“My dad wasn’t there to teach me how to be a man, so I looked to my friends,” he said. “I didn’t have no one to look up to. I had to teach myself everything.” – a 30 year old father, convicted felon.
We, as a society, condemn the fatherless around us, saying they should be men, but who was there to teach them? I do not believe that a boy can grow up to be a man by himself. A man must teach a boy to be a man! Boys learn from their environment, their peers, and adults in their lives such as coaches, teachers, pastors, etc.
Deseret News (Salt Lake City) reports that “one-third of American children in America are growing up without their biological father, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” Let me say thank you to step fathers, coaches, teachers, pastors, and male family members for stepping in when Dad is absent! There are many men today that are healthy and stable because of these men that filled the gap. But we cannot ignore the facts of fatherlessness in America:
I remember a time when a young man, about 18-20 years old, became disrespectful and aggressive towards me. I had told him, in a calm manner, that he was breaking the rules. He became angry, calling me an old man and told me that we could go outside to the alley to handle it! For some reason it made me laugh, which just made matters worse! He finally left, talking at me the whole time.
Within a short amount of time, I began to ask myself about who this young man’s father was or if a father was even around. Where did he learn this way of responding to male authority? The young man came back to Sox Place a couple of weeks later, and I was able to apologize to him for my response toward him, for I became angry because of the way he came at me. I told him that he broke the rules, but I was wrong in the way that I responded to him, and that I should not have laughed. He was very apologetic, saying it was he that owed me an apology! We shook hands, and I won a friend.
So next time you look at a young man who looks or acts as if he doesn’t know how to be a real man, consider his upbringing or the “role models” he grew up with. Don’t have a judgmental attitude; think about where his father is. Maybe he had to learn about being a man from a gang or a drug dealer or one their peers who didn’t know how to be real man himself. More than once a street kid has come to me with tears, asking me to teach him how to be a man. They said they were jealous of my sons and wanted me to give them the same that I had given them.
The vast majority of street kids who have come through Sox Place and my life are good kids, just some really bad things have happened to them. So I will continue to “bring the Father’s heart (love) to the fatherless!”
Cigarette smoke swirled and mingled with the cool night air as it drifted upwards into the evening sky against a backdrop of city lights. I sat on the front porch, enjoying a conversation and sharing laughs with Ziggy and several other guys as we shared stories from our week. We had just driven back from the shops at Northfield Stapleton, where some of the staff from Sox Place and I had been able to purchase some new clothes for Ziggy in celebration of him being released from jail. It was only his second day out, and he loved every minute of it.
It was a Thursday evening, and we had met for a Bible study at Sam’s place to read and discuss a few chapters out of 1 Samuel. We all sat and listened as Sam read the first several passages. We talked about the birth of Samuel, his dedication to the Lord by his mother Hannah, and his interaction with Eli as he learns to hear the voice of God. As we talked, Ziggy began asking questions about the life of a Christ-follower. It was easy to tell that he was fully enveloped in the conversation, eager to learn and seek encouragement in the faith.
Though he was in prison for eight years, Sox Place has had the opportunity to radically change the direction of Ziggy’s life. Ziggy isn’t the same person that he was even a few years ago, all thanks to the people that make up this organization. The low number of evident “success stories” that come out of Sox Place can be reason enough to be discouraged at times, but we are here for every single street kid that walks through the doors of Sox Place, praying for them; supporting and providing for them; and growing a meaningful relationship with them, even if it is only to plant a seed.
As I rode home that night, the streetlights casting a golden glow on the city streets, I realized that all it takes to initiate transformation in someone’s life is to plant a seed. We truly love and believe in the street youth of Denver, and we hope to continue planting seeds that will eventually blossom into something much greater.
Written by Benten Woodring
At any point in time, there are over 1,100 homeless youth (ages 14-24) and over 5,000 homeless students (children attending school, but considered homeless) in the Denver-Metro area.* Denver is home to thousands of gang members, countless drug and alcohol addicts, victims of human trafficking, and hundreds of other at-risk youth.
Sox Place is reaching 60-80 of these youth each day.
Each Tuesday through Saturday, we provide a hot meal, mentoring, resources and referrals, clothing, blankets, internet access, recreation, employment assistance, housing assistance, and on-the-job training. Sox Place is a safe environment that is like family – a family that loves and accepts street youth for who they are and where they are in life. The above services will give the street youth the opportunity to end the vicious cycle of hopelessness that they face on a regular basis.
Denver Colorado is known as the “Mile High City” (5,280 feet = 1 mile), and we are asking you to come alongside Sox Place by giving $52.80 a month in support. Without partners like you, we cannot continue or expand our mission.
Please consider supporting Sox Place. You have the power to change the lives of those who need it most.
Watch our website for more information and videos on 5280 in the coming days!
Want to donate now? Here’s a couple options:
*Source: 2009 Point it Time Survey by Metro Denver Homeless Initiative and Colorado Department of Human Services
In Part I, I pleaded with you to do more than be angry about human trafficking, give your spare change to an organization, then forget about it until you hear another statistic.
Did you forget already?
If you haven’t read Part I, please do. Following is a list of ideas that you can do to get involved. Some of them take time and effort. But what could be more important than valuing human life?
1. Keep your eyes open – Do you see the people on the side of the highway, holding signs that ask for change? What else do they do to get money? Do you see that advertisement for erotic massage? Are those people forced to do what they do? Do you see that drug addict in the street? How did he/she get the money to get those drugs? Do you see that girl with dirty hair in your youth group who is having family problems? Who will she run to when she feels she has nowhere else to turn? Open your eyes! Take note of what is going on around you! Call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline at 1(888)3737-888, or the U.S. Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons Complaint Line at 1(888)428-7581, if you suspect someone is in a trafficking situation.
What is Sox Place doing? Homeless youth are some of the most at-risk for domestic human trafficking. According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, “approximately 30% of homeless youth are lured into prostitution within the first 48 hours of being on the street.” Since Sox Place works directly with these youth, we work hard to build relationships of trust so that we can see when something is wrong and so that they feel they can talk to us about what they are going through. We are also beginning to work with Prax(us), who works directly with domestic human trafficking cases in the Denver area. We feel their programs go about helping these youth in the right way.
2. Give when and where you can – There are plenty of organizations out there. Choose one or two, invest in those, and keep up with what they are doing. You may not be able to give much. You may not even think you can give right now, but try to give something. Give up going out to eat once a week or your daily latte or a weekend movie, and give what you save to your favorite organization. Give intentionally! Here are some organizations to get you started:
Prax(us) – Primarily focuses on domestic human trafficking cases in the Denver area.
Project Rescue – Focuses on international human trafficking.
Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) – Focuses on rehabilitating girls in domestic human trafficking situations.
Stop Child Trafficking Now – Addresses the demand side of child trafficking worldwide.
iEmpathize – Focuses on unique advocacy techniques and events; located in Boulder, CO.
What is Sox Place doing? When you give to Sox Place, your donation helps to serve those at-risk for human trafficking. We, in return, make sure those who have been victimized receive the help they need.
3. Pray – Take the time once a week to focus your prayers on human trafficking. Pray not only for the victims but also for organizations, exploiters/traffickers (pray for your enemies), the culture and society that promotes the sex industry, etc. You can find prayer guides on various websites. The Salvation Army has a good one.
What is Sox Place doing? Most of the staff take one day a week to fast and pray. We pray for many things. One focus is the kids that come into Sox Place, who are one of the most at-risk groups for human trafficking.
4. Educate – Educate yourself on the issue of human trafficking. Watch videos, read books and articles, and research on your own. Keep up to date with the most current news and laws. Most of the websites listed under the “give” section have a page on educating yourself, but perhaps the most comprehensive is Project Rescue’s.
What is Sox Place doing? Sox Places hosts human trafficking seminars to educate the staff and community. We are also constantly doing research, reading articles, and watching the news.
5. Advocate – By now, you know the issue and you are moved to doing something. Passionately sharing your knowledge and what to do about it is one of the most important things. Have your church or business host a human trafficking seminar. If you live in the Denver area, Prax(us) has an amazing seminar that will be designed specifically for your organization. If you are not able to have your business/ church host a seminar, you can find where one will be and invite as many people as possible. Or you can host an advocacy night in your home. This could include a video (GEMS has a documentary “Very Young Girls” with questions for a group setting); a book study or article reading; or you can get others involved and have a theme, such as art or prayer.
What is Sox Place Doing? Sox Place has hosted human trafficking seminars and plans to host more throughout the community. When we find frightening statistics or horrific facts, we share them with each other and with our friends and family.
6. Volunteer – you may not have a center for trafficking victims near you, or, if you do, they may be extremely sensitive to who helps out there, but what about places who address problems behind human trafficking? Commit to one day a week or month to volunteer at a youth drop-in center like Sox Place, a homeless shelter, an advocacy group, or a women’s shelter.
What is Sox Place Doing? If you are interested in volunteering or bringing a group to Sox Place, you can find information under the “Get Involved” tab on our website.
Now that you know the issue and know what you can do, what are you going to do?
Written by Kara Knight
It’s not about what we, as staff, go through with doing such mission as Sox Place. It’s about all the street youth that God brings into our lives, those that cross our path for ten years or ten minutes. They are what Sox Place is all about; a way for us to show the Father’s heart to the fatherless, to the lost and forgotten. We will continue to experience the joys and the heartbreaks of our work, but we will not give up on them!
Stevie (our college intern) and I went out on the streets last Tuesday to see if there were street youth we were missing at Sox Place. We walked down to the half circle, on to Skyline Park 1,2 and 3 and talked to a few here and there. We then walked down the length of 16th Street Mall, finding 8 travelers, or train hoppers as they are called.
One couple, I and S were singing to get money. We found out that she was from the area and he from Florida. She told me that her mother had asked her to come back home, but when she got there her mother wanted nothing to do with her! I wanted to hug her, but instead invited them to Sox Place for blankets, food, and of course socks! I also told her that we would not reject her, that she was welcome to our family!
Thanks for your support so that we can continue to doing our mission to the street youth!
It started on the streets; it’s where I got my street name from the streets kids in 2000 after passing out hundreds of pairs of socks on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. The streets were the home of the street kids, known as gutter punks, train hoppers, old school, and, by the media, “mall rats.” They were from all walks of life, from all over America, just hanging out on the Mall, a place many called their “living room” because that is where they came together as a family.
When I came in 1998, they were up and down the mall, but mostly around Skyline Park on 16th and Arapahoe streets. I would simply walk up to a crowd, asking if they needed socks. They would of course say yes, taking them with smiles on their faces and, once in a while, a thank you. It started with a pair of socks or even a blanket donated by a church somewhere in America.
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After two years the street kids gave me the name Sox, accepting me into their world.
I would spend a few hours during the day and at night. I walked with them, among them, and just on the edge of their existence. God set my heart to them when I was out on the streets and that is where I am returning. I have been longing to be back out there with them again, and with the great staff that is now at Sox Place Drop-In Center, I can. So for now I will be out there a couple days a week and one to two nights. I will be joined by Stevie, one of our college interns, on Tuesday. This doesn’t change my passion and love of our Drop-In Center, but I must get back out there in their world!