Most Neighborhood Meetings are About Working Together, but This One was about Having Fun Together

At most of our Flourish East Colfax (FEC) neighborhood meetings we break into small “voice groups” (Pride/Respect, Safety and Unity) and work on ways each group can make our community better.  But, back in October the entire group decided we should work together on planning a Holiday Party for the people of our community and especially those that live on Boston and Chester Streets where several or our FEC organizations are concentrating our attention. Since one of our primary goals is bringing all the people of our community together, the Holidays seemed like a great time to invite more people from our neighborhood to gather for some fun and to get to know one another a little better*.

Usually, when we do events like this – especially events at our building – ROP ends up carrying most of the load. Not so this time. All ROP really did was provide the building and print and hand out party flyers.  All the rest – invitation design, food, decorations, games and entertainment – was taken on by various sub-committees of people from our neighborhood, which was totally awesome and further confirmation that this Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) thing is working. Yay!

Even though the planning and execution were going well, I confess my expectations for turnout were not very high. However, I was very pleasantly surprized.  By the end of last Saturday’s party, more than 75 people had filled out name tags, including a lot of first timers.  And if I do say so myself, I think all enjoyed a great time, including delicious food (with prizes awarded for the best home-made main dish and dessert), holiday games and even the singing of some favorite Christmas carols.

Hopefully, a few photos will help to tell “the rest of the story”.

* Since FEC is  not explicitly a Christian group and we wanted people of all faiths to feel welcome, the group decided to call it a Holiday rather than a Christmas Party.
By the way, if you missed Colorado Gives Day, it is not too late to make a year-end donation to ROP and help us finish 2017 in the “Black” (revenue > expense). Right now it looks like it will take about another $30k of income to reach this goal. If you would like to help us reach this goal, please make your check payable to ROP and mail it to PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040. Or you can click on this link to ROP’s website where you can make a credit card donation.

Colorado Gives Day Results Far Exceed ROP’s Ambitious $50k Goal – Amazing!

It is with great thankfulness to God and all those who chose to participate that I report to you that Restoration Outreach Programs received 80 donations totalling $65,940 through this year’s Colorado Gives Day. This result far exceeded our goal of $50,000 and last year’s CGD total of $37.8k through 56 donations.

We are humbled by this generous outpouring and tangible expression of support for what God is doing through ROP’s ministry and pledge to exercise careful stewardship over these and all the gifts entrusted to our care.

If you missed Colorado Gives Day, it is not too late to make a year-end donation to ROP and help us finish 2017 in the “Black” (revenue > expense). Right now it looks like it will take about another $30k of income to reach this goal. If you would like to help us reach this goal, please make your check payable to ROP and mail it to PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.

Christmas Store is a Blessing to 40 ROP Families

You can see it on their faces, in their smiles and in their sincere gratitude. Generosity is a gift from God that opens people’s hearts to the love of Jesus Christ. This year, ROP was able to bless 40 families with the ability to bring joy and love to their children by partnering with Colorado Community Church (CCC) in their annual “Christmas Store”. Families nominated by ROP and other organizations shop for their kids at nearby Central High School and pay a fraction of the normal cost to buy Christmas presents for their children. This creates an environment of open hearts to be able to receive and embrace the love of Jesus Christ.

Each of our ministries within ROP were invited to nominate families for the opportunity to shop at this year’s Christmas store.  ROP’s staff did a fantastic job of communicating and coordinating with the families that were shopping in spite of the language and communication barriers that were present.  The families were also offered transportation to ensure they had the opportunity to shop and not miss out.  The parents I spoke with were extremely thankful and talked about how their children would be so happy receiving gifts at Christmas.  Experiencing the joy of giving and receiving made this a very special event that blessed every person involved.

This Christmas season, may each of us experience anew the joy of receiving the gift of God’s love through His Son, the perfect gift to the world.

ROP Seeks to “Scratch Where People are Itching” – A Recent Story

When asked what ROP’s ministry strategy is, my short answer is often to say that we try to “scratch where people are itching.” By that I mean that ROP seeks to meet the practical or felt needs of those coming to us for assistance, needs for things like food, language acquisition, and jobs. We meet many of these needs through ROP’s regular programs, like our Food Bank and English as a Second Language and Work Readiness Programs. Sometimes, however, we get requests that our programs are not able to address. Often, we end up referring these requests to other organizations, but on occasion a volunteer or staff member feels led to step beyond their ministry description and address a more unique need. The following story comes from Marla Vlieger, ROP’s Education Director, regarding a special request from one of her Work Readiness students.

Andrea” is one of my former Work Readiness students who graduated with her GED earlier this year.  Since then, she has started college and has even been able to buy a car.  But she had a problem. She didn’t have anyone in her life who could teach her to drive and help her get her driver’s license. So, she asked me and I agreed to be her driving instructor (using her car, not mine :-). We started lessons in May. She made good progress even though we could only meet a few times a month.  Last week, she took her driving test, but did not pass :-(. This week, however, she tried again and passed. Yay! Andrea is very excited to be driving to school and work instead of taking the bus, especially because of the coming snow! (This photo is of GED Graduate, “Andrea”, and her driving instructor, Marla.)

Sometimes our stories are about “big” things like a Thanksgiving Outreach or the start of a new lunch program for the homeless or the launch of a new affiliated counseling center.  But every day at ROP “smaller” stories are taking place, where God gives a staff member or volunteer the opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone who needs a little help. Marla’s story above is just one recent example.

Your support of Restoration Outreach Programs is a critical part of these stories, big and small. Indeed, they could not happen without the support of our financial partners. So, as we approach year-end, we ask for your consideration of a special year-end gift in support of ROP’s ministry. And if it works for you to make your year-end gift on-line through Colorado Gives Day (CGD),  reduced fees and other financial benefits make this is the best time of year for ROP to receive donations via credit card.

To make a Colorado Gives Day donation just click on this link to ROP’s page on the CGD 2017 website. If you are making your donation before December 5th, you just need to be sure to check “CO Gives Day” under “Donation Frequency” and your donation will be scheduled to be made on Colorado Gives Day, Tuesday, December 5th. Of course, it also works fine to make your donation on 12/5.  It also works fine if you prefer to send a check. Checks should be made payable to ROP and mailed to ROP, PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.

Thanks for your consideration, and if you have already made your year-end donation to ROP as many have, thank you and I hope you enjoyed the story :-).

If for some reason the link does not work or is not handy when you want to make your donation, just type Colorado Gives Day into your browser to go the CGD website and search for Restoration Outreach Programs. This will quickly get you to ROP’s CGD Donation Page.

Much to be Thankful for at ROP’s Annual Thanksgiving Outreach

Although temperatures were quite chilly, the sun was shining and spirits were very warm at ROP’s 2017 Thanksgiving Outreach this past Saturday morning.  Usually the number of “no-show” volunteers is about equally offset by the number that show up that did not pre-register. Not so this year.  We had about 140 pre-registered volunteers, but more than 200 volunteers actually participated in this year’s event.  At first, we thought we had way too many, but as it turned out, it felt like we had just the right number.  Our volunteers served, loved on and prayed for our 277 clients with grace, lots of smiles and some patience too. I truly did not hear a cross word all day. I am especially thankful for all those that stayed with us until everything was put away, all the trash emptied and the building readied for Sunday church service.

All in all it was another great day for which we thank God. I will let the attached photos tell the rest of the story. And if you want to see more photos from Saturday’s outreach, click on this link to ROP’s website.

 

If you would like to pre-schedule a donation to ROP through Colorado Gives Day and help us meet our $20k Matching Grant Challenge, please click on this link and remember to check the CO Gives Day box under “Donation Frequency”.

Amazon shoppers please take note – Once a year, I like to remind ROP’s supporters that you can support ROP every time you buy something on Amazon simply by using Amazon Smile. Just set up an account on Amazon Smile and select Restoration Outreach Programs as your designated non-profit. Everything available on Amazon is available on Amazon Smile, but 0.5% of every purchase will go to ROP.

Brothers, Darrell and Paul, Expanding the Impact of New Lunch Program

A little more than a month ago, ROP’s Associate Executive Director, Tom Adams, started a new outreach to the homeless in our neighborhood. Every Wednesday at noon, Tom and a team of volunteers distribute lunch (sponsored by our friends at Chick Fil A) to the people hanging out around the Martin Luther King Library, just a few blocks from ROP.  The following is the story of Tom’s encounter with a man he met at a recent lunch.

We met Darrell near the Martin Luther King library and offered him a lunch.  When asked if it was tough living on the street, he said that he was reluctant to leave life on the street because he viewed the people he shared space with as family.  He indicated that some were blood relatives, but all were considered “his people”.  Darrell was still dealing with the death of a close “family” friend who had been kicked out of the apartment he was staying in by two other members of the group.  As Darrell related the story, this person was heavily intoxicated and wandered into the area near the library on a cold evening.  He sat down on a bench, fell asleep and never woke up.

We asked Darrell if he had forgiven those who had forced the man to leave the apartment.  He said he had, but there seemed to be some bitterness he was holding onto.  We asked Darrell if we could pray for him and spoke strong words of faith and encouragement over him.  As we prayed, God led me to tell Darrell that he would no longer be known on the streets for his stealing, but as a man who helped lead others to freedom like Moses did.  His response to hearing that was, “How did you know that?”.  It was not out of disbelief, but a desire to comprehend that Jesus knew him and had a plan for his life. Darrell asked to stay in touch and gave us his phone number.  We will continue to pray that his freedom comes quickly and he steps into a new reality of instructing others how to achieve their freedom as well.

Since that time Tom and the team have met Darrell’s brother, Paul, a Christian and leader of the group who is helping the team make connections with many other “family” members. With the help of Darrell and Paul, each week the team is having the opportunity to meet, pray for and share the love of Christ with more and more people.

We thank God and our greatly encouraged as we see Him at work through this new and growing outreach to the “least of these our brothers (and sisters)” in our community.

f you would like to pre-schedule a donation to ROP through Colorado Gives Day and help us meet our $20k Matching Grant Challenge, please click on this link and remember to check the CO Gives Day box under “Donation Frequency”.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to respond to ROP’s Supporter Survey. Due to issues with the Safari browser, please use a different browser if possible.

You Can Pre-Schedule Your CGD 2017 Donation Anytime Between Now and 12/4

Colorado Gives Day (CGD) has become a very important part of Restoration Outreach Programs’ annual fundraising calendar. Last year, we raised just short of $40k in CGD donations which was a $10k increase from the year before. This year our goal is to increase another $10k to $50k. To help us reach this goal, we are very thankful to announce that several ROP supporters have combined to provide a $20k matching grant challenge in support of this year’s CGD campaign. This means that every dollar of the first $20k donated to ROP through CGD 2017 will be matched dollar for dollar. How cool is that? If we make the match, we just need to raise $10k more to reach our overall goal.
Let me remind you of a several added benefits of donating through Colorado Gives Day.
  • Credit card fees are significantly reduced to just 2%, compared to the norm of 4%+
  • All participanting non-profits participate in a $1 million Incentive Fund which more than offsets all credit card fees.
  • There are $100k of other prizes available to win. Last year, ROP was fortunate to be a $5k winner of one of these prizes :-).

So now you want to know how you can donate to this year’s CGD campaign – right?  Glad you asked.  As stated in the headline above, you can pre-schedule your CGD donation anytime between now and December 4th. All you need to do is click on this link and it will take you to ROP’s page on the CGD 2017 website. On that page, you just need to be sure to check “CO Gives Day” under “Donation Frequency” and your donation will be scheduled to be made on December 5th. Of course, it works fine to make your donation on 12/5, the actual Colorado Gives Day as well.

Thanks for your consideration of this important request. I hope you know that ROP seeks to exercise great stewardship over all donations and that they are used to help ROP pursue the ministry to which we are called among a very disadvantaged community.  I love sharing stories with you about how God is working through ROP’s ministry, like the one I shared just last Saturday about the new opportunity ROP has to partner with our local elementray school in a Sports & Fitness Club. As we move closer to CGD and year-end 2017, we will be sharing more stories of how your donations are making an impact for the Kingdom in our community.

If for some reason the link does not work or is not handy when you want to make your donation, just type Colorado Gives Day into your browser, go to the website and search for Restoration Outreach Programs. This will quickly get you to ROP’s CGD Donation Page.

Celebrate Thanksgiving Early by Serving Others on Saturday, November 18

On Saturday, November 18, 2017, ROP will be conducitng our annual Thanksgiving Outreach where, with the help of more than 125 volunteers, we expect to provide food boxes with all the ingredients for a complete Thanksgiving dinners to 350 families.  We invite you to partner with us by volunteering for this special event.

The following are some of the volunteer opportunities:
  • REGISTRATION – INSIDE AND OUTSIDE – signing people in and assigning them to a Guide
  • GUIDES – escorting people around to receive their food
  • FOOD BOX DISTRIBUTION – distributing food items to recipient (dependent on family size)
  • SNACKS – plating and serving snacks and beverages to recipients and volunteers
  • MAINTENANCE – picking up trash around facility and making sure each team has what they need
  • SECURITY – Guard doors and walk around building to make sure everyone is ok – ADULTS ONLY
  • FOOD STOCKERS – Keep food distribution area stocked with food
  • TURKEY DISTRIBUTION – Collect card and distribute turkey to families
  • DRIVERS – Drive people to their homes with their food –WE COULD USE CAR SEATS FOR THIS EVENT

For more information on volunteering, please contact Vicki Ekberg, our Thanksgiving Outreach Volunteer Coordinator at vicki@restorationoutreachprograms.org or 303.898.0649.  If you are interested in donating food or dollars, please get contact Tish Freeman at Tish@restorationoutreachprograms.org.

 

School’s Needs Creates Opportunities for ROP Children’s Ministries

At the beginning of this school year, ROP was able to deliver 500 backpacks filled with school supplies to Crawford Elementary School thanks to the very generous support of Cherry Hills Community Church.  In the process of making that delievery, we learned from the school that declining enrollment and budget cuts had forced the school to lay off 9 staff members. One of the casualties of these lay offs was the school’s after-school Sports & Fitness Club.  When ROP’s Children’s Ministries Director, Walter Thompson, heard this, he saw an opportunity. He asked the school’s after-school coordinator if they would like some help keeping the Sport & Fitness Club going and she quickly said ‘yes’. So just this past Thursday afternoon, the Sports & Fitness Club was resurrected. Walter led eighteen kids with lots of energy in an hour and 15 minutes of training, exercise and sports.

We are thankful for this additional opportunity to bless the school and its students. And it is our hope and prayer that this program will give us more opportunities to build relationships with kids and their parents which will result in more kids participating in the Thursday evening Spark program at ROP.  At the school, the focus of the sports program is on physical development, much like the focus of our Wednesday afternoon tutoring program is on academic development, but on Thursday evening at ROP, we are free to also focus on the spiritual development of the kids that participate.

Your prayers for these children and the opportunities we have to build into their lives and help them succeed in life are much appreciated. By the way, each of these programs, Tutoring (Wednesday 3;15 – 5:15 p.m.), Sports & Fitness Club (3:15 – 4:45 p.m.) and Spark (5 – 7 p.m.) would benefit from a couple additional volunteers. If interested, please contact Walter Thompson at walter@restorationoutreachprograms.org or 720.577.7111.

One more thing: if you are interested in volunteering for or donating food or dollars toward this year’s Thanksgiving Outreach at ROP on Saturday November 18th, please contact Vicki Ekberg – vicki@restorationoutreachprograms.org (volunteers) or Tish Freeman – tish@restorationoutreachpograms.org (food and/or dollars)

Much to be Thankful for at ROP, Especially This Week

The past week has been a very good one at Restoration Outreach Programs, including three things to celebrate.

The first was last Saturday when ROP held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  This has become one of my favorite things we do each year at ROP. The evening got started with some great food and later featured some very enjoyable entertainment from Christian illusionist, Jim Scott.  Of course, the central focus of the evening was recognizing the contributions of our 40+ awesome High Impact volunteers. We certainly could not do what we do without their partnership. But my favorite part of the evening was the wonderful time of worship led by Jude del Hierro and a team of his friends from Confluence Ministries. Worship aligns our hearts with God’s heart and reminds us of why we serve. We long to be a blessing to others in our community, but we are the ones most blessed and privileged as we partner together in serving our gracious, generous, merciful and loving Heavenly Father.
The second thing to celebrate came yesterday evening (Thursday) as a group participating in our Flourish East Colfax (FEC) Neighborhood Meetings gathered around a new stop sign which had been installed by the City of Aurora just the week before in response to the persistent efforts of one of our FEC Voice Groups – YAY!.  The installation of a stop sign may seem like a small thing, but to us it is a big thing because it shows our participants and our community the difference we can make when even a few people come together with the purpose of making our community a better place to live.
The third and last thing I want to celebrate is the response we have received to my eblast of a couple days ago regarding ROP’s need for office chairs and a lap top computer for a member of ROP’s staff.  Many thanks to all who responded to this request.  The bottom line is we have been blessed with 13 office chairs, all in very good condition and 8 of which are matching and will look great around our conference table. I also have a staff member who is very excited about the near-term receipt of a nice lap top which will hopefully more than satisfy his needs for many years to come.
God is good. He is always good, but this last week, He has gone out of His way to remind us how much He wants to bless our ministry and all of His children. All we can say in response is ‘Thank You, Lord!’

If you are interested in volunteering for or donating food or dollars toward this year’s Thanksgiving Outreach at ROP on Saturday November 18th, please contact Vicki Ekberg – vicki@restorationoutreachprograms.org (volunteers) or Tish Freeman – tish@restorationoutreachpograms.org (food and/or dollars)