The House with the Red Door taking hiatus
BRECKENRIDGE – The left side of the man’s brain didn’t function because of a disease he had earlier in life. Then, at a young age, he left his home in Salt Lake City and hitchhiked to Denver before making his way to the mountains.”He had been gone so long his braces were ill-fitting,” said Father Ron Griffin as he recalled the story. The man didn’t know anyone and didn’t have anything, but someone he ran into on the bus gave him a card for The House with the Red Door. That was when Griffin met him, and after getting to know one another the pastor and founding director of the non-profit organization earned his trust and asked for his mom’s phone number.”She was worried to death,” said Griffin who then helped the young man get home and told him he always had a place to come back.It is moments like those that Griffin will remember forever.
He moved to Colorado with the vision of creating a safe place for young adults and made it happen with the opening of The House with the Red Door. Throughout the past seven years, 12,000 people benefited from the variety of services including meals and help getting started in the community. But due to financial difficulties the organization is going on a hiatus, Griffin said. “The funding began to fall way off and we were operating at a pretty big deficit throughout the year,” he said, adding that they have always been funded by individual gifts.Officially, The Door closed for the season July 31. Now, the plan is to use this break – of an undetermined time period – to figure out what the next step is.”It is my intention and goal that the Red Door is still a viable organization,” Griffin said. The board of trustees will be looking into options and “as the guy who dreamed this up and the founding director I’ll be exploring what the future will be as well,” he said. Assessing the need, possible locations (which could mean Silverthorne or Dillon or even the Front Range), and more will affect the next decision. In seven years much has changed, so part of what will be explored is how to tailor The Door’s work to today’s culture, Griffin said. Currently, the organization is closed and its location at the Summit Ridge Center on Highway 9 in Breckenridge is for sale.
History of The DoorGriffin and his family moved to Summit County from Nashville in 1994.”We moved to Colorado not for the skiing, but because it was a real collision of cultures here,” Griffin said, adding that there was lots of energy around culture and he felt it would be a great place to work with young adults.So, he sold his music producing business and opened a Quiznos in Breckenridge. Not knowing much about the restaurant business, the family didn’t last too long in it, but every chance Griffin had he talked with people about the idea for The House with the Red Door.”We didn’t see any place for young adults to go when they get in over their head … or before they got into real desperate situations,” he said.Then, shortly before he realized his dream for The Door, Griffin “took holy orders to become a priest,” he said. He began serving as a pastor at St. John The Baptist Episcopal Church and The House with the Red Door opened its doors in 2001. The mission was to be a safe place for young adults and a resource and catalyst for positive change. And whether they needed their car fixed so they could get to work, help finding a home or just a hot meal and someone to talk to, The Door was where they would find it. In 2004, new programs were added like the safe exchange where parents could drop off and pick up their child without interacting and supervised visitation – the only programs of their kind in the 5th Judicial District, Griffin said.
In the summer of last year, Griffin, now a retired pastor, and his wife moved to Denver and hired Brandon Head, who recently had to leave the county because the altitude was affecting his 2-month-old daughter, as the executive director.Now as this chapter of The Door closes, Griffin hopes a new one will begin. However, nothing has been determined, he said.”It’s been a good run being part of the culture and community,” Griffin said.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at email@example.com.
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