I do not have to tell anyone that these last six weeks have been an incredible challenge for all of us across this city, this state, this country, and across the world. Social distancing is not easy for most of us, but at Denver Rescue Mission, it has been impossible. That is, until this past Thursday!
Known in the Christian faith as Maundy Thursday when Jesus had his last supper—his last meal—with his disciples. A special time in our history. After weeks of working with the City of Denver’s emergency team and other nonprofit shelter providers on daily zoom calls seeking alternatives and solutions, we were able to secure the National Western Complex for a 765 bed shelter for men, operating 24/7! That is why I am smiling in this photo!
Now, men experiencing homelessness are able to socially distance at our shelter. Each man has a cot with bedding, a small chair and 60 square feet of space around them when they sleep. I know it is not much, but when you are homeless and fearful, it is pretty special. The 155,000 square feet available at the National Western Complex allows these men to be able to socially distance from one another for the first time since the beginning of this whole COVID-19 crisis.
We also have staff from Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ Stout Street Medical Center with us scanning people for a fever or a cough when they come in and then providing triage to the next level of medical care if needed. Often this means a room of their own in a hotel waiting test results.
Along with basic care like meals, restrooms and showers, guests will have access to medical support and health screenings.
COVID-19 & Easter Miracles
It’s a miracle that over the last several weeks we have had only two known cases of COVID-19 among our guests and just one of our staff members.
It’s a miracle we have this new auxiliary shelter that we are running for the City. In all my years here at the Mission, I never thought that we would be operating a shelter at the National Western. Frankly, in the face of this pandemic, it has to be one of our proudest moments as a ministry. We know what our role is, and we just want to do this well. We want to be able to save lives!
This Easter, I will never forget as we celebrate on our knees in the quiet of our homes—without large congregations, church choirs, or special sunrise services—what is truly a miracle, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
It is because Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death that we can seek to love others over ourselves. It is faith in Jesus that has given our staff and volunteers the courage to continue to run into the fire, the shelters and frontlines these last six weeks, with compassion and love for everyone who comes to us for help!
It’s a Miracle. Happy Easter!