It’s the heat of the summer and most families and people take advantage of the warmer temperatures to escape from their busy lives and go on a vacation. Some explore other parts of the world while others plan a staycation in their home state or city. At Sox Place we meet lots of travelers and train hoppers that have made the decisions to be land pirates as they travel the world by train, van, or by thumb. Here are some tips and tricks from some travelers that have come through at Sox Place.
Large orange pizza boxes piled high on the counters of Sox Place’s kitchen awaiting the flood of street kids and travelers that would be hungry for lunch. On Wednesday June 1, 2016 those big red doors opened like they often do and the stream of kids lined up for lunch grabbing cheese pizza by the slice donated from Little Cesar’s.
Free pizza was met with yet another treat. An animal clinic hosted by For the Love of Paws, a local rescue that has found it’s place partnering with Sox Place stepping up as our primary vet resource for all things pets. Jen, the heart of the operations works around the clock for Sox Place and all our visiting pets, even though a year ago she admits that she was not interested in the partnership at all.
“We had never heard of Sox Place. I just knew that we did not have time,” said Jen. But Cindy from a non-profit called Favors Project who often donated collars and leashes to Sox Place didn’t give up on her. Eventually Jen agreed to meet with Jordan Robinson and got a tour of Sox Place. Little did she know what she was in for.
After talking for several hours and witnessing the multitude of kids and pets, Jen couldn’t say no. “I remember coming here for the first time and just being blown away by this place,” said Jen, “It was different than what every other rescue was doing, and we were trying to find our place in rescue.”
For the Love of Paws was on the hunt for a mission that fueled their fire and took rescue a step further from the amazing work of just pulling animals from shelters. “Our hearts wanted more, and we found it the minute I walked in the door here,” said Jen.
Megan Brocato, another key player For the Love of Paws recalled getting a phone call after Jen’s meeting with Jordan. The memories played back in her head like an old record, “I remember Jen calling me and just saying ‘This is what we need to do, and I need you to be on bored,’ recalled Megan. Just a week later they both found themselves being engulfed by the missions at Sox Place.
By 4:00 P.M. last Wednesday the team of volunteers had served eleven dogs and two cats, treating them with a series of vaccines, distemper, and even microchips. This basic and yet necessary care can often cost a pet owner a good chunk of change, and yet they offered the whole clinic for free.
According to a 2014 article off CBS money watch, Americans spend $55.7 billion dollars on their pets annually for all costs. Later in the article it reports that $14.37 billion dollars were spent just on veterinary care.
For the Love of Paws works around the clock networking and fundraising for Sox Place and the pets that are passing through those big red doors. “We have donors and grants that are specifically for Sox Place and Best Pets and (C.A.R.E) sponsored this clinic. There are people behind us that are behind you guys.”
For the Love of Paws not only helps provide dog and cat food, leashes and coats, but also has connections with groups that are ready to pick up any spay and neuter costs that come out of Sox Place. One of the dogs that was treated was a black momma Pit Bull who happened to be super sick. Jen kneeled down in front of the dog owner with her hair pulled back in a ponytail behind a ball cap. After having a very hard conversation with the owner, they agreed the dog would receive urgent care the next day, expenses paid for.
“She’s going to the vet tomorrow,” Jen said shaking her head. “Jeff is going to do what needs to be done on her and the best part is that it’s totally paid for, that dog needs serious medical attention,” said Jen with passion in her eyes.
When Jen and Megan started this rescue a year ago, they approached Jeff Baier to come on board, who is the designated Veterinarian for the clinic.
“We knew we needed to get him and we didn’t even have to convince him to do it, he just said yes right away. He is a blessing to us,” said Jen. Jeff is a Vet at Planned Pethood Plus and get’s Jen’s emergency rescues into a very busy clinic. “We could not do what we do without him. The pit bull is in tomorrow, which otherwise would have taken just 24 hours to get a phone call back,” said Jen.
While working in rescue for animals and pet owners can be rewarding, there are lots of difficult conversations and decisions that Jen and Megan are faced with. While spending time at Sox Place, there have been times where Jen felt the need to step in to a dog or cats life and help make the owner make a choice that both benefits the animal as well as the owner. “There was a puppy that I met here and I told the kid, this one’s got to go, because she’s not going to make it,” said Jen remembering those agonizing times.
Those hard decisions don’t stop at the door of Sox Place either. When a dog out of Sox Place ends up in a shelter Jen is often faced with the choice of leaving them there to be adopted to a new family or to put them back on the street. Back in the hands of a street kid.
Only a few weeks ago one of Sox Place’s kids was approached by Jen for this exact reason. Jessica, an owner of black lab as well as four other pets had her hands full. Jen recognized the lab to be a great animal and eventually asked Jessica to let him go to a home.
“I like Jessica she’s one of those kids that just knows that she couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much. Those are hard choices that we have to make, and she wants to do right for her animals. That’s the kind of kid that we love working with because the want to do the right thing.” said Jen.
There are so many stories and special relationships at Sox Place between a human and their pet. After working in rescue there’s a lot of terrible things that they witness happen to animals but they admit that these kids are not the ones abusing their pets. “That’s their soul pet, their life, their buddy. They’re not going to abuse their animal. I see a greater appreciation for their animals from these kids,” said Jen.
Pets can play a big role in a persons life and we are so grateful for our friends at For The Love of Paws and all that they do to support Sox Place and our pets. If you believe in what they are doing for Sox Place please consider visiting their Facebook page. We are so excited to see how this friendship will continue to grow between us.
Anyone who works in downtown Denver knows that parking can be a real hassle, which made the two mile round trip to pick up clothing for our custom screen print orders something of an inconvenience on foot or in a truck.
Problem solved! With the help of our kids and crew we’ve got a new company vehicle! All built in house, this beautiful trike will keep the chiropractor and the meeter maid at bay not having to carry our packages back or park to pick them up any longer. Thank you to every one that chipped in with the build!
Now it’s only fitting that this thing has a proper name. Any suggestions?
From Left to Right: Chuckie Freeman, Kenny, Jordan Robinson, Trent (In basket), Doyle Robinson
Denver’s weather had finally taken a break from the pesky snow storms when the two girls stepped in perfect unison came coming down the alley. One named Melissa aka “Lever Pusher” had long black hair that twisted down towards her soft lower back. Her long locks fell delicately over her blue jean vest that was decorated with a plethora of beautifully crafted and colorful patches. One being a Sox Place patch.
“Every new traveler I meet I tell them to go to Sox Place. I wear my patch just so people will ask me about it. I always tell them they have to drop by to get the full effect,” said Melissa.
Sox Place is a popular landing place for many travelers that find themselves making a stop in Denver and word has spread like wildfire through the traveling community who are often in need of a warm meal, some clean socks, and some extra TLC for their four legged companions. Hearing about us through another fellow traveler, Melissa was intrigued about this so called Sox Place.
“Curiosity got the best of me. I had to come check it out,” said Melissa. “I had no shoes or socks. I was hungry and in need of several things. Sox helped me with everything I needed including getting my animals vaccinated and helping me with a crew change. Things I didn’t even expect to get help with. Every new traveler I meet I tell them to go to Sox Place,” Melissa explained.
Sox Place is a bit unique in that we receive zero aid from government grants. And many of our financial supporters and donors and our everyday community have never even met face to face. But it’s not difficult for our traveler friends and street youth to feel the impact of when our supporters and friends give to us.
“I honestly don’t know where I would be without you guys. I’m super grateful to all the people at Sox and every one who donates there,” said Melissa.
As those summer months are close around the corner we will see a spike in travelers and pets coming through and we are going to need our donors help to keep our doors open so that we can keep bellies fed and feet covered with fresh socks.
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.
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.
The trees are budding and the snow is melting here in Denver, and I’m really hoping that the warmer temperatures are here to stay. Has anyone began cleaning out their closets yet? I know I have a few things I need to bag up. You know who’s closet is cleaned out? Sox Places. I noticed that we are in bad shape when it comes to some essentials for our kids down here who probably feel the elements a little deeper than the rest of us. So for you, I made a special list, a list of things that we ALWAYS love getting, in no particular order.
That about sums up our spring cleaning list. We love you guys and all the support you have continued to give Sox Place over the years. We survive on our faith and the hearts of the people that are making donations to our ministry. Without that we would have shut down a long time ago. Continue to pray for us as we wage war on the wicked problems homelessness by continuously showing these kids love and grace, something they don’t get many other places.
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.
Our screen printing business has seen it’s ups and downs and right now it’s headed in a really great direction. I got a chance to catch up with Chuck Freeman (You can call him Chuckie) who has joined our team down in Denver to run our Screen Printing business that helps fund the ministry of Sox Place. We’re stoked to have him on our team!
KR: How long have you been working with Sox Place Screen Printing?
CF: Remotely I’ve been working with Sox Place Screen Printing since May of last year. Physically, I’ve been down here for two weeks.
KR: What about Sox Place makes you want to be here?
CF: From the first time I ever came to Sox Place, there was something about the atmosphere that led me to where I am today. I wanted to be apart of Sox Place. I didn’t care what I had to do, I just wanted to be apart of it. Whether it was sweeping the allies, or hanging with the kids. I just knew I had to be apart of this and be involved in what Sox Place is doing for these kids. It just makes sense that there was going to be a place for me here.
KR: How did you find that place that has now come available to you?
CF: Jordan and I were hanging out at his place and he was expressing the need he had for someone who could do graphic design and do this trade. Ironically enough, unknown to him, this is what I went to school for. Somewhere along the line I went a different direction in what I was educated in, but this was something I knew and was trained to do. One thing led to another and I began receiving emails and design projects and that turned into what it is now.
KR: What’s the extent of your involvement?
CF: I do work full time and I’m in Denver Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and then I’m in Steamboat Springs the rest of the week working with remote contacts.
KR: What direction do you want to see Sox Place Screen Printing go?
CF: One of the directions that Sox Place Screen Printing was heading for some time was a separation from Sox Place itself. It was basically a stand alone business in relation to the drop in center. Myself, Doyle, and Jordan all agreed that it didn’t make any sense for it to take that direction. We all believe that it should be intertwined and the Screen Printing should be more associated with the drop in center than ever before. We want to create consistent branding across all entities. No matter if Sox Place is printing tee shirts, building hot rods, changing the oil on someones car. No matter what we want the same logo, same colors, and same look across the board. Which was not the case before.
KR: If you had a message you wanted to send to people interested in Sox Place Screen Printing what would that be?
CF: What we do is like no one else in the trade. Your money is better spent here than with any other business. 100% of our profits go back into Sox Place. So with any tee shirt, garment, hoodie and hand bag, all the profits from those transactions goes to meals and provisions. Basically we are doing exactly what our tagline says, which is changing lives of street youth one tee shirt at a time.