Jarrod came to the Mission in October 2016. He was homeless in part because of broken and negative relationships influencing his life. But thanks to staff like Reggie (right), a Facility Assistant at the Mission, he’s grown spiritually and emotionally, developing lasting, healthy relationships to help him succeed in the future.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Changing Lives isn’t just the name of our monthly newsletter. It's our passion and calling.
In a city like Denver, homelessness is hard to ignore, and when you see people suffering, you want to help. Although you may see someone with a sign that reads, “Anything helps,” you know spare change and handouts don’t go far to truly change someone’s life.
That’s why we offer programs like the New Life Program and STAR Transitional Program. These are some of the ways we come alongside people experiencing homelessness, helping them create long-term change:
Torress meets with his chaplain, Chris, for their first one-on-one meeting: “It’s great to have someone to go to when I need help, need to vent, or need to learn how to work on my relationship with God and others,” he says.
1. Focusing on the Individual
Chaplains and Case Managers
When someone is facing a difficult situation, it’s easy for them to feel alone. That’s why each New Life Program participant is assigned a chaplain, and every STAR program participant is assigned a case manager.
Chaplains and case managers personally walk alongside program participants, helping them stay accountable, connecting them with the resources they need to succeed and encouraging them to strive toward accomplishing goals like saving money, acquiring a job and completing education classes. By focusing on the unique needs of each participant, we’re able to go deep into areas where they experience challenges instead of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach.
“Before we came to the mission, we were living in a toxic environment. It tore us apart. The counseling has helped us reconnect and build a stronger bond as a family.”
- Chris and Christina, STAR Transitional Program participants
2. Addressing Root Causes
Counseling and Spiritual Development
The causes of homelessness vary widely from simply the loss of a job to someone struggling in a cycle of addiction and depression. But even these can just be outward symptoms of deeper problems like unresolved conflict or trauma, a lack of understanding about basic life and relationship skills, and other emotional and spiritual challenges. Trying to provide stability without addressing these root causes is like using a bandage to hide an infected wound.
That’s why our life-changing programs involve counseling, mentorship, life-skills and financial education, and the opportunity to discover the spiritual healing Jesus can bring. By addressing the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual causes of homelessness, program graduates are more likely to see long-term changes in their lives.
“The life skills classes were huge for me. I really tried to learn something new every day. This is all great stuff because it’s helped me change physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It gave me hope again.”
- Mark, New Life Program participant
3. Empowering with Education
Life-Skills and Financial Education
Knowledge is power, and one of the most unique and empowering aspects of the New Life Program and STAR Transitional Program is the focus on education.
Whether it’s helping someone earn their GED, discover how to maintain a budget or navigate the rental market, or simply helping them learn to read for the first time, your gifts invest in the lives of program participants through various forms of education. For many, this also includes job-skills education on topics like resume writing, interview skills and job searching. The result is a renewed confidence and the skills necessary to pursue a self-sufficient life after graduation.
“When you’re homeless, it’s not like you’re working every day or have a schedule. So work therapy is important because it helps you build that routine of responsibility as you become self-sufficient.”
- Josh, New Life Program participant
4. Building New Patterns of Behavior
Work Therapy and Stability
Education and counseling are crucial to a person’s transition out of homelessness, but like any new skill, the best way to develop healthy life skills and new patterns of behavior is to practice.
In the New Life Program, participants are assigned various jobs designed to build healthy work habits and job skills. Work therapy jobs may include being a mechanic assistant for our vehicle donation program, a cook preparing meals for people in need, an assistant in our clinic, and more! Through work therapy, New Life Program participants develop the skills necessary to be successfully employed. STAR program participants often start out with some form of employment, so they are able to live in a safe, drug- and alcohol-free community while they practice important life skills, save money, gain better employment, and gain the tools they need to provide for their own housing.
“Having a mentor in the program was good. It was someone that I could talk to and who offered guidance and wisdom. Going forward, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing—staying out of trouble, staying in the Word and going to church. My home church is Providence Bible Church.”
- Johnathan, New Life Program graduate
5. Maintaining Healthy Community
Success After Graduation
For many of our graduates, their success after the program is directly linked to the type of community they connect with after they leave.
That’s why we use every opportunity to encourage our program participants to engage in healthy community building activities like being involved in a local church, staying connected with the Mission through regular updates, returning to the Mission as a mentor or volunteer, or sharing their story of success with others who are just starting in our programs. By helping our graduates stay engaged in healthy community, we help them avoid returning to the acquaintances and patterns of behavior that may have contributed to them becoming homeless.
Letter from the CEO
I asked Steve Walkup, Vice President of Programs to share a few words with our readers this month. Click the button below to read his inspiring letter.
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This story was featured in the July 2017 issue of Changing Lives titled “5 Proven Ways to Change a Life”
Also in this issue:
- Hit a Home Run Against Hunger!
- Summer of Hope
- Give a Gift, Get Income for Life!
- Running for a Good Cause!
- Letter from the CEO
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