ROP Youth Ministries Needs People Even More than a Building

Earlier today, I got an email from one of ROP’s ESL teachers. She related to me a request from one of her students. The student was asking where she and other refugee moms could go for help keeping their teens out of gangs. The teacher lamented that she did not have any great answers for her student, but as she pondered and prayed about the issue of gangs and teens, God brought to mind a book she had read many years ago, The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. It is the powerful story of how God led young pastor Wilkerson to New York City to minister to at-risk caught up in gangs and drug use. Toward the beginning of his ministry, Pastor Wilkerson felt led to raise money for a building where kids could come to hang out, plays games, build healthy relationships and learn about a God who loved them.

Our teacher is convicted that the 1523 Boston Building across the street from ROP’s existing building should become the same kind of place for teens in our community.* I could not agree with her more. With its full gymnasium and lots of other classroom and meeting space, we envision the 1523 Boston building becoming a great resource for our community and especially its children and teens. But honestly, as much as ROP’s ministry and community would be blessed by the addition of the 1523 Building, the greatest need of our community’s teens is for people, i.e. relationships with mature Christian adults who can speak both love and truth into the lives of kids in need of both.

So when my teacher friend asked in her email how she could help, I told her by all means to pray for and help spread the word regarding the 1523 Boston building opportunity, but where she could help the most with our teens would be by praying for and helping us get the word out regarding our need for people called and gifted to work with at-risk youth. I also put her in touch with Matt Smith, ROP’s Youth Ministry Director, who is eager to talk to this mom and see how he might help with her son or daughter and other refugee youth in our community. But Matt needs help. There is only so much that one guy can do. He needs more men and women to join him in this very strategic ministry. Sometimes, all it takes for a young man or woman to make a good choice toward the kind of life God has for them is a word of encouragement and affirmation from a healthy adult role model who genuinely cares for them. If you are interested in being a part of this critically important ministry with at-risk youth, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Matt at [email protected] or 303.570.7501. He will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

And while I am making an appeal for youth-oriented volunteers, I want to also mention ROP’s Reading Mentor program at Crawford Elementary School which will be starting up again on Wednesday, January 23rd. We would love to add a couple more people to our awesome Reading Mentor team. As a Reading Mentor, you can play a critical role in helping an English language learner to succeed academically and in life by simply helping them learn to be a better reader. The time requirement is from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. every Wednesday for just 10 weeks at Crawford Elementary School. I know it can seem like a long drive for some, but my suggestion is to either bring a friend to volunteer with you or to listen to your audio Bible as you drive :-). If you are interested or have questions, please let me know.

* The 1523 Boston St. Building, aka the former Boys and Girls Club, went up for sale a few months ago and ROP is feeling led to try to buy it. So far we have a $300k commitment from The Anschutz Foundation, but we need quite a bit more to make an offer which is likely to be accepted.

Celebrating 2018 Highlights – One Final Appeal for Support (at least for this year :-)

As 2018 comes to a close, it seems only appropriate to take a little time to look back with thankfulness and forward with anticipation.

Here are just a few highlights from this past year for which we thank God:

  • The Launch of Restoration Counseling on East Colfax – It is has been encouraging and fun to play a small part in all that God has done to bring Deb Ford and RCEC to the point where they are today, able to provide much needed counseling services to those struggling to be free of various addictions.
  • The Growth of ROP’s Wednesday Lunch Outreach – Associate Executive Director, Tom Adams, and his awesome team of volunteers serve a Chick-fil-A lunch, clothing, hygiene items, prayer and a lot of love to 70+ homeless people every week, rain (snow) or shine.
  • Thanksgiving Dinner at Crawford Elementary – With the partnership of several churches, more than 100 volunteers and our Flourish East Colfax collaborators, ROP facilitated our first Thanksgiving Dinner at our community’s elementary school. The school and we are already looking forward to next year.
  • Whole Foods’ support of ROP’s Food Bank – The addition of Whole Foods as a regular provider of food has allowed our food bank to offer fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other perishable items for the first time in more than 10 years. Our community loves it.
  • Volunteers and Staff – I cannot consider things for which I am extremely thankful without thinking of ROP’s High Impact Volunteers and Staff. During 2018, more than 60 volunteers partnered with ROP on a regular basis (mostly weekly and many two or more times each week). And how I thank God for ROP’s awesome staff, many of whom have served with me since ROP’s beginning as an independent non-profit 11 years ago. These people are the heart of our ministry and I count it a great privilege to partner with each one of them.
  • Financial Partners – Of course, ROP’s financial partners are the other key ingredient that God uses to maintain and grow our ministry. As of today, ROP has received $516k in donations (to ministry and staff support) from more than 400 different donors during 2018, more money from more people than in any of ROP’s previous 10 years of existence. Thank you, Lord indeed!

As we look forward into 2019, here are just three areas in which we anticipate God moving and for which we covet your prayers:

  • Children’s Director – ROP has been without a Children’s Director for almost a year. While we have managed to keep both our Wednesdady evening Spark program and the Reading Mentoring program at Crawford Elementary going, we really need someone to help us reach out to and make an impact in the lives of more children in our community. This will become an even more critical need if we acquire the 1523 Boston Building with its awesome youth facilities (see next item).
  • 1523 Boston Building – As we have mentioned in previous communications, the building across the street (previously occupied by the Boys and Girls Club) is on the market and we are feeling led to try to buy it. The Anschutz Foundation has already committed $300k toward its purchase. Please pray that, if this is God’s will for ROP and our community, He would help us raise the additional funding needed to make this a reality.
  • Flourish East Colfax – After seeking and praying for a key person (aka “Community Connector”) to do some grass roots work for Flourish East Colfax, we now have two people – yay! Please pray they integrate well into the FEC team and the community development work ROP is doing with our FEC partners.

Well friends, that’s pretty much it for this eblast and this year. Just one last low-key and no-pressure appeal for financial support. (Hey, it’s part of my job :-). To all those who are already regular supporters and/or have made a year-end donation – thank you, thank you! However, if you have been considering a year-end gift to ROP and have not yet made one, we sure would appreciate your taking a moment to do so as God leads. Not withstanding, the fact that we have raised more money than in any previous year (as mentioned above), we have also spent more and at this point are still about $15k short of finishing the year with revenue greater than expense.

Thanks again for your partnership in ministry.  If you feel led to make a year-end donation, you can do so with your credit card by clicking on this link to ROP’s website, or you can mail a check to ROP, PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040. Checks must be postmarked by 12/31/18 to be deductible for 2018 taxes.

Merry Christmas from Restoration Outreach Programs

December is a busy but fun time at ROP.  There may be a little shopping involved, but it is mostly about sharing – sharing gifts, sharing fellowship and sharing the Christmas Story. In previous Eblasts I talked about how gifts were shared and families blessed at Colorado Community Church’s Christmas Store and at Crawford Elementary School. I also talked about how the Christmas Story was shared and good fellowship enjoyed and at the Work Readiness and English as a Second Language Christmas parties. 

This past week the sharing continued at ROP’s Wednesday Lunch Outreach and Spark program for kids. Wednesday Lunch volunteers prepared and distributed gift bags filled with socks, gloves, hygiene items and Christmas treats to about 60 of our homeless friends. As usual, a good lunch, fellowship and prayer were also shared. Sorry no photos :-(.

However, I do have a couple photos from ROP’s last Christmas event of the year. Wednesday evening was a special night for the kids of ROP’s Spark program. Parents were invited and the kids were able to share with their parents the gifts they had made for them. The kids also entertained their parents in song and dance, but the best thing, at least for me, was watching the kids actually share the Christmas Story BY MEMORY with their parents – amazing! Many thanks to Rick Randall, one of our awesome Spark volunteers, who has been teaching and working with the kids on memorizing the Christmas Story for several weeks. He and they did a great job. Now the kids can share the story of Jesus’ birth not only with their families, but with their friends as well. How cool is that?! It makes me smile just thinking about it and I hope it makes you smile too.

The Spark Christmas Party was pretty much our last Christmas event. On Thursday, Lucy’s TUMI class had their final exam and on Friday morning ROP’s Board discussed our 2019 Budget. Not very Christmassy, but good and important stuff nevertheless. But that was pretty much it for ROP’s ministry this year. Volunteers and staff are looking forward to spending the next week with family and friends, celebrating the most precious and important gift any of us will ever receive – the gift of joy, hope, peace and a transformed life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May each of you also enjoy a blessed Christmas with your family and friends!

P.S. No pressure, but if you have room left in your year-end giving, we would welcome your consideration of a year-end gift to ROP. Not withstanding a great Colorado Gives Day, we still have a ways to go in order to finish 2018 in the black (revenue greater than expense) and start 2019 in the manner we hope. Clicking on this link will take you to ROP’s website where you can make a donation using your credit card. Or you can mail a check to ROP, PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.

No Better Way to Learn the Christmas Story than Being a Part of It

Yesterday was a fun and very Christmassy feeling day at ROP.

It began with ROP’s Annual ESL Christmas Party. Like most Christmas parties, there was a lot of food, fun and fellowship, but the best part, at least in my opinion, was the sharing of the Christmas Story from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in a very interactive way. Just about everyone played a part as we re-enacted the Christmas story together, including yours truly who played the role of a wise man (great type-casting) as well as photographer. I am not sure everyone understood the whole story, but they certainly had an enjoyable time and got some good practice with their reading skills as they played their part :-). To see more photos from the ESL Christmas Party, click on this link.

Later that same afternoon, Tom Adams and I got to play Santa Claus over at Crawford Elementary School. We are thankful to Cherry Hills Community Church for giving us this opportunity as a result of their decision to bless ROP and another city ministry with the leftover toys from CHCC’s Christmas Store this past Saturday.  Since ROP’s families already had the opportunity to participate in Colorado Community Church’s Christmas Store the previous Saturday, we were able to bless Crawford Elementary with hundreds of toys for their families. It gave us joy to see and hear about the joy of the school’s staff in anticipation of sharing this blessing with their families.

We are thankful for the opportunity to bless the families of our community in practical as well as spiritual ways. There is no better way to celebrate the most precious gift we will ever receive – the gift of a transformed life through submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ – than by sharing His love and blessings with others.

Many thanks to all who partner with us in this ministry in a variety of ways. We truly could not do it without you. No pressure, but if you have room left in your year-end giving, we would welcome your consideration of a year-end gift to ROP. Not withstanding a great Colorado Gives Day, we still have a ways to go in order to finish 2018 in the black (revenue greater than expense) and start 2019 with in the manner we hope. Clicking on this link will take you to ROP’s website where you can make a donation using your credit card. Or you can mail a check to ROP, PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.

Thanks for you consideration and support.

How Would ROP Use the Additional Space? – Glad You Asked

A couple months ago, I announced in one of our “Urban Voices” newsletters that the building across the street from ROP (formerly the Boys and Girls Club) had gone up for sale and we were feeling led to try and buy it. Well, we still feel that way and remain pretty excited about what this could mean to ROP’s ministry and our community in terms of:

  • Youth Ministry – the 1523 Building provides wonderful space for kids to play including a full size gymnasium with 6 basketball hoops and an outdoor playground.
  • Existing programs – the 16,500 square feet of space includes several large classrooms which would provide expanded space for the growth of our ESL, Work Readiness and possible future programs.
  • Community Development – moving most of our existng programs across the street would allow us to use our existing building to better support our Community Development efforts for formal and informal neighborhood gatherings and activities.
  • Hospitality for the Homeless – We envision using the front of our existing building as a Hospitality Room for people from the neighborhood, and especially our homeless neighbors to gather or just hangout, especially when the weather is extremely hot or cold.

To help everyone better conceptualize the expanded “ROP campus” and how the space will be used, we got some help preparing some conceptual drawings, which I am including with this eblast. (These are kind of small, so if you would like 8.5 x 11 versions of any or all of these drawings, feel free to ask and I will send them to you.  To make that request, click Contact Us.)

I am also very excited to report that The Anschutz Foundation has already made a commitment of $300k toward the purchase of the building. This commitment is contingent upon raising the additional funding needed to make an acceptable offer (probably $1 million give or take) and providing the Foundation (and ourselves) sufficient assurance that we can also support the related increases in ROP’s operating budget.

Our hope and prayer is that this significant demonstration of support might help to encourage others to partner with ROP and The Anschutz Foundation in making this dream a reality. So please pray with us to that end if this acquisition is truly God’s will (as we believe it is) and feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested in learning more about this extraordinary opportunity to make a major impact in the life of our community.

Many Thanks to All Who Participated in Colorado Gives Day 2018

It is with great thankfulness to God and all those who chose to participate that I report to you that Restoration Outreach Programs received 87 donations totaling $59,505 through this year’s Colorado Gives Day. This is 7 more donors but about $6k less than received last year (perhaps somewhat influenced by the change in tax laws). Still, 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 2018 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

Thankful for All of ROP’s Partners in Ministry

It takes a lot of partners for ROP’s ministry to run effectively. Most of our programs rely heavily on volunteer support and, of course, ROP would not have been able to sustain and grow our ministry over the last almost 11 years without the support of many financial partners.

Today, I also want to give a special shout out to our church partners. Many support ROP financially, but we feel their support in other ways as well.  Church support was a critical component of the success of ROP’s recent Thanksgiving Outreach. Big thanks to Bethany Evangelical Free Church, Cherry Hills Community Church, Eastern Hills Community Church and Greenwood Community Church for their support of that outreach.

Every year, ROP is also blessed by our partnership with Colorado Community Church (CCC) and their annual Christmas Store. CCC literally does it all with hundreds of volunteers and the purchase of presents for hundreds (thousands?) of needy children. This year, ROP was able to bless 35 of our kids and their families through CCC’s Christmas Store, and all we had to do was help our families apply to participate and make sure they were able to get to Aurora’s Central High School last Saturday morning. Thank you, Colorado Community Church!

Of course, most of the services and programs ROP offers to the people of our community require a little more financial investment on our part. This is where tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) Colorado Gives Day (CGD) continues to play a significant role in ROP’s ministry. Last year, ROP raised $68k or more than 1/6 of our annual operating budget through Colorado Gives Day alone. We are praying for a similar if not greater outpouring again this year which is necessary if ROP is to finish the year in the black (revenues > expenses) for the 10th consecutive year.

If you have room left in your year-end giving budget, we would very much appreciate your consideration of a special gift to ROP. If you like to make credit card donations, Colorado Gives Day is the best day of the year to donate using your credit card due to CGD’s lower credit card fees and our ability to participate in CGD’s $1 million Incentive Fund.  Year-end gifts to ROP are also being supported by a $25k matching challenge grant. As of this moment, we are only about half-way toward releasing all of that grant.

If you feel led to make a donation to ROP through Colorado Gives Day, simply click on this link which will take you to ROP’s page on the CGD website. Of course, we also still accept checks which should be made payable to ROP and mailed to PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040.

Thanks for your consideration, and a special thanks to those who have already scheduled a CGD donation for tomorrow.

The Lord Who Hears Our Prayers

The following is a story of life change from ROP’s Associate Executive Director, Tom Adams.
We have been praying with and for Tonisha for nearly a year now.  She struggled with drug addiction and prostitution during that time, but has also demonstrated a genuine desire to walk in freedom.  At a recent Wednesday Lunch Outreach, Tonisha approached me and excitedly told me that she had delivered a healthy twelve pound baby boy.  Her relief and joy were great because she had been very worried for this baby since she was struggling with addiction throughout her pregnancy.  We had responded by asking the Lord to allow the baby not to experience any health challenges.  In his abounding mercy, God honored those prayers and also made a way for Tonisha to retain custody of her child.  She is living in a stable environment and has people around her who are supporting her as she raises her child. 
I rejoiced with Tonisha as she wept and thanked me for walking through this experience with her.  I felt tremendous love and the pleasure of God over her life and the life of her baby.  God is the restorer of all things, and I truly believe he has a beautiful plan for the lives of this daughter and her new son.  Please join me in continuing to lift them up in prayer so they will experience the freedom that all who put their hope and trust in the Lord have available. 
Tonisha seems to being doing well right now, but it’s important to note that she is still in the midst of struggling with addiction and other life challenges.  Continue to pray with us that she experiences freedom from these hindrances by seeking the help she needs and trusting Jesus in every area of her life.  We are thankful for the grace and mercy the Lord has extended to her and believe this kindness will lead to repentance and complete deliverance from the sin that entangles Tonisha’s life.  Together, we can make a difference in her life, the life of her child and potentially many lives of those struggling with similar issues.  Lord, lead us in praying for Tonisha and supporting her in the ways that foster redemption and restoration in the life of your precious daughter.
Shameless plug from the Executive Director:
As we approach year-end and you consider your year-end giving, I hope you will consider a generous donation to Restoration Outreach Programs. It is only through the financial partnership of people like you that we are able to come alongside people like Tonisha and prayefully seek to give them the love and help they need and invite God to transform their lives.
As you may already know, next Tuesday, 12/4, is Colorado Gives Day (CGD). We encourage our supporters to consider a CGD donation because it is supported by (1) a $25k matching challenge grant (just for ROP) and (2) the $1 million CGD Incentive Fund (shared by all CGD non-profits). If that works for you, just click on the “Donate Now” button below which will take you to ROP’s page on the CGD website. On that page you can enter the amount you wish to donate – AND, if it is before Tuesday, December 4th, be sure to check the CO Gives Day button, so that your donation is scheduled for Colorado Gives Day (12/4). If the whole CGD thing does not work for you or you are donating after December 4th, no problem, we are still very happy to receive checks payable to ROP and mailed to PO Box 632, Aurora, CO 80040 :-).
Thanks for your consideration and support.
P.S. This Wednesday (aka tomorrow), we will be mailing our year-end fund-raising letter. I hope you will read it even if you are not feeling led to make a year-end donation because I think it carries with it a God led message the hope ROP seeks to provide to all those we serve. We will be following up this letter with phone calls to many of our supporters this weekend. If you would like to help us lessen the number of calls we make (and not receive another voicemail message in your inbox), you can do that by scheduling your CGD donation before this upcoming weekend :-).