We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Sandras and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Eric, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Seven short years ago The Sanctuary Church started with a handful of misfits and people in recovery, with a unique mission: What if we weren’t just believing for a great church but a great community? As well we wanted to answer the question: Most church’s spend 80% of there time, energy and resources on 20% of the week (Sunday and a youth meeting), what would happen if we purposed 80% of our resources on 80% of our communities week? That step of faith has leveraged what one “mega-church” pastor referred to our little tribe of 150 adults as “the church with the smallest footprint and biggest impact of any in the city.” The Sanctuary Church now – runs a food pantry that distributes up to 12,000 lbs of food to over 400 under-resourced homes per month. – partners with Springs Recovery Connection serving hundreds of persons each week struggling with various addictions. – offers over 35 hours per week of professional donation based counseling serving under-resourced families and homeless clients. – feeds 100+ homeless neighbors a Sunday breakfast in our “Ragamuffin Cafe”. – provides our neighboring low income school a clothing boutique that offers new clothing for under-resourced elementary and middle-school children. – is currently constructing a “Shower the people you love” shower and barber shop for the homeless community. These purposeful endeavors earned The Sanctuary Church our city’s “Prism Award for community social impact” in 2017, the first time a church had ever been recognized for such an award in our community. More important than plaques and trophies is the blurring of what has traditionally been a line between sacred and secular community service organizations.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Sex, Faith, Addiction, and Trauma: These words tend to swirl around my life like a twister in a corn field. Oddly, they are significant in making me the unconventional speaker, professor & preacher I am today, but perhaps not in the ways you are thinking.  After earning a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Relations in 1998, I’ve spent decades at various universities and colleges as a graduate and under-graduate level Human Sexuality and Social Psychology instructor.  Along with leading churches and working as a crisis chaplain, I have seen and heard it all. And there are times I feel I had and lost it all… The economic collapse of 2007 started what I now refer to as my three years of suck. During the three years that followed 2007 I lost both my academic and pastoral jobs, my home in California, my savings and retirement, my best friend’s 18 month old drown in a pool, I lost my grandparents, went through a battle with cancer, sold my motorcycle and Mustang, got sued… you get the point. It sucked. But I also became aware of a few important truths in life: 1) What you put into your life before crisis hits can mean the difference between survival or failure during life’s worst moments. Having significant and meaningful friendships mattered when we needed them most. Having faith beyond just Sunday religion provided a firm foundation when my world was shaking. Knowing and earnestly praying the Serenity Prayer beyond recovery provided some perspective. 2) Every crisis has a beginning, middle, and end. They alway do, even when they seem to be compounding. It is the choices that I make at the beginning and middle that can prevent me from creating new crises for myself later. It also reminds me that I may not be able to guarantee how I finish, but I can determine to finish well. Those years of suck have passed and some scars remain, but it also yielded my 4th book “When the Sky is Falling: Finding faith and hope in life’s crises”. A book that actually was a top 5 seller on Amazon for a little while!​

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Colorado is an amazing place! Four distinct seasons, fresh air, and endless activities. I’m a ski bum in the winter and a off-roading adventurer in the summer. When friends visit my wife and I, it seems everything we do combines food, outdoors, and story. We’d start our day off with coffee at Loyal Coffee and taste their award winning coffee from our nationally recognized barista and founding friends Tyler and Paul. Or we’d spend some time in Jives Coffee in the heart of Old Colorado City were I spent a year of unemployment writing “When the Sky is Falling.” After a serious dose of caffeine we’d walk along the tourist streets of Cindy’s and my home town of Manitou Springs. There we’d witness this mountain community’s bizarre mix of world class high altitude athletes, international tourists, and hippies from about every generation there to smoke weed and vibe with drum circles. Most every store and view point has a story where our lives have changed because of some interaction or event. Of course, no flat lander can leave our presence without a trip to the mountains rock crawling, river crossing, and wildlife watching as we bounce along in my decked out Toyota Tacoma. Upon our return we’d visit Slice420 pizza. The best NY style pizza in our city and founded by our church friends Christian and Stef in honor of their daughter Sofia. The main course waits till the weekend which will be filled with the sights and smells of Saturday’s Food Pantry circus like line of 100+ cars, bicycles and red-flyer wagons as people line up to receive their pre-sorted and boxed food. Then we’d join Sunday’s Ragamuffin Cafe serving what our homeless friends say is the best free breakfast in town. Everything we do with friends seems to have a story connected to it. But it’s the stories we remember most, especially those we create with others.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My travels as both a trauma early responder for natural disasters and human suffering interventionist (addiction, human trafficking, etc) has introduced me to countless unknown heroes. People who have chosen to change the trajectory of their once comfortable and predictable lives in order to serve others. Their names will seldom make it onto the cover of a magazine or blog post, but their impact on the lives around them is priceless. Watching them sacrificially serve others with little regard for notoriety reminds me that our Creator never abandons the suffering and always has people of blessing strategically placed all over this globe. I think of them when my own body aches from tiredness or my bank account is too lean to buy a new toy.

Website: TheDailySteps.com

Instagram: BuckNakedFaithGuy

Facebook: Eric.Sandras

Other: Four Cool Books available on Amazon: Buck Naked Faith Plastic Jesus Mystics, Mavericks, & Miracle Workers When the Sky is Falling

Image Credits
Rachel Enos photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.