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On Tuesday night, March 19th, Doyle spoke in Evergreen for Cub Scout Pack 119 about Sox Place and compassion. Rob Lantz, one of our board members, is the pack leader. Thanks, Pack 119, for having Doyle speak and for the socks you brought!
Can’t live with it; can’t live without it.
It can be painful and frustrating at times, but it’s gotta be done: Fundraising. We can’t do what we do without the financial support of the community.
As we mentioned in our most recent Newsletter, our Annual Fundraiser that was scheduled for February 21 has been canceled. But we have new, exciting fundraising opportunities in the making. Here are a few that you can get involved in right now:
Beginning the evening of Thursday, February 21st and ending the evening of Monday, February 25th, you will have the opportunity to participate in Sox Place’s first online auction. To view the auction items and to see how the auction works, click here. If you wish to participate in the auction, you will need to create an account by clicking on the Log In button in the top right corner of the link.
Our auction items include, but are not limited to:
While most of these items are local, we will be hosting more online auctions in the future with a variety of items.
Do you like Groupon or other discount sites? Would you like to get Groupon-like discounts that also helps out Sox Place? Check out SoRewarding. Here’s what to do:
1. Click on the link and sign up.
2. “Follow” Sox Place by searching for Sox Place in the search bar and clicking the orange “Join” button.
3. Regularly check out the discounts. When you find something you want, hit “buy,” then select Sox Place as the nonprofit you want a percentage of proceeds to go to (this will be on the left-hand side).
4. Tell all your friends, post on Facebook, etc.
5. If you are a merchant (or know one in the Denver area), you can post your discounts through SoRewarding and help out Sox Place even more!
FYI: SoRewarding is currently only in the Denver area, but they hope to expand.
We have used GivingFirst in the past, mainly to promote Colorado Gives Day, but did you know you can give throughout the year through GivingFirst? Why you might want to:
Madison joined the Sox Place staff in January as the Director of Arts and Media. Madison was born in Little Rock Arkansas and raised in small town called Searcy until she went to college in Jonesboro at Arkansas State University. She studied theatre and music and hopes to be able to help the kids at Sox Place find a creative outlet to help express themselves in healthy ways. Madison visited Sox Place in November 2012 and knew that’s where God wanted her to be.
Yesterday was my first day at Sox Place and I had the opportunity to talk to two young people. One was a guy from Austin, TX that was really big into the performing arts like me. We got to talk for at least an hour about theatre and what he wants to do with his life. It was so ironic because he is from around the same place I am and had actually lived in the city where I went to college for a while. I’m going to try and help him find some auditions and theatre work in Denver and the surrounding areas.
I also had the pleasure of talking to a girl who was probably around my age. I was wearing my “Jesus Loves Me” t-shirt and she commented on it and said that she liked it. She then informed me that she had just gone to church for the first time ever last Sunday. I was stunned. Where I grew up, you would have trouble finding one person who had never been to church. I asked her how she liked it and she said, “Everyone was really nice.” That works for me. I pray that because of those “nice” Christians that she will return and become more curious about the gospel and want to know God more personally.
by Shel Silverstein
What a strange wind it was today,
Whistlin’ and whilin’ and scurlin’ away
Like a worried old woman with so much to say.
What a strange wind it was today.
What a strange wind it was today.
Cool and clear from a sky not grey
And my hat stayed on but my head blew away—
What a strange wind it was today.
The weather in Denver can change in an instant. Winter days can be 70 and sunny or crazy winds and blowing snow. While this is a mere inconvenience to most, for a homeless kid, it is a battle.
On the streets, a good coat can mean the difference between a good night’s rest and a sleepless night. The difference between frost bite and warm fingers and toes. The difference between being wet and cold for days on end or warm and dry. The difference between sickness and wellness.
A couple weeks ago, we said that we were in need of winter clothes, and look what you, our donors, came up with! Thank you! You have made a difference!
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For more information and to keep updated on needed items, click here.
“Hey, what’s up; how are you?”
“TIRED and COLD.”
“What’s the deal? Didn’t get any sleep last night?”
“Naw, it was f#@^&% freezing last night. Do you guys have any blankets or sleeping bags?”
“Sorry, we’re all out.”
This is the unfortunate conversation I have several times a day as we are in fall, and winter is quickly approaching. Most of our kids sleep under bridges, on the side walk or a park, or wherever they pass out after walking all night so they don’t get busted for sleeping in public. This being the case, all they have for warmth is what the are carrying on their bodies and in their back packs. Winter stuff can get quite heavy and cumbersome, especially in the summer when it is not a necessity for survival. Most of our kids will pass on their blankets (never their sleeping bags!) and heavy winter clothes. Sometimes they forget to stock up on supplies before the frost hits, so they get stuck with nothing and freeze on the first cold night. We gave out just about everything warm we had after the first cold days this year. We have no sleeping bags, blankets, gloves, hoodies, backpacks, and no warm winter jackets. I feel as guilty as our kids for not being better prepared for the winter months, but… we need help!
If you have any stuff you’re not using that would help keep some kids warm, please consider donating it to us. Any camping gear is always extremely appreciated by our kids. Gloves, backpacks, sleeping bags, hoodies, and coats would help a ton! Thanks to all of you for your continued support, and for all the people that have donated warm stuff for these kids already this year!
A cool breeze danced across the dark, rippling waters of Puget Sound as I walked along the waterfront, stopping for a moment at Pier 59 to soak in the sights and sounds of the beautiful city of Seattle. Tourists bustled through Waterfront Park, stopping to browse the array of knick-knacks and trinkets that populated the tables of merchant tents. Enormous freight ships cruised slowly from the Port of Seattle against a majestic backdrop of the mist-covered Olympic Mountains. As I began walking to meet a few friends for a seafood lunch on pier 57, I crossed the path of several homeless men and young train riders. I flashed a quick smile at them as I walked by, observing their crudely made cardboard signs and chiseled crafts.
I had flown to Seattle for a greater portion of the week to be a groomsman for a friend’s wedding in the nearby suburb of Kent, Washington. This week away from Colorado also served as a welcome break from the busyness of life and work in Denver.
Over the course of the previous month, I had started to become frustrated with my position and responsibilities at Sox Place. Though I could say that I generally enjoyed my job, the last few weeks had begun to push me to the limits of my patience. I currently work as the director of the screen-printing shop at Sox Place, Sox Place Screen Printing, working to employ and teach job skills to the street youth of Denver. While my position certainly provides a sense of fulfillment and purpose, it also requires a significant amount of patience, understanding, and flexibility, much of which I do not always consciously (or willingly) practice. My current employee, Joe Joe, had been testing my patience, and training had been going pretty slowly, costing a fair amount of time and money to the company. And though I went to school for business management, I often feel severely inadequate and inexperienced when it comes to running a small business, especially when it involves a skill that I have never learned before.
Over the course of my trip in Seattle, I began to wonder what it would be like if I didn’t work at Sox Place. I tend to run away from circumstances that I find difficult, even for something as trivial as what I had been dealing with. My imagination wandered as I began to fabricate a life for myself in the port city that I was exploring, somehow justifying a move away from my home in Denver and my current job.
It seems silly, even foolish, that I had even thought about leaving even for a moment, but as God has been revealing to me, these tendencies are only a result of my humanness and the countless imperfections that come along with such a state of being. God has been pushing me towards seeking wisdom, and not simply understanding. He has been pushing me to grow from my mistakes, rather than allowing me to strive for constant perfection. He has especially been rather fond of using my unique position at Sox Place to humble me, even to the point of breaking.
Prior to my trip to the northwest, I had made an agreement to sell a scooter to Louis, one of the street youth who utilizes the services at Sox Place from time to time. He had become homeless through some unfortunate circumstances, but he had been working diligently to find a way off the streets for the past several months.
“All I need is a form of transportation to get to work,” Louis had explained to me earlier. “Even if it’s a cheap moped, that’s all I need to get this job back.”
Louis had actually been hired at a high-paying job, but his supervisor quickly fired him due to safety issues once he discovered that Louis had been riding his 20” BMX bike two and a half hours to a job in which he was required to operate heavy machinery. This caused Louis to quickly lose hope once again, spiraling into a continuum of constant negativity and hopelessness.
Prior to that, a family friend had given me a scooter to sell in order to help support me financially, but it required some work in order to get it up and running. The scooter sat in my apartment parking space for weeks since I hadn’t really had time to figure out how to have it repaired without spending too much money. As Louis and I were in the middle of this conversation, I quickly realized that I had found the perfect potential owner for my scratched up, broken down scooter.
After some negotiation, Louis became the proud owner of a well-used Strada Eurojet. Using his extensive mechanical background and little bit of elbow grease, he had the scooter up and running within a matter of days.
I remember his expression when he learned that I would be giving him a scooter. “The light at the end of the tunnel is so bright, I have to close my eyes to see,” Louis would say. And it was bright indeed. He had found a sliver of hope to hold onto, and that was all he needed to pull himself out of homelessness.
Every day I struggle to quench my pride. I have an extremely strong desire to know exactly how to do things, and how to do them well. In running the screen printing business, I have been forced to learn as I go and make an obscene amount of mistakes as a result. I was forced to start from scratch. I knew absolutely nothing about the industry upon being hired at Sox Place, and I was never given any formal training on how to screen print, use Photoshop, or any of the other necessary skills that are needed to operate such a business. And what’s more, I have never been trained to employ street youth and felons who have never successfully held a job before. On most days, this ocean of uncertainty can be a tall glass to swallow. Every single day I am reminded that I am not the one doing the work, but that He is working through me. I only have to be humble enough to allow Him to do the job.
I’ve come to learn that in working with the hopeless, the unlovable and the ignored; it only takes one small act to completely change the course of someone’s life. It also takes months (and more often than not, years or decades) of consistent, loving kindness, in order to even notice a discernible difference in the trajectory of a person’s existence. But despite the immense amount of things that I don’t know, especially in how to do well at my job, I do know how to love. I know how to love because He loved me first. He loves me more than any combination of artfully crafted words could ever convey, and it is because of Him that I can ever even attempt to stumble my way into loving another human being.
Louis now works full-time at a sign company and loves every minute of it. He rides his scooter to work every day.
He leads the humble in what is right,
And teaches the humble his way.
* * *
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding he established the heavens;
By his knowledge the deeps broke open,
And the clouds drop down the dew.
My son, do not lose sight of these –
Keep sound wisdom and discretion,
And they will be life for your soul
And adornment for your neck.
* * *
Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
And the one who gets understanding,
For the gain from her is better than
gain from silver
And her profit better than gold.
She is more precious that jewels,
And nothing you desire can compare
Fall is the season of change. We all know that to inspire change we must first work hard and be as consistent as possible and change is a natural part of our lives. Sox Place has now been open for more than 10 years! I know that if I asked Doyle, he would say that Sox Place has definitely changed over the past 10 years. We have grown; grown in our relationship with street kids, grown in our personal relationships with Christ, and grown Christ’s kingdom. Often people are afraid of change, it intimidates them and causes them anxiety. However, without a willingness to change and transform we can never progress. If we let our own fears get in the way, we are tentative to allow God to mold us and our ministry into the best possible form to change people’s lives.
As many people know, Sox Place has been looking for a new building for over a year now as our lease is coming to its end. It is very difficult to find a space for the type of service we provide to street kids and our community. It is easy for us to worry and to stress about this new chapter in Sox Place’s ministry, but God has shown us something totally different than that. Our staff is patient, and we know that Sox Place has been taken care of by God’s grace for over 10 years. We anticipate and await the changes that God has in store for this ministry. We know that to be the best possible demonstration of Christ’s love to people, things will not always be easy or necessarily make sense to us. We are ever evolving and ever changing. God is always consistent in his love for us as his children. God loves us and wants us to progress because of his continual love in our personal lives; we have that ability to do so. Pray for Sox Place in this season of change. Pray for strength for our staff and our leadership to follow God’s will always, even if it is not the easiest choice for us. Change is hard and it challenges every aspect of our lives, but without change we become stagnant in our ministry. God’s love is the focus and that never changes; it merely evolves to reach more people.
I became houseless at a very young age, and, not unlike most houseless people, I ended up in a lot of Rescue Missions. Apparently there were a lot of people whose mission it was to rescue us. They tried their best, too, by shouting on and on about how Jesus loved us, but they never showed us love. We got, “Jesus loves you,” running out our ears, but we didn’t have any person who loved us.
After a few years of that, I had enough “Bible” and more than enough “Jesus loves you.” One night at a Rescue Mission, I was listening (to use the term loosely) to a preacher talk about God’s so loving the world and so on. I’d heard it so many times, it had no meaning, so I read To Kill a Mockingbird. The preacher saw me reading and interrupted me with the question, “Is this not relevant to you, do you not need God’s love?”
I was afraid to answer because fried chicken night is no time to get put out of the mission. Reluctantly, I began to answer, “Well, sir, you came here tonight to preach God’s love. When you got here, you silently pushed through a crowd of people to get into the building, didn’t greet anyone but the house manager, looked at us as if homeless was contagious, and then got up to tell us how much God loves us. If you are an example of God’s love then, no, I don’t need it.”
He made a comment about how the devil likes to disrupt church. I read on in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The night ended with fried chicken, and I went to my squat. It took me a long time to marinate on what had happened that night; before I realized it, that was the night I gave up on love. If God’s love ain’t nothin’, then no love is real.
Then I met Doyle and the rest of the gang at Sox Place. They didn’t preach about God’s love. They didn’t have to. They lived it. They gave it to us; they loved us dirty little cast offs for no reason at all – just because. They were kind when they didn’t have to be, they fed us when we weren’t their kids; they LOVED us. They loved ME – unlovable, unwanted, thrown away me. They didn’t tell me about God’s love. They gave it to me. They taught me you don’t have to be “good enough,” you just have to take the love that is offered. It’s free, no strings. Just like our Father intended. So, thanks to Doyle and everyone else at Sox Place. Many thanks to the families that sacrifice time with them so that we can experience a family too.
– Holly, former street youth and good friend of Sox Place
Check out What’s been happening the past month at Sox Place
Donations of chips (a ton of chips!) by Mark
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Tyler did his Eagle Scout project by organizing a donation drive for Sox Place. Look at some of the items that were collected!
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We had several groups donate their time, money, and a week of summer vacation to help us out. Here’s one of the groups from Austin Bluffs Community Church in Colorado Springs. We’ve also had groups from Pryor OK and Farmington NM!
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The following blog is written by Grace, our summer intern:
I have only been interning at Sox Place for two months, but everyday holds surprises. Sox Place strives to form relationships and be a place of comfort and encouragement. I started my internship this summer hoping to help do that for others but I didn’t know that it would happen to me. When I met Lynne and Shea, on Thursday, July 12, God worked through Sox Place to form a relationship that stretched across the country.
It is early afternoon. I’m hanging out in the drop-in center playing pool and talking. A well-dressed lady walks up behind me and her adorable dog catches my eye. A lot of people have dogs at Sox Place so I wasn’t too surprised but I stopped to ask her dog’s name. After petting him for a minute, I turn back around to my pool game. Then a man walks up to where I’m standing and introduces himself to me.
Lynne and Shea are caring people and love to give back, but they also have a deeper story that binds their lives to the lives of many street kids, and now, also to my own life.
Earlier that day, the drop-in center isn’t open yet and all the staff are upstairs getting ready for the afternoon. Jordan stops into the office where I’m working and mentions that someone just contacted him and wants to meet me. Immediately, I’m confused. Jordan explains that he didn’t catch the whole message and just knows that this guy and I share a mutual friend and that he has a connection with Sox Place.
The guy was Shea, and his daughter, Andrea, an avid poet, a journalist, and a lover of animals hung out downtown and identified with other street kids. She found comfort and refuge in Sox Place and knew Doyle well.
In 2010, their daughter Andrea, aka “Rinu,” died from the “choking game.” The “choking game” is a game that young people play to get a sort of high by blocking the oxygen flow to the brain and causing them to get dizzy or pass out. This dangerous game turns deadly when the person playing is not able to stop the choking quick enough to get a breath.
Andrea’s parents have been visiting Sox Place regularly since she passed two years ago, donating journals, socks, deodorant, and bandanas, striving to keep Andrea’s legacy alive and inspiring other street kids to write and make their stories heard.
After the death of their daughter, Shea and Lynne not only kept in contact with Sox Place, but they also reached out to other organizations and joined an online support group that connects families and parents of those who have died from the “choking game.” Through this support group, Andrea’s parents met others grieving the loss of a child yet striving to raise awareness and bring hope to others. One of the other parents that Shea and Lynne happened to connect with was Kelly, Jay’s mom.
I’m from a small town in Tennessee, over one thousand miles away from Denver. I attended the local public school and had class with many of the same kids for seven years. Jay was one of those kids. He was involved in school, well-known, and liked by his classmates. One of the first of our classmates to die, Jay left an impact on all of our hearts. The summer after graduation, news spread through Facebook, the news, and word of mouth that one of our friends and classmates had passed away. We were off to college, finding jobs, and starting families, but in a way Jay’s passing brought our high school class closer together. Today, almost three years later, I was brought back to that summer, those friends that I have lost touch with, and the faces I haven’t seen in years.
When I first talked to Shea, he began explaining the links that brought us together. After reading the recent newsletter, and recognizing the name of my home town as that of Kelly and Jay’s, Shea and Lynne took a leap of faith and contacted me.
I believe that many miracles have happened at Sox Place and that God is present in every person who walks through the door. I don’t know exactly what Lynne and Shea saw in me that day, or what they were feeling, but in them I saw a glimpse of something powerful. I saw a connection to my past, through Jay and his mother, and a connection to Andrea, a friend that I’ve never met, yet an angel that has brought people together.