It’s the heat of the summer and most families and people take advantage of the warmer temperatures to escape from their busy lives and go on a vacation. Some explore other parts of the world while others plan a staycation in their home state or city. At Sox Place we meet lots of travelers and train hoppers that have made the decisions to be land pirates as they travel the world by train, van, or by thumb. Here are some tips and tricks from some travelers that have come through at Sox Place.
Doyle Robinson can’t remember the exact amount of years that Valerie Biggs has been volunteering for Sox Place but he does recall the exact chain of events and the network of people that brought her here.
Regardless of Doyle’s memory, three years ago Valerie recalls being introduced to Sox Place. A friend of hers had told her that Doyle would take all of her food donations and so she found her way down here to donate some extra food she had on hand. However, when she arrived she realized they needed more than just her food donations.
“I walked in and thought that Doyle was in desperate need of someone to help organize the food pantry and the donations that came in,” she said.
A once unorganized Sox Place was blessed by Valerie and her friend Michelle. “I felt like I couldn’t walk away from the project of straightening and organizing, and I really wanted to help make everything easier on Doyle and the staff on a regular basis,” said Valerie.
Doyle and Jordan were up to their ears with other concerns and didn’t have time to keep the pantry organized when new donations came flooding in. But Valerie stepped in and has made a big impact by volunteering regularly to organize.
“She knows why she’s here and she does what Jordan and I are not good at,” said Doyle. “To me volunteers should fill in the gaps and do the things that we aren’t great at or don’t have the time to spend on.”
Volunteering for Sox Place not only made a big difference in the effectiveness of operations and organization but it has also touched Valerie in a way that keeps bringing her back.
“Every time I go in to volunteer or I’m reading the Sox Place blog I am humbled and reminded how easily I could have been one of the kids at Sox Place. Although my husband and I have a great life together now, our adolescent experiences aren’t much different than those who receive services from Sox Place. It is an honor to give my assistance to everyone who walks through the doors,” she said.
Have you ever wondered if the men and women standing on the street corners asking for help, actually need it? I know I have. Their broken down cardboard signs, signed off with a “God Bless” tugs at my heart strings every time. I want to help those that are in need, but how do I know what I donate; money, food, or otherwise is actually going to someone who really needs my help? I know that not all people with signs asking for assistance actually need it, and I also know there’s a lot of people who aren’t asking for help, that actually really need it. So what’s a “giver” to do?
That’s where organizations like Sox Place come in. By providing food, clothing, diapers, dog food, socks, underwear, and other sanitary items to help street kids, Sox Place has become a popular place for the youth on the streets to spend their days. Everyone who attends Sox Place has a story, many have been kicked out of their homes, grew out of the foster care system, or are enduring financial hardship.
Creating meaningful relationships is at the core of what Sox Place does by loving and supporting those that really do need help. I sat down with Nathan, one of our frequent attenders who expressed his gratitude for Sox Place and how it has changed his life.
“This place, is a little more real than some of the other resources in Denver who always make it feel like they have to be there for us, but Sox Place is here because they genuinely want to help us out,” Nathan said. “I’ve come into Sox Place depressed many times, but I always leave feeling like a much better person. There’s always people around here who I know are going through the same things I’m going through. They’re really listening to me and I’m listening to them and we connect. I always end up feeling better about my situation when I leave here.”
Sox Place is here to serve kids that are on the streets, struggling to survive by providing more than just food and clothing. We also provide job training by offering internships to help build a resume for kids that are looking to work.
“They gave me an internship, which was really cool, and a great learning experience. Over the past four years Sox Place has given me food when I needed it, a place to sleep during the day and provided me a chance to get to know a lot of people and now I have a family. It’s a really great place to be,” said Nathan.
Nathan’s contagious smile that usually sits spread across his face turned serious as we began to discuss what he really would like from society. It was clear that he’s grateful for the food, clothing and shelter that has been given to him, but the one thing he yearns for, and what continues to bring him back to Sox Place is being treated like a regular human being.
“I would like for society to treat us more like people. Everyday hundreds of people walk down the mall and see a homeless person and just walk on by, avoiding eye contact. They don’t acknowledge us as actual people, they don’t acknowledge us as actual humans, they only see us as HOMELESS PEOPLE and not human beings, and that hurts,” Nathan said, slightly raising his voice full of sincerity.
What makes people in suit and ties better than people in donated or thrifted clothing? What constitutes them to have the right to a happy life, versus kids who have left an abusive home, or the foster care system? I saw the hurt in Nathan’s eyes when we began to talk about the rest of society, that had a safe home to return to.
“The difference between us and them is they have a lot of stuff, so they have this superiority complex, they believe they’re better than us. What they don’t understand is if their house burned down in a fire, they could easily be in the same position we’re in, it could happen to anyone. I didn’t think it would happen to me, and I’m out here,” he said.
What Nathan brought to my attention was that, having more things doesn’t make you a superior human, and America, and most civilized countries base their worth on profits and consumerism. Homeless, poor, rich, middle class, we’re all humans and more than things, all humans want to be treated as humans, as equals. Loved, accepted, and feeling worth something.
It’s easy to point the blame at society and demand equal treatment to those that are homeless and those that aren’t, but what does that even begin to look like? I was shocked by Nathan’s answer as he began to list things that he noticed, were unfair.
“If we were treated as equals places wouldn’t charge excessive amounts of money to use the bathroom, just because we have no where else to go. We wouldn’t be harassed for having to sleep outside, and we would be allowed to sit down on the mall during daylight hours. There would be no such thing as an urban camping ban,” said Nathan.
I’ve personally never been charged to use a bathroom, I’ve never been harassed for sitting down on the sixteenth street mall on a hot summer day, and this is all due to how I look. I look like I’m not homeless, therefore I don’t get harassed. Next time you encounter a street kid, treat them as your equal.
If you are looking to help those in need, help by donating or supporting organizations like Sox Place, that treat street kids like the equals that they are and provide them with the help they actually need. Volunteer in your communities, when you go out to dinner box up the extra food and find a street kid to feed, donate your clothes to Sox Place or local shelters, or buy a Sox Place shirt which helps fund us and keep our doors open! These are all great ways to get involved and make your community a better place.
There’s not many places I like to be without my camera. Maybe that’s because my Dad always had a camera in his hands, always snapping pictures, trying to be the invisible fly one the wall, but at six-foot-seven-inches, being invisible is pretty close to impossible. He taught me how to hold my camera, focus, point, click, and capture. Overtime I grew attached to my camera, because I too loved feeling like a fly on the wall.
Still a bit nervous and feeling like the “new girl” interning at Sox Place, it becomes very comfortable for me to whip out my camera and begin snapping and shooting away, capturing emotions and people that fill the four walls that houses Sox Place. These are the people I want to tell others about, these are the faces that are teaching me about life, life that is hard, but life that is worth living. This week I had my camera out, hiding my face behind the bulky body and capturing life here at Sox Place.
Mellow, one of the frequent visitors began to ask me about my interest in photography. I don’t claim myself a professional but I was happy to show off some of the action shots I had captured that afternoon. Quickly, Mellow began digging through the pack claiming to have something to show me.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but then Mellow whipped out a red package with white polka dots, housing and protecting little printed photographs. I reached out to ask if I could look closer at the photographs. They were all little moments that were telling a greater story of travel and being unsure about the future. One photograph was an image of a street sign in New Orleans and on the back it was captioned “Left…or Right?”
It must have been obvious that I was sincerely interested in the photo with the street sign, as Mellow began to speak “You can have one if you would like, take whichever one is your favorite.” I felt my mouth kind of drop and shoot a look that must have begged the question “are you sure?” This small gift, a simple photograph, changed the rest of my week, as I’m sitting here and writing about it!
The people that come to Sox Place don’t have very much. They have what they need, and what they can carry on their person or back. Many of them come to Sox Place to get necessities that they have run out of. Even in their simplicity of living with necessities, Mellow still decided to be giving. I hope I never forget that moment, and currently I have the photograph gifted to me, in a special place so that I see it every day. What a beautiful reminder that even when I feel that I have little, there’s always something to give, big or small, you never know the weight or impact that gift will make in the life of the receiver.
It’s amazing to me that people that have so little, can still be so giving. Yet there are so many in this world that are well off and comfortable amongst their belongings that won’t give, or only give little. Humbled by Mellow’s gift, I reflect on Luke 21:1-4
Jesus1 looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
If you would like to give to Sox Place, but you don’t know where to start, take a look at our Merch Store! When you buy from us, it helps keep our doors open, and continue to make a difference in lives that need to be shown love, forgiveness, grace. Plus you get a Sox Place swag. Win Win! We appreciate and love all donations made to Sox Place, comment below if you have any questions!
Please join us in supporting an upcoming fundraising event for Sox Place!
Date: August 18th
Time: 11AM – 10PM
Where: Watercourse Foods, 837 E. 17th Avenue, Denver, CO 80218
Bring a guest (or 2!) and stop in for lunch or dinner – all proceeds will go directly to Sox Place, but we need your help to reach our goal.
Reservations are suggested: 303-832-7313
Doyle Robinson and Jordan Robinson, Founders of Sox Place, will be on site to share their story.
Please help us get the word out – promote socially!
More information about Sox Place:
Sox Place was started in 2002 by father-son team, Doyle and Jordan Robinson. Doyle began his ministry by handing out socks to street youth on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. He was soon given the street name “Sox” and opened up a daytime youth drop-in center shortly after. We have been open for twelve years and continue to grow every year. We are only able to continue to serve our youth and to keep our doors open with the help of individuals like you. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation, click here.
We hope to see you there!
Since September of 2012, we have been on a month-to-month lease at our current building at 2017 Larimer St. Our landlord informed us that a bar would be taking over our building sometime in the future, and that time has finally come. Within the next 1-3 months, we will be forced to leave our current building. Right now our only available option is to rent our old building at 2017 Lawrence St. down the street, but the rent at this new building is $1,400 per month more than we can currently afford.
If 56 of our supporters were to give only $25 a month, we would be able to continue bringing the Father’s heart to the fatherless.
We are extremely passionate about serving our youth here at Sox Place. There is not another drop-in center like Sox Place in the entire country. We truly believe in what we are doing, and we personally invite you to join us in this journey.
I often ask myself if Sox Place is still needed and a useful place for the street connected youth of downtown Denver, then a day like yesterday (and so many others) happen!
Here’s what a mother said in a recent email to me about Sox Place. Her daughter was on the streets back in 2009 and came to Sox Place often. She has since gotten off the streets and living in the NW. “I thank God for her perseverance daily and for the people like you who sustained her during the terrible times. I hope you and your family are well and please keep loving the unlovable.”
We know you love eating out.
Why not help homeless youth in the process?
Sox Place’s Food Themed Online Auction begins Thursday, May 30th at 7:00 p.m. (MST). Don’t miss out! It only lasts until Friday, June 7th at 7:00 p.m.
Don’t forget to invite all your friends, too!
To participate, create an account here, and get ready to bid beginning on May 30th. Winners will be contacted by Sox Place to arrange for payment and pick up.
If you would like to see how the auction will work, you can go to the website’s demo auction.
Take a peak at some of our auction items. We have a variety of restaurant and food related gift cards and one non-food related item (something for the fuzzy members of the family) for you to bid on. Didn’t get to participate in the last online auction because of where you live? No worries! We have both local and chain restaurant gift cards as auction items, so everyone can be a part! We will be adding more before the auction begins, so keep checking back.
Note: Be sure and check the description of each item before bidding, as some items are only for specific locations.
“You ready?” I asked Ogre.
“Yup,” she replied with a smile on her dirty face. “I only let myself have one drink this morning so I would be sober while I speak.” I could tell she was proud of herself.
“Great! Let’s go!”
We were driving over an hour to introduce some ladies to Sox Place. Ogre had been coming to Sox Place off-and-on for ten years. She is a train rider – a traveler – if this was 100 years ago, she’d be called a hobo – a train hopper. If you’ve never experienced train riders, then, well, let’s just say they are dirty. They usually have mud and soot on their skin to the point that you don’t know if they are tan or just dirty. They smell like a mixture of a boy’s high school locker room after football practice and the bottom of a bar’s dumpster after an especially wild Friday night. And they never wash their clothes because, according to them, the dirt is what is preventing the fabric from completely falling apart. Ogre was no different, and she knew it.
In addition to being a traveler, Ogre proclaims to be a Christian, and I have no reason to doubt her. Sure, she has a problem with alcohol and she swears more than a poorly made R-rated action movie. However, she is constantly trying to live in a way that pleases God, even though she knows she fails in many ways.
So, here we were, on an hour-plus car ride. Train riders may not be pretty to look at, but they have some of the best stories. One in particular stood out to me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:
Being a good Southern girl, one Sunday Ogre decided she wanted to step into a church to hear “the Word.” She sat in the back, with her Bible, ready to be fed. But before the sermon even began, a deacon, in all his suit-and-tie glory, came up to Ogre and asked her to leave because she was “too dirty.”
I’ve heard many-a sermon on accepting people in the church and many-a story about how people aren’t, but to hear such a blatant story of unacceptance blew my mind. I was angry. How dare this man – who represented a church, who was supposed to represent Christianity, and, in that way, me, and ultimately represented Christ – show such the opposite of a Christ-like love? I could begin to feel a hatred for this man, whom I had never met.
As that day – and the days after – wore on, Ogre’s story stayed with me. I soon realized (with a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) that I had no right to hold a grudge against this man. We all, including me, have Ogres in our lives – those people we’d rather not have in our church. We may not verbally tell them to leave, but we wish they would. And we don’t do anything that would make them think otherwise. Even the disciples had their Ogres.
Think of the Samaritan woman from John 4. She, also, was a dirty woman. She was a Samaritan (think Mudblood), a woman (gasp!), and an adulterer (dirty sinner!). Three strikes of dirtiness. The disciples knew it and wondered why Jesus was even talking to such a woman (v 27). But we all know the end of the story. Because Jesus displayed such compassion toward this woman, the whole town came to him (v 28-30).
Who are the Ogres and Women at the Well in your life? Who are the ones that deserve to be shown Christ-like love even though it is the last thing you want to do?
The young adult with too many body modifications?
The homosexual couple that holds hands on the back pew?
The parents whose children need some discipline?
The teen who wears too-short skirts?
The middle-aged man who wears a three piece suit and thinks everyone else should too?
The little old lady who always complains about the music?
My Ogre is the guy who tells people to leave because they are too dirty. I want to say, “If you don’t show Christ’s love to others, then you don’t deserve to feel Christ’s love through me.”
But, of course, that’s not true. Everyone deserves Christ’s compassionate love. As with the woman at the well, such love may result in remarkable things for the Kingdom!