When I signed up to go white water rafting with Denver Rescue Mission, I could barely contain my excitement.

I couldn’t wait to spend the day exploring on the Arkansas River, taking in new sights and experiencing something new. I couldn’t wait for the beauty I’d embrace as we rafted through Buena Vista. I couldn’t wait to spend a day with colleagues and New Life Program participants, taking on rough rapids and soaking in the sunshine. I. Couldn’t. Wait.

But, while the nature we were surrounded by was breathtaking, the beauty of the entire trip couldn’t compare to the spectacular reaction of our program participants.

After we tackled the intense rapids, we all huddled onto the yellow school bus to head back to town. A New Life Program participant sat down in front of me on the bus and turned around smiling ear to ear. What he said to me next has resonated with me since.

“I can’t believe I just got to do that,” he said with joy. “Never in my life would I have been able to experience something as cool as that. I could have only dreamed of something like this.”

His words stuck with me because I felt they really represented what we do at the Mission every day. Besides the special trips and adventures like this that we are able to provide to program participants, we are able to give men, women and children opportunities to change their lives that many of them would never expect to receive. Oftentimes, the people whose lives we touch don’t have the tools or resources to navigate the rough waters of poverty and homelessness, let alone have experiences like this once-a-year rafting trip.

At the Mission, we are infamous for our 900,000 meals and 400,000 nights of shelter each year—but I think it’s also these special times and every day experiences we are able to provide for our guests that make our work worthwhile. It’s this everyday magic that we have with our guests and participants that far exceeds the beauty of any earthly thing—and that’s truly beautiful!

We are SO grateful to Wilderness Aware Rafting for donating the day of rafting to the men in our New Life Program. It’s because of community organizations like this that we are able to not only serve the men in our New Life Program, but help them also have new and exciting adventures in life.

Written by: Nicole Tschetter, Public Relations & Media Specialist