Last week we pulled a few of our youth aside to share what Sox Place means to them. We asked them to describe Sox Place in a word or a sentence in the interest of brevity. Smiley, Sugar Bear, Ashley, Clarissa, James, Leroy, Char, Brandi, Damage, Charlie, Elias, Bernadette, Shane, Seven, Milo, Daniel, Amanda, and Dougie each share what Sox Place means to them. It is encouraging to hear the impact that our organization and our staff have had on the street youth of Denver over the years. We focus on building long-term relationships with our youth. We meet them where they are and love them for who they are. It is through this love that our youth are able to see such amazing change in their lives, and it is only with the support of people like you that we can realize their true potential. Please consider supporting Sox Place today.
Mike (also known on the streets as “Squirrel”) shares his story about life on the streets and how the staff at Sox Place have helped him. Mike now works as an intern at Sox Place Screen Printing.
I have had the opportunity to experience some incredible improvements in the lives of some of our street youth during the six months that I have been working at Sox Place. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Deven (formerly known on the streets as Ziggy), who has progressed from prison cell to maintaining a part-time job at a custom motorcycle shop in Denver. I wrote about some of my experiences with him earlier this year here (http://soxplace.com/new-beginnings) and here (http://soxplace.com/planting-seeds-at-sox-place/), in which I built up an older Trek mountain bike for Deven as a means of reliable and inexpensive transportation for him to use during his job search, and later on, for him to use to travel to and from work.
As some of you may know, a bicycle can greatly improve the chances of a homeless individual receiving a job. Many of our youth interview for jobs that require a means of transportation, such as within the field of construction, but are ultimately turned down due to their inability to travel to the job site. A bicycle is a much more affordable means of transportation in comparison to utilizing the city bus system, and is certainly much less expensive than owning a vehicle, which out of reach for most of the youth that we serve. A one-way bus pass within the Denver Metro area can cost anywhere from $2.25 to $5.00 per trip; a monthly bus pass can cost nearly eighty dollars. Riding a bicycle as a means of transportation, however, is significantly less expensive. It can cost only a few dollars a month in routine repairs to maintain a bicycle, which makes this method of transportation a welcome alternative to public transportation. And most of the time, it takes the same amount of time (or even less time) as riding the bus to travel throughout the city by bike.
The problem, however, is that few of the youth that we serve on a daily basis actually know how to maintain their own bike, let alone take care of simple repairs. Something as simple as a flat tire will cause many of our youth to ditch their bike in favor of riding the bus or even walking. Since some of the homeless within Denver often steal or trade low-value items for these bikes in the first place, they do not feel obligated to maintain them.
I am a huge advocate for cycling, and I spend many hours on bikes of my own, riding on grueling endurance rides up steep mountain back roads, cruising along riverside bike paths, and hammering through rush hour traffic during my commute to work. Though I own a car, I very rarely use it, and am completely aware that a vehicle is not necessary within the metro area. Over the past year, I have built three of my own bikes and have performed routine maintenance and repairs on countless others.
Among a plethora of other benefits, cycling can give the street youth of Denver a means of sustainable and reliable transportation, enabling them to obtain jobs, which in the long run, can give them the tools and experience that they need to leave the dangerous and unpredictable environment of the city streets. The staff and I agree that it would be extremely beneficial to create a program in which we would be able to educate our youth on proper bicycle maintenance and repairs, while also forming meaningful relationships in which we could mentor our youth in the process.
As I’m sure you are aware, we are a privately funded organization, so our finances can often be tight. We are in the process of purchasing a few necessary tools for our new bike workstation at Sox Place, but we are also in need of used bicycles and bike parts (such as tires, tubes, used components, etc.). Used bicycles can be quite easy to come by, since many families often have abandoned old bicycles in the basement or garage, suffering from neglect and disuse. My hope is that as our youth show interest in this program, we will be able to give them the opportunity to earn their own bicycle through time and dedication, while learning important maintenance and repairs skills, as well as work and social skills needed for the workplace.
On behalf of the staff and the youth at Sox Place, I am asking you to consider a gift to Sox Place in the form of a used bicycle, bike parts, or even a monetary donation in support of all that we do to serve the homeless youth of Denver.
If you are interested in becoming involved or would like more information on this new program, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
At any point in time, there are over 1,100 homeless youth (ages 14-24) and over 5,000 homeless students (children attending school, but considered homeless) in the Denver-Metro area.* Denver is home to thousands of gang members, countless drug and alcohol addicts, victims of human trafficking, and hundreds of other at-risk youth.
Sox Place is reaching 60-80 of these youth each day.
Each Tuesday through Saturday, we provide a hot meal, mentoring, resources and referrals, clothing, blankets, internet access, recreation, employment assistance, housing assistance, and on-the-job training. Sox Place is a safe environment that is like family – a family that loves and accepts street youth for who they are and where they are in life. The above services will give the street youth the opportunity to end the vicious cycle of hopelessness that they face on a regular basis.
Denver Colorado is known as the “Mile High City” (5,280 feet = 1 mile), and we are asking you to come alongside Sox Place by giving $52.80 a month in support. Without partners like you, we cannot continue or expand our mission.
Please consider supporting Sox Place. You have the power to change the lives of those who need it most.
Watch our website for more information and videos on 5280 in the coming days!
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*Source: 2009 Point it Time Survey by Metro Denver Homeless Initiative and Colorado Department of Human Services
Imagine being 16, 17, or 18 and living on the streets. CNN catches up with some of Denver’s homeless youth to find out what it’s like. It is a story of survival and hope. Most of them have found a home through Sox Place. Even though they face more struggles than most, they have not let their dreams die.
From the darkness of his troubled adolescence in Arkansas, Doyle Robinson found the light: He would draw upon his own pain to help troubled teens. From his early days handing out tube socks to homeless kids on the 16th Street Mall, Robinson’s vision has grown to include Sox Place, a converted downtown auto shop that’s now Denver’s only daytime drop-in youth center, where kids can find a warm bowl of soup, a quiet place to crash, easy camaraderie and the occasional punk concert. And if they’re seeking spiritual guidance, Robinson — an ordained minister with the Assembly of God — can offer that, too. But he prefers action to words, showing the power of faith rather than preaching it.
He was terrified. At any moment they could leap forward, press a screwdriver to his throat and mug him — in front of God and the whole world. In fact, the way they were glowering at him, they could do much worse.
“Hi,” Doyle Robinson offered. “How you doin’?”