Dear Dream Centers Family

Dear Dream Centers Family,

This letter is written to each and every donor, client, partner, volunteer, staff member, and anyone considering joining the team. I will refer to you as “we” and “you” throughout this writing.

Through the divisive and dramatic political season, Dream Centers quietly celebrated five years of serving this past summer. While many rely on politics primarily to change the world, we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in God’s ministry. We aren’t building God’s Kingdom. Instead, as part of the church, we humbly join in the work that God has been up to since the beginning of time. As God builds His Kingdom, we follow Jesus and play our part in His mission. His Kingdom will continue and God will increasingly bring heaven to earth, just as Jesus promised.

Throughout most of history, the church has been at the forefront local mission to fill the gaps in care and enter those places of pain with the compassion of Christ. When we have failed to be on the front lines, we have been guilty of allowing far too much needless pain and suffering. Through Dream Centers, we play a significant part in this local mission of supporting people in their pain and providing health and hope. I’ll share some stories of the incredible things God is doing in the Pikes Peak Region. This “letter to family” will accompany our Annual Reports each year out as a way of sharing more information for those who desire more details.

I’ll also use this letter to share challenges, lessons learned, and questions that confront us. I’ll share outcomes we experience with clients and how we might adjust the ways we measure outcomes. I’ll share stories of real people in the Dream Centers Family and how you are integral to this mission. Most importantly, I’ll discuss ownership. As participants in the mission of God, we recognize that God is the owner of His mission and we are stewards. Part of stewarding the mission well is knowing our values and living those associated behaviors that create a culture where transformation can take place.

We take this role more seriously than ever in an era when people are fearful and suspicious of institutions, missions, and every metanarrative. We see that God’s church has and always will play a significant role in the communities, cultures, and societies of the world. And, we are primarily inspired to participate in local mission by the Word of God, Jesus Christ. The narrative of God’s story began with Creation and continues today. We are privileged to steward, in significant ways, our own roles in the greatest mission of all time. How does our five-and-a-half-year history fit into the story that God is writing in the Pikes Peak Region?

History

Dream Centers nonprofit (501c3) was founded in 2011 by praying people of Colorado Springs, particularly New Life Church and its partners throughout the city. Pastor Brady Boyd ignited a vision for the church in the city to meet people in their greatest points of pain with transforming love and deeds. Dream Centers began within the New Life Church community, and over the past five and a half years, has become a community nonprofit where members from churches throughout the city truly share the vision. Beginning with prayer and research in 2010, we learned that one of the greatest gaps in care in the city was holistic and comprehensive women’s health. As we prayed and planned with leaders throughout the city, we committed to these values: Kingdom of God, relationships, intentionality, generosity, and risk-taking for the common good. We publicly launched the Dream Centers Women’s Clinic to serve the Pikes Peak Region in the summer of 2011.

We live our values, but we always aspire for more. They’ve guided us from the start in launching the Dream Centers Women’s Clinic, a strategic partnership with HopeChest to care for young adults aging out of foster care called the Joel Home (2012), our relationship and community development program in the Park Hill neighborhood called Adopt-a-Block (2013), and a comprehensive supportive housing program also in Park Hill called Mary’s Home (2015). After hearing the stories of pain and learning that our city government, social services, and the church in the city confirmed the needs, we prayed, shared vision, and watched God provide the people and resources to grow Dream Centers significantly in this short time.

Partners like New Life Church, Church Community Builder, Chapman Trust, Hammer Homes, Topeka Bank, Radiant Church, Iglesia Nueva Vida, and other churches in the community heard the desperate need and responded significantly to provide the resources necessary to launch the Mary’s Home Program. Now every day we have the privilege of caring for families who no longer have to live on the streets.

2016

Big Hairy Audacious Goal/Vision

The board of directors decided on a new audacious goal that will keep us focused for decades to come: transform communities by preventing and reversing generational poverty in the Pikes Peak Region.

We recognize that poverty is one of the main factors causing homelessness and other vulnerabilities. We know this will need the work and health of the Women’s Clinic (preventing homelessness and ending generational poverty through holistic, transformational care), Mary’s Home (reversing generational poverty and ending family homelessness), and Adopt-a-Block (asset based community development). The rest of this letter is more detail on each of these strategies and how your programs are making a tremendous difference in the Pikes Peak Region.

Women’s Clinic

Outcomes

We had 6,534 patient contacts and cared for 798 unique patients (483 were new to the clinic). One hundred percent of this compassionate care is due to your generosity. That is well over 5,000 patients and over 20,000 patient contact/appointments since we opened. We greatly increased access to medical care for girls and women in need who are 13 years to 64 years old, the main goal at the Women’s Clinic. The kind of services offered range from simple check-ups to case management and advocacy for patients who face the incredibly difficult circumstances of breast or cervical cancer.

During a typical week at the Women’s Clinic, our appointments look something like this:

• 15 New patients
• 12 Wellness/Well Woman Visits
• 20 Follow-Ups
• 2 Pregnancy, STD, etc.Tests ()
• 21 for Chiropractic
• 4 Massage Therapy Sessions
• 5 for Cold Laser Therapy
• 39 for Professional Counseling
• 5 Ultrasounds (OB and GYN)
• 2 Colposcopies
• 2 for Birth Control
• 5 for Resource Advocacy
• 2 Procedures

For 2016, we were honored to serve:

• 2345 medical appointments, saving the city $3,137,610 in ER visits alone (based on $1338/ER visit)
• 1346 counseling appointments, saving the city $148,060 (based on $110/visit)
• 243 ultrasounds
• 160 massage
• 1164 chiropractic appointments
• 165 laser appointments
• 18 life coaching appointments
• 296 Resource Advocacy Appointments
• 8 dental appointments

Prayer Team:
• Witnessed 10 salvations
• Prayed with staff 130 times
• Prayed with patients 172 times
• Prayed over 425 written requests

We have worked diligently to create an environment of compassionate care and professionalism so a relationship of trust with our patients can be formed quickly. One patient in her 50s reached out to let me know that:

“The care I receive at the Women’s Clinic is the best medical care I have ever received in my life. It is topnotch, excellent, and compassionate, and I tell everyone with a need that they can look forward to their appointments at the Dream Centers Women’s Clinic.” – Women’s Clinic Patient

We see the fruit of this work each day as we hear feedback in our conversations with patients. We regularly hear them say, “You saved my life,” “This is the best health care I have received in my life,” and, “You were able to help me with the root causes of my problem after years of trying to get the help I needed.”

We have removed transportation barriers by offering many patients bus passes. We have removed financial barriers by maintaining completely free services. We have remained focused on the main gap in care among the Safety Net Clinics—Women’s Health—so we do not duplicate services. Our medical providers have maintained long appointment times with patients to care for them holistically and develop an environment of trust—often intangible, where true transformation takes place.

One of the most significant improvements in the clinic this year is the upgrade to a new 4D Ultrasound Machine. This new technology enables the providers to share the latest possible information on both OB and GYN visits, and is the main reason that many mothers choose to carry their pregnancy to full-term and give birth. The life-saving machine was made possible by you—two private donors and Focus on the Family—who empower the local mission to take place. With arms linked, we take part in a life-saving mission to rebuild dreams together.

Challenges/Opportunities

We see and hear about the difficulties that families have through these visits. Among the greatest needs of our clients are jobs, affordable transportation, and affordable housing. We continue to need additional specialist partners to whom we can refer patients for affordable radiology, gastrointestinal, gynecological, and psychiatric care. Additionally, we need four Women’s Health providers (Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants) to fill the remaining Women’s Health volunteer openings.

Finally, while we have increased access to health and wholeness we continue learning how to measure health and hope in more nuanced and meaningful ways There is an increasing body of research that can inform how we measure health and hope. We will continue to improve how we measure impact because we are committed to the best for our patients and clients and desire to steward our roles well. Specifically, we need prayer and wisdom as we seek, through grants and other means, to find a research partner to help develop our outcomes even further.

We’ve been honored by our many community partners! This long list is quite a powerful visual, isn’t it? Every partner makes health and hope possible, but one partner stands out at this time. Over seven years ago, Steve Foley and his wife Diane had been asking faithfully how they could best serve. Once we decided to start a Women’s Clinic, Steve jumped in to offer his time, wisdom, and leadership. He served as our Medical Director for over five years, providing medical supervision, mentoring, and encouraging support to our Women’s Clinic Director. Most people won’t ever know how much he served behind the scenes. But we see it, and we thank you, Steve, for your exemplary service.

Mary’s Home

Transformation is not only possible, but is happening! Before Mary’s Home opened its doors to families, Cathy, a young mother with an infant and a little child, walked past the 17-unit apartment complex under renovation and wondered if she would ever have a place to call home.

She grew up in the foster care system and became homeless at the age of eighteen. When the father of her children took her into his home off the streets, she soon became a victim of domestic violence. She and her two little children resorted to wandering the streets until she heard about Mary’s Home. Cathy was accepted into the faith-based, comprehensive supportive housing program where she excelled in her classes but kept authentic relationships at a distance. After one year, she graduated from Mary’s Home with an apartment and a job in place through a friend. Unfortunately Cathy had not yet gained the emotional healing, education, and job skills that she needed to remain stable.

Life began to unravel for Cathy and her children and her little boy finally asked when they were going to go back home to Mary’s Home. One day, after having lost her job and being hit by the children’s father, Cathy collapsed in tears, not knowing what to do or where to turn. She cried out to God and she heard a whisper in her heart say, “Put your hand in mine and I will show you the way.”

Cathy went to Mary’s Home and asked to be re-enrolled in the program. With an unprecedented readmission, she and her children were welcomed back into the community. Since her return, she has become a staunch advocate of the structure, curriculum, and rules of Mary’s Home alongside the other moms. She says “the grass is not greener on the other side” and “everyone should have the chance to have real relationships and teachers to learn about God, family life, and how to make it in the world.” Cathy and her children are on their way out of generational poverty!

Outcomes

In 2016, the focus of Mary’s Home was the development of the Basic Training Program (Year 1) and the design of the Advanced Training Program for families (Years 2-5). In May of 2016, seven mothers and ten children graduated from Basic Training with great personal success. Four of these families moved out into stable housing and the three have continued residency for a second year to pursue advanced education and career development.

Six new families joined the community in the fourth quarter to bring total families to nine at the end of 2016. Mary’s Home has established its identity as a faith-based, comprehensive supportive housing program, with a fivefold philosophy of care described as “Christ-centered, culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, boundaries-oriented and outcomes-based.” Metrics and outcomes for 20 life realms were established under five core growth domains necessary to exit homelessness permanently: supportive relationships, holistic health, life skills, economic self-sufficiency, and community resources.

Some of the multi-faceted family and program outcomes include:

• Graduated from one-year Basic Training Program = 7 families
• Exited program into stable housing = 4 families.
• Continued program for second year of Advanced Training = 3 families
• Obtained safety, security and supportive relationships = 13 families
• Obtained TANF, SNAP, and WIC federal assistance = 13 families
• Obtained stable childcare and/or enrolled in school = 20 children
• Gained physical custody of previously absent children = 3 mothers
• Gained court custody of present children = 2 mothers
• Completed Trauma-Informed Therapy = 10 mothers and 6 children
• Graduated drug and alcohol recovery programs = 3 mothers
• Enrolled in domestic violence classes = 6 mothers
• YMCA memberships and enrolled in fitness program = 13 families
• Earned high school diploma = 1 mother
• Enrolled in GED, technical school, or college = 6 mothers
• Obtained driver’s license = 6 mothers
• Enrolled in Mary’s Home driving program = 4 mothers
• Obtained checking and savings accounts = 13 mothers
• Permanently sealed felony criminal record = 1 mother
• Volunteering in community with homeless outreaches = 13 mothers
• Attending church and kids’ church weekly = 13 families
• Volunteers = Over 200
• Community partnerships = Over 40 organizations
• Corporate Family Sponsorships = 2 organizations

Challenges/Opportunities

Mary’s Home welcomes new relationships and ongoing partnerships with individuals, groups, and organizations desiring to support single mothers and children who are working to rebuild their dreams and exit homelessness permanently. Potential partners and volunteers can learn about Mary’s Home by attending a monthly tour with the executive leadership team. In 2016, over 200 committed volunteers served at Mary’s Home throughout the year to assist with daily operations, special service projects, and relationship building with families. Over 30 partner agencies, businesses, schools, and churches, worked with Mary’s Home to coordinate services for the families.

Two major corporations became Family Sponsors by committing to each give $3,000 monthly to support a family for $36,000 per year. Mary’s Home works with these sponsors to develop customized relational outreach events unique to their staff and skills. A local Leadership Training Program selected Mary’s Home to be the recipient of the expert services of a multi-sector team of business leaders to develop Career Partnerships for Mary’s Home families. As the Mary’s Home program design and outcomes reporting develops, the need for increased funding for facility expansion to serve more families is on the horizon. The plan is to be able to replicate a community model of 14 residential families comprised of 12 families exiting homelessness and two residential advisor families.

We desire to expand our partnerships and capacity until the need is met and all families in the Pikes Peak Region have the opportunity to exit generational poverty and homelessness permanently. Just see how many partners it currently takes to run program! We are truly linking arms.

Adopt-A-Block

Outcomes

In 2016, we were honored that 186 of you volunteered with Adopt-A-Block to serve the Park Hill neighborhood. Nine out of the 12 months this year we gathered on the second Saturday of the month to walk the neighborhood to meet and greet the neighbors, help pick up trash to clean up the area, hand out treats, and inform people of the services Dream Centers offer. We got to pray with countless people who asked God to help them build a safe and healthy home environment, provide jobs, and have reliable transportation to get to work. We prayed and mourned with family members whose loved ones recently pass away, and individuals who were being evicted. We even prayed with and encouraged those afflicted by various illnesses including schizophrenia.

We’re grateful that Park Hill has welcomed Dream Centers openly, but we haven’t really given them a choice. We’re here to stay. Block parties are meant to be a place where community and relationships grow through fun and eating meals together. We successfully hosted three incredible parties in 2016. Every party grew in attendance, and at the final party, we hosted roughly 500 people.

One resident talked at length about how much she enjoyed attending the party. She walked back to her apartment and returned to show us the invitation that she had kept because of how encouraged she was by the event. Faces and names became so much easier to remember after spending several hours together laughing, playing, and learning each other’s stories. True community has been growing and developing.

Challenges/Opportunities

Recently, we have been in prayer, planning, and discussing our near future. Dream Centers will narrow its focus to the growth and expansion of the Women’s Clinic and Mary’s Home, both much-needed in the near term. Adopt-A-Block will no longer meet on a month-to-month basis. Instead, we will host two large annual parties in the neighborhood. We wholeheartedly believe and expect that as Mary’s Home and the Women’s Clinic expand, Adopt-A-Block will naturally follow.

Partners

  • Korean Baptist Church
  • Nueva Vida Church
  • New Life Friday Night

Joel Home

Generational poverty, abuse, affordable housing, and transportation crises have hit Colorado Springs hard. They impact many people, including those of young adults aging out of foster care. Since 2012, Children’s HopeChest ran a program called Joel Home, designed to provide young adults with basic needs and support them in their transition to independent living. Many of these young adults have not yet developed the skills or supportive networks necessary to live independently. Dream Centers saw the need and came alongside HopeChest as a strategic partner.

Outcomes

In 2013, outcomes were still being defined. Then, outcomes tracked over the past three years (2014-2016) reveal 13 of 19 residents (68%) were in a stable living situation and most were employed three months after completing or exiting the program. This is a huge success, considering that all of these youth were the most vulnerable—they were part of the 25% of recently emancipated who within “four years after ‘aging out’ of the system . . . have been homeless . . . ” – Annie E. Casey Foundation

Challenges/Opportunities

HopeChest works primarily overseas. Ultimately, their systems, from staff and training, to development and program, were not a good fit for running the Joel Home program. “We made the difficult decision, in conjunction with Dream Centers, our partner in Joel Home, to transition out of this program effective December 31, 2016, ultimately feeling led to maximize HopeChest resources towards our core mission of serving vulnerable children internationally,” said HopeChest President and CEO, Ken Sparks.

“We are delighted and grateful for the strides that many of the 30 young adults participating in our program, since its beginning, have made,” said Sparks. “The success of the program lives on in those who utilized Joel Home to transition into young adulthood, like Abigail who has safe living arrangements and is employed; Alex who lives in Boulder and is actively working and going to school to enter the medical field; and Kyle, who moved to Missouri to be near family and is employed and in school to be a firefighter.”

Dream Centers is grateful that other local organizations grew in capacity since 2012 and are now “filling the gaps in care” for these young adults. An integral part of our vision is to fill the gaps in care in the Pikes Peak Region. Therefore, since other local capacity grew, we fully supported HopeChest’s decision to close the program. We will never get to the point of duplicating services unnecessarily.

Our Hopeful Future

Christ remains at the center of who we are and what we do. We have found that patients, clients, donors, volunteers, and partners who may not claim to follow Christ still deeply appreciate the kindness, generosity, respect, and other behaviors that we get to show simply because of God’s grace. We get to share God’s good news regularly and we share it to encourage ourselves as much as anyone else.

Our daily service in the local mission does not determine our hope. Instead, God ruling and reigning with self-giving love—and bringing heaven to earth—is the ongoing source of our hope. Long beyond the time our local mission is complete, we will go on, in relationship with God and each other, anchored in God’s love. And because God is Creator and people are stewards, we are passionately motivated to serve God and each other well. Every person—every one of you—made in the image of God, is priceless.

We recognize how you made impact and outcomes possible. Thank you for giving, praying, serving, and leading humbly in our region to provide health and hope to these individuals and families working to rebuild their dreams. May God bless and keep you in 2017 with His great peace and may we continue to faithfully engage the greatest mission of all time.

Matthew