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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.

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“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.”

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.

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People over Tasks. Relationship over Responsibilities.

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

Madison and I have been stretched fairly thin this past year. We are two very different people, but one of our key commonalities is that we are kind of perfectionists. Because of how difficult and complicated running a business that happens to be a job-training program is, we have felt that we are in perpetual need of sacrificing quality on this thing or that, or leaving something not done to our standards. This has been draining. Most days I leave thinking I could have done more, or done something better, and my mind is focused on all the tasks that are yet to be done, or the the things that I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. This is a tiring, unsustainable way to live. So I’ve been working on it, by shifting my focus from what is undone to what is done. I have also made (or am trying to make) an incredibly important shift from thinking about tasks and responsibilities to people and relationships.

Robert Lupton in his book Theirs is the Kingdom has an excellent quote concerning this:

The fundamental building blocks of the Kingdom are relationships. Not programs, systems, or productivity. But inconvenient, time-consuming, intrusive relationships. The Kingdom is built on personal involvements that disrupt schedules and drain energy. When I enter into redemptive relationships with other, I lose much of my (efficiency) ‘capacity to produce desired results with a minimum expenditure of energy, time, money, or materials.’ In short, relationsips sabotage my efficiency… I know I am called to love people, and, in a special sense, poor people. Since it is impossible to schedule their calamities, I must remain open to their interruptions. The seductive appeal of order would draw me away from my call. God’s peace much be learned in the midst of disturbance. Disruptions are his reminders that people are more important than programs and that the ordering of my life is His business.

So, my idol of efficiency and achievement is daily being sacrificed. I am constantly striving to see the humans behind the tasks. Go has given us this task of running this beautiful thing called Purple Door Coffee, and there certainly are tasks and responsibilities to be taken care of, but more importantly there are people to be taken care of. The tasks must support the people. Tasks and projects are not the point. I have to daily remind myself of this.

Christ did not come to help us have more “good” tasks and responsibilities. Christ came to love, redeem and set us free. It is our “task” as his followers to help others know that love, redemption and freedom. If we can focus on that, I think our other tasks become much less stressful and draining. But that is the challenge–to stay focused on the love, redemption and freedom. When we can focus on Christ and what he offers, life can be so much more full!

Patience in the Progress

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We want to be open. We wish we could have been open six months ago. Six months ago, though, Purple Door would have looked a lot different–mostly in a negative way. We’ve learned so much about the coffee industry. We’ve learned about job training. We’ve learned about fundraising. We’ve learned about community relations. We’ve learned about a thousand other things that have shaped the vision and provided for the long term of Purple Door.

Even with all that, it’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to wait some more after waiting all this time to be open.

Things are progressing, always. New developments happen each day. But there is still waiting.

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about why it’s taking as long as it is to get this place open. I’ve been wondering why we’ve been just slowly raising the money lately (but money certainly is coming in).
I finally came to this profound conclusion: I don’t know.

I don’t know why we aren’t meeting out initial goal dates for opening. I don’t know why things are not further along in the process than what they are. I don’t know why anything has really happened or not happened with Purple Door.

I don’t know, but that’s okay. 

We don’t have to know. We just have to diligently work in the areas that we can control, and allow it to unfold. Allow God to work in people’s hearts and lives, and all the while work hard at what’s in front of you.

We’ve really adopted this line of thought lately. We will work diligently in the things that we can influence, and not worry so much about the things that we have no influence in. This ties directly into our faith as well. In a sermon I heard on Sunday the preacher said “Biblical faith does not mean knowing. Biblical faith is Believing Love and Trusting Obedience.” Yes! We hope and pray that we are able to live into that meaning of Biblical faith. He went on to say “It is this element of unknowing that makes life a story worth telling; a story worth being a part of.” We don’t know every detail of the story of Purple Door Coffee, but we do know that we serve a good God that has been faithful in the process. It’s His process, and he knows what we need. So we will continue to seek Him, and work hard at what we can control and we believe that we’ll get where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there.

Thank you all so much for your support of this journey–this story. Click here to donate so that we can together provide jobs for our friends on the streets.

“The State of the Door”

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Sitting here enjoying my late afternoon cup of coffee I am reflecting on where Purple Door Coffee has been, is, and will be. This reflection has made me realize a few things: First, a lot has happened in Purple Door’s short life. We have come a long way; Second, we have shared the story fairly well up to this point, but if you missed a post, a picture or an email here or there things may be a bit fuzzy. With both of these things in mind Madison and I have decided it’s important to give a “State of the Door” update.


We just want to update everyone very directly about where Purple Door Coffee is in the process. We’ve had a lot happen in the past few months and a lot more is in the works.

We will update you briefly on our financial state, our location search, how the ministry component is developing, our estimated timeline, what you can be praying about in the process.

Finances: 

We have broadcast a need of $122,156 for our initial start-up costs, and have been diligently working towards that goal. We have fine tuned our budget with information gained in researching commercial properties and the coffee industry, what we learned in coffee school, and what conversations with folks in the coffee industry have taught us, we believe this is still a pretty accurate number, but the numbers may have changed on the budget line (for example, higher cost for an espresso machine and less for the tables). While this is still our goal ($122,156), we hope to cut costs with out cutting any quality through donated, or reduced cost, goods and services. At this point we have raised $97,459. We’re praying for God to continue to provide the remaining expenses, as well as provide avenues of cost reduction without sacrificing any quality.

If you would like to contribute you can do so here.

Once we are open we have a 3 year goal of self-sustainability. As we sell more and more coffee our need for fundraising will decrease, but the managers’ salaries (mine and Madison’s) will be the last thing to be sustained by the business. Once we raise our start-up costs fundraising will still be needed, but hopefully and prayerfully in an ever decreasing amount. Madison and I are still in need of salary for the rest of this year. If you are interested in supporting us so we can together provide jobs to our friends on the streets, and help them see their incredible value please donate today, and indicate in the donation where you would like your donation to go.

Thank you everyone who has given financially to this project. We are getting so close, and are very excited for what God has in store. 

Location: 

We have been looking for properties! This is a big process, and an important process. It is fairly common knowledge that a location can make or break a business. We’ve looked at several properties and driven through countless neighborhoods just looking at what’s out there.

We’re in the process of discerning if a property that we really like is the one for us. Your prayers in this matter are so desired and needed right now! We trust that God has a location for us that is perfect, but discerning which property is the key.

We’re very thankful for all the help we’ve received in this process already!

Ministry: 

Our primary mission and ministry is to employ homeless youth and young adults as they seek to rebuild their lives from homelessness, but our ministry overall is larger than this. We are engaging in moments and seasons of power placed under individuals through employment, relationships, and loving interactions.

Once we are open we can fulfill the employment component, but right now we are daily able to have relationships and loving interactions that place power under people so they may live the lives God intended them to live.

Relationships and loving interactions know no boundaries of race, gender, socioeconomic status, faith background, or any other label that can be placed on people. Our primary ministry now is living into those relationships and loving interactions to help empower people whether that is in a church in a wealthy suburb or on the streets with our friends who live there.

As we live into this mission we have learned about some best practices in job training which we will incorporate into that third component. Coffee will be the vehicle we use to facilitate us living into this mission that has been placed on our heart.

Once we are open we will be able to fully live into the mission and vision that has been placed on our hearts, but that does not mean we cannot live into it on some levels now. 

God has been shaping Madison and I as individuals in this journey and as a business/ministry team. It has been a time of growth and development that we believe will provide longevity to Purple Door, as well as allow us to journey with our employees, volunteers, vendors, customers, partners, and anyone else connected to Purple Door in more meaningful, impacting ways.

We believe that the ministry we engage in really is our lives–ministry, simply put, is how we live. As we form this organization we hope that others can be inspired to live lives of ministry–whatever that looks like for them.

We will have very intentional program-like components to what we do and we are constantly refining exactly what that will look like, but overall we hope to be a very tangible representation of who Jesus is to this world to all people we interact with. We believe that has incredible power. The ways of Jesus are transformative for all that encounter them.

 

Timeline: 

With all these things in mind we want to tell you what we believe the timeline to look like for Purple Door.

We have been shooting for the Fall of 2012! Here we sit in the Fall of 2012 (as of this past Saturday). Ideally we would be open already or opening next month, but in reality it is looking more like December 1st at the earliest (if everything went perfectly, but we’ll be working with government entities for permits and the like, so in some ways it’s out of our hands), and most likely by early-mid January. Seldom does our timing really matter–God has this really cool plan, and we trust that He is doing a Good work. His presence in this process has been undeniable, and us not opening at our original goal date does not negate that, or cause us to doubt as we move forward. We trust God’s will wins out, and we submit to that. We will keep working, praying, and loving, and we trust that God’s going to be with us in that journey. Our desire is to open sooner rather than later, and we’re going to work towards that goal! God will be present the whole time!

 

Prayers:

In all of this we ask for your prayers.

Pray for our funding: We need to raise the remaining start-up costs, and we will also need to continue to raise operating costs once we are open.

Pray for the success of the business so we can move towards self-sustainability.

One of our most imminent needs is salary for Madison and I. Pray our salary needs are met so we can continue to spend all of our time and effort creating moments and seasons of power placed under individuals through employment, relationships, and loving interactions, without the stress of figuring out how we’re going to put gas in the car or buy groceries.

If you would like to donate to our start-up costs, or salaries, please do so here.

Pray for our employees. God is already at work on the streets in many ways, one of which is preparing the individuals we will employ. Pray they make decisions that better their situation now. Pray that they are open to the work of God. Pray that they can see their value. Pray for opportunities for us to love deeply.

Pray for our location search. Pray that we are led to the space we are supposed to be in. Pray that we find a space that suits our needs. Pray for the landlord to partner with us in our mission and believe in what we are doing. Pray for permitting to go smoothly. Pray for the right equipment, decor and furniture to be found. Pray that it will be a space that God is clearly seen in the loving actions that take place there.

Pray for Denver. This is a city that we love, and we see God at work everywhere we go. Pray that God is made known in new and exciting ways each and every day.

Pray for Madison and I as we live into this vision and mission. God has worked and is working in our hearts and lives, and we are very blessed to be a part of what God is up to in Denver. Pray for wisdom, patience, joy, honesty, and, above all, love.

 

Thank you everyone who has journeyed with us this far. We ask that you keep trucking along with us. We can’t even express how grateful we are for your support, and how excited we are to continue moving forward. 

Blessings and Love from Purple Door Coffee to you all!