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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.


“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:



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!

Meet Jenna!

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

We wanted to introduce our other new employee to you! Jenna started working for us a month ago, and we are so have to have her working behind the bar with us! She is a fast learner that is very personable and helpful!

photo 1-2

Where are you from? Denver, Colorado

When is your birthday? September 19th

Why did you decide to work at Purple Door?
I’ve been dealing with homelessness on and off since I was 16 years old. Running on the little amount of faith I had, I applied to Purple Door to work towards my goal of self-sufficiency and to keep myself from returning to the street life.

What is a dream you have for your life?
I plan to on day open up my own coffee shop. I start business school August 2014

What’s been the most fun about working at Purple Door?
Learning everything, helping customers, and being productive.

What’s been the most difficult about working at Purple Door?
Being Quiet. I am a very loud person and I have a hard time keeping the volume of my voice down.

What’s something you’re good at?
I am good at singing and helping others.

What was your favorite cartoon as a kid?

Where in the world would you most like to visit?
Ireland, to better understand my heritage.

What’s your favorite movie?

What’s your favorite food?

What’s your favorite coffee drink?
Caramel Mocha



Come down to the shop and meet Jenna! We love having her here, and she has a very bright future ahead of her!

Meet Marcus!

By | Employee Bio, Homeless Youth, Job Training, Ministry, Non-profit, Street Life | No Comments

Today we wanted to highlight one of our new employees, and we hope to do this as we move forward!

Meet Marcus! Marcus started working for us a little over 2 weeks ago!


When is your birthday?
 April 3rd

What were your favorite cartoons as a kid?
Pinky and The Brain, Rocket Power, Sonic

Where in the world would you most like to visit?
Tokyo, I love the sights. It looks amazing to visit.

What’s your favorite food?
Pizza and Chinese

What is something you’re good at?
Art, Music, and learning new things quickly.

What are some dreams you have for your life?
Become a better man.
Have my own clothing line, bring the old school hip-hop flavor back.
Provide something better for my daughter, and show her the best things in life.

Why did you decide to work at Purple Door?
It’s a good opportunity, and to better my life as a man.

What’s been the most fun about working at Purple Door?
Employees and people I meet and interact with.
Learning how to make coffee and learning where it comes from.

What’s your favorite coffee drink?
Mocha with vanilla. Mmm mmm mmm.

Other thoughts:
Purple door is wonderful and gave me a shot to work in a place I never thought I would ever see myself in. Warming and calm, a place I call relaxation and peace. It is a place for improvement and visions. A place that makes me feel home and family.


We love having Marcus on the team! Come meet him at the shop, and be looking for a post about Jenna as well!

Big News for Purple Door!

By | collaborative ministry, incubation, Non-profit, Street Life | No Comments

Your donations are now worth double!

We are so excited and blessed to announce that our sister ministry, Dry Bones Denver has arranged generous donors who will match funds up to $30,000!

$30,000 matching donation!

Every dollar up to $30,000 will be matched by a donation set up through Dry Bones. With our current amount raised at just under $20,000 this donation, if fully matched, will put us to nearly two-thirds of the way to opening our doors!

Now is the time to give!

We have set a deadline to have all $30,000 matched by August 15th! With this match, your donation carries so much more weight. Please donate to give our friends on the streets a chance at a life away from the streets!

Follow our blogwebsiteFacebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on the progress of this matching campaign!

Job Training

By | Homeless Youth, incubation, Street Life | No Comments

Madison and I continue to attend Dry Bones events and build relationships on the streets. Over the last few weeks many of our friends are getting job interviews, but so few are actually getting jobs. It makes me see the need even more clearly for Purple Door. We hope to teach our friends interviewing skills, job skills, give them a job history, give them positive references, and be a source of encouragement for them to help them keep going.

Job training ministries are interesting places to work. There is certainly never a dull day. I have the opportunity to lead the Bible Study at Bud’s Warehouse on Friday mornings. Lead is a relative term. Really, I pick the passage we read and we go from there. We’ve been bouncing around the Sermon on the Mount lately. It’s amazing how scripture speaks and moves in our lives.

Flickr image by DaveBleasdale

I learn more than I teach in this setting. It is awesome and challenging when I see aspects of faith that are stronger than my own in that room on Friday mornings. I am excited to see that take place at Purple Door Coffee–to be challenged by our employees while simultaneously challenging; to grow together as we walk our personal paths.

Purple Door will be a place of community, a place of love, a place of respect, a place of challenge, a place of growth, a place where Christ is evident. Our prayer is that Purple Door will be a place where God is glorified and all people are changed.

“A Problem”

By | Street Life | No Comments

To be viewed as “a problem” impacts one in a deep way. It impacts one’s understanding of who one really is. It prevents one from seeing their own value.

Our friends on the streets encounter this every day. With the passing of the urban camping ban here in Denver this profile of being “a problem” is even more strongly embedded into our friends’ minds.

Image by Tyrone Clakely on Flickr

Our friends are not a problem. They are valuable people that are in a difficult place, fighting an uphill battle. They are people that deserve love and can give love; people that are funny; people that are creative; people that are helpful. Our friends on the streets are not a problem.

Because of their value, we don’t want them to stay in the situation that they are in. We want them to experience a safe place to sleep. We want them to not have to worry about whether or not they will eat today. We want them to be able to meet their daily needs. We want them to lead a physically, psychologically and spiritually healthy life.

At Purple Door Coffee we hope to communicate that our friends are not a problem, and that we want what is best for them. We want to communicate that they are valuable. We want them to realize that they matter, that they can make an impact, and that they are deserving of a healthy life.

We hope to equip our friends to lead that healthy life. Help us in this journey to communicate to our friends that they are not a problem and to equip our friends to lead a healthy life by donating here.

God is doing some cool things with Purple Door Coffee and we hope you can join us in this journey.

The Widow and Her Lottery Ticket

By | Non-profit, organization, Street Life | No Comments

Many of you might be familiar with the story of The Widow’s Offering in both Mark and Luke. Here is Luke’s account of that story- Luke 21:1-4 “As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

I love this story so much because it emphasizes the beauty of sacrificial giving. Another reason I love this story because I am currently experiencing the reality of what it means to live on someone else’s donations. Through my experience, I have realized that every single penny donated helps us so much more than anyone can ever know. I would like to share a story with you that happened to me just two nights ago. Yep, just this past Monday night! That means that you are on the cutting edge of society because you are receiving immediate news from me, a highly credible source of information.

So, I moonlight as a Zumba instructor. I teach only once a week and I LOVE it. After class this past Monday I went out to eat with a group of students and we chatted about life and its ups and downs. While we were chatting, someone asked me to clarify exactly what I am doing right now for work. The set up of our work can be pretty confusing, so I get questions about this a lot.

I explained that Belay Enterprises is incubating us and that we are currently working at Bud’s Warehouse as Goal Coaches so that we can learn the ins and outs of running a non-profit job-training program. I talked about how we are working to raise money to open Purple Door Coffee and that we are also raising our salaries and spoke briefly about the stresses that come along with raising money.

After explaining these things, one of the ladies, Linda, quickly reached down into her purse and pulled out a small, square piece of paper. She handed it to me and said, “I don’t have any money to give, but I just won $25 on this lottery ticket and you should have it!” Linda is truly one of the most giving and supportive people that I have ever met. She continues to amaze me with her generosity and encouragement with each interaction. This story is so beautiful to me because on Monday night, Linda gave Purple Door Coffee what she had; money that she could have spent on an awesome meal or on a girls night out or on some new shoes for her two beautiful kids.

Linda’s generosity has given Purple Door Coffee so much more than $25, it has given us encouragement to get through today and press forward to a goal that is much bigger than both Mark and I. (Just to clarify, Linda isn’t a widow. She has an awesome husband named Doug. I titled this story ‘The Widow and her Lottery Ticket’ because her giving reminded me of the story in Luke that I mentioned earlier.)

The super exciting thing about this kind of giving is that you have the ability to participate! YAY! We have a Crowdrise campaign up and running to raise money for coffee equipment for Purple Door. You can become a part of this journey to open Purple Door Coffee by donating here, today. Please consider donating to help us create jobs for kids who are working so hard to get out of homelessness. I assure you that every little bit helps!

How To Donate To Out Crowdrise Campaign

We love you guys and are so thankful for all that you have already given! Peace and blessings.

Love, Mads

Inconvenience or Major Setback?

By | incubation, organization, Street Life | No Comments

Sometimes on the streets there is just a weird vibe. Last night was one of those nights. I still can’t put my finger on it.

Thursday nights are spent with Dry Bones at their weekly bowling event and hot meal downtown. Dry Bones gets a bus and takes everyone that shows up out to a bowling alley. We are there for a little over an hour, load back up onto the bus and head downtown where a hot meal is waiting.

Image by divinemisscopa on Flickr

To start the weirdness, the crowd at bowling was a lot smaller than usual. Which is fine. It was just different. At the meal we had about the normal amount, maybe a few more than normal. As weather gets nicer the population at the outdoor events tends to grow. There were a lot of kids that were just passing through last night–hitchhikers and train hoppers mostly. It’s interesting to see that culture interact with the mainstays here in Denver.

Most of the individuals that I have gotten close to in the past few months were either gone, or just not themselves last night. They weren’t as happy to see me, or anyone really. Most didn’t feel like talking. They pretty much wanted to get some food and head out.

In processing last night I have realized how little things impact our friends on the streets in much more dramatic ways, and so that can affect their moods and actions in a bigger way.

Example 1: If I miss a meal that is being offered for free, I can get into my car drive to a restaurant and buy food. If my friends miss that meal, they sleep hungry that night.

Example 2: If I lose my ID, I can grab my birth certificate and social security card which are kept safely, and go to the DMV and wait and have the problem resolved in a day. If our friends lose their ID, they need to track down their birth certificate and social security card. If they are missing one or both, what is a several hour process for me could be a 6 month or longer journey for our friends.

Example 3: If I wear out a pair of shoes I can: 1) Change to a different pair that I already own 2) Buy a new pair. If my friends’ shoes wear out, they must wear them until they can get some for free, and those have probably already been worn by other people, or they won’t fit quite right, or try to save some money to buy some. Since our friends walk a lot of the places that they need to go, a bad pair of shoes is very noticeable to them.

These are just simple things that I gave little to no thought to prior to working with this population. But when you live in these conditions a bad day is amplified greatly. So, if a few of our friends are having a bad day, it’s noticeable in the group.

Everyone has bad days, it’s just that our friends’ days can get pretty bad, pretty fast. This just really helped me see the need for love in the lives of our friends on the streets.

And in regards to Purple Door, we’re trying to make it so the little things aren’t as big in the lives of our friends. We want them to be able to have a job and earn money so that they can buy the things that they need. We want them to learn skills on how to deal with issues that arise in a healthy way. We want to walk with them as they journey to a level of stability that makes every day inconveniences into simply that–an inconvenience–instead of an issue that is going to set them back a great deal.