A Brighter Future for Families in Denver and Around the World
Written by Corbyn Small on July 25, 2013 in General
Corbyn Small is a regional representative for Plant With Purpose who is based in Denver, CO. His role is to build relationships and partnerships with individuals, churches, students, companies, and foundations.
There’s a ministry in Denver called Joshua Station and in many ways it reminds me of Plant With Purpose. Their mission isn’t globally focused and they’re not providing training in agriculture or access to savings and loans. In fact, at first glance, you might not see anything in common between the two. So let me share with you a little bit about Joshua Station and some of the same basic needs that I see existing in two very different worlds.
Joshua Station is a rugged old Motel 6 that has been converted into housing for families who were formerly homeless. There are currently 28 families and 54 children living at Joshua Station.
One thing that I’m learning is that homelessness amongst families doesn’t always look like the typical picture of homelessness. For families, homelessness can happen when working parents make an income that falls below the national poverty line become evicted because they can’t pay rent. Their only option becomes sleeping on the couches of friends from week to week while they struggle to make ends meet to keep their kids in school and food on the table.
Homelessness happens when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal disease that leaves the family bankrupt and stripped of their only assets to pay for medical bill. Homelessness happens when a woman and her daughter are forced to run away because of domestic violence from an alcoholic husband and father.
The incredibly sad reality is that in Denver, 64% of the homeless population is families with children.
This presents a huge need in Denver. There are shelters and there are programs that help to meet some of the immediate needs like meals and a place to sleep at night (here’s where you might start to see where I’m going with this). These are short-term solutions for today, but what about the chronic cycles of poverty that some face every single day? What about the family that desperately wants to get out of a cheap hotel room and into a home where their family can thrive? Where do you go when you need to get out of a shelter, but don’t have the stability to get into an apartment?
This is the space where I see so many similarities between Plant With Purpose and Joshua Station. Each ministry is dedicated to long-term solutions to poverty that empowers parents to work toward a better future for their children. Each organization is focused on coming along side individuals in response to the Lord’s call to love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-39). They’re dedicated to loving their neighbor in a way that restores a father’s dignity and empowers a mother.
One of my favorite examples of Joshua Station loving their neighbors well is their annual Christmas market. Rather than asking people and churches in Denver to donate toys directly to children at Joshua Station, which leaves the parents out of the provider equation, they ask for new toys to be given to the ministry. Joshua Station then sets up a huge market for the parents to come shop and buy the toys for 25 cents on the dollar. They make these nice, new toys affordable to the parents. Dignity is built and the relationship between a child and parent is deepened.
The desire for both organizations is to seek ownership, empowerment, and self-sufficiency. The families they work with may be in different countries with different backgrounds, but the need is the same. We all need to be loved and to believe the truth that the Creator of the universe knows us by name and wants to see our own unique skills and abilities realized to build His Kingdom here on earth.
Last year, 7 families with 15 children transitioned from Joshua Station into stable housing. In the same year, through Plant With Purpose trainings, 100’s of families gained access to savings for the first time, and with their savings they are breaking the cycle of poverty. Each individual is discovering their God-given talents that can be used to provide opportunity for their futures.
Whether in rural Dominican Republic or downtown Denver, basic needs are the same—the need for food, water, shelter, a place to belong, and a way to use our gifts. All of us are also called to recognize that the Creator is already at work ahead of us, and that He has invited us to be a part of the reconciliation and healing that He is bringing. For me, the most exciting part is that we’re all invited to join in His work!