I saw this post over the weekend – Denver Coffee Shop Hires Homeless Youth, Gives Them Second Chance ‘No One Else Would’. Yep, the Purple Door coffee shop takes in homeless teens and young adults three at a time and provides them with a job for one year. They have a 52-week training program that teaches a diversity of skills, including financial budgets and projections, while interacting with mentors and encouraging customers.
Even the name has a focused meaning. “Our name comes from the fact that historically the color purple is the color of royalty, and we truly believe that every person, no matter their station in life, has unsurpassable worth and value and deserves to be treated like royalty.” As we all know, purple is the color of royalty. In I Samuel 2:8 we find: “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.”
We know that handouts, free housing and “donations” do little to address the issue of homelessness. I like this attempt at teaching usable skills for self-sufficiency.
Several years ago, at Joanne’s insistence, I met with a 53-yr-old lady who had just been released after many years in prison. I cringed, confident I was going to be hit with a “what will you do for me” attitude. And knowing the barriers women like this face – no one will rent to them, give them a job, or sell them a car – I expected I would be asked for resources beyond my means. Instead, this lady looked me in the eye and said, “Dan, I’m not looking for a handout, I’m looking for an opportunity.” I was blown away by her accepting full responsibility for where she was and her willingness to change her habits for a better future. We did help her get a single sewing machine and she went on to building a large, loyal audience of people who recognized her skill. The last I heard she had seven machines and kept about a six month backlog of customers willing to wait for her excellent upholstery talent.
We all share responsibility for helping those who are struggling. How are you “raising the poor from the dust?” Are you like the masses who drop a few bucks in the cup on the sidewalk, or in the offering plate on Sunday – or do you have a better plan?