Tag: homelessness

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This past month has been full, the kind of full that makes you want to just take a nap and hope all the obligations and appointments go away when you wake up.  My days fly by reminding me of a game I would play when I was a child. Spinning round and round until the colors were blurred and my feet began to wobble, I recall hitting the ground as I lost complete balance and I would watch as the room would continue to spin and I would wait for my eyes to catch up with the room. I would sit and wait calmly before getting up, for I knew if I stood up too quickly I would just fall back down again.

Do you ever find yourself caught in a storm of a day that leaves your soul spinning, or a week, perhaps even several months at a time?  When seasons of “busy” wash on to the shore of your life, where nothing seems to be slowing down, hours seem to pass in a blink of an eye and before you know it you’re playing catch up with life.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon  you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I feel as if the control over my life is slowly slipping through my fingers, and that’s scary, because I don’t know what will happen if I let go. Maybe it’s not a matter of letting go, perhaps it’s a matter of prioritizing.

It’s important to know and understand what should take precedent in life, and for me personally, it’s important to understand what Jesus says about where my priorities need to be.  I have my relationship with Christ, fueling hope, to ground me, to keep my world from spinning, but it’s a matter of letting my legs fall and rest in the life of Christ.

Some of the kids here at Sox Place find their grounding in music, art, or hope for money to come, and for some kids, their grounding place is Sox Place, when their life has been flipped, or their tired of traveling. What do you hope for? What grounds you when life begins to spin?

“Hope for the future, hope that I get to be in an apartment again, the hope that at some point I’ll finish my art, my music. My friends keep holding me up, relationships help me stay strong…” said Emmanuel. He had his circumstances changed too quickly, and has now ended up on the streets.

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“For three years I had control over my situation and all of a sudden I lost my place and my mother, and it was just too much,” said Emmanuel.

For Brian, another one of our friends, music is what moves him, grounds him, and gives him purpose. He’s always happy to be here and share different songs that he’s working on, even when he only has three strings on his guitar.

“I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10 years old, music is what keeps me hopeful,” said Brian.

When times get dizzying, and hope becomes scarce, Sox Place is here to be a landing place for street kids. A place to find rest and solitude. It’s a place that street kids and travelers can sit and wait for the room to quit spinning, before trying to stand again.

Would you like to help give to Sox Place, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a couple of ways you can benefit our drop in center for street youth in Denver!

Buy our merch: http://www.soxplace.bigcartel.com/

Donate directly: http://soxplace.com/donate/

Shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Sox Place Inc. Bookmark the linkhttp://smile.amazon.com/ch/73-1718252 and support us every time you shop.

 

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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, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

 

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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!

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So many people come and go from Sox Place on a daily basis, taking only what they need and leaving what they don’t.  So far I’ve met many people who are experiencing life’s tragedies and pressing health conditions, some that would leave any body hopeless about what the future holds.

And yet that doesn’t stop so many of those that visit us from enjoying what life has to offer.  There’s so many stories here at Sox Place, stories that are perfect depictions of bravery, courage, and capture a passion for life when all seems lost.  How many are on this planet today living this way?

It seems like the passion for living gets lost somewhere on the commute to work or school.  Millions of people just following the status quo, doing what they’re told, just breathing to stay alive, but there’s not a whisper of a thrill in the time that goes by.

The people at Sox Place remind myself to live with passion.  Don’t be afraid to be hopeful for what the future may hold.  There’s no sense in living a life that’s empty but “successful”. There’s no sense in allowing for the curve balls to kill the joy that comes from the heart.  When the going gets tough it’s easy to fall into sadness and self pity, but it takes work to get up everyday and dance.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

If you would like to contribute to Sox Place and you don’t know where to start, check our new merch page out!

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It’s the last week of July, and Denver is not cooling down. The sun rises early and sets late, and the streets of Downtown soak up the heat making it almost impossible to escape the heat. In the midst of the hustle of Denver, Sox Place opens its doors to the public.

What is Sox Place?  It may be many different things to many different people, but in the midst of it all, it is a place where one can find healing and refuge from the blistering sun or the frigid Colorado air, it is a place one can find rest and a hot meal, it is a safe place.

Life for anyone can spin out of control, it can unravel and in a blink of an eye, our carefully tended to worlds can be flipped upside down.  In times like these some may seek serenity in different places.  I know for myself I have found peace in the midst of life’s storms in nature. I love spending time exploring God’s great creation, away from the hustle of city life and the business life sucks us all into sometimes.  We all need those places of refuge, whether we are train riders, people fighting to get off the streets, or even people who appear to have it all together with steady jobs or what society tells us is a normal life.

For many people, Sox Place is a place to find rest and a hot meal, and meaningful relationships. I know personally sometimes life can feel like there are no people who actually care, and the world can be cruel.  Physically Sox Place has spaces for people to rest their tired feet, and cool off especially in the midst of this hot summer in Denver. But it’s also a place to rest their mind and spirit. It’s a beacon of light in a dark world, bringing love and acceptance to people that have been treated like gum on the bottom of societies shoe for too long.

Where do you spend time in order to find refuge and peace?  Let us know in the comments below!

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It was a crisp, cool morning in Boulder, Colorado. I pedaled along the Boulder Creek Trail, soaking in the sights and sounds of an early spring morning. A breeze danced through the bare trees, causing the cracked and weathered branches to gently sway as I pedaled past. The drivetrain on my aluminum road bike hummed quietly as I crossed arched wooden bridges, observing the clear, rippling water beneath me.

I left the trail and rode past Pearl Street, watching as a few pedestrians peered at touristy kitsch through expansive store windows. I rolled into the littered alleyway between Pine and Spruce on Broadway, dismounting my bike as I coasted to a stop outside of the Boulder Carriage House – a tiny homeless day shelter that served the homeless and working poor of the city. I had been volunteering once a week during my free time as a student at CU-Boulder, serving healthy meals and providing necessities to those who needed it most. 

Up until this point, I knew next to nothing about the homeless, or even homelessness in general. Like most Americans, I was completely oblivious to the relentless challenges that so many of our brethren face on a daily basis as they struggle to survive, often reiterating extremely narrow-sighted and ignorant stereotypes that far oversimplified the problems of homelessness. Months prior, I had read a book that had completely challenged my way of thinking. It was a little paperback book entitled The Irresistible Revolution. Author Shane Claiborne writes:

“…I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of – lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about.” 

These were the words that urged me to step away from my ignorance and inaction and step into a world that I had never previously dared to enter.

I learned invaluable lessons during the eighteen months that I worked as a volunteer at The Carriage House. I found out that individuals struggling to survive on the outskirts of society could not be condensed into neat little statistics to be analyzed. I met incredible people and heard amazing stories of perseverance and heartbreak, of hope and hopelessness. As I began to build relationships with the poor and marginalized of my city, I began to deeply understand things that I had only previously speculated about, and it broke my heart.

I began to realize how truly broken our world is, and that not one thing, save the Love of our Father, could ever provide a true solution to such a corrupted system.


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Now, over two years later, I work for a homeless youth drop-in center where I share life with homeless and at-risk youth on a daily basis. We hear so many horrendously heart-breaking stories from our kids, and it causes me to truly weep over such seemingly irreparable brokenness. But over time, my heart can begin to become calloused because of the number of stories we hear and the incomprehensible magnitude of each one. As someone who works in the fields of non-profit and ministry, I have found that this is an extremely common occurrence. We are often forced to choose to either not let these horrible stories affect us, or to let our hearts break apart countless times each day, forcing us to pick up the pieces at each days’ end.

 

 

 

Over and over again, we are forced to choose to either merely serve the surface-level needs of our youth, such as food, clothing, and housing assistance, or to truly love each of our kids on a deeply spiritual and emotional level, allowing ourselves to be completely broken and vulnerable. Henri Nouwen describes it best:

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

Compassion calls us to step beyond the borders of society, even completely erasing them in the process. Compassion urges us to love with reckless abandon as we attempt to reassemble the broken pieces of those we serve and so dearly love. It forces us to love with purpose and in action, not merely with words. It challenges us to allow ourselves to be as broken as the hearts of those we care for, and it can change everything.

-Benten

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“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:

  • According to www.fathersunite.org children from fatherless homes are:
    • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
    • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
    • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. (Source: Center for Disease Control).
    • 80% of rapist motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. (Source: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26).
    • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (Source: National Principals Assoc. Report on the State of High Schools).
    • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. (Source: Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. Of Corrections, 1992).
    • These statistics translate to mean that children from fatherless homes are:
      • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
      • 32 times more likely to run away
      • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
      • 14 times more likely to commit rape
      • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
      • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

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!”

-Doyle

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