2015 DOOR Annual Report - Stories of Transformation
Welcome from the Executive Director
By Glenn Balzer, Executive Director
“For God so loved the world…”
Welcome to the 2015 DOOR annual report. As you take the time to read the stories that follow it is my hope is that your experience will be similar to mine. At its core DOOR is dedicated to the idea that all people are loved. We are committed to living into this reality and it shapes how leadership happens and how our programming is structured. This is demonstrated in our programming as we set tables to talk about racial reconciliation, ask Dwellers to live in solidarity with their neighbors, and hire local Discerners to lead our Discover participants.
At DOOR we provide opportunities to encounter the city through the eyes, ears, and heart of God. This drives us to an unwavering desire to provide high quality, life-changing experiences for our participants, staff, board members, and the people in the communities where we are established. If you are ever a DOOR participant, it quickly becomes apparent that our programming is rooted in the strength of local communities, mutual respect, and a culture of welcome, hospitality, and thoughtful reflection.
In 2016 DOOR will celebrate 30 years of exploring what it means to follow a God whose primary purpose is to filter people in. As we move into our next 30 years we would invite you to become a partner in this ministry.
DOOR is a faith-based network of cities that provides opportunities for service, learning, and leadership development within the urban context. We host volunteers for a weekend to a year and offer opportunities for individuals and groups. The Discover, Discern, and Dwell programs are offered in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Hollywood, and Miami.
Discover: For groups to participate in coordinated weekend and week long trips designed to challenge them to “see the face of God in the city” as they spend time listening, volunteering, worshiping, and reflecting on their experiences. Read about Hollywood Discover
Discern: For individuals, primarily from our neighborhoods, to spend three to twelve months developing their leadership skills, discerning their call, and exploring vocational possibilities. During the Discover season these individuals play a key leadership role in showing and educating visiting groups about the issues of race, poverty, homelessness, and hunger. Discerners help visitors to connect faith and justice as they lead daily devotions, reflection, and prayer.
Discern is an opportunity for emerging urban young adult leaders to hone life skills, grow professionally, and become exceptional leaders both in their community and the larger world. Read about Chicago Discern
Dwell: For individuals to spend a year living in intentional Christian community while serving in a local agency placement, worshiping in an urban congregation, and reflecting together as a community. Read a Denver Dweller reflection
By Matthew Schmitt, Hollywood City Director
“This was the first time I’ve heard race and ministry intertwined,” said a Discover participant after spending a week with us. This young man, along with 95 others who were part of the trip, listened to the stories of individuals who’ve lived homelessly; spent time in prison; struggled and succeeded as first generation US citizens; or been too often followed by store managers thinking they might shoplift because their skin is brown. In the midst of volunteering, this young man and his peers were asked to also pay attention to each person and to ask questions like, “why is Skid Row predominantly African-American; is there a link between poverty and race; what might Jesus be asking of us now?”
We were not surprised by this statement; it is in line with why Marvin and I chose to focus our #ReconciliationMatters theme on service being a window into the first steps towards racial reconciliation. Why is the nation being prodded to talk about #RaceMatters from Starbucks more than our churches? Jesus has quite a few parables intended to nudge his people to reconsider Samaritans, and Paul continues this towards Gentiles. So, can we, as modern Christians, continue this work by setting tables around racial injustice? Certainly, service has a place, as it can provide first-hand perspectives. But stopping at volunteerism sells short what, I believe, Jesus is expecting of us: to have a change of heart. “If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15-16, MSG). Could we break more bread with people who look and live differently, and could the Spirit guide us to start with this verse?
2015 Discover by the numbers: 2660 participants | 13 denominations | 40,000 hours of service
By Andrea Sawyer Kirksey, Chicago City Director
The Discern program helps transform the lives of young people. The program allows us to provide full-time summer jobs for local youth of color. The Discern staff work with youth from around the country to help educate and expose others to the issues of race, poverty, homelessness, and hunger in Chicago. Our Discerners work to change the narrative of Chicago that has been created by the media as a place of violence and crime, to a story of hope and promise. They do this by becoming interpreters of the city and its gifts to our Discover participants. Our Discern staff can testify to what life is like in Chicago, especially for people of color because it is their lived experience.
These positions are more than just a job, they are an opportunity for DOOR to create and develop leaders in our local communities. Because of this program our local communities gain leaders who can speak truth to power and help build the local economy by having financial resources to put back into the community. Local communities also gain access to resources outside of their own neighborhoods, because our Discern staff work with 50-60 service agencies throughout Chicago and they can connect their neighbors to resources throughout the city. DOOR’s Discern program is designed to help young people discern their calling and vocation and to become exceptional leaders and citizens.
2015 Discern by the numbers: 39 participants | 75% local participants | 12,000 hours of service
By Anne Schrock, 2014-15 Denver Dweller
In order to see the face of God in the city in a dynamic and transformative way, DOOR has provided the Dwell program. For 12 months I was asked to immerse myself in a community unlike one I had ever been in before. I moved from the comfortable cornfields of Northeast Ohio to Denver and spent my Dwell year living in solidarity with those I would meet and work with throughout the day in my job placements at the Sun Valley Youth Center and at the Bridge Project. As the people I met spoke of lack of opportunities, heartbreak, frustrations, and barriers in their lives, my empathy was deep and real because DOOR created a space where I could experience those same things. My living theology welled up inside of me as I prayed and reflected on what I was seeing, hearing, and feeling and then drove me to action as I went out to learn and work. It was a year of breaking down paradigms and assumptions, while getting to have a sturdy community keep pointing you to Christ and the Good News of reconciliation. And I will never be the same because of it.
2014-15 Dwell by the numbers: 35 participants | 8 denominations | 13 states and 2 countries represented | 45,000 hours of service
Staff - Building Bridges that Transform
By Antonio Lucero, Denver City Director
At DOOR we believe the kingdom of God is made of a diverse community of Christ followers. Our goal for staff is to be a direct reflection of our view of the kingdom of God. Having a diverse staff who understands a commitment to relationships and the ability to hold space for participants with different world views is vital towards our work in building bridges. We also hold a high value of having staff be representatives of the communities we serve. When DOOR staff are passionate about their community it communicates loudly to our participants who see the sacrifice we are willing to make on behalf of the communities we serve and love.
Each of our staff is as unique as our cities. Where most organizations may have a rock star or two on their staff who can overshadow the organization, the whole DOOR staff are rock stars!
DOOR does not do this transforming work alone. We rely on a cloud of witnesses to support our programs in a variety of ways:
Agency partners who provide service & internship opportunities
Church partners who send participants, board members, mentors, donations, & prayer support
Denominational partners who provide accountability & mutual support
Alumni who sit on local boards, act as prayer partners, & share their DOOR stories
Individual donors who invest in young adults and staff working to transform communities and the church
You can join DOOR’s stories of transformation by:
- Praying for participants, board members, and staff
- Bringing a group to participate in the Discover program
- Encouraging a young adult to join the Discern or Dwell program
- Following DOOR's stories of transformation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- Donating online or sending a check to DOOR, 430 W 9th Ave, Denver CO 80204
2015 Supporters by the numbers: 80+ agency partners | 7 alumni on local boards | 400+ individual donors who gave between $5 and $10,000
November 2015 year-to-date