep us in your prayers and thoughts that the right people will invest in Sox Place and help keep our doors open so that we can continue to provide for Denver’s street youth.
There she was, sitting by the dumpster out by Sox Place holding her stomach and crying. I couldn’t help but have a breaking heart for her and wonder, what is her story? Why is she here, why is she homeless? Kat arrived in Denver last April weighing a healthy 175 Ibs, but as the year has gone on she found herself unable to hold down food and weighing 115 Ibs. She didn’t really realize anything was wrong with her weight until she finally put on clothes that she had worn back in April.
“I didn’t go to the hospital until one day I put on a skirt that I had made, that I wore when I first got here, and it was tight on me. I remember it lookin’ so good, and recently I put it on and I was holding it out in front of me and it fell off me completely. I could feel the bones in my chest and my hip bones. I’ve never felt those before. I’ve always been super healthy and chunky. Everyone on my Facebook thinks I’m on drugs, and they think I’m tweaked out because I’m so skinny. Most of them just say ‘well just eat more, smoke more weed and eat more.’ Everyone gives me all this advice and they have no clue that I throw up every time I eat and it sucks so bad, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” she said.
The twenty five year old traveler was diagnosed with chronic nausea a couple of weeks ago, and has a hard time eating without throwing up.
“It’s gotten so bad to where I really can’t keep my food down, so I have to go to the hospital, they put me on Phenergan drip and let me sleep for four hours so that I’m not nauseous the rest of the day. Then I can get some food in me,” she said.
As a traveler, Kat carries all her belongings on her back, and sleeps outside, and she has felt herself grow weak, and carrying her pack has become more difficult.
“Sometimes I have to leave my pack at Sox Place because I can’t pick my pack up. I pass out all over the place,” she said. “I don’t like hanging out with my friends anymore because I’m always complaining about something. They have to listen to me b**ch about everything. I think they don’t think I’m telling the truth. My boyfriend helps a lot, but he has to take care of both of us,” she said.
Kat wasn’t born homeless, but it did make me wonder, how does someone’s life get to be like this? There’s so many stigmas about homeless kids and travelers, but each person has their own story, just like you and me.
“I grew up in a really small town, where my grandparents raised me. My Dad never moved out of their house but he was a total crack head, all he does is sit around and smoke crack all day and sometimes he could be abusive. Eventually I gave an ultimatum to my grandparents that they either kick him out or I was gonna move out. He kept arguing with my grandma, which is really the only person who cares about me. So I left, and I ended up with this crazy guy who got addicted to coke and I ended up in Savannah at the rainbow gathering, which is a big traveling troop of hippies,” she said.
After a while, Kat got word that her Grandma had fallen into a depression due to her disappearance.
“I went back to my hometown because my grandma thought I was dead. My grandma was really sad and I didn’t like that. My little brother was sitting out on the porch blowing bubbles and when he saw me his eyes got huge and he ran out towards me, and I was like whoa he loves me. My Grandpa wouldn’t let me stay on the property, because I left home. So I was couch hoppin’ and that’s when I got addicted to opanas. I went full force, and got super high and super addicted to opioid’s and did that for two- two and a half years,” she said.
After a couple of years not having a place to sleep Kat got sick of the streets and didn’t want to sleep outside any longer. So she did what she could to get herself off of the streets by dancing.
“I became a stripper because I didn’t want to sleep outside anymore. I noticed all these girls on spring break, and I realized all these girls were flashing their boobs for beads, and I decided that I was gonna go get a hotel for the night. I became a dancer for two years and I got clean off drugs, in the strip club, I got completely clean. Then I met this guy who was a traveler, he was a dirty kid like me. We started hanging out and we were together for five years,” she said.
For the first time in a long time things started to look up for Kat.
“I graduated college as a motorcycle technician and I was doing pin up modeling, I got my picture in a magazine, and me and my boyfriend graduated college. Then we broke up about a year ago. He was really abusive. He got this really nice job and he was making like 50 bucks an hour and I wasn’t doing anything. I got a job at Taco Bell,” she laughed and shook her head. “He just started looking down on me. He was buying new shoes every two weeks because he could. I was in debt to him, his family became my family and if we broke up then I didn’t have a family. It was a weak point in my life, I was really pathetic and always begging. It was really sad. I did that for like five years and then we broke up, and I haven’t seen him for a year,” she said.
With sincerity in her eyes, Kat began to tell me about the sweetest guy she has ever met, who now is her boyfriend.
He’s the nicest boyfriend I’ve ever had in my whole life. He’s a traveler too, he’s got long red dreads, and he’s a squeegee punk, he’s very intelligent. He’s an intellect. He feels like the outcast in his family, since he’s the only one with red hair, but he can play the guitar really really good. We’re gonna go to Key West and get a boat. He cleans car windows at the red lights but he went to jail yesterday for the third time, it’s called aggressive pan handling. The people say no to getting their windows washed, but that’s what’s punk about it. They say no, and he’s like, listen… I’m just gonna clean your window and I’m gonna do it for free. And they’re like “No!” and then they call the cops,” she said.
“Yesterday I realized how much I need him, all my other friends did too. I ended up stuck by the river all day, because I couldn’t pick my pack up. I can’t get my friends to pick my pack up, and one of them got in my face and yelled at me, saying I couldn’t take care of my dogs. I’m just sick and tired. I take really good care of my dogs,” she said with tears welling up in her eyes, “I’m just really sick. I need my boyfriend because he doesn’t mind, he’ll help take care of them, because he’s their daddy. He doesn’t mind helpin’ me move my pack, because he loves me,” she said.
This is only the surface of what this young lady has gone through, but she’s trying her best to stay hopeful for the future. After years of traveling and being on the streets, Kat is ready for something different.
“I just want a place to stay, I would love my own bedroom, and a bathroom, so I can lay in bed. I want to go to Florida, after doing this for ten years, I’m tired of it.”
These are personal stories of kids that we serve at Sox Place. We want to educate the public and our supporters of the types of kids who need us and use our drop in center in Denver, Colorado. If you want to help us keep our building so that we can continue to speak into the lives and love the lost and broken please visit our donate page. We appreciate your support, and so do our kids.
Today our friends Harley and Wolf and their dog Scottie are leaving us after calling the streets of Denver their “home” for the last three years. They are leaving today to a knew home in Iowa, where they will finally be off the streets, working, and beginning a new life. All of us at Sox Place will keep you in our thoughts and prayers and pray for progression and an abundant life!
Sox Place is a non profit drop in center for the street youth in Denver, or for those just passing through. We provide services like a hot meal, clean clothes, and a place to find refuge from the harsh world. If you believe in our mission please donate to keep our doors open for kids that need services like this. Or when you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Sox Place Inc. Bookmark this link http://smile.amazon.com/ch/73-1718252 and support us every time you shop.