Check out What’s been happening the past month at Sox Place
Donations of chips (a ton of chips!) by Mark
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Tyler did his Eagle Scout project by organizing a donation drive for Sox Place. Look at some of the items that were collected!
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We had several groups donate their time, money, and a week of summer vacation to help us out. Here’s one of the groups from Austin Bluffs Community Church in Colorado Springs. We’ve also had groups from Pryor OK and Farmington NM!
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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.
When I first got involved with Sox Place almost 10 years ago, our kids were primarily of one sub-culture, the gutter punk. They were anti-government, anti- law, anti-cop, anti-authority, and anti-pretty much everything that got in their way of drinking, fighting, and having “fun.” We still have some of those kids, but now, the kids that come to Sox Place are so diverse that we see many different attitudes and mindsets. They are from different backgrounds and ethnicity.
One major change that I have seen that is positive is that our kids don’t really consider it cool to be living on the streets anymore. In previous years, you got most of your streets status by how long you had been homeless. Now many of our kids want desperately to break the cycle of homelessness, joblessness, and the street lifestyle they are living.
This can be quite a daunting task for many of our youth. So many of them have never been taught the basic life skills that you and I can take for granted. No one was around to teach them how to get up and be on time, how to accept direction and correction from authority, how to look presentable for a job interview, and how to manage the little money they get. Even basic personal hygiene that we were taught as children is foreign to them. It’s easy to write many of these things off as common sense, but when the example your parents give you is violence, welfare abuse, food stamps, taking advantage of the government disability program, and drug and alcohol abuse, common sense becomes not so common for them.
Many of our kids are realizing this is no way to live, and that is very encouraging for me. Therefore, we are adapting our services to include the “Streets2Stability” program. This program is where we teach these basic lessons through a three month internship. We are also helping in the job hunting process, giving bus fare and clothes that are appropriate for interviews.
One of the critical ways you can help these kids who are trying very hard to get off the streets is to let us know if you have any job leads; that would be invaluable. No matter what kind of work it is, we can try and fit one of our youths for the job. We also have a 5280 program where you can commit to donating $52.80 a month to help pay for more “Streets2Stability” participants and other services. Sometimes it only takes one person willing to take a risk for these kids for them to rise to the occasion, and break the cycle.
These are exciting times here at Sox Place and hold a lot of hope for our kids, as it is now they who want to make a change, not everyone around them wanting to change them.
Sox Place is a drop in center for street kids that provides a safe haven for them to call home. But it’s not just a drop in center, it’s a church. Doyle and the supporters of Sox Place are dedicated to changing lives one relationship at a time in the heart of Denver. Surrounded by prostitution, heroine use, and meth addiction Doyle dives into the mess of people’s lives and loves them where they are at.
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.