Tag: street kids

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Sexual Assault-2

As you all may know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and Sox Place is more than willing to bring up some heavy statistics. Many street kids and runaways engage in survival sex and 34% report being sexually abused before they ever leave home. One in four girls are sexually assaulted before they even turn 18 and one in six boys experience the same damaging fate.  Men and women that sexually assault their victims are not all scary strangers lurking in dark alleys but instead can hide behind masks of normal people–friends, family members, and people you may trust. Parents don’t let this converstaion go silent in your homes.  Readers, do not blame, pass judgemnet, or pretend that it’s not happening all around you. At Sox Place many of our kids have been hurt and affected by sexual assault and abuse. We provide a safe place, a loving atmosphere, and a judgement free zone for the street youth of Denver. Kids can be kids at Sox Place. They don’t have to worry about their safety or security while they are under our watch. If you like what we are doing at Sox Place and believe that victims of sexual assualt should continue to have a safe place to go please consider partnering with us and supporting us financially on our donate page.

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I recently read an article that the National Runaway Safe Line (NRS) posted on their twitter about kids that runaway from home. They reported that 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home and 43% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.

This caught my attention because the kids that we have the privilege of serving and loving are many many many times runaway’s. Ranging from young teenage kids to young adults who have traded the unsafe place they were supposed to call home for the unsafe place of the streets. Often times young adults will engage in “survival sex” in exchange for food, shelter, or money.

This is where Sox Place steps in, at least for a few hours a day. We provide FREE clothing, FREE food, and FREE hygiene products. Most importantly we provide a safe place with safe people. The people we engage with daily do not have security, but when they are here, they do.

Sox Place is not only attempting to serve the homeless. Sox Place is addressing sexual assault by being kind hearted and treating everyone with love and respect, something they don’t receive in the other areas of their lives.  If you have a heart for those that have suffered sexual assault and abuse and if you want to support Sox Place in helping these kids survive, please consider navigating to our donate page so that our doors may stay open for the bruised and broken kids that have no home.

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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.

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Community

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.

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Sox Place Resolution Guide

Have you made your New Years Resolution yet?  The first week of January has already spun by, can you believe it?  That may mean that you’ve already abandoned those resolutions, or you’re attempting to navigate them the best you can.  I didn’t get around to making a list before January 1st but instead I have spent this week trying to figure out what I want to accomplish this year.  Should I take up a new hobby, or maybe just try to be better at managing the time I have to focus on the responsibilities I already have?

As a young adult in todays’s world it seems that my attention is being fought for and pulled in every which direction. I remember as a kid hearing adults talk about the days coming and going faster than the year before, but I didn’t understand.  As a kid days feel like they take forever to pass. Just the thought of waiting for Christmas to come again seems like it will take a lifetime when you’re a child.  When you’re an adult, it’s easy to consider leaving the lights up because you know the Holidays will be here again in a blink of an eye.

As I enter into the new year I have realized it’s important is to imagine who you want to be, imagine the life you want.  What do you want your relationships look like? With your kids, with your spouse, with you friends.  What does going to work life feel like?  Imagine.  Here are some goals and resolutions that I have come up with, as a servant of Christ with a heart for his work.

  1. Be Willing to Wait. Sometimes I feel like my prayers fall on deaf ears, or maybe God is simply ignoring me.  When I dive into scripture I realize that God can and always will hear my questions, my pleas and cries. I also realize that sometimes he calls his people to wait. When I want things to happen right now, sometimes God is calling for me to be patient.  I’m not the first one he has asked to wait on Him. He kept Moses in a desert for 40 years!  So my first resolution is really to draw near, be faithful to my Father, and be willing to wait on his plan, and not depend on my own.
  2. Be Kind to Yourself.  We’re already surrounded by so much negativity. The news, the neighbors, the grumpy guy next to your cubicle. Take the first step and treat yourself kindly. Realize who you are, discover who God says you are, and begin to kick those negative thoughts.  When we love ourselves, we can to begin to love others better. Which brings me to my next resolution.
  3. Be Kind to Others.  My mission is to bring Christ’s mission to those that are hungry, broken, and tired.  Which is why I find myself at Sox Place on a weekly basis. These kids are not being reached by church on Sundays, but they are on our doorstep every week.  Hungry, broken, and tired. I need to remember that I am here to spread the love of Jesus and not for any other reason.  Sox Place is not about me, it’s not about Doyle or Jordan, it’s about Jesus.
  4. Slow Down.  As mentioned in resolution number one, life can feel like it is spinning by so fast, and sometimes it feels like I can’t get a grasp on my life.  My resolution is to find time in my day to slow down and enjoy what’s around me.  Find time in the company of others and laugh.  Or seek solitude by sipping on your favorite cup of tea and dive into a coloring book or a hobby that you really enjoy.
  5. Learn to Accept Love.  Life is harsh, and sometimes we build these walls so high around our hearts we become unable to receive love. We think we’re protecting ourselves. Or maybe we think we’re protecting others. It’s so important for us to realize we’re not the sum of all the bad things we’ve done or of all the bad things that have been done to us. Realize who you are, and be set free from the chains of lies that hold us down and keep us from dreaming.

My resolutions are not just for me and how to live my life, but also how I want to treat others. My ultimate resolution is to help others live this way. Help Sox Place kids learn to accept love and to be kind to themselves and others.  To encourage my readers to slow down and be willing to wait for God to move in your lives. My ultimate resolution is to be a safe person where judgment can’t be found but empathy can.

Comment below, I want to hear what all of you are working on this new year! We love you guys and thank you for supporting Sox Place and all our kids that visit us everyday.

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Christmas is often a time where families and friends join together and celebrate. It is often defined by the presents, the food, and the community.  Last Saturday, Sox Place was buzzing with people sharing love with kids and families that will most likely experience the holidays alone. We had countless volunteers serving a big delicious meal, donations of socks, Christmas cards and toys. Even Santa himself made a debut. We were blessed to be able to shower our kids with love during this season, but we could never do this alone!  I am continuously blown away by the hearts of the community surrounding Sox Place and those that have come along side us to do life with us and walk with the street kids of Denver. Below are some pictures of the party!

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Sox Place-2

 

We wanted to share the following 9 News article with our readers about the upcoming Colorado Gives Day. It helps explain a bit more in detail about how it works, and how it can absolutely change the entire financial atmosphere of non-profits in your community, for example the Special Olympics listed below in the article shares what it did for them.  Colorado Gives Day is a great opportunity to give to your favorite local non-profit and it helps make your gift go further. Please consider us this December 8th as we rely on our gracious supporters to continue to love and walk along side the street kids of Denver.

KUSA – Colorado Gives Day 2015 will start at midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

This is the sixth year of the online-giving campaign that raises tens of millions of dollars for hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout Colorado.

In 2014, Colorado Gives Day raised $26.2 million that was distributed to 1,677 nonprofits in just 24 hours. Organizers expect to exceed that number this year.

Special Olympics Colorado is one of the organizations participating in Colorado Gives Day and the $231,000 it looks to raise next week will impact 4,000 new athletes in our state. Special Olympics Colorado offers programs in nearly every community in Colorado, and they don’t charge fees for athlete and family participation.

To sign up for Colorado Gives Day now, or to find out more about the many organizations that are participating, visit www.coloradogives.org.

 

If you would like to donate to Sox Place this season please visit our donate page!

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every day

 

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.


Keala

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Sox Place-2

As the days grow shorter and my last semester as a student at the local University draws near I find myself meditating on a question I have thought about most of my life. “What is my purpose?”  “Where will I find my place?”  I’ve been working towards the end of my college career for five years now and as much as I am excited, I am also scared. But I urge to know where can I be used to make a difference?

At a very young age I felt an urgency to make a difference in the lives of those around me for the better. I shuttered at the thought of anyone having to suffer and it broke my heart when I learned one of life’s lessons; that I can’t save everyone (or anyone for that matter) from the wrench getting thrown into the “well oiled machine” called life.

That’s when my eyes were opened to the difference between life saving and life serving. It’s easy to want to save others, especially when we are surrounded by so much hurt and tragedy. The kids at Sox Place are hurting and I want to save them from the elements outside, from the strangers on the street, from their abusive homes and families they fled from so long ago (or not so long ago).  But that’s way above my pay grade.

Does this mean that we sit by and do nothing?  Although no one can save anyone, it doesn’t mean that we can’t serve others.  When we serve our communities and give to those in our neighborhoods we are making lasting changes in lives of people that we may never know. This isn’t about saving others, it’s about serving others. Sometimes we are just a stepping stone in someone else’s life, moving them a little bit closer to a place where they are free to dream and hope for the future.

This December 8th is Colorado Gives Day.  Come along side us this time of year and make a difference in the lives of those kids that want to hope, but may be too worried about where they are sleeping that night to dream of a better life. Partner with Sox Place and become that stepping stone in these kids’ lives. We have walked along side these kids on a daily basis for thirteen years investing in the lives of the outcasts, and the overlooked, the lost and the broken. We invite you to walk with us by donating to Sox Place. Join the movement and give where you live this Colorado Gives Day.

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I’ll admit when I first met Milenia and Face I wasn’t sure how they were going to feel about me, but almost right off the bat I knew how I felt about them.  They certainly aren’t your average couple, but instead dynamic, interesting and I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone like them. It’s more than just the tattoos that each tell a story, and it’s more than the fact that they were once train riders themselves.  It has more to do with the degree to which they serve those around them.

On day one that I began as a volunteer, Milenia showed me around the place, instructing me on how things worked. What they hygiene room was, and how many shirts people were allowed to take from the closet. All the while she was helping in the kitchen, being asked to check the email, and planning to somehow sit down and write thank you cards to some of our supporters.  She never once showed an ounce of stress. She reminded me of a saying my mom used to use, “dynamite comes in small packages.”  She couldn’t have been taller than 5’4” but that never stopped the way she gracefully managed what seemed to be utter chaos around her. It was an absolute pleasure to work along side you Milenia, to see what the meaning of hard work and compassion is. I admire how the kids at Sox Place always flocked to you, to boast of their success or vent in times of hurt.  I strive to be a woman in my community, where people feel they can always come to me for celebration or advice, and know that I am there for them, much like how you were always there for the kids here at Sox Place.

“Face, what an interesting name,” I thought to myself when I first stepped into Sox Place. Maybe I heard them wrong when they introduced me to him.  Sure enough that was his name.  Face is the type of person that just gets more rewarding to know as time goes on. He’s the quiet type when you first meet him, but as time went on I felt like I got a little bit closer to discovering more about his personality, funny, joyful, and full of life.  However what was evident from beginning to end is that Face is one of the hardest working people I know.  He never let me fill up the water jugs, he never let me take out trash, and he was always available when we had a donation drop off that needed to be moved inside.  When you need help, Face is the kind of guy that will absolutely be by your side. While he worked at Sox Place, he also sometimes spent his mornings working construction across the street. I remember one of the first days I worked with him, he had been working construction all morning, and then helped around Sox Place for a while. Later that afternoon I found him sleeping on one of the dog beds underneath the foosball table.  I thought to myself, if everyone worked hard enough to find a dog bed a place of solitude, we might live in a very different society.  More than hardworking, Face has a huge heart. As the days began to grow colder he would ask if we could open a little early so that the babies outside could get warm.  On Face and Milenias last weekend at Sox Place, I got a picture sent to me telling me a story about how Face gave this little guy his skateboard because his old one was sold by his Dad in order to pay for rent. It was those “little” acts of kindness that Face performed on the daily that really made me understand the kind of person he was.

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I only worked with Face and Milenia and Jeebus for five months, and I hope that someday again I will get a chance to see them, and meet their little boy that’s due this spring. Thanks for being such a blessing in my life and making such an impact here at Sox Place. I already miss you guys so much but I know that your new adventure of starting a family will be a wonderful time in your life!

– Keala

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