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
It started on the streets; it’s where I got my street name from the streets kids in 2000 after passing out hundreds of pairs of socks on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. The streets were the home of the street kids, known as gutter punks, train hoppers, old school, and, by the media, “mall rats.” They were from all walks of life, from all over America, just hanging out on the Mall, a place many called their “living room” because that is where they came together as a family.
When I came in 1998, they were up and down the mall, but mostly around Skyline Park on 16th and Arapahoe streets. I would simply walk up to a crowd, asking if they needed socks. They would of course say yes, taking them with smiles on their faces and, once in a while, a thank you. It started with a pair of socks or even a blanket donated by a church somewhere in America.
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After two years the street kids gave me the name Sox, accepting me into their world.
I would spend a few hours during the day and at night. I walked with them, among them, and just on the edge of their existence. God set my heart to them when I was out on the streets and that is where I am returning. I have been longing to be back out there with them again, and with the great staff that is now at Sox Place Drop-In Center, I can. So for now I will be out there a couple days a week and one to two nights. I will be joined by Stevie, one of our college interns, on Tuesday. This doesn’t change my passion and love of our Drop-In Center, but I must get back out there in their world!
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’?”