Are You a Program? What Does Success Look Like?
The biggest “success” is when it is no longer possible for a young person on the streets to say, “Nobody loves or cares about me.” Dry Bones’ specialty is safe and genuine spiritual, relational, and familial support. We hope to eradicate the experience of loneliness, lack of self-worth, and kids not believing in the unsurpassable worth God sees in them. We’re willing to walk alongside our friends in seasons of hopelessness, despair, addiction, and darkness. Among other things, our friends call themselves “throwaways,” “gutter punks,” and “outcasts.” Instead, we prefer titles like “friend” and “brother” and “sister.” It is our mission to reveal worth, value, potential, hope, and new life.
There are days when success looks like “Tracy” graduating drug court, entering our job program at Purple Door Coffee shop, and building upon a deep faith. Other days, success is when we get to have an honest conversation with “Rich” and he doesn’t tell us one single lie.
Success also looks like the faithfulness, commitment, and life-change of our volunteers. It is when “Rich” or “Tracy” deeply impacts the world-view of “Jim” from the suburbs. It looks like softened hearts and active sacrifice of all involved. Success looks like real life happening in real relationships.
Relationship, spiritual growth, and incremental life-change is a challenge to measure. And so we like to tell stories – and those stories involve ups and downs.
Statistician Brené Brown says, “Stories are data with a soul.” We have loads and loads of data!
Because our ministry is relationship-based, our friends trust us in a unique way as a “non-program.” They know that they will not fail out of Dry Bones. There’s no application, 10-step process, or eviction in true family or friendship.
Our hopes, in friendship, almost always involve sobriety, shelter, self-sustainability, hope for the future, expanding world views, safety, end of hunger, ongoing support in life, and more. Isn’t this what most of us hope for all of our close friends? We long to see lives changed. This often involves programs. We utilize existing ones and innovate as needed.
Trust and friendship allows us a unique opportunity to loan that trust and friendship to the dozens of other organizations with which we collaborate. We depend on partnerships among many excellent programs as our friends experience and work towards personal goals and life-change. Dry Bones serves as navigators through the complex and complicated systems of help almost daily. The unique ability to remain in friendship as our friends find successes and failures in programs has proven to be invaluable.
From day one, we have worked to not reinvent the wheel. If someone is providing a great GED program or rehab option, then that is not why Dry Bones exists. We have found that our area of expertise is in providing healthy relationships and safe spiritual environments and support. And so, we must remain focused on providing that with excellence and passion. As we see a need that is not being fulfilled, we work to innovate a solution and to design a new program or offering only when necessary.
Even while innovating, our desire is to remain loyal to our primary mission. We long to “grow” while succeeding and remaining focused on relational, nimble, organic, life-long, and street-level ministry.
Therefore, as we create and cast vision, we actively look for experts with which we can partner. Partnerships allow Dry Bones to remain focused and to excel in our primary mission. It may not be the traditional “American way,” but we are especially interested in increasing and growing impact above and before growing budget. Trusted partnerships build the larger community by utilizing other local specialists already “in the business”. They are cost effective, expand a wider support net for our young population, and just make kingdom sense to Dry Bones.
We are so thankful that Denver is home to some great organizations and ministries that share a common vision for the city of Denver and of the kingdom of God.
For a perfect example, check out Purple Door Coffee. In 2013, we launched a job-training program by starting a coffee shop. Purple Door is now employing homeless and formerly homeless Dry Bones community youth while teaching transferable job skills and building self-esteem. Over the course of two years, we partnered with Belay Enterprises to turn this vision into reality.
We look forward to more partnerships in the future as we recognize and continue to tackle these ongoing needs. (See our latest venture, here.)
Along the way, we expect to notice and experience daily “success”!