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!
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
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.
Isn’t it interesting what “normal” is to each individual?
For one person, normal may be to brush his teeth as soon as he get up. Another person may see normal as waiting until after breakfast to clean those pearly whites. One culture considers belching after a meal a compliment, while another sees it as rude. “Normal” holiday traditions vary so much that compromises are needed when two families come together. But, really, all of it is “normal.” Sure, we may argue over which traditions and habits are better, but usually none of it is bad, just “normal” for that person.
Sometimes, what surprises me the most at Sox Place, is what “normal” is for the kids that walk through the doors. Food stamps, the hope of a disability check, the foster care system, spanging (asking for spare change, as in “Do you have any spare change?”), and lining up at a food pantry are what takes up their typical day. This daily agenda may not be normal for us, but for the homeless or poor it can be very normal. The worst, for me, is when the guys talk about “sharing” the girls or the girls talk about trading sex for a place to sleep. And they talk about it as if it was no bigger deal than the weather changing. It is the way of life for a street kid.
Then it becomes a perpetual cycle – the norm, if you will: someone becomes the victim of the foster care system, the street becomes their home, they find some sort of “street family” where it is implied that they are to trade something to be a part of the group (most likely, for a girl, this will be her body), she gets pregnant, has a kid, child welfare takes the child away, and the whole thing starts over again.
The problem isn’t that this is different from my normal or that I’m somehow better than these kids; the problem is that this should not be anyone’s “normal.” But these kids don’t know how to change when their only job experience is selling drugs (they know fractions and distribution) and the only shelter they’ve ever known has been full of hate; and they don’t want to be the kind of “normal” that they are told to be by the government officials and “yuppies” who look down their noses at the grungy kids with too many bags.
So, how does one demonstrate that normal doesn’t have to include trading sex for a place to stay on a cold night or drinking too much in order to numb horrific memories? Love; compassion; patience. When a life is lived with a true Christ-like compassion – seeing everyone as an equal, these kids will have an example of a normal that is not painful. Sometimes this may be simply acknowledging the bum on the street corner. But it also includes an everyday attitude of love, generosity, and humility, because you never know who is watching you.
A story of two who escaped a magazine crew in Denver
I got a phone call Monday afternoon, June 4 of this year. The voice on the other end was of Pastor Bob Blevins in Pocomoke, MD. He had gotten my name and cell number from our District headquarters; they had told him that I could help with his problem. The problem? A victim of human trafficking named Shannon was in Denver and wanted to go home. She had called her mother back in Maryland and she turned to Pastor Blevins, the only resource she knew to turn.
Pastor Blevins gave me a description of Shannon: tall, slim, 18 year old girl, and had a tattoo on the left side of her neck. She was supposedly at the bus station where she and a friend slept outside on the sidewalk Sunday night. I left the comfort of my home (actually reading in my hammock) and went to the bus station, but no Shannon.
I walked the 16th Street Mall from one end to the other looking for this girl I had never talked to or met. She was a statistic, another victim of the scam called a magazine crew. * But she was a daughter of a very worried mother who loved her; Shannon was worth rescuing!
I walked along Broadway Street where many of the street youth hung out. Walking up to choruses of “Sox!” or “Doyle!” I began telling a few of them what I was doing out on a Monday afternoon, that I was looking for this girl who was in trouble and needed to be found. Krazy said that she thought she had seen her, but didn’t know for sure.
Another youth, named JA, said that he would help put the word out. JA is a junkie, addicted to heroin and barely hanging on, but willing to help find this girl, a stranger from another state. Out on the street, a stranger is often taken in and watched over. Many of the youth said they would keep an eye out for her.
I was playing phone tag with the pastor, who was talking to Shannon’s mom on a borrowed cell phone; the leader of the magazine crew had stolen Shannon’s cell phone. The leaders of the crew use verbal and physical intimidation, along with physical and sexual abuse to get the workers in line. Shannon fortunately had not been subjected to the abuse.
I headed back to the bus station and found her along with her friend David, who also left the crew. They were shaken, but no worse for the wear. They told me that some of the leaders of the crew had come to the station and surrounded them to intimidate them into coming back. The crew didn’t want them to leave because Shannon and David were money in their pockets. Remember the whole deal is a scam to make money off unsuspecting youth selling a false product. They would have to recruit and “train” others if they left, but when these people saw me, they figured the kids were not stranded and left them alone.
I got them bus tickets back to Maryland, got them something to eat and a place to stay for the night (their bus left at 7:15 on Tuesday night). The next morning I took them to Sox Place for a while and then they went over to the bus station to wait for their bus.
When I took them over to the bus station, I took some time to speak with them about their lives and how they didn’t have to live under the curse of no father, but could, with God’s help, live a life that was different. I told them they were special and that I was blessed to have met them, thankful that God had let me be part of their lives. I then prayed for them and over them; that was really special!
Shannon is back safe with her mother and family. David is tagging along, hoping to find his way in this life! Thank you for your support that allows us to be part of the rescue of two very wonderful teenagers who had stumbled into a trap. Thank you for standing with us so we can stand with the fatherless and those that are at risk.
*Magazine crews recruit young people with enticing ads such as, “Travel the country and earn as much as $[some ridiculous amount of money] per day!” The crew then sends them somewhere far from home to sell magazines door-to-door. When pay day rolls around, they don’t get a dime. The claim is that the young person didn’t make enough in sales to cover the cost of the hotel, food, travel, and training, thus being in debt to the company. The truth is that they will never make enough to get out of debt, and they are often threatened, beaten, and molested to force them stay with the crew.