This Place IS Changing Lives

Oct 26, 2015  |     |   General

     Another of a long list of reasons why I love working at Open Door Mission is because of the courage our guests embody every day.  
     We recently had a night of encouragement and celebration for our men and women in programs.  I feel that had someone been standing outside of the Garland Thompson` Men’s Center Chapel that night, the building would have been glowing!
     As Steve, Open Door Mission’s Senior Program Director, called out the days, weeks, and months that our people had achieved in their sobriety, each one had the courage to stand up be recognized, and be exposed in front of a room filled with strangers.  The noise amplified, the excitement increased, and the ground trembled.  Men and women alike had HUGE smiles on their faces as everyone cheered them on.
     I sat behind a man who had earned the “Student of the Month,” award and I noticed how many times he held that paper in his hand, just looking at it.  I wondered if this was the first time in his life that he had ever been recognized for doing something good?  I could sense his pride swelling!  If there were any new guests in attendance last night, my prayer is that it gave them insight as to the power of Christ.  If they didn’t have the courage to enter the program before, I hope they do now. 
     This place IS changing lives.  
     I have never been as vulnerable as our guests.  It’s just not “safe.”  But to watch them bare it all, willing to be judged, challenged, and questioned reminds me of what I think my purpose is:  to love them.  It reminds me to not build my walls up too high, because I might miss the beauty.
     I feel that working here is almost a hidden secret.  People go through the motions every day, missing out on the small moments that make life truly worth living.  We as employees daily get to see amazing things happening.  As our guests’ lives are changing, so are ours.
     Driving home with my 12-year-old daughter after the night, I thanked the Lord for all my blessings.  It truly was a beautiful night.  As we rounded the corner of Abbott Drive, we saw downtown’s beautifully lit skyline, and right in the middle stood the Woodman Tower, shining radiantly in purple.  It was as though God was shining on the city and declaring His love to the lost and broken.

Click here to find out the next time the Woodmen Tower will shine purple.


Jennifer VanLaningham
Administrative Assistant