Open Door Mission Provides Services for Men
In 1954, thousands of men swarmed the city of Omaha searching for work on the city’s 10 railroads. They congregated in bars and slept in flophouses. Garland Thompson, a student at the Omaha Bible Institute, wanted to reach out to these men with Christ’s love and compassion. Fueled by faith, guided by his vision for an evangelical mission, and assisted by Pastor Jerry Dunn and a group of Christian businessmen, Thompson unveiled Open Door Mission in the Ballenger Building at 13th and Douglas Streets on November 1, 1954.
Open Door Mission Moves to 13th and Howard
When the owner of the building at 13th and Douglas Streets decided to sell it in 1955, Thompson and Pastor Dunn prayed that God would give them another space. A building at 13th and Howard was perfect, but the owners did not want to rent it for a mission. God intervened, and the Open Door Mission moved to 422 South 13th Street. This building was 20 times larger than Open Door Mission’s original building and perfect for its needs. Eventually, Open Door Mission purchased this building.
Mission Develops Programs and Support
Over the next 30 years, Open Door Mission continued to offer food, shelter, and rehabilitation programs to homeless men and those with alcohol addictions. It also provided medical and dental care, and a Bible-based discipleship program helped change lives. Open Door Mission continued to receive support from the community, including citizens like Bob Cornett, the leading bondsman of Omaha and Douglas County, and the Eppley Foundation.
As Open Door Mission expanded, it experienced severe growing pains and serious setbacks in leadership. When Thompson and Dunn left their leadership positions in 1971, the successors tried to create a new secular entity. Evangelical programs were dropped and Open Door Mission’s funds began to decline. Nevertheless, the ministry was preserved during this time.
Open Door Mission Moves to New Location
In 1986, Open Door Mission moved again. The City of Omaha recognized the value of our service to the community, yet in 1983, the city began implementing the Urban Renewal Plan and decided to relocate the Mission from the downtown area. We negotiated to sell our building for $1 million and the remaining money was deposited in an account to pay the bills during lean times. Open Door’s income dropped from $200,000 a year to $100,000 during this period.
Open Door Mission is Revived and Expands Under New Leadership
With the move to east Omaha, Open Door Mission was less visible to people in the community, and this cost us a great deal of support. Rev. Robert O. Timberlake came on as executive director in spring 1987 and began to change that. At the time, we had three staff members — Pastor Bob and two women. There was no food pantry, no clothing program, no rehabilitation program. Pastor Bob worked untiringly to remedy this situation, and Open Door Mission’s current programs — including Lydia House and family outreach — were initiated and developed under his leadership.
Lydia House Opens for Women and Children
Win the 1990s, homeless families began seeking shelter at missions across the United States. In response to the need for family shelter and rehabilitation, we expanded our services to include families, and developed the New Life Recovery Program of Christian Rehabilitation. The program graduated 12 families at the beginning of 2000. Also in 2000, Open Door Mission began seeking partner organizations to provide therapeutic and educational services Omaha’s homeless.
Open Door Mission opens its Emergency Temporary Housing Wing for Families
On October 1, 2001, Open Door Mission opened the Emergency Temporary Housing wing. Reconstruction of the former office area provided immediate shelter for nine homeless families.
Open Door Mission names Candace Gregory President/CEO
Candace Gregory becomes President/CEO. Homelessness prevention is strategically integrated to distribute food, clothing, and household items to near-homeless individuals and families.
Open Door Mission Opens its Men’s Day Facilities
In 2005, Open Door Mission started the Men’s Day Facilities program, which provides a place where homeless men can freely access the Internet, rest, do laundry, eat nutritious meals and seek case management every day of the year.
Open Door Mission Strategizes for Growth with the Rebuilding Lives Campaign
Open Door Mission has a definitive plan that will offer more space for homeless men, women, and children. The three phase plan — a new Lydia House, renovation of the Garland Thompson Men’s Center, and a new Permanent Supportive Housing — will continue to meet their basic human needs and then engage them in programs structured around the education and skills necessary to rebuild their lives and prepare them for successful living. The projected completion date for this project is 2015.
Open Door Mission Broke Ground on the New Lydia House Building
A ground breaking ceremony was held on October 16, 2008 to celebrate the first phase of Open Door Mission’s Rebuilding Lives Campaign. The new Lydia House Building is set to open January 2010 and will provide safe shelter for 72 single women and 46 families.
Open Door Mission Begins its Veterans Housing First Program
Open Door Mission’s Veteran’s Housing First Program provides free housing and care for homeless veterans who are wanting to be clean and sober and working towards accomplishing goals that will reclaim their self-sufficiency within the community. Currently, the program is operating at full capacity, but the new Rebuilding Lives Center will provide 32 Veteran units in 2012.
Open Door Mission completes Phase One of the Rebuilding Lives Campaign
Open Door Mission celebrated the completion of Phase One of the Rebuilding Lives Campaign with the opening of the new Lydia House that offers space for 300 women and families. Open Door Mission broke ground on Phase Two — 41 two and three bedroom apartment units.
Open Door Mission Demolishes Current Garland Thompson Men’s Center
Open Door Mission celebrated the completion of Phase Two with the opening of the Permanent Supportive Housing complex. 40 two and three bedroom apartments provide a safe, stable place for men, women, and families to live during their transition. Open Door Mission made history with the demolition of the current Garland Thompson Men’s Center to make way for a brand new 60,000 square foot building set to open in 2012.
Open Door Mission Completes the Rebuilding Lives Campaign
Open Door Mission’s Rebuilding Lives Campaign was wrapped up with the completion of four new buildings–Lydia House (2010), Permanent Supportive Housing Complex (2011), Garland Thompson Men’s Center (2012) and Rebuilding Lives Center (2012). This historic $32 million campaign was the most massive expansion in Open Door Mission’s history!
Council Bluffs Outreach Center
Open Door Mission expands its homeless prevention services over state lines to Council Bluffs, IA as a Family Outreach & Donation Center.
Elkhorn Family Outreach Center
Open Door Mission expands its homeless prevention services to Elkhorn, NE as a receiving center for donor in the west Omaha area.
Open Door Mission Builds Wind Tunnel Greenhouse
Open Door Mission builds the Community Kitchen Greenhouse with 14,000 sq. ft. of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Open Door Mission revamps Timberlake Outreach Center
Open Door Mission revamps both the physical and relational aspects of the Outreach Centers to better meet the specific needs of constituents.
Open Door Mission Enhances Holiday Programs
Open Door Mission refurbishes the outside of the Timberlake Outreach Center. Open Door Mission expands and enhances holiday programs.
Open Door Mission Responds to COVID-19
With the COVID-10 health crisis, it became more crucial than ever for the Open Door Mission Health & Wellness Clinic to provide care for our homeless population as they are especially vulnerable to illness due to preexisting chronic health issues and/or weakened immune systems. Open Door Mission has fluidly transitioned during the stages of COVID-19 with observation, isolation, and quarantine areas.
Open Door Mission Begins Programs in Response to Pandemic Need
Open Door Mission started new programs including SuccessNet to address the learning gaps for children during the pandemic.
Open Door Mission Opens Art Therapy Program
Open Door Mission successfully implemented an Art Therapy program for children and adults experiencing homelessness in a newly renovated art studio within our Omaha campus. Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns.
Open Door Mission Offers Weekly Animal Therapy
Open Door Mission started to offer weekly Animal Therapy for children living at Open Door Mission while experiencing homelessness with their families.
Open Door Mission believes in sound, biblical stewardship of our finances, our programs, and the people we serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
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