Continuing my profiles on local organizations that work with the homeless community I have decided to concentrate on one of my favorites. I have had the honor of working closely with several of the staff at the Open Door Mission in Omaha, Ne. and found them all to be genuinely concerned with the needs of the people that they minister God’s love to.

They have given me the opportunity to meet many of those people as I lead chapel services twice a month at their Timberlake Center.

Currently headed up by President and CEO Candice Gregory at 2828 North 23rd Street East in Omaha, the Open Door Mission strives to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Every night, approximately 2,000 men, women and children in Omaha are homeless. Each day, Open Door Mission provides 400 men, women and children in Omaha with safe shelter beds. They also serve more than 1,700 hot, nutritious meals daily, and provide preventive measures to more than 250 families living in poverty.

Humble Beginnings

In 1954, thousands of men swarmed the city of Omaha searching for work on the city’s 10 railroads. They congregated in bars and slept in flophouses. Garland Thompson, a student at the Omaha Bible Institute, wanted to reach out to these men with Christ’s love and compassion. Fueled by faith, guided by his vision for an evangelical mission, and assisted by Pastor Jerry Dunn and a group of Christian businessmen, Thompson unveiled Open Door Mission in the Ballenger Building at 13th and Douglas Streets on November 1, 1954.

When the owner of the building at 13th and Douglas Streets decided to sell it in 1955, Thompson and Pastor Dunn prayed that God would give them another space. A building at 13th and Howard was perfect, but the owners did not want to rent it for a mission. God intervened, and the Open Door Mission moved to 422 South 13th Street. This building was 20 times larger than Open Door Mission’s original building and perfect for its needs. Eventually they purchased this building.

Over the years Open Door Mission has seen many changes in the community and its leadership and has amazingly grown with those changes.

Lydia House for Women & Families

Nationally, about half of all homeless women and children are fleeing domestic abuse and violence. Open Door Mission’s Lydia House provides emergency services for women and families in need of immediate assistance. We provide food, shelter, clothing and other basic needs. The Lydia House also offers life changing programs to address the causes of homelessness such as abuse, addiction, or the inability to obtain and maintain steady employment. The Lydia House has safe shelter available for more than 300 women and families.

Garland Thompson Men’s Center

Open Door Mission’s Garland Thompson Men’s Center provides emergency services for men in need of immediate assistance. Food, shelter, clothing and other basic needs are provided and each man is offered an opportunity for life change through case management, which provides the first steps toward preventing future homelessness. The Garland Thompson Men’s Center has safe shelter available for more than 300 men.

Permanent Supportive Housing

This program is offered to men, women and families who may benefit from living in a stable environment for an extended period of time. Residents can live in a supportive housing environment while working or attending school full time. Open Door Mission’s new Permanent Supportive Housing building will open December of 2010 and will provide 41, two and three bedroom apartments.

Timberlake Outreach Center

Formerly Harold’s Grocery Store, the building at 2107 E. Locust is now the Open Door Mission’s spacious Timberlake Outreach Center, which provides preventive measures to empower families struggling in poverty. Since 2004, the Timberlake Outreach Center has enabled families to remain in their own homes by supplementing their incomes through preventive measures, such as providing monthly assistance with food, clothing, household goods, furniture and appliances. The Timberlake Outreach Center currently makes a positive difference in the lives of more than 7,500 individuals every month. Learn more about our donation needs.

In addition to goods, the Timberlake Outreach Center offers preventive measures through a variety of free classes, such as GED completion, computer training, life skills, case management, employment readiness and English as a second language.

The Timberlake Outreach Center serves thousands throughout the year with our seasonal preventive programs including Back to School Bash, Great Thanksgiving Banquet, Turkey ‘N Fixins, Super Duper Give Away and Project Santa.

Life Changing Programs

Open Door Mission also offers many life-changing programs to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Lydia House and the Garland Thompson Men’s Center offer life changing recovery programs to address the causes for homelessness such as abuse, addiction, or the inability to obtain and maintain steady employment.

For more information about the programs available at Open Door Mission click here.

I would encourage anyone who lives in the Omaha area to consider sending a generous donation to the Open Door Mission or better yet, volunteer to help out with one of their many programs. I guarantee you will be better for it.

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