Getting To Know Erik

By | Employee Bio, Uncategorized | No Comments

Erik Kirby was born in Aurora, CO and spent time on and off the streets from the time he was 18 until now, at the age of 32. Erik joined our team in late February. This elusive and quiet character, that prefers to not be photographed, brings a lot of entrepreneurial passion to our space. Read more about his story below.

IMG_1309How old are you and how did you become interested in working at Purple Door Coffee?

I will be 32 in August. I heard about Purple Door through a Dry Bones contact and we both thought that it would be a good orientation for me to evaluate some of my previous actions at other jobs while learning fundamentals on budgeting and other topics that I didn’t get a really good grasp on when I was younger.

Well, we’re so glad to have you here. What is something that people might not initially realize about you?
I don’t know…I’m a bit of a softie, I guess. I’m an extreme spiritualist and polytheistic.

Are you originally from Denver?
I was born in Aurora and travelled a lot in my early childhood.

Can you share your favorite memory of working at Purple Door so far?
Meeting many new people and just getting strangers to smile.

How do you get strangers to smile?
Casual conversation and a lot of jokes.

Who is someone you look up to?
Will Smith.

Why?
He is a very well-known actor and music artist and overall he does more than just movies. He has businesses and supports causes that are life changing. He is an all-around entrepreneur. I learned when I was younger that he did music and movies and I was really inspired by that. Plus, he’s really good at what he does.

Do you desire to be an entrepreneur?
Yeah. There are a lot of things I would like to do. From tattooing to artwork to building motorcycles… making coffee… all sorts of things. And I’d like to one day write a program for a video game.

Do you have favorite spots in the city?
As far away as possible. I’m not really a big city person, but I do well enough. One day, I’d like have a retreat house, a little shack, but ultimately, I’d like to live where there is a lot of sand and a lot of heat.

Getting to know David

By | Employee Bio, Uncategorized | No Comments

Summer is quickly upon us! We wanted to take some time to highlight, David, our stoic and compassionate program employee (who also happens to be WICKED smart). He has been with Purple Door Coffee since the middle of October. David took some time to sit down with us and answer questions about himself. His answers were genuine. We are thankful to have him on our team.

David during espresso training at Corvus

David during espresso training at Corvus

How old are you and how did you become interested in working at Purple Door Coffee?

I am 26, just tuned 26 on April 20th! I became interested in working at Purple Door because a good friend of mine, his name is Kevin, he was working in the program at the time. He essentially invited me to apply. I know some of Dry Bones, so I was mainly a word of mouth thing. At the time, coffee wasn’t necessarily on my radar. You know, when opportunity knocks— you answer. Purple Door interviewed me they seemed like really nice people. They seemed like they were honestly trying to help. So, I went for it.

What sort of things might people not initially realize about you?

Sometimes I don’t think people realize that I can be expressive about my feelings and who I am. I can be sensitive. Especially when I was on the streets, it was sometimes hard for me to show all my emotions. Sometimes people get a little a muddled to how I am actually feeling. One of the things that made life difficult from before was that I didn’t know how to express it or share it with people. Purple Door has helped me do that. If people around me are kind, I feel safe enough to talk to them. I don’t have to hide my true self. So, I am is coming out more.

Tell me more about the real you.

The real me is somebody who does not always have to present an image to the world. When you are homeless presenting a face is one of the most important things you can do. You don’t want people to sense weakness. When you are homeless, you want to look strong at all times. But nobody is a rock. So you get in this rut where you cannot lose the mask in company because it is so much easier to protect the the deeper part of yourself from the outside stimuli. You aren’t sure how they are going to respond or what they are going to do. So being able to allow how and what I am feeling to be there and be wholly honest about it is wonderful. It is liberating.

David was excited to open the shop on a beautiful Denver Friday morning

David was excited to open the shop on a beautiful Denver Friday morning

Wow, thank you so much for sharing that. Are you originally from Denver? 

Well originally I am from Thornton. Denver, I moved to when I was 19 years old. I spent seven years here and six of those where on the street.

Can you share a favorite memory from your time at Purple Door so far?

So when I was going through the harder time of trying to figure out where to live my manager, Madison Chandler, came to me and said that if I needed to share anything with her that I could. She said that she may be my boss but that she also was my friend. That was mind blowing to me because up until then bosses had always been the enemy. They are the people who look for the things you do wrong but she actually cared.

Another memory that is my favorite is when I pulled my first successful shot of espresso. I realized that I was actually going to be able to do my barista job. I said, YES! It is possible to do this.

How long did it take you to dial in for the first time after espresso training?

About three days! My first day was just rugged frustration with that machine.

If you could name our espresso machine, what would you name it?

Probably Old Faithful because it does its job consistently day in and day out.

What is your favorite drink to make?

Any latte. Because I like to draw. Trying to draw is always a good time for me.

Oh really, what is your favorite thing to pour? 

Well really I can only consistently pour a heart. It has to be the heart. I get excited when I draw a really great heart. I look at it and say, wow I did that!!

"WOW! I did that!"

“WOW! I did that!”

What drink would you recommend to others to try?

A vanilla latte. Caramel is too much and chocolate is too heavy. Sipping on a vanilla latte is where it is at.

Who is someone you look up to and why?

There is man who is referred to as the Chinese Schindler (who during WWII saved thousands of Jews). Not a lot of people know he existed. He made the call to do a good thing. That is really cool to me. I aspire to do the right thing even when it doesn’t benefit you.

Where are your top three (T3) favorite places to eat in Denver?

  1. Benihana
  2.  Shangri-La in Littleton
  3. Sam’s no. 3 in Glendale

 

For the remaining Saturdays in June, David will be taking over Purple Door Coffee Instagram account to share pictures and a few thoughts on his favorite places in the city. Be sure to follow us at @purpledoorcoffee and look for the #purpledoorstories hashtag!

Getting to know Ricky

By | Employee Bio | No Comments
Ricky Wintersession

Ricky made Katie a keychain with our neighbors, Winter Session

Happy May! We wanted to take some time to highlight, Ricky, our big hearted and Denver Sports loving employee. He has been with Purple Door Coffee for 10 months. Ricky took some time to sit down with us and open up about what he experienced growing up here in Five Points. He adds joy and laughter to our shop and we are so thankful for him. Read more about his story below.

So, Ricky how old are you and how did you become interested in working at Purple Door Coffee?

28! I went on a camping trip with Kevin for a week. Kevin kind of persuaded me to work here.

Ricky and Kevin showing off some of our merchandise

Ricky and Kevin showing off some of our merchandise

Where did you guys go camping?

Gunnison, Colorado in Black Canyon.

Just the two of you?

No, a bunch of us like eight or nine people.

Do you like camping?

Oh, it was alright. Different.

What did Kevin say that convinced you to apply for Purple Door?

That I would be good in a coffee shop. He kept saying it. He was in the tent with me for a week.

What sort of things might people not initially realize about you?

I don’t know. Uhm, that I got a big heart.

What are you most passionate about?

People wanting to change.

Is that because you have been there?

Yeah, yeah.

What made you want to change?

I was tired of doing the same thing everyday. Everyday. I just needed something different.

Ricky, you are originally from Denver, right? Can you tell me what that was like?

Yeah, I grew up right up the street. It was different. Definitely different. Yeah.

Well can you tell me a favorite memory from growing up here in Five Points?

Uhm, there wasn’t really anything. I mean this was a rough part of town back in the day. My mom just lived here because of the housing program. We lived here for like five years. We moved out because it was just so dangerous at times. Like by the time I was five I think I had seen already three murders. It was on the block that we lived on.

Wow. Is that when you and your mom moved out?

Yeah, we moved to Aurora and then we stayed there pretty much the rest of my childhood.

Earlier you said that you played basketball here, right?

Yeah, I played at Glenarm for their Recreation team and when we moved I played for the Boys and Girls Club of Aurora. I played there for 6 or 7 years until I was about 14.

Why did you stop when you were 14?

I went to jail.

Could you play basketball while you were in Juvie?

Yeah, I just wasn’t motivated. I was in jail so I wasn’t motivated to play.

Is basketball your favorite sport?

Yeah! Basketball is my favorite sport!

What about it do you love?

You never know what is going to happen. Your team could lose. You just never know.

Yeah, and it could be a close score too! What is your favorite memory or task from your time here at Purple Door so far?

Making drinks. I like making drinks for people.

Ricky loves making drinks and supporting the Denver's professional sports teams

Ricky loves making drinks and supporting the Denver’s professional sports teams all at the same time!

What is your favorite drink to make?

Probably Hot Chocolate. I just like the smell of it.

Do you drink Hot Chocolate normally when you are here?

Sometimes, I really just drink coffee from my Mason Jar.

Who is someone you look up to and why?

I don’t know. It has changed over the years. I don’t think I look up to anybody. I think I just look at my own life. I mean when I was a kid my heroine was my Mom. Growing up, she caught HIV when I was eight, you know? I just watched her slowly die over the years. But she just kept going. That is probably the reason why I looked up to her.

That must’ve been really hard for you. The last question I have for you, Ricky, is about your top four favorites. Where are your top four places in Denver and why?

 

  1. Lookout Mountain’s viewpoint (I like to go watch the sun come up)
  2. Platte River where the Cherry creek meets the platte (I have a lot of memories both good and bad from there)
  3. Mile High Stadium (When the Broncos are playing! But yeah, I walk by it everyday)
  4. My foster parent’s house (It is really secluded, when you are there you won’t even notice that because there is so much to do. Yeah, it is like my little home away from home. When I want to get away from everyone that is where I go.)

 

For the remaining Saturdays in May, Ricky will be taking over Purple Door Coffee Instagram account to share pictures and a few thoughts on his favorite places in the city. Be sure to follow us at @purpledoorcoffee and look for the #purpledoorstories hashtag!

Meet Sateva!

By | Employee Bio | No Comments

satevaSateva Walling was born in Lakewood, CO and ended up homeless at the age of 12 due to impossible and terrible family circumstances. Now, at 28 years old, Sateva is over one month sober and has been working at Purple Door for nearly two. She has been a delight to our team; her tough but tender spirit has brought light to our space. Read more about her story below.

IMG_0185

Sateva taking a customer’s order at Purple Door.

 

How old are you and how did you become interested in working at Purple Door Coffee?I’m 28. And I don’t know…I talked to Matt (from Dry Bones) about it and it seemed like something that would help me to develop the skills that I need to put myself in a better place than I was.

Were you worried about working?
Yeah, a little bit. A little nervous. Anxious. Just because it had been so long since I had a job.

Well, we’re so glad to have you here. What is something that people might not initially realize about you?
This is a hard question! I like to write poetry, but I write a bunch of stuff.

Would you ever do slam poetry?
Whaaaat? What is that? Like where you stand up with a mic? If I did, I’d make sure to drop the mic. *MIC DROP* (laughs)

Are you originally from Denver?
Yes. I grew up in Lakewood, but about the age of 12 I started running around downtown.

Can you share a favorite memory of growing up here?
My favoritest memory… Well, I know that my grandma used to wake us up, me and my little brother, at like 4 o’clock in the morning and take us to breakfast at The Dollhouse Café. And then take us to Sloan’s Lake to watch the sunrise.

That’s awesome. What would you get for breakfast?
Pancakes.

Banana? Chocolate chip?
No question. Chocolate chip. I loooooove chocolate chip pancakes.

What is your favorite task to do while at work? What has been your favorite thing so far?
(laughs) I love to weigh out the coffee. It’s just relaxing to me.

 

IMG_0197Sateva weighing out coffee while on shift.

Who is someone you look up to?
Ummm, literally or… because I’m short! So I literally look up to everyone. (laughs) I’d have to say my little brother. Most of my life he’s had two jobs and has had his stuff together even though we’ve been through as much as we have. And even now, he’s sober and has two jobs.

Do you have favorite spots in the city?
One of my favorite spots to go and think is Confluence Park. And I like to go to Sox Place; most of my support is there and I like to interact with the kids that are where I was. I also like to go down to the half circle because it’s quiet and calming. And there’s a spot by the river, off 6th and Broadway, that I like to go to for peace.

For the remaining Saturdays in April, Sateva will be taking over Purple Door Coffee Instagram account to share pictures and a few thougthts on her favorite places in the city. Be sure to follow us at @purpledoorcoffee and look for the #purpledoorstories hashtag!

Meet David!

By | Employee Bio | No Comments

We wanted to take a minute and introduce you to David. He’s been with us for about 4 months and is doing great! He recently trained on the espresso machine and will soon be serving you drinks! We’re so thankful for David and can’t wait to see how his future unfolds!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Name: David
Birthday: April 27

Where are you from?
Colorado

Why did you decide to work at Purple Door?
It was a chance to broaden my skills and improve as a person.

What is a dream you have for your life?
To be a journalist.

What has been the most fun about working at Purple Door?
Barista training at Corvus

What is something you’re good at on the job?
multitasking

What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
The Tick

What is your favorite food?
This is a loaded question. I love all food.

What is your favorite coffee drink?
Vanilla latte

What is your favorite color?
Green

If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Greece because I am fascinated with it’s history.

If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
To fly!

2015–What a year!

By | Homeless Youth, Job Training, Ministry, Ministry Update, Street Life | No Comments

This past April, Joe came up to me one day at work and said, “Katie, I don’t know how to read very well. Can you help me?” This was something I had noticed and observed over the past few months, but never wanted to push. We had been spending an hour a week on Joe’s math homework for college and the word problems were his least favorite; understandably so, they are so hard to understand even if you *can* read well. So, this request, “Can you help me?” was huge. I mean, these are words I hardly ever say myself. I jumped at the opportunity…except I didn’t know the first thing about teaching someone how to read. So, we called on some friends of Purple Door and over the course of the summer, Joe spent two hours a week with a volunteer tutor and other time here and there with me, practicing reading and spelling and writing.

And, the hard work and long hours of endless effort paid off! Joe passed the English accuplacer test required for community college this past October. This test is one that he had failed twice before and felt utterly defeated by. As you can imagine, we continue to celebrate! But still, even with the test behind him, reading has never been Joe’s thing. Ever. He just says, “No thank you. I have Google.” Don’t we all. Anyway, my surprise was great a couple of Saturdays ago at work, when Joe sauntered over and said, “Here”, as he laid down a book. “Mark thinks I should read this. But, I think it’ll be too hard for me. Can we read it together?” I look down and realize it’s one of my favorites: Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who started Homeboy Industries over 30 years ago. Homeboy is an organization that job-trains and employs former gang members in L.A. The book is incredible, but shares hard stories and unabashed opinions of God and his love. I was thinking to myself, ‘This book is not going to just be hard to read…but also hard to understand…we probably shouldn’t even try.’ But alas, I’m not in charge of deciding these things, so we began to read.

Joe started first. It was like reading with my favorite 6-year-old: steady, intentional, thoughtful. I felt myself fill with pride. I kept offering small encouragement, especially when he was uncertain. And then he stopped, “Can you take over for a while?” So I picked up where he left off. Before I knew it, we were both laughing like mad, while at the same time wiping away the tears that had popped into our eyes. Parts of these stories are so parallel to Joe’s; so many of the experiences are his own. We cried at this unspoken recognition of his story in the words and we cried in disbelief that ‘God is just too busy loving us to have time left for disappointment’. Wow. Could that be true?

And this is how we continued for the rest of the day – Joe would read a page or two and then I’d pick up and read a few until he was ready, confident, and prepared to go at it again. And then midway, in between the laughter and tears, it dawned on me: this is exactly how we do life. We get to walk alongside each other, so that when one of us gets too tired, too worn out, too unsure of ourselves, someone is there to pick up where we leave off. We get to: provide encouragement, laugh, cry, take a rest and sit in utter disbelief… together. And this; this is the heart of God. This is the divine. And that slow, snowy Saturday in which we read together all day, is forever etched in my heart.

———————————————————————————————————————

“A Homie named David who had sunk to homelessness and heroin addiction was beating himself up one day.
“Look, David,” I tell him, wanting to cut up his mean for him, “You have to crawl before you can walk, and then walk before you can run.”
David’s eyes soften with tears. “Yeah, but I know I can fly. I just need a gust o’ wind.” (Tattoos on the Heart, pg 9-10)

Joe read this and let out a roar of laughter. “This is me,” he says, “You are always telling me to walk before I run, ‘cept I know I can fly… I can fly ‘cuz Purple Door is my gust of wind.”

Roaster Update!!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Hello all! If you have been following our journey, then you know that we are trying to open a coffee roaster to employ more homeless teens and young adults who want to leave homelessness behind! We need to raise $100,000 to get this project going. As of right now, thanks to your generosity and a $14,000 matching campaign, we only have to raise just under $3,000 before we can open the roaster. The audio below is an interview about where we are now and where we are headed from Good News with Angie Austin. Check it out and DONATE HERE.

 

An Unexpected Reunion

By | actions, collaborative ministry, Featured, Homeless Youth, Job Training, Ministry, Ministry Update, Non-profit, organization, Street Life | No Comments

When we opened Purple Door Coffee, we knew that it was way bigger than just a couple young twenty somethings opening a coffee shop. We knew in some part of ourselves that PDC was a dream of many coming to life that we got to bear close witness to. This story evidences that and tells of the people who have been doing Work in Denver way before we were ever here.

 

The last few years, Purple Door Coffee has been a part of the Denver Faith & Justice Conference hosted by Denver Community Church. Some years we have served coffee, some years we have spoken, some years we’ve done both. But, each year there was this volunteer named Bonnie who was always SO on top of things. She is that volunteer who literally never sits down and seems to get things done in half the time it takes the average person. Over the last few years, we have had these interactions with Bonnie and it became very clear that she is a servant.

 

A couple of days after the conference this year, she came into Purple Door with her husband and two friends who were in town visiting. When she came was walking toward the shop, I said, “Oh yay! Bonnie is coming in!” I was working this particular afternoon shift with Ricky. Ricky grew up in the neighborhood where Purple Door Coffee is located. He didn’t have much of a father figure growing up, so early in his childhood, his mom placed in the Big Brothers program.

 

When Bonnie and her husband, Paul, and their friends came in, I started introducing myself to everyone. Then, one of the men in the group looked at Ricky and said, ‘What is your name?” Ricky said, “My name is Ricky.” Paul, Bonnie’s husband, looked at Ricky and said, “Ricky Beck?!” Ricky looked back at him and said, “PAUL?!”

Ricky looked over at me and said, “Madison- Paul was my Big Brother for years and years! He taught me everything I know.”

(I would swear that at this point Ricky had tears welling up in his eyes, but he would tell you that he was having bad allergies that day.)

 

Paul, Ricky & Bonnie ended up talking for a large portion of the rest of the day. It was the most beautiful reunion. At one point, Bonnie and I were chatting and she said, “It is so good to see him and know he is here. It is a miracle that he isn’t dead.”

 

The experience impacted Ricky in such a big way. He couldn’t stop talking about it and texting me about it for the next couple days. It was so impacting to him that he wrote a little bit about it:

 

11-9-15

Today while I was working, someone walked through the door that I haven’t seen in 15+ years. It was my Big Brother from the Big Brother program that my mom signed me up for when I was a little kid. His name is Paul and his wife is Bonnie. Since my dad wasn’t around, Paul was there to teach me things that my mom couldn’t. Paul taught me how to read, write, play chess, tie my shoes, throw and catch a baseball and football, how to ride a bike, how to fix a bike, how to eat properly, and how to fish. He took me white-water rafting, skiing (I think), to Rockies games, nuggets games, WWE wrestling matches, monster truck shows, and he taught me how to type on a computer. A lot of feelings were going through me when I was taking their order because when I was fourteen I went to jail and lost contact with them for fifteen years. I was excited but nervous, happy but afraid of how they thought I turned out. But after a couple of hugs and a little bit of catching up, all of those questions and feelings were answered with a lot of love.

The funny thing is that he has a big interest in Purple Door Coffee and that makes me love my job that much more.

He moved to the city and retired and I cannot wait to see him again.

 

 

This whole story is so beautiful to me because it goes to show that we are not alone in the Work. We are all working together for good. There were people working for good before us and there will be people working for good after us. It is our job to show up for the good, slow work of God.

IMG_7198 IMG_7200

Christmas Gifts!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Want to give gifts that make a difference this holiday season?  Sending gifts from Purple Door Coffee helps to create jobs for homeless teens and young adults who want to leave homelessness behind! Place your order online and we will ship them out before the Holidays! The final day to Order will be December 13th. The final shipment date will be December 18th. Each order will include a Christmas card! Use the coupon code: ROYALTY at checkout to receive $5.00 off shipping!

This coffee is a blend roasted by Corvus Coffee here in Denver. The label tells about who we are, and what we do. This is a great way to spread the story of Purple Door to your loved ones, as well as give them the gift of a great cup of coffee.

*Royalty Blend* from Purple Door Coffee

These mugs are printed with the Purple Door Logo on them. They’re a classic diner style mug. They make a great gift this Christmas season.

online

Thank you for supporting the mission of Purple Door Coffee as we continue to expand the services we offer, and the number of positions we have to job train individuals coming out of homelessness!

Merry Christmas!

Meet Ricky!

By | Employee Bio | No Comments

We wanted to take the chance to introduce you to Ricky! Ricky has been with us since late July!

We love having him as a part of our team and think everyone should get to know this guy!

Ricky

Name: Ricky
Birthday: August 4th

Where are you from?
Denver. I grew up around the corner from the coffee shop.

Why did you decide to work at Purple Door?
Because I was looking for a life change.

What is a dream you have for your life?
To have my own radio station/show

What has been the most fun about working at Purple Door?
Meeting new people that I wouldn’t meet on an everyday basis

What is something you’re good at on the job?
Cleaning and counting money. I think I’m good at drinking coffee too.

What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?
The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

What is your favorite food?
Chicken fried steak with all the fixin’s

What is your favorite coffee drink?
Maple Butterscotch Cortado… it tastes like a pancake!

What is your favorite color?
Purple

If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
I wanna go to Vegas

If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
The power to heal people