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2018 Wrap-up Letter

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Dear Dry Bones Community,

We’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2019! We’ve just experienced another profound, challenging, and successful year at Dry Bones.  You can read a few of the highlights at the end of this letter.  

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”     – Henri Nouwen

The relational movement here at Dry Bones for 17 years has been all about getting close – not just being overwhelmed or fear-filled from a distance.  We realize more every year that passes that it’s the personal kinship that we offer to young people on the streets that is most exceptional about Dry Bones as well as most life-giving and empowering to all involved.  We strive to be “friends who care,” as Nouwen describes. Houseless youth are not a “target,” a problem group to fix, or a community nuisance to eradicate.  They are beautiful humans and dear friends with hopes, dreams, goals, profound closeness with God, and living a terribly unique experience that creates very real needs. 

Yes, our friends do need systemic solutions to the broad realities of homelessness, poverty, and addiction (and we’re honored to be involved in those conversations and solutions).  Yes, they do need bus tickets, sleeping bags, coats, medicine, and food (and we’re thankful that we get to provide so many practical and life-sustaining needs every day).  More than all of this, our nation’s houseless youth and young adults need someone that knows their name.  

Homeless kids need to believe that they are more than a statistic – that they are seen and known.  They need someone who looks them in the eye and perceives the possibility of a brighter future; someone who recognizes unsurpassable worth and value and treats them accordingly.  Houseless youth and young adults desire to have someone near by that will sit with them when they’re scared, cry with them when they’re sad, celebrate when joy arrives, listen and see and hear without selling or recruiting them to anything – seeing and accepting right where they are, as they are.  They need someone to love them enough to walk onward in life with them. They need to deeply belong somewhere on this planet.  They are very much like you and me. 

I believe that Dry Bones has succeeded in providing this in 2018, and we’re ready to be a part of it again in 2019.  While we will join city meetings, collaborate with initiatives and agencies, and work to bring solutions to decrease homelessness, we will most importantly remain close.  You will more often see us around tables with good friends. You’ll see DB in the jails and hospitals.  You’ll find us sitting under a tree listening to a friend share her day’s events.  You will see DB volunteers intensely listening or just sitting in the solidarity of silence. You’ll witness this community smiling and celebrating at new births, graduations, and sharing faith-shifting moments.  You’ll find us navigating challenging applications and systems in order to produce needed opportunities.  You will witness these and many other daily expressions of genuine caring friendship.  And you will see each and every one of us being changed for the best. 

“The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing. That’s what we do for one another as loving people – offer safe relationships in which we can change.”     – Richard Rohr 

I share all this not to begin to imagine that we “have it figured out,” but rather to invite you to join in and keep believing with us.  Believe in the supernatural power of God’s inclusion, God’s kinship, and the gift of true intimacy with God in this life to bring even more beauty and abundant life.  Believe that a loving God invites us into unlikely relationships where we are all supported, belong, and experience wholeness alongside each other. Keep asking, “Can These Bones Live?” (Ezekiel 37)  And then keep showing up and experiencing the transformation of life. 

And, I write today to boldly ask you to continue trekking alongside Dry Bones as you may have been doing for upwards of 17 years! We need your continued financial, spiritual, and emotional support to keep this special community among the houseless, the alone, and the beautiful street kids that seek their survival from across the nation here in Denver.We need your continued kinship.We ask that you help us in any way you can to reach our end-of-year needs and goal of $75,000 as December 31st approaches.  Will you consider making a one-time donation or establishing a monthly commitment?

If so, please visit drybonesdenver.org/donate  to establish your gift. 

Thank you for loving Dry Bones so well.  Thank you for being a part of it all!  

With enduring gratitude and on behalf of the entire staff and Board or Directors of Dry Bones,

Matt Wallace

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A FEW HIGHLIGHTS OF 2018

  • More than anything, we will remember 2018 as the year that the Silver Lining House, in partnership with Providence Network, finally opened its doors! That was a long road, my friends.  But the doors are now open, the first residents are well-settled in, and lives are profoundly changing.  We’re overjoyed…and challenged! The house is among the most intense work we’ve experienced in Dry Bones life.  Still, we imagine the hundreds of houseless young adults that will discover home in this new house in the many years to come.   Since June, 8 residents have experienced community life in the home. 
  • 2018 brought us a remarkable new staff member, Haley Andreades.  Our team of full-time staff and volunteers was strengthened in many ways this year.  Dry Bones has a staff of 8 and over 100 incredible volunteers. 
  • We hosted 7 interns and 10 vision trip groups throughout the year. 
  • We expanded our outreach to South Denver and discovered a pocket of young people on the edges of the city that had been hiding in plain sight. These new friends have become an integral part of the DB family.  With current staff and volunteers, Dry Bones is able to maintain healthy kinship/relationship with about 80 to 100 youth and young adults at any given time. 
  • We built many new partnerships with local agencies in 2018. These empower us all to provide more life-changing collaborative opportunities for our houseless friends. 
  • Dry Bones hosted a Sunday afternoon informal church service several times throughout 2018.  Lunch, communion, and a message of encouragement have been the liturgy. This service has been warmly welcomed by many of our friends that have found it a challenge to find home in local traditional churches. 
  • Our partnership with Inspire the Family and Chip Sawyer provided weekly therapy appointments among our community.  The ability to seek wholeness alongside such amazing professionals has been healing for many.  
  • Like all others, this year was filled with ups and downs:  new youth on the streets, longtime friends surviving another year, many street-life exits!, hundreds of showers, laundry, jail and hospital visits, hot home cooked meals, new eyeglasses, filled prescriptions, Purple Door Coffee graduations, new babies, GED completions, first-time therapy appointments, bible study and spiritual conversation, countless games of pool, new jobs, weddings, funerals, bowling, picnics, rehab, “Dry Bones Sunday Church,” reuniting with children, losing parental rights, adoptions, new apartments, parole completions and beginnings, surgeries, first cars, family reuniting, relapse, sobriety, prayers, tears, joy, loss, friendship, kinship, and the list goes on and on into the daily heartbeat of real life among Denver’s houseless youth and young adults in the Dry Bones community.