Noreen has a big smile and a gentle, humble heart. As a widow raising a 12-year-old son with autism, her journey has not been easy. After losing her home following the death of her husband, she and David eventually joined Denver Rescue Mission’s STAR Transitional Program. Today, with the help of the program, Noreen is in the process of looking for affordable housing, which has at times felt impossible. But along the way, thanks to your kindness and generosity, her fear has shifted to undeniable faith.
On October 25, 2019, Noreen stood hand in hand with her son, David, at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood. With a heavy, aching heart, she said goodbye to her husband of 22 years, Kerry.
“When I went in, he looked peaceful,” she said. “He looked like he was sleeping. We said a prayer, and I kissed him goodbye.”
At the age of 57, Kerry passed away from cardiac arrest after struggling with chronic health issues. The agonizing grief combined with the fear and uncertainty of raising David on her own overwhelmed Noreen. “I lost weight; I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t eat,” she said.
When she was 20 years old, Noreen was diagnosed with epilepsy, so she relied on Kerry to be the breadwinner. When he passed away, she was no longer able to pay rent on the condominium they were living in, and unfortunately, she and David could not stay.
Hearing about the Mission’s STAR program, a transitional program for seniors and families, was an answer to Noreen’s prayers during a time of sheer desperation. In the spring of 2020, she talked to a Mission case manager and shared about her housing situation and that her son has autism and learning disabilities. She was delighted when she got a phone call from the Mission a few months later, as soon as intakes opened back up following the COVID-19 lockdown.
“When I got to The Crossing, I broke down in tears,” Noreen said. “If I would have had the money, I would have paid [our rent], but I didn’t. I just lost my husband. I was only getting $826 a month. What was I to do?”
Soon after joining the program, Noreen was matched with a mentor, Cindy, a donor and Change Maker for the Mission.
The two meet every week to catch up and pray together. “When I met her, she was really grieving over the loss of her husband,” Cindy said. “I told her, ‘That’s normal. You need to grieve, but at the same time you’re grieving, don’t be in a pit of despair. Realize there’s a new life ahead of you.’”
Noreen is working with her case manager on applying for housing, which has been her biggest challenge and an area where her faith has been tested and shaped.
“She’s growing in faith through the waiting period,” Cindy said. “She was a very fearful person, [and] facing life on her own was terrifying for her. Now that she’s been at the Mission, I feel like I’m seeing a confidence as opposed to fear.”
Her biggest hope is to find a home for her and David and for him to always attend a good school and receive the occupational, speech and physical therapy that he needs. “She really loves her son,” Cindy said. “What’s going on with David is of paramount importance [to her]. “It’s really sweet—seeing her mother’s heart.”
The Blessings of the Broncos Room
David cannot be left unsupervised because of his developmental disabilities, which is why the Mission’s youth program hosted in the Denver Broncos Youth Center (the Broncos Room) has been an immense help to Noreen. It has also been a huge blessing to David because of the social interaction with the staff, volunteers and other kids.
“The Broncos Room is his favorite,” Noreen said. “He loves the Math and Reading Club, Bible study and free time. They just make it fun for him.”
After a season of loss, grief, homelessness, and hopelessness, Noreen is looking ahead and doing all that she can to care for David. Beyond that, she is standing firm in her faith that God will do the rest.
“I like how they say [Denver Rescue Mission] brings hope,” Noreen said. “That’s what people need nowadays—hope. I look at the Mission as the support of a whole community—the staff, my case manager, my counselor, and my mentor. It’s connecting with people. It’s not just the room and the food. It’s more than that. It’s fellowship here—fellowship of love, compassion and understanding.”
Yellow roses have always meant a lot to Noreen. They represent care, warmth, delight, and affection. They can also mean farewell and remembrance. She bought Kerry a yellow rose when they were dating, and he loved it. They’ve been her favorite ever since. This Mother’s Day, she’ll buy a dozen yellow roses. She knows that Kerry will be watching from heaven.
Support Mission families like Noreen and David in their times of hardship.