Dec 12, 2008  |     |   General

Letter from the community
Back in 2007, I was one of the individuals who had the pleasure of volunteering at the Open Door Mission with a project that Jim Stolze initiated. This year, as one of the team leader’s ofDiversity at work, I decided that I should start a project with some other members of our Diversity Team. I called upon Arleen Brace, Patty Pribyl and Tim Gray to join my team in providing Winter Apparel to the Open Door Mission.
We decided to tour the Open Door Mission during one of our lunch periods to better understand what they do, who they serve and what they provide to those less fortunate. Upon arriving we met their Communications Coordinator, Maggie Cope, who is quite an extraordinary individual with an unbelievable amount of compassion and an enormous heart. Once inside, Maggie gave us about a 45 minute tour of some of the facilities. She spoke ofthe 1300 meals a day that they provide, she showed us the kitchen and the bread pantry. She took us to a giant warehouse that was filled with all types of food, canned, boxed, etc. She advised that without donations from others, that pantry would be depleted within about 3-4 days which absolutely overwhelmed the team. Then we toured the Timberlake Outreach Center which is a Center in which they provide all types of services. The Center offers GED & Life Skills Classes, Computer Classes, BiLingual Services, Church Services, Personal Hygiene Classes, Cooking Classes, Nutrition Classes, Food Pantries, Diapers, Clothing, Toys, Furniture and Appliances. King’s Kloset which is part of the Center offers bedding, small household items, clothing and families are able to shop once a month and best of all, they pay nothing. In addition, they have a Senior’s day, where Senior citizens who are on a fixed income and cannot afford too many extras in life, come in and shop.
Walking through the facilities, Maggie questioned the team on what we thought the average age of a homeless person was. We all guessed in the double digits and was completely shocked when Maggie said Age 9. She also indicated that a majority of these children have become the parents as the parents/adults have mental issues, dependency issues and/or lack of education and they are there to allow the child to learn and still be a child and enjoy some of those things in life, they may have missed out on otherwise. She took us to a playroom where parent’s who have lost their children can have visitation and where some of the other’s play. She was also very proud ofthat fact that they were in the process ofbuilding a new play area inside a courtyard where the children would be safe and protected from those trying to harm them. Maggie said most ofthe time it is a parent trying to get even with another parent and so they harm the innocent child.
Maggie also told us of a man who’s wife became very ill with cancer. It took all they had to try to pay the medical expenses and he ended up there for shelter upon her passing. She also indicated that she did not fear walking around the grounds even at midnight because the homeless would protect her. The team noticed that Maggie spoke to everyone throughout the facility and that individuals would go out of their way just to say Good Afternoon Maggie. Maggie indicated that a lot of people just want someone to talk to, and that a please and thank-you and respect goes a long way in the facilities.
Toward the end of our tour, Maggie took us to some small lockers and asked us ifwe were out of money, had 24 hours to vacate our premises and had no vehicle or family, what we would take with us and it could only be those items that we could carry. She then advised that the contents of those lockers were what individuals held most dear and took from their premises. She also took us to their washing facility and anyone can wash their clothes or bedding there with no charge, they provide the soap etc. and they have individuals who wash 7 days a week and that they always provide a clean blanket for those to sleep with.
Upon the team leaving the facility, it was a definite eye opener, our own problems disappeared and we drove away with a Warm Heart.
Thank You for your support – Open Door Mission Team