Showing posts from January, 2012

The Noble Act of Creating Jobs (Kevin Grenier)

The following is a guest post from Kevin Grenier . It is a common stereotype that corporations are greedy businesses and that truly noble work is done by serving the poor. Mother Teresa isn’t expected in the board room. She’s out on the street giving food to the homeless. What if we have it all wrong? What if sustaining the poor is the less noble act? Maybe, rather than helping the poor make it another day, the real God-honoring activities are those of the businessmen – those people who provide work to us so that we are not poor, but can earn a living. Granted, business can be used for good or ill, just as anything can. But maybe business has the potential to be used for far greater good than mercy could ever hope for. Maybe a business whose goal is to help those who can’t work to learn how to work is a far nobler task than the soup kitchen. The Bible says that if a man won’t work, we shouldn’t feed him. Most mercy organizations side-step this verse because their

Ella's Dreams

When Ella has a dream, I pay attention.  A few years ago, she called worried about a close friend of mine.   "Yes," I said, "she's very sick. But how did you know? You haven't seen her in years." Ella shared that she dreamed of her the previous night. "I will start praying right away," she said. And over the next year Ella kept checking in on my friend and praying until she was declared cancer free.   A few weeks ago, Ella called concerned about a former Bud's Warehouse program participant from 7 years ago. We hadn't heard from him in awhile. A few days later he called. And now he's on his way back from a tough relapse with Ella praying for him every step of the way.   One of the great joys of running an urban business as mission is the friendships with people of great faith who actively share God's love with the community around them.  Ella likes to speak with God all of the time. And God helps her to drea

Ed and Jackie

I met Ed at a homeless shelter 12 years ago and he's been our part-time janitor at Bud's Warehouse ever since. Today, Ed picked up Jackie from the nursing home to bring her by Bud's Warehouse so she could say "hi" to everyone. It's hard to believe that Ed and Jackie have been dating for 21 years. Nothing would make him happier than to get married and move in together. But because of her health, they've had to settle on declaring themselves married by common-law and live apart. So on his days off, Ed picks up Jackie at her nursing home for short trips by bus around town. "She has to stay with me," Ed notes, "and I have to have her home by dark." "You can't keep us apart," Jackie says. "People in love need to be together."

Start-up Faithventure Dirt'N'Nails Hopes to Employ and Provide Transitional Program for Homeless

A few years ago, I met an individual who was starting a Chicago area greenhouse tomato business to employ homeless individuals. His idea was very exciting because it's easy to see how such a venture could provide a fantastic environment for people rebuilding lives using the healing nature of gardening. Ever since then I've encouraged people in the Denver area to explore such an idea as a faith venture . Today, I learned of a new farming start-up in the metro area that has the vision of transitional housing and employment in a farm setting. From their web site: Dirt’N’Nails Farms Inc . came into being as a thought and then a vision March of 2009, starting with the thought of giving plant starts and potted vegetables to those in need to boost not only their food supply but also their morale.  Whether we’re talking about homeless families or hungry ones, mental and spiritual well-being is as important as physical well-being.  Simply giving the homeless a place to liv

Should They Stay or Should They Go?

It's the hardest decision you will ever face in a faith venture employing people rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison. The reality is there comes a time when you need to make a judgement call whether to keep working with an individual in the program or let them go. As long as someone is showing growth, we are prone at Belay Enterprises to walk alongside them within the structure of a three-strike rule. Ultimately, our faith ventures are places about grace. But that's where it gets really hard . Sometimes grace is walking alongside someone when that is the painful, difficult route. And sometimes grace is firing someone from the program because there is a lesson to be learned and other people need the opportunity of the program. I wish there was a formula for making such decisions. There's not. It's more of an art, a feel, an active seeking of what God wants. And a trust that no matter what decision is made, God will use it to birth someth

Denver Post Columnist Explores Ex-Offender Employment Issue

Excited to see the Denver Post focus on the very real problem of finding a job as an ex-offender in Denver. It's a very good article but I wish it had included more detail on how much money taxpayers save when people coming our of prison successfully find employment . Ronald Sena's troubles started with heroin, which led to thievery and shoplifting and larceny, which led him to prison. He was 19 the first time he went in. For most of the next 20 years, he made regular use of the revolving door, accumulating a lengthy record of nonviolent crime. That was many years ago , but I'm laying it out first because Sena's past refuses to stay in his past and because his terrible choices will be all that matters to some readers, so I'll save them the trouble of reading further.      " Prison record is a ball and chain for jobless ex-felon ," Denver Post , Tina Griego , 1-8-2012   I encourage you to read the whole article here .

New Life Born From Brokenness

Relapses happen. The old life sometimes exerts a seemingly irresistible force on people rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison.  I remembering feeling great discouragement when I first faced that reality at Bud's Warehouse . An individual who had come back from heroin addiction, who was thriving in our program and ready to graduate to a job in the community, suddenly disappeared back into the world of drug abuse.  Perhaps, I unrealistically hoped that once people experienced new life and the satisfaction of supporting themselves in a job, they would never be tempted to make their former mistakes. It seems so naive to write that down today almost 13 years later. But the unsatisfying truth is that sometimes people never relapse but often they do...and that is all part of God's plan of redeeming lives where brokenness is the only path to life.  I remember my surprise when our former employee returned from his relapse into heroin wanting to share his new sto