Over the course of the last two or three months, Damascus Way Golden Valley has been graced with the positive presence of a resident named Keith. His positivity towards and service to others has been incredibly infectious. Keith was born in Indianapolis and also spent a number of years in Gary, Indiana before making his way to Minnesota where he started up his own painting company. For 20 years, Keith did interior work and painting with his very own “Minnesota All-Star Painting.” Keith’s hard work, dedication and meticulous attention to detail gave his company quick success and a positive reputation.  

This spring, Keith went out of his way to volunteer, giving his time and energy to others. I wanted to share one small, but powerful testimony that illustrates the kind of character Keith has. As many of you know, our Golden Valley site is located on a frontage road off of Olson Memorial Highway. Behind us resides an elderly lady named Georgia, who has lived on that property for many years. All of the bedrooms in our facility have a large window and many of the resident’s rooms are located on the second floor where the windows look out towards the wooded property adjacent to the building. Keith, who often keeps his curtains open during the evenings after work, noticed the neighbor cutting her grass one day this spring. Keith noticed that as Georgia mowed her grass, she would stop at the end of each row in exhaustion to take a break. She would do this after each row in the yard was mowed. In fact, mowing the lawn required so much exertion for her that she had to leave half the yard unfinished until the next day. After noticing the struggle she’d had, Keith spoke with one of our reentry coordinators, who encouraged Keith to help her out. Jonathan, our reentry coordinator, introduced Keith to Georgia and Keith offered to help her out with yardwork. Afterwards, Georgia stated, “My grass has never looked this good!” Georgia gave Damascus Way a donation the next day. 

Keith did a fair amount of yardwork growing up. He is a perfectionist who likes to do such things on his own, in a manner that is especially neat and professional. This is true of all the work Keith does, whether it be painting, interior work or cleaning around the Golden Valley facility which he also contributes to. Keith plans on helping out even more around Damascus Way by cleaning our carpets. For him, there is something powerful in beautifying the place in which you live. Keith says that this is all about serving others, “out of the kindness of his heart.” He does this during his own free time, which is already limited due to the long work hours he puts in during the weekdays. Keith will be staying at Damascus Way for a number of months, but once he graduates he plans on returning to his start-up company. He hopes to contract painters for his company so he can pursue other areas of entrepreneurialism such as detailing for cars! 

As we share more about Keith, we’d also like to spotlight a ministry called “Covered With Christ.” They have donated a number of customized blankets to our residents. Keith was a recipient of one of these blankets. Printed on the blankets are the words of Psalm 91, verses 1 and 4, which state; “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (NIV).  

This passage was especially poignant to Keith, because it had been one that had resonated with him during his time in prison. So, it was really a sort of divine appointment for Keith to have received a gift that just so happened to have the same words imprinted upon them. Words which had sustained him through his time in incarceration. Keith was also able to gift one of these blankets to his mom for Mother’s Day and it was profoundly impactful for her as well. 

Now, let me share more about the ministry that donated these blankets! The history and story of “Covered With Christ” goes back to 2014 when the founder, Bonnie Vidlund began to feel a calling on her heart to serve God. Because of this, Bonnie began to pray for God to reveal His calling upon her life. In 2015, this prayer was answered in San Francisco when she noticed a man sitting outside in the street in the cold. Bonnie looked at this man and said to God,” Lord, he’s cold, he needs a blanket.” She heard God clearly respond to her with the words, “That is what I want you to do for me.”  Bonnie continued to pray for guidance about what this may look like and she was given the words from Psalm 91, where verses 1 and 4 really stuck out. After meditating on these verses for some time, Bonnie saw the vivid image of an eagle in a dream, which also inspired the phrase, “Covered With Christ.” And so, the design for the blankets was born! 

Bonnie has felt so privileged to share these blankets over the years since she began this ministry. Covered With Christ has donated an estimated 5,600 blankets so far and they’ve been given to individuals in assisted living homes, on reservations, to veterans and many others. So many people have been moved and comforted by the words and the image on these blankets. Bonnie is so grateful to have connected with Damascus Way, where the eagle is also a powerful symbol to our organization and our faith! 

If you are interested in supporting or connecting with Bonnie and Covered With Christ, please visit their website!