Through The Dark Times Of A Global Pandemic, Hearts For Our Homeless Guests Shine Bright.
The past 128 years at Denver Rescue Mission have presented different kinds of challenges, but none quite as unique as the one we’ve been facing the past few months—a season in which the protocol for society has been an impossible feat for our guests: stay home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time when we’ve depended on God wholeheartedly for protection, a time when the community has helped keep our doors open, and as our President/CEO Brad Meuli said to encourage staff, “a time for the light of Jesus to shine through all of us.”
The Mission is considered an essential service, and because many recreation centers, libraries and other businesses shut down, for many of our guests, both regulars and first-timers, the Mission has been their only place to go.
Our need for volunteers has been greater than ever. And volunteer slots have continued to be filled with people like Peter Dieck, who said he wanted to help because he’s healthy, has a strong immune system and isn’t exposed to many people. Peter showed up five mornings a week at 6:30 a.m. to help serve breakfast to guests at the Lawrence Street Community Center.
“I am able, I have the time and there’s a need,” he said. “There are fewer places open and not a lot of food on shelves. I feel inspired when I see somebody coming through [the line], and before I even get a chance to say ‘good morning’ and ‘God bless you,’ they say that to me.”
Face Mask Heroes:
The safety of our frontline staff has been crucial. When Mark Huang, CRNA at a local hospital, heard about our shortage of personal protective equipment, he posted about the need on his Facebook page, which led to the donation of about 600 masks as people in his network quickly took action. One of Mark’s friends learned how to use a sewing machine and
made 100 masks in less than a week! When asked why it’s important to support the homeless community during COVID-19, Mark’s response was as powerful as it was simple: “because Jesus said we should.”
Local Business Heroes:
Shortly after Mayor Michael Hancock announced the closing of all Denver restaurants, dozens of companies
donated food to the Mission. 190,000 pounds of donated food were given out to support the community
and used to prepare meals for our guests.
Tender Belly, a local business that sources high-quality pork products, donated 9,900 pounds of food. “We felt inspired to act quickly for those in need,” said Stephanie Duffy of Tender Belly. “While our business took a tremendous hit with all the restaurants closing, it is nothing in comparison to having no one to help you through this time, feeling scared, and being food insecure. I immediately thought of the Mission and the tireless work you do.”
Because social distancing is a challenge in shelter environments, the Mission started cleaning its facilities on an hourly basis. To support this effort, among other needs, we hired about 33 temporary employees, which in turn supported individuals who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Steven Dukes, a New Life Program (NLP) graduate, lost his restaurant job and a few days later, he was hired for one of the Mission’s temporary positions. Steven was tasked with cleaning the Lawrence Street Shelter, and his duties included mopping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms and sanitizing the same bed frames that he slept on when he was a guest.
“This place has been cleaner than it has ever been,” Steven said. “I feel blessed in the midst of this. I feel like I have a hedge of protection. I could be homeless at any time by making a mistake, so I’m helping my people. They’re my people.”
New Life Program Heroes:
The New Life Program (NLP), the Mission’s long-term rehabilitation program, suspended its classes to minimize group settings, so participants have filled their time by helping with various tasks. Tony, a NLP participant, has been working in the kitchen with other participants and said it’s been a refreshing distraction from the pandemic. “Everybody takes a step back, takes a deep breath, gets their wits about them, and pulls together as a team,” Tony said.
During a season of darkness and uncertainty, the light of Jesus shines bright. We don’t know how long the effects of COVID-19 will last, but we know that through the courage of our Mission family and the community at large, we are better, together.
During COVID-19, 49 of our program participants lost their jobs and there were 124 first-time guests at Lawrence Street Community Center. The ripple effect of the pandemic left tens of thousands of other Coloradans unemployed, and we expect the needs of our homeless neighbors to increase.
Join us in supporting the most vulnerable in our community.
Statistics of the novel coronavirus have been flooding the news and causing many feelings of unrest, so we want to take a moment to share some numbers* of hope. We know one thing that we can rest in is the promise of God’s sovereignty. Since Colorado declared a state of emergency at the beginning of March, we have been able to continue serving vulnerable men, women and children in the midst of COVID-19. Thanks to your generosity: