Friday, December 30, 2011

Authentic Ministry in the Mile High City

As I sit and reflect on 2011 I am so grateful for the opportunity to be connected to what the Lord is doing in Denver. One of my favorite memories from this year is a week I spent with 6 amazing women. I had the opportunity this fall to host a very special group that was unlike any I have served beside. They were a group of women who are currently homeless and living in a transitional housing program here in Denver. As part of their program the education coordinator wanted to implement a time to serve together, so we spent 3 days volunteering around Denver. I will admit that I was a little nervous at first, because our program is usually geared towards suburban and rural youth coming from outside the city. It was such a humbling week for me and so encouraging and refreshing to serve alongside women who are used to being served. They did a fantastic job!
The first day we worked with a refugee employment program, Safari Thrift. The women were very interested in learning about refugees and it was eye opening for them to make the connection that they had a lot of similarities with their new refugee friends. Many of them made comments about how similar their programs were in regards to helping people get a fresh start and become self-sufficient.  It was one of those days when the world seems a bit smaller. 
My favorite part of the week was taking them on the prayer tour. I’ve given our prayer tour about a hundred times, but this was a unique one that I won’t soon forget. It was a special time for us to pray over our own city, and to learn together through conversation and story. At times I was sharing with them and sometimes they were teaching me. I felt privileged that they were so willing to share openly and honestly. 
We worked with World Vision one morning and also went to a residence for seniors with low-income for their regular Thursday  afternoon dance. Watching the women serve at the senior center was really fun. They were dancing and visiting, and I didn’t have to encourage them at all. The just jumped right in! 
My hope is that this would become a regular part of the education curriculum at the Transitional House and we can do this every year. I would love to partner with a local church women’s group where they would each “sponsor” one of the women and also come serve alongside us. 
I desire to grow and challenge myself with what authentic ministry really looks like and the week I spent with these six women definitely continued that journey for me. I really appreciate the many different ways CSM can be connected and a resource to the city. 

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Video: "Hard Times Generation"

And a follow up to that original broadcast....

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CSM Boston Impact

Over the past year, CSM has had the great opportunity to bring in a handful of "test groups" into the city of Boston. We were blown away by the quality of ministry that is happening here and the great need for extra hands to help the individuals doing God's work. Here are some quotes from the individuals who partnered with us in this new city:

I commit to…
“To be a better steward with what God has given me and to reach out to others more and let God pull me out of my comfort zone.”
“I want to get more involved in service in Boston!”
“To commit more time to actually serve, not just think and pray about it. But to build it into my schedule.”
“I am more committed to being involved in different cultures as they interest me greatly and make life more interesting.”

Words for a ministry site…
St. Luke's-San Lucas 
“I loved St. Lukes – Father Edgar and his time put the scriptures into action.”
“St. Luke’s Church – Father Edgar: I was so inspired and amazed at your ministry and your compassion and hard work toward helping others in your community. God bless and thank you so much!”

Seafarer's Friend
“The pastor/director at Seafarer’s Friend was so passionate about his work. It is his life to serve and give brotherly love. Very inspirational and contagious! I’d love to work with him more.”
“Director at Seafarer’s Friend – Thanks for the help and comfort you give to people you don’t even know.”

Place of Promise
“Place of Promise was a fantastic site. All the kids enjoyed it and it made a deep impact spiritually on many of them.”
“Place of Promise showed us that God can truly bring you through anything.”
“Place of Promise touched me deeply. They were true examples of people living out their faith.”

My favorite part of the trip…
“I never knew about all the problems in my own community and it opened my eyes.”
“I really enjoyed the fact that we were able to actually help someone and make a small difference.”

Learn how YOU can serve with us in Boston!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Value of Short-term Missions

Over the past couple of years there has been much debate of the actual value and/or effectiveness of short-term missions. Are we doing more harm than good? Are we just supporting the cycle of poverty in US cities? Can a group of middle school students really make a difference in a city that needs so
much? Would the money the mission groups spend to come be better used by the organization and ministries in the city?

After working for CSM for almost eight years, the value of short-term missions comes down to one word, effectiveness. The complicated part is how you define effectiveness. CSM’s mission statement is: To provide an effective urban ministry experience that transforms lives, influences churches and communities, and honors Christ. 

So what does an effective urban ministry experience look like? Does it mean your group has sorted hundreds of cans and fed 100 homeless people? Sure, that is effective and it is important work that  you can feel pretty good about, but is that all there is? At CSM, we work with already existing organizations and ministry sites in the city. There is no point of re-inventing the wheel. With our model, relationships are more valuable than gold. We pride ourselves in listening to the needs of the city and understanding how our volunteers can best help those needs.

We recently met with a long-time ministry partner. Over the past couple of years she had gone through some very tough illnesses and has not been able to do ministry as much as she has wanted.  We still have been sending out groups to serve with her ministry even when she hasn’t been capable. At the meeting, she was sharing how it has been so hard to take a step back and slow down because she is so passionate about her ministry. She then went on to share that it makes it easier to know the CSM groups are still conducting her ministry even though she is physically unable to do it at this time. To me, that is effectiveness. It is not how much you do or get done but more how you meet the needs of those you come in contact with.  

-Justin Perry, CSM Philadelphia City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Philadelphia!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Video: Re-Thinking Christmas

For a few years now, we've been sharing this video with you. The folks at Urban Entry have included it in the DVD "UE1: Anything Helps?..." It's a refreshing concept of meeting the needs of the community and giving the gift of dignity at the same time. Take a look...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Homeless at 60

Being homeless is a challenge every day. When the holidays come around the challenges can seem even more overwhelming. Check out this story of how the kindness of others encouraged a woman who found herself homeless at the age of 60.  Simple and small blessings really do matter!   

-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Ministry Partner's Story

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Are you a ministry in one of these cities?
Los Angeles 
New York City
San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area
Washington DC

We'd love to connect with you to explore how we can partner in serving the community. Please email us!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Check out our new DVD!

CSM had the awesome opportunity to work with Urban Entry to put "our story" into film. Check it out:

CSM Promo DVD: The Story from CSM Home Office on Vimeo.

Check out all of the segments on our website...

 Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Take a Big Bite!

Homeboy Industries is an amazing organization based in Los Angeles. They provide job training, placement and education to former gang members.
If you ever have the opportunity to dine in the Homegirl Cafeorder a pie, or partner with them in some way - do it! You will not regret it for a moment!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Los Angeles!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

2011 Photo Contest Winners!

BIG thanks to all who entered this year's photo contest. We had some amazing entries and you can still check them all out on CSM's Facebook Page.

This year's first place winner is Amanda Reynolds! Here's her winning entry:

Second place goes to Sina Williams for her entry:

Both ladies will receive Visa gift cards!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Conspiracy!

Looking for a way to conspire? Here are some ideas...
  1. Commit to serving for a day, weekend or week with CSM this next spring with your friends/small group/Bible study! Email us to find out what dates are available.
  2. Partner financially with CSM! You can donate towards a specific team member or to our ministry efforts as a whole.
  3. Gather in-kind donations for one of our cities. Many sites are in need of "hygiene kits" or other items to pass out to our homeless friends. Check out each city's Wish List:
    1. Chicago 
    2. Denver
    3. Houston
    4. Los Angeles
    5. Nashville
    6. New York City 
    7. Philadelphia
    8. San Francisco Bay Area
    9. Washington DC

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deeper Look at Poverty in the US

Poverty may not look like we think it should.  As the number of people in our country face poverty on a day to day basis, Time Magazine, has decided to put some faces to the impoverished state so many find themselves in.  Poverty may not always look like what you expect, I would encourage you to scroll through the 31 images taken in various cities across the US.  Beautiful.

-Robyn Elmore, CSM Washington DC City Director

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adopt a Child with CityTeam

CSM Philadelphia is honored to partner with CityTeam as they serve the great city of Philadelphia.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Philadelphia!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Operation Exodus

One of our ministry partners, Operation Exodus, is trying to win the online Chase Community Giving competition. Chase will give away a share of $3 million to non-profits who rank amongst the top 100 organizations with the most votes. Right now they are in the top 100, but voting doesn't end until Nov. 22, so please vote!

If you have a Facebook account and want to help, click here, and click on the green "vote and share" button. Keep following directions until is says "thank you for voting." 
For more info about Operation Exodus:

-Tracee Henneke, CSM New York City Director

Learn how YOU can partner with CSM in New York City!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Give to the Max today!

In this struggling economy, many small non-profits feel the effects of less donations coming in exponentially.  In DC, for example, one of our partner organizations has recently had to decrease its staff by seven (there were only 10 employees to start with!).  And the need for our partners' services has only increased.  Today in DC, many of our partners are participating in "Give to the Max," a mass fundraising competition.  There are prizes for nonprofits who raise the most money, as well as those who have the most donors.  That means that any donation, no matter how small, can mean a lot!  Check out:

Some of our ministry partners that are participating are:
- Food & Friends
- Little Lights
- The Fishing School
- Thrive DC

-Kristen Erbelding, CSM Washington DC City Director

Increasing Poverty in Houston

The Brookings Institution has released new analysis of the poverty situation in Houston.  This article sums up the discouraging statistics.

-Paul Randall, CSM Houston City Director

Learn how YOU can partner with CSM in Houston!

Monday, November 07, 2011

"Food Stamp Challenge" Challenges Leaders in DC

One in every four residents of DC are on food stamps.  Recently a group of religious and political leaders were challenged to take the Food Stamp Challenge, and imagine how they would eat off of a budget of $31.50, the average weekly food stamp stipend for an adult. This Washington Post article details the perspectives of those who participated. 

-Kristen Erbelding, CSM Washington DC City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Washington DC...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Want to know if a slave made that chocolate? There's an app for that!

The Not For Sale Campaign has always been on the cutting edge of educating and raising awareness about modern day slavery. They now have app (for iPhones and Adroids) that lets you scan a barcode to find out if certain items were manufactured by slaves!
Check out a recent article about this new technology...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Letting God be Enough

Moving into a lifestyle of "enough" is a hard thing! Author Eugene Cho reflects on the struggle in this article and encourages us to head the words of G. K. Chesterton:
There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trunk or Treat at CSM Ministry Site

The Joshua Station is one of CSM Denver's ministry sites. It provides housing and services to families that find themselves without a home. They're doing amazing things in the mile-high city!
We've posted this video before, but love it so much, that we wanted to share it again. Here's a real, tangible way some folks decided to reach out to their community - by providing a fun, safe environment to celebrate Halloween for kids at the Joshua Station.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Happy Halloween from your friends at CSM!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Come to the Denver Justice Conference!

CSM is truly excited to partner with the Denver Justice Conference this year on November 5.

'The Denver Justice Conference offers two days of training on how to actively respond to local injustices. Diverse churches and non-profits, through the DJC, equip and empower individuals and communities to identify and respond to the most pressing issues in our city.
During this year's conference, we will be delving into the topics of Youth & Education, Homelessness and Immigration through the lens of "Meeting Needs, Empowering People and Advocating for Change."'

Register today...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Be Courageous!

Be Courageous! Seek justice,  love mercy, walk humbly with your God.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Article: "Mental health providers face challenges"

On our Houston Prayer Tour, we talk about the various causes of homelessness.  This article highlights one of the leading causes and the severity of the issue in Harris County.

-Paul Randall, CSM Houston City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Houston!

Friday, October 21, 2011

East LA Teens Get a Voice

Teens in East LA have been given the opportunity to have a voice for their community by writing news stories for a new paper called Boyle Heights Beats. Check out a recent article about the paper...
-Breanne McLendon, CSM Los Angeles City Director

 Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Los Angeles!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Let God turn you upside-down

It's perfectly poetic that this artist is able to take what looks like scribble on a page and with a simple motion of turning it upside down, we are able to see the beauty.  I think that's a true testament to our lives as Christians.  Our lives at times can be turned in all different kinds of directions, but if we let Him, God can turn all that upside down, and bring beauty from the scribbles in our lives.  
It's amazing to me the talents that God blesses each and every one of us with, be grateful and blessed.

-Jami Howard, CSM New York Associate City Director

David Garibaldi: Jesus Painting from Thriving Churches on Vimeo.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York City!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Freedom Week NYC

Freedom Week NYC is an effort to unite activists who are fighting against human trafficking. If you are in the NYC area, please see the websites for events beginning this Saturday, October 8. For those not in the area, there are resources including film and books to help increase your knowledge about human trafficking. 
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Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York City!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Homeless Runners To Compete In Chicago Marathon

Two incredible men will be running in the Chicago Marathon this upcoming Sunday. Both are homeless, but have risen to the challenge with the help of a local organization, Back on My Feet. Check out the video...

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Chicago!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Words of Encouragement from a Ministry Partner

Atlantis Community Center is a center for adults living with disabilities that we work with in Denver. They have many programs from helping people relocate from nursing homes into independent living, wheelchair repair and their Learning Center. Our groups will work in their community garden as well as spend time with the clients in the learning center. Here is a note we recently received from the staff:
"I just want to make sure you all know how much we appreciate what you do.  I about cried everytime I looked at the yard and saw what the Texas group did.  Then St. Louis was here and pulled all the weeds out of the river rock and spent time in the Learning Center with clients.  Amazing folks you have.  This has been a really hard year for us; I can't remember ever needing help like this before, so you group has been my rainbow.  Please make sure they know what a valuable service they provide."
-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director 

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Food Stamp Challenge

I recently ran across this article on where the author took the "Food Stamp Challenge" - to live on $30 worth of food that would be covered by food stamps for a week.
What stuck out to me was not the lack of affordable fruits and vegetables or limited variety in food options, but how in only one week the author was already feeling the social effects of being on a limited budget.
"It's clear food has been on my mind more than usual this week. I think when you have a limited budget and fewer choices; you’re forced to do more thinking and planning around meals. I’m so very conscious, too, of all the things I have to forego. I can’t just grab a coffee or go to dinner with friends. I feel a bit isolated. Not having enough money for food affects not just your mood and health, but also your social life."
Could you take up the same challenge?  How would it change your life and eating habits?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Report Finds Food Pantries Stretched to the Max

A new report shows that 49 million Americans have trouble putting food on the table. A recent article talks about how food pantries are meeting those needs, but finding themselves stretched to the max...

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Art club brightens Denver shelter

Joshua Station is a transitional housing program, but they are providing homeless families with more than just a room.  Here is a story about an art club provided for the children and teens living in the shelter. Art is a great way for kids to express themselves while being creative. This club gives the youth an avenue for imagination and dreaming, which is vital when your life is in a state of transition Click here to read the story!  
-Keysha Boggess, CSM Denver City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sage advice

“You don't think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.”
 - Henri Nouwen

How will you live differently today?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Couple goes against all odds

"After spending more than half a year surrounded by drugs and violence in a homeless shelter with their two tots, a Queens couple is turning their lives around.
Their first step - obtaining college degrees.
Rosse Mary Savery, 36 and her husband, Gilroy Savery, 40, will both graduate this summer after years of financial hardship that forced them to drop out of school numerous times and enter the ranks of the city's homeless.
"Getting to this point is a blessing and the push we need to keep moving forward," said Rosse Mary, who will graduate from Queens College in August with a degree in sociology."

Check out the rest of this inspiring story about a couple in Queens turning their life around.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in New York City!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pizza with a Purpose!

Pizza Fusion is a brand new restaurant that opened in Denver this summer, but what makes them so unique is that all of their employees are formerly homeless.  The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless opened this restaurant at the bottom of a brand new mixed income residence, where 50% of the tenants pay rent on a sliding scale and the other half pay market value. All 23 employees are individuals who have recently been homeless and are now making a steady paycheck with their new job.  Check out it out here!

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

CSM to phase out of ministry in Toronto

It is with heavy hearts that we announce that CSM will be phasing out of ministry in the city of Toronto. Please read our News Release for further details.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - A Resource for Youth Workers

Every Student, Every School has shared a fantastic video and companion discussion guide called No More Fear.
As we enter the week where we remember to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, this is a great tool to discuss what it means to find your strength in Christ - even amidst disaster and loss.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Denver Justice Conference

If you are in or around the Denver area then the Denver Justice Conference is where you should be! Check out the video for the second annual Denver Justice Conference happening on Saturday, November 5, 2011. CSM will be there!

Denver Justice Conference from Benjamin Dewey on Vimeo.

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Denver!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

See You at the Pole - Sept. 28, 2011

Hey there, students! Did you serve with CSM this summer and now looking for a tangible way to love on your community? How about taking part in this year's See You at the Pole? It's a great way to show your school community that you care about your friends, school, city and nation. Check out the promo video...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CSM New York Ministry Site Makes the News!

One of CSM New York's ministry sites, Father's Heart Ministries, runs a successful job training program for young adults. Alphabet Scoop serves up some delicious, homemade ice cream - and a few life lessons as well. Check out a recent article about this ministry's impact on the community...

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM New York City!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 CSM Photo Contest!

Have you served with CSM in the city this year? Get any good shots? We'd love to see them!

Check out this year's Photo Contest Poster!

You Could Win One Of The Following Prizes:

First place - $100 Visa Gift Card
Second place - $50 Visa Gift Card

Official Rules:
  • Limit 3 entries per person.
  • You must submit a signed Photo Image Release form for each recognizable person in the photo.
  • Please email a completed entry form for each photo you wish to submit, the necessary Photo Image release form(s) and your awesome photo(s) to
  • Entries must be submitted by the original photographer. Your submission of the photo(s), entry form(s) and release form(s) is your guarantee that you are the author and copyright holder of the photo.
  • Photos may be used at the discretion of CSM for promotional purposes.
  • All entries must be postmarked by November 15, 2011. Winners will be announced in CSM’s November E-letter.

Questions? Please email us!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Faithful Servant Goes Home

Rachel with her daughter, Cate, in 2009.

On Friday, August 12, we lost a dear friend and former co-worker, Rachel Hamilton. Rachel was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer this past spring and after four months of fighting, she went home to be with her Father.

Rachel served as the CSM Los Angeles City Director for six years. She brought a keen sense of leadership, a love for the "overlooked", and a deep faith to the CSM team. Rachel was an expert in intentional relationships and leadership development. Many were encouraged and molded into strong leaders because of the love she poured into them.

In 2010, Rachel moved to Denver, CO with her family and began as the Vice President of Ordinary Saints, an organization dedicated to mentoring and partnering young adults with service opportunities.

Rachel leaves behind a loving husband, Jeff, and two beautiful daughters, Jane and Cate. Please join us in praying for her family during this hard time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Helping our Homeless Veterans

Why is that there are so many veterans living on the streets? Check out this 60 Minutes segment about a program in California seeking to use the military training and time for therapy and rehabilitation. This unique program is reaching many homeless veterans giving hope and helping many people find the services that will get them back on their feet.

This is the video written in article form. . .

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in the city!