Showing posts from November, 2011

Support Belay Enterprises and Make an Impact for Jobs in Denver

In today's world, it's not hard to see the importance of a job. But imagine trying to find a job in order to support your family while living on the streets. Or envision trying to obtain employment if you are just out of prison with a felony conviction. Over the last couple years, it has been difficult for many people to find employment. And research shows that a job search becomes almost impossible when one is trying to rebuild a life from prison, addiction or homelessness. This is the problem that Belay Enterprises seeks to solve with its mission of partnering with the church to develop businesses that employ and job-train individuals rebuilding lives. Out of this vision, Belay launched in 1995 its first faith venture Bud’s Warehouse , a home improvement thrift store selling recycled building materials. In 2002, Belay opened Baby Bud’s, a baby products thrift store that employs disadvantaged single mothers and Freedom Cleaning Services, a commercial cleaning company t

Belay Enterprises in Christianity Today

Christianity Today's "This is Our City Project" profiles Belay Enterprises and Bud's Warehouse in an excellent piece that beautifully shares our mission and vision. Join me in praying that others around the country sense a calling to create businesses to employ individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison. Doing Good and Turning a Profit Recidivism is an ungainly word for a disturbing reality: the proportion of people released from prison who are rearrested or returned to custody. In the United States, according to a recent study from the Pew Center on the States, 43.3 percent of convicts released in 2004 were back in prison three years later. There are many reasons for this stubbornly high rate—it has barely budged in at least a decade—but high on the list is the difficulty former prisoners have in finding legitimate employment. Who wants to hire an ex-con? In Denver, the answer is Belay Enterprises. Founded in 1995, Belay's m

Hiring for Potential

How odd is it to lead an organization where we often don’t hire the “best” person for the job but people with potential in the eyes of Jesus. That is definitely not what a human resource 101 class would teach. But it’s the whole point of what we are attempting in a faith venture. We seek to run a business as mission that employs individuals rebuilding lives from situations like addiction, homelessness, and prison that would normally make such persons unemployable in society’s eyes. Inevitably, every faith venture organization attempting such a mission is going to wrestle with the hiring decision. The tricky part comes down to walking the fine line between achieving the redemptive employment goals with the need to have employees capable of serving the customer. As a result, hiring is not a science, but an art with an eye firmly on Jesus seeking his guidance every step of the way. To navigate the hiring decision, we look for the following four items when choosing program pa

Job Interviewing Bud's Warehouse Style

In most job interviews, an employer looks for the most qualified person for the job. At Bud’s Warehouse , we put a different twist on the idea of “most qualified.” As a faith venture that provides employment and job training for individuals rebuilding lives, our interviews are less about finding the most qualified and more about finding someone who can’t find a job elsewhere because of a felony conviction or a past addiction. If someone appears able to find a job somewhere else, we are less likely to hire them and quick to refer such a person to a job placement organization like Denver Works . One of my favorite stories is about how far we are willing to take this idea. A few years ago, an owner of a neighboring business discovered someone stealing copper from our yard at 3am in the morning. He called the police with a license plate number and they arrested the individual. The next day, the police called us to see if we wanted to press charges. The policeman, who was fam

The Gift of Consequences

“He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 1 Samuel 3:19, NIV If we went around the table at Bud’s Warehouse discussing how this verse from the Old Testament makes us thankful, there would be no shortage of conversation. In my experience, individuals rebuilding lives from prison have a heightened awareness of God’s love and care for each of them. So, one by one, stories would be shared of how people were thankful for an ability to trust God and how he brought good into their lives. But if we backed up and looked at the preceding chapters 2 and 3 in 1st Samuel, the discussion would become more difficult. These great words of faith and trust were spoken by the priest Eli after the young boy Samuel received a rather dramatic call from the Lord and a troubling message from God: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from begin

Opportunity Knocks: Rebuilding Lives Through Recycling

God smiles when we take throw away stuff and use it to employ individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison. Since 1995, Belay Enterprises has started four faith ventures to employ individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness or prison. We are in the process of incubating several new projects towards our goal of creating 750 jobs a year by 2016. Over the last 16 years, we have been most successful achieving our goals in the business ventures that include a recycling component. There is a definite sweet spot of results when we use society’s throw away items to create opportunity for those in our community deemed unemployable. If your organization is considering opportunities for a transitional employment social enterprise, take a look at ideas around the concept of recycling.

Created for Community

As human beings we are fundamentally designed for each other. Even the most introverted personality is still at some level stamped with the image of God. And community is the most essential expression of God in His Trinitarian form. We need community because we are created for community. So many of our society ’s problems arise from the fact that we have lost sight of our essential need for other people. We have become so curved inward on the self that we have forgotten others and our interrelationship with them. I am convinced that one key to healing the ills of the urban city (or, indeed, the world) is building community. Any charitable or governmental activity aimed at alleviating the problems of poverty without including community at its core is destined for inefficiency and ineffectiveness. At Bud’s Warehouse and the various businesses of Belay Enterprises , we start every morning intentionally striving for community by meeting together. One morning we do a bible study, another