Anyone who works in downtown Denver knows that parking can be a real hassle, which made the two mile round trip to pick up clothing for our custom screen print orders something of an inconvenience on foot or in a truck.
Problem solved! With the help of our kids and crew we’ve got a new company vehicle! All built in house, this beautiful trike will keep the chiropractor and the meeter maid at bay not having to carry our packages back or park to pick them up any longer. Thank you to every one that chipped in with the build!
Now it’s only fitting that this thing has a proper name. Any suggestions?
From Left to Right: Chuckie Freeman, Kenny, Jordan Robinson, Trent (In basket), Doyle Robinson
The trees are budding and the snow is melting here in Denver, and I’m really hoping that the warmer temperatures are here to stay. Has anyone began cleaning out their closets yet? I know I have a few things I need to bag up. You know who’s closet is cleaned out? Sox Places. I noticed that we are in bad shape when it comes to some essentials for our kids down here who probably feel the elements a little deeper than the rest of us. So for you, I made a special list, a list of things that we ALWAYS love getting, in no particular order.
That about sums up our spring cleaning list. We love you guys and all the support you have continued to give Sox Place over the years. We survive on our faith and the hearts of the people that are making donations to our ministry. Without that we would have shut down a long time ago. Continue to pray for us as we wage war on the wicked problems homelessness by continuously showing these kids love and grace, something they don’t get many other places.
Words and Photos by: Keala Reeverts
“Look after my girl, I don’t care if she ends up with someone else, I want her to be happy, but just make sure she’s okay.”
That night Clark promised that while his buddy was locked away he would keep an eye out for the 17 year old girlfriend the best he knew how. Some time passed and Clark had gotten word that she had been knocked up by a 26 year old heroin dealer who wasn’t ready to be a daddy, and the man had ended up taking a baseball bat to beat her.
Clark arrived at the hospital where he found police officials and the offender discussing the girl who lay helpless on her hospital bed. “Go home and don’t do it again,” said the officer to the dealer. Clark couldn’t believe his ears, how were they not doing anything to bring this guy to justice? It was his duty to take matters into his own hands, and keep his promise. Later, Clark broke into the heroine dealer’s house with a custom made 10 pound hatchet in hand, that later found itself in the side of the man’s head. He then proceeded to tape him from head to toe “mummifying him” where he was later found barely alive. Clark left the house with everything he could sell in order to help pay for the poor girls hospital bills.
Clark (although not his real name) is now 36 years old with a buzzed hair cut and an infectious broken smile that reaches all the way up to his eyes. Years ago he had run into Doyle when he was just 17 at Skyline Park, a couple years before Sox Place was an actual place and before he ever went to prison. Every fiber of his being urges to take care of those around him and he’s ended up serving a life sentence of trying to discover the difference between love and vengeance.
His first case had landed him in prison facing 198 years being charged with everything from aggravated armed robberies to violent crimes. Through a series of court dates and judges, Clark was released after just six years back onto the streets. The first time he was released from prison in 2005 he ran into what is now known as Sox Place. This is where his friendship with Doyle all began. However, he had no idea what that would mean to him so many years down the road.
Lounging on the graffiti covered skate ramp sitting in the corner of the warehouse that is Sox Place, his tattooed hands rest underneath his head as he stares up at the ceiling. Although it appears he is relaxing, Clark sports an ankle bracelet that he has plugged into the nearest outlet, awaiting for it to be fully charged which takes about fifteen minutes.
“When Sox first showed up downtown, the way he was dressed and being an older gentleman, we thought he was down here to kidnap us,” said Clark, “Hell, I was only 17 years old. And most of the kids down here were still younger than me. Once we realized that he was down here not to cause us harm, but to help us, I think that’s about the time that I felt like I could begin trusting him,” said Clark.
Originally he found himself thrust into street living in the summer of 88’ when his step-dad had beaten up his mother one night and Clark tried to kill him. For the same reason that he avenged his friends girlfriend. “To me, I was doing the right thing, my logic was, if you put your hands on her, then I will put my hands on you,” he said.
Where the world is dark and the justice system seems more like a threat than a source of protection, it’s common for street kids to take matters into their own hands. Helping someone usually means hurting someone else, even if it’s themselves. The lines between being a giving person and taking vengeance are blurred, and often times they mean the same thing. “I’ve done things that I do regret but, theres things that given the chance, I would do them again,” he said with a sigh, recalling scene by scene the time he got a ticket for stripping himself naked in order to give someone else dry clothes. “I’d rather help somebody else than myself. Some people tell me that’s what my downfall is, that I don’t try to take care of myself, I try to take care of everybody else first.”
It’s hard to know what a good person is, and what a giving man looks like when you’ve never seen one. Many struggle with not having someone real to look up to or learn from, forcing them to base it off pop culture or what the world tells them. That is, until they meet someone who is willing to show them.
Clark approached Doyle a little while ago asking about a drivers license. “I walked up to him and said ‘If I go find out what I have to do to get my license back…’ he didn’t even let me finish my sentence and Doyle said, ‘yeah let me know what I can do to help you get it back.’ That just shows me that there is good people and Sox and Jordan are how I want to be. I want to be where I can help people like they do. They’ve done so much for me, I want to do it for other people. I talked to Sox the other day when I stayed late and that was the first time I told him about what my uncle did to me. I saw in his face and his eyes how hurt that made him feel.”
Pain, he saw it in Doyle’s reaction just like he saw it all over his mothers face when he broke down at eight years old and told her about what had been going on. “After a couple months of my uncle shooting me up with meth and molesting me, he started bringing friends in. For two years I was passed around from him to his friends to their friends, the whole time I was high as a kite and didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what was going on or that it was wrong, and I didn’t know to tell anybody. As I got older I realized that it wasn’t right. I tried to kill him,” Clark spoke coldly about his uncle.
This resulted in a 30 year long drug addiction to meth and an open door to all the other drugs that he could get his hands on. To be introduced to a drug of that strength at such a young age steered the entire course of Clarks life. At one point he was holding down 15 hour day jobs in construction “I was doing that on drugs like normal people would drink a cup of coffee to go to work,” he said.
Clark has been a slave to drugs for almost all his life. Brothers gone. Sisters gone. Friends gone. Wife gone. They too were slaves, and they died at the hands of their master. Seventeen months clean, but back on the streets, Clark’s eyes are open to the destruction drugs like meth has caused in his circle of friends. Anger, frustration and a lack of hope plague his body like a disease.
“I see people I’ve grown up with and people I consider my family and the shape they’re in because they’re still doing drugs and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see them that way, it makes me want to slap the shit out of them. In the middle of things Sox and Jordan are down here too. They don’t do this for money, they do it to help and that does make me feel a little bit better. There wasn’t shit like this when I was a kid. Now there’s a bunch of young kids here and they’re doing the same stupid shit we were doing, but the only difference now is that they’ve actually got someone down here trying to help them. And yet, they’re disrespectful,” Clark shakes his head that is covered by a black hat with a white superman symbol embroidered on the front.
Drugs and death run rampant among his friends and family, and he feels responsible for the lives of those that are close to him. One of the most devastating realities he has had to face is that no matter how much Clark puts himself last and his friends first, there’s a good chance that drugs will always win. Most of his life he’s dealt with conflict by fighting fire by throwing himself into the fire and sacrificing his happiness for those around him. Attempting to live like the superman symbol that runs across his hat stands for.
“I’ve made a name for myself down here for being the one who doesn’t care. If you do something wrong, you’re going to know. I’ve been talking to Doyle and what I’ve realized is that it’s not worth being like that anymore. Sox has helped me by sitting down and talking to me and helping me get clean and wanting to stay clean,” said Clark.
Clark has always been trying to do the right thing for the people in his life even if it’s not something that he knows how to do. He’s someone who has felt the backlash of trying to be a hero for the hurting. What he needs is a way out of the way that he’s always used as his way out. He needs hope. He is searching for what is means to be a man, and to be a hero without sending him to prison.
After years of people telling him he can’t be apart of something greater, he’s grown skeptical of the world. Even his relationship with Doyle has found itself hanging by a single thread at times. But it hasn’t ever deterred him from having a deep respect for Doyle and Jordan, instead it’s presented a model of what it looks like to be a giving man. He’s watched for years how Doyle and Jordan have helped so many others and for the first time Clark has someone that he can look to.
I took a seat next to Misty at one of the white tables at Sox Place that had traces of spaghetti left from the person that had sat there before. Parked next to the table was a shopping cart full of her valuables that she always kept a close eye on. After having a hard time transitioning from jail back into the community at 20 years of age, she found herself homeless. “I couldn’t afford rent, I couldn’t get a job, due to the nature of my case I’m often denied work, which sucks,” said Misty with a bit of sass as she sat back in her chair and crossed her arms.
Time in jail, years on the streets, and a lack of friendships along the way, Misty has encountered many obstacles to overcome from a very young age. Abandoned at just five years old, Misty’s biological parents moved her to Colorado where her aunt and uncle became her legal guardians. Misty has had a unique life journey by having to navigate her life as someone who identifies as a woman although she was born a male. “Growing up having a gender identification that’s different from most people and having to grow up in the background I grew up in just didn’t mix. My family wouldn’t understand it and I didn’t want to explain to them that I identified that way. They never would have believed anything I ever told them. Instead I just kept my mouth shut,” she said.
Regardless of Misty’s family life, she claims that her biggest inspiration in life is her Baptist Grandma who recently passed away. Her Grandmother was the religious backbone of her family and Misty expressed that a major takeaway she always got from church was not to judge others. “I have always used that as a guideline principle for my life. If I judge somebody then I assume I will be judged harder than I already am. I feel judgement pretty harshly as it is, and it hurts me, so I try not to judge others,” Misty said with a sincere tone.
Recalling the important people in her life, Misty stared up at the ceiling for a moment as if a projection screen of memories danced above our heads. She spoke very highly of her Grandmother and the impact she had on her life. “The last words my Grandma spoke to me before she passed away has stuck with me. I can remember it like yesterday. Her eyes searched as she recited these words delicately,
“I know you’re not like the others and quite honestly I don’t care, I like who you are. Just make the right decisions and don’t screw up.”
“My Grandma was more baptist than the rest of my family has ever been. For her to say that she knew I was different and she loved me for the way I was…I took that to heart. It’s been burned on my mind ever since. It showed me what true love is. I’m striving to make the best decisions, to do my best. I know I’m not always there but I’m striving everyday.”
Many people came and stopped by during my talk with Misty, asking her about what she was doing later that day or just to hang out with us. There’s no doubt that she is familiar with everyone here at Sox Place, which has been a resource that she has used often during her years on the streets. “It’s where I can find community and of course food” she said with a chuckle. “I can come down here hang out, get on the computers and access Facebook so that I can communicate with friends and family. It’s been a home away from the home I don’t have yet. When I’m struggling I know that I can come to Doyle or Jordan, I know that somebody will be here to talk to if I need it.”
Although Misty has been a frequent attender of Sox Place for the past few years, she has been given the opportunity to make a new start for herself as she’s been approved for a housing voucher. This is a huge step for her and a step in the direction of honoring the instructions of her Grandmother. “I can actually start looking for a place to live. I think that should be easy enough, I’m just going to sign a lease for whatever opens up first. I’m not going to be picky. Ive been homeless for three years so there’s no point to bother with picking and choosing, especially because it’s a life time voucher,” she said.
Life has a funny way of throwing us into some of the hardest circumstances, and Misty is coming out of a drought. When life seems to dry up its resources, it’s important to hold on tight. There will be always be times in life where hope seems lost. When the time comes to uplift and encourage those around us, do so with a loving heart. It’s hard to say the sort of impact this will have on others’ lives.
Misty spoke of a few genuine people that were always there for her. “Tough times, great times, thick and thin, it never mattered. That’s a definition of A friend. It’s just easier to know that I have a friend that is with me regardless of my situation.”
If there’s a constant between all the kids I speak with at Sox Place, it’s that they are there for one another. Obviously not everyone gets along, but they each have a web of people that are their “street brothers” or “street sisters.” Many of them have spoke to me about their “street family” and how without them they wouldn’t have made it this long. They realize without community they would die out here. The world is hard, dark and unforgiving. If anyone knows that it’s these guys and girls.
What I love about Sox Place is that the street kids include us in their community, and they feel included in ours. They find family here, they find relationship here. Just like they have their friends who have their backs on the streets, they know that they also have Sox Place and everyone that works here has their back too. If there is a new comer to town it’s not long before they end up walking through those big red doors. “What is this place?” I have been asked countless times by those who have found themselves either stuck in Denver or just traveling through.
As someone who sits in the middle between all our readers, our supporters, and our street kids what I see is one very large community. Do you all know that you too are part of these kids lives on a very personal level? They have their street family, they have Sox Place, these are their resources. When you support us, when you become part of our family then that means these kids also have you. Without your continued support we couldn’t be here for these kids.
I love this because, how often in our day to day lives do we get to engage on a deep and personal level with the people in our lives? I had a friend come to me just last week at the end of her rope. It’s my duty to love her and do what I can to help because she’s part of my community. What if we treated the people we see on a daily basis like we would die without them, and they would die without us?
The truth is without the support of our community, Sox Place couldn’t exist for these kids. I urge you to assess your lives, who is in your community? Do you have people that surround you that have your back, that you can be real with? Someone on your team that you can call at 3 A.M. and know they will be there for you?
That’s what this circle is all about. You’re here for us, we’re here for you, and together we’re here for the kids that are battling the streets and attempting to survive and thrive. So thank you for being on our team, for having our backs! Love you guys.
Being homeless is not about being lazy or relying on “the system.” Being homeless is not about being scummy, smelly, or dirty. Being homeless is more than just being without a house, because a home is more than a roof over your head. Being homeless is about survival. It prevents 1.7 million young people in the United States from dreaming, experiencing safety and love on a daily basis.
Often I sit down with Doyle in the morning at Sox Place discussing some of the kids that frequently attend, ideas about getting their stories out and God’s role in this ministry. When he recalls specific kids and their stories I can see the tapes rolling in his head as he visualizes past encounters. This time he’s referring to a time when his son Jordan was in grade school.
“The first homeless girl I knew was from Cedar Hill, Texas and went to second grade with Jordan,” Doyle said, “she would hide under the family car from her abusive dad.”
This is where Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition of a home as “One’s residence” doesn’t quite capture what a home really is. If home is just a residence, then being homelessness means being only without a residence, and after working with young adults for fourteen years, Doyle sees home, and homelessness as so much more than a dictionary definition.
“A home should be a residence where there is love, provision, protection, boundaries, correction and safety. There are many more homeless youth and young adults than just the ones who are recognized by our government and statistics in the physical sense.”
Ultimately being homeless is about you and me. It’s our community and those on the streets are our neighbors. So what does it take for you and me to step up and move to make a difference in our communities?
For me it was a one time missions trip to Denver’s Sox Place with a youth group I was involved with a few years back. It set a fire in my soul to make a difference for these kids.
Maybe you don’t know where to start, I urge you to make a trip down here! See and experience first hand what we do. Ask where you can help. This might be financially, physically, or spiritually. We are always praying for financial gifts to help keep our heat on and doors open. When groups or individuals pay us a visit and serve a meal, or donate socks, it means so much to us! Most of all we need to be on your prayer lists. Pray for us, but more importantly pray for our kids. Pray for their survival, pray that they might find freedom, refuge and peace.
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!
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!