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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:



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.

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Step 1: Treat People Like People

By | actions, incubation, organization | No Comments

As we spend time on the streets and get to know more and more people, we see how frequently our friends have been dehumanized by our world. We see how they are treated like a group that causes problems for the city, or makes the city less desirable; we see how they are treated as second class citizens. This breaks my heart. How can this change? How can we create a society and world where all people are valued and seen as important?

Well, start with you. Start by treating all people like people. Realize the humanity and the life that is present in every human you meet–from the homeless teen, to the rich businessman, to the elderly person in the nursing home, to yourself. Christ died for all of them.

Image by B.S. Wise on Flickr

As we live with this mindset, our sphere of influence will be impacted. We must use our existing connections to impact the world now. We can’t wait until we have a large stage, because if we wait until then we won’t know how to use it if we ever do get it.

Gustavo Gutiérrez was a theologian and priest from Peru that worked among the poor there. He says the poor “are found in the statistics, but they do not appear there with their own names…they are insignificant in society, but not before God.” (Preferential Option for the Poor, 1968)
God’s mission is to restore all people–all creation– back to Himself. This must come into play with how we engage the world. If we are to be about the things God is about, we must be about restoring the entire world back to God.

So, what things don’t belong? What things do?

People living in poverty and oppression is not what God desires. So, we must respond. We must journey with those who have been pushed to the side. We must journey on the road of restoration. It’s a long road, but a road that is well worth it.

What does belong? Community. Love. Reconciliation between people groups. All people being viewed as valuable creations of God that show the image of God simply in who they are.

So as we step out on this journey of embracing the mission of God and being active participants in God’s restoration of the world Step 1 is to treat people like people that are dearly loved and reflect the God of the universe. Step 2: repeat step one.

Purple Door Coffee…Why We’re Here

By | actions, Featured | 2 Comments

Every day that I am in Denver I am affirmed in that this is where I am supposed to be. This is what I am supposed to be doing. At the same time when I see how much needs to be done it is a bit overwhelming. We have a to-do list a mile long. But the to-do list is the least of our worries.

As I spend time at events with Dry Bones Denver and I see some familiar faces on the streets, and I meet new friends living outdoors in the winter that is what really motivates me to get the things done on the to-do list. A to-do list for the sake of a to-do list isn’t motivating. It’s overwhelming. That’s why it is so important for us to build these relationships on the streets now. To be present and see the need for employment. For mentoring. For a chance. A chance to start over and rebuild lives.

Daily I remind myself of the why I’m here by way of our mission statement:

Reclaiming and sustaining homeless and street connected youth through supportive and meaningful employment.

That’s why I am here. That’s why I am checking things off the to-do list. That is why we exist.

From there I remind myself of our 3 more specific goals:

1.  To employ homeless and street connected youth who have been deemed unemployable in a loving and grace-centered environment.

2.  To create a sustainable business where our employees can learn valuable life skills, work ethic, and the art of coffee.

3.  To foster and encourage life-changing relationships between employees, volunteers, costumers, donors and the local community.

That’s why I am here. That’s why we as Purple Door Coffee exist.