Happy National Volunteer Appreciation Month!

Every year at Denver Rescue Mission, we dedicate the month of April to celebrate and highlight some of our wonderful volunteers. This year, the theme for the month is: Celebrate Service.

We are so grateful for each and every one of our volunteers who have dedicated their time and service to Denver Rescue Mission. Together with your help, we have been able to provide hope and change countless lives through the Mission.

To Be Known and Loved: Easter 2024 22

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”

Mark 10:45

Thank you for making a difference, for bringing a smile to our guests and participants’ faces, and for loving our community like Jesus would.

Meet Some of Our Wonderful Volunteers!

Volunteer Appreciation 2024: Celebrating Service

Dwayne is a pastor at Mean Street Worship Center and has volunteered with the Mission for 20 years, mentoring and serving meals.

Dwayne Johnson

Favorite Thing About Volunteering:

“The relationships. You get to see the fruit of establishing relationships by seeing that person become self-sufficient and excel in their life. These are people with no hope, then they come to a place where hope is offered to them. It’s almost like you get to see a life being restored right in front of your eyes. It’s a process, but it takes all hands. It’s bigger than just one person, it’s bigger than just one ministry. It takes everybody. We all have to be there, the hands and the feet.”

One Piece of Advice You’d Share with Someone Interested in Volunteering:

“You can’t go into it already with assumptions, pre-judgment or anything like that. You have to look at everyone like that [Good] Samaritan . . . until we establish that relationship and learn who that person really is and how far God wants us to go with them. I see it in my own church. I’ve seen it over the years, the lives that have been impacted and changed. You take a drug addict off the street, a prostitute off the street, and now you look at them in your church. They are singing in the choir, they’re serving in the ministry, and it was through the help of Denver Rescue Mission that this life has changed. If you weren’t paying attention in class you would never know that a butterfly was once a caterpillar. Because God is so good at what He does, He leaves no evidence of what you once were. You would never be able to tell that some of the people were who they were before you met them.”

Tony is a New Life Program Activities Facilitator at the Crossing and Ministry Outreach Center.

Tony Blando

Favorite Thing About Volunteering:

“The interaction of individuals. Part of this process of teaching music is you hear a lot of what is going on with the people and their lives. Even though it was something I never expected. You gotta be there and sort of just listen. I mean I can’t be there and give them a lot of advice, but I can listen if they’re having a bad day or if they’re having a good day. I just enjoy the camaraderie and the people…that’s really why I’m here.”

“Music can really bring new things to people’s lives and give accomplishment. It allows you to use both sides of your brain and I hope that helps with people who are in addiction or recovery situations.”

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“When you meet the people in the New Life Program, I just see everybody as a person. I don’t see them as homeless or a person in recovery. I know they have issues, but they are just people. Each person is a unique individual and they bring a lot of joy. I enjoy learning from their experiences through the songs they pick to play and would like to learn because a lot of times that is their story. Maybe it is something that really hits home for them and so that is the kind of unique perspective that I receive from them that I never really expected from doing this. I hope music brings another item in their journey that gives them something to accomplish.”

Debbie volunteers mainly at Lawrence Street but occasionally helps at the Crossing.

Debbie Fox

What Keeps You Coming Back to the Mission:

“It could not be easier to volunteer here, and I really appreciate that. You get to see the same faces and the familiarity there, and you get to see the same volunteers as well. You bump into each other and get to know people’s stories. The work that the Mission is doing as well, it’s more than just giving them food and shelter, it’s giving people whatever it is that they need to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient.”

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“I am always in awe with how organized the Mission is. There are hundreds of men in there, yet it is so orderly. The guests are just so patient and grateful. Even those who walk through and look at the volunteers and just say ‘God bless you’ or ‘Thank you’. Despite what they are going through they still manage to express some gratitude and it is really humbling.”

One Piece of Advice You’d Share with Someone Interested in Volunteering:

“Just come and serve, it’s so easy to serve. The problem is not getting any smaller in our community. There is so much need. It’s eye opening and it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and to be aware of the struggle.” Debbie believes it’s important to “not judge because there are so many circumstances that could lead to someone living on the streets.”

Volunteers Made A Huge Impact Last Year



Forrest has been a mentor for the New Life Program since 2011.

Forrest Marsh

What Keeps You Coming Back to the Mission:

“My home church sits on a hill. I always kind of look at it like it’s a beacon in the community, God’s light shining down that way. That’s how I also look at the Mission. As our culture has evolved, it keeps moving right along with it, but the core message is there so it’s like a beacon in the community. It’s a gift to be a part of it.” 

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“It comes back to you realizing how precious life is and how beautiful each human being is. They are all unique. Everybody is unique.” Within the New Life Program, Forrest believes “to walk with someone . . . all the way from their entry to their graduation, you see that transformation. That’s God at work. It’s a beautiful thing to watch in their lives. I’ve had the pleasure of watching and being associated with six men who have graduated. It’s a powerful, life moving thing. And they all have their own unique story. There is no assumption of how these men get into the program; they come in many different ways. And for those of us on the outside who think we know the Mission, we might think they are coming straight off the street, but it’s not always true.”

Heidi has helped serve meals at the Crossing and has also been a barber for our participants for the last eight years.

Heidi Ridley

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“It’s very humbling hearing where they’ve come from to where they are now. It’s awe-inspiring to see how some of them have pulled themselves up. It’s so special to be able to hear that story. Not everybody has that background and even knows remotely what it would be like to be homeless or however their circumstances put them there. I say that where I work, my salon chair, is God’s chair. It’s always a safe place to talk. There is no judgment, it’s a safe place if you’re comfortable.”

What Inspired You to Volunteer at the Mission:

“It all started with a Facebook post I saw about a gentleman giving haircuts to the homeless just on the sidewalk in some big city, and the Lord just laid it upon my heart at that time for me to do something similar: giving back with my gift.”

Cheryl is the Director of Community Engagement at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church and helps serve at the Crossing with a volunteer group every first Tuesday and second Wednesday of the month.

Cheryl Mendes-Ellis

Favorite Thing About Volunteering:

“When I first started coming here, I would be behind the line, serving food. You smile at everyone, and you say hello, and the more often you come, the more often you see familiar faces, and that’s wonderful. But one of the parts that I really enjoy are the moments I get to sit down and ask someone and ‘How are you? Do you mind sharing your story?’ I believe we’re all children of God. We don’t know what puts anybody in any specific situation. Just come alongside and sit and look at somebody face-to-face, and just be Jesus to them and for them.”

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

There are those moments when you have a bad day but yet you show up. And you’re like ‘oh I dont wanna be here’ but then you serve someone and you make eye contact with them, and you know that maybe they’re not having a bad day, but they smile and then you realize, ‘how dare I walk into this situation with that mindset.’ So sometimes when you are feeling a certain way, sit alongside somebody who is in a worse situation . . . It’s humbling and it does something to our heart.”

Volunteer Groups Make an Impact Too!

Nico volunteers with his group, The Society of Petroleum Engineers, at Lawrence Street every third Tuesday of the month to help with breakfast.

Nico and The Society of Petroleum Engineers

Favorite Thing About Volunteering:

“It brings people together who you wouldn’t usually see or maybe even put together.  It’s so easy to ignore all of these people who need help, unless you know somebody personally going through a struggle like that . . . especially if you are living a really comfortable life. Being able to connect with people you wouldn’t typically connect with is really cool.”

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“In the winters in Denver, seeing how people are just so thankful for you being there—they might have frost bite on their fingers or something and you just realize that it means so much to them. Just a small gesture can mean so much to somebody else. When everybody does a little, it all adds up.” 

One Piece of Advice You’d Share with Someone Interested in Volunteering:

“Getting started is the hardest part—taking that first step and actually just going. I think for a lot of people it can be a little uncomfortable, especially if you are not used to spending time in that environment. But there is so much support and everybody is so nice and happy and fun to work with. It’s just taking that first step and then the next time it’s a lot easier. You feel more comfortable, and you know what to do.”

Krista serves dinner at 48th Avenue Center every Tuesday with her team and has volunteered for around 10 years.

Krista Scott

What Keeps You Coming Back to the Mission:

“I enjoy it so much! I get to know the workers and I know a lot of the other volunteers. Seeing the same people coming through the line and forming those relationships that kind of pulls you to keep coming back and I like that.” 

“It’s neat ‘cause a lot of the guys who come through here [at 48th] get to know you, they make jokes, you laugh, like you kind of know what to expect. You know which ones don’t want salad and which ones want an extra scoop. It’s just fun.” 

One Piece of Advice You’d Share with Someone Interested in Volunteering:

“You learn a lot about yourself. It brings out the best in you and I think by volunteering you bring out the best in other people. I think it’s good for them to be able to see people giving. There’s a good feeling of being able to help other people and it almost does as much for you internally as it does for the people you’re helping”. 

“Volunteering is a two-way thing. Sometimes the smile that I may get or the appreciation, or the ‘thank you’ or the ‘God bless you’ as they are going through the line when I know what they’re going through, it just has a huge impact”.

Evi serves dinner at 48th Avenue Center every Tuesday with her team and has volunteered for around 14 years.

Evi Zillmer

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“I learned a big lesson about appreciation that is really meaningful when the guests come through and they say, ‘thank you’ and ‘thank you for being here, you are making my day’ and it’s very humbling. It gave me a different perspective on life and appreciation. I learned from the other volunteers as well as other individuals where I’m like ‘Wow I wish I could be a little more like them.’ And those are individuals I would have never met otherwise if I had never come to help with this volunteering service.”

Favorite Thing About Volunteering:

“The communal sense of doing something together that makes an impact on other people’s lives. The service itself is not hard work at all and it’s a nice break from the daily routine.” Evi shared that helping out every Tuesday with her teammates, Krista and Jenna, is the highlight of her week. “In so many ways it’s the communal sense. You get together with a group, you serve 500 meals on a busy night and it’s just very fulfilling.”

Jenn serves dinner at 48th Avenue Center every Tuesday with her team and has volunteered for around 14 years.

Jenn Franz

Favorite Thing About Volunteering:

“I love meeting the guests. I also really like the employees.”

Valuable Lesson or Perspective You’ve Learned Volunteering:

“Everybody has a story. It’s their own story and we don’t know that story. So, we should always approach things with understanding and empathy.”

What Keeps You Coming Back to the Mission:

“I think that the guests count on us to provide them meals and I think that is really important. It just boils down to that. The need is here.”

What Inspired You to Volunteer at the Mission:

“I always knew of the organization and that it was a great organization. It was mostly during COVID when I think I knew there was a bigger need. I knew Denver Rescue Mission needed help and depended on volunteers, but during COVID the need really shined itself and that’s when I started. I’ve stayed ever since ’cause I really enjoy it.”

How Will YOU Help Change Lives?

Thank you to all our many volunteers throughout the year who make our life-changing work possible. Please join us to help change lives by serving meals, mentoring people in recovery and more.