Recently, uncertainty seems to be the only constant. Even when uncertainty rests heavy, God continues to provide for His people. 

Assistant Food Manager, Jacob Cain, felt the weight of uncertainty from the start of the pandemic. Jacob has worked with Denver Rescue Mission for four years and currently oversees the Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC) kitchen. 

Back in April, Mission employees shifted to the National Western Complex, a temporary auxiliary shelter for men that opened in response to COVID-19. As a result, continuing LSCC operations seemed like a significant challenge. “We were getting ready to transport all of our staff, and in that moment we weren’t sure what we were going to do,” Jacob said.  

As always, God provided. ­­

The Colorado National Guard (CONG) assigned nine of its members to support the Mission’s operations through Joint Task Force Shelter Support. This partnership, which was a historic event for both organizations, eased much uncertainty. “For the National Guard to offer those services to us was a huge relief,” Jacob said. 

Helping Hands: A Look Inside the Mission’s Partnership with Colorado National Guard amidst COVID-19 1
Helping Hands: A Look Inside the Mission’s Partnership with Colorado National Guard amidst COVID-19

From April to June, CONG members faithfully and eagerly served guests and supported staff at LSCC. Private Dara Joel Bruns, infantryman, was excited to grow, make connections and make a difference while serving with the Mission. 

Dara and the other members were responsible for cleaning and sanitizing, food service, temperature checks, and other activities that were likely quite different from their traditional military tasks.

“Every guest’s story and struggles were completely different, but the strong team at Denver Rescue Mission never gave up on anybody,” Dara said. “We just did our best to make sure everybody was served.”

Guard members stand by the motto “Always Ready. Always There.” They are committed to serving people with excellence—always willing to jump into any task. “They were so good at doing what needed to be done,” Jacob said. “We rarely had to ask them to do something because they wanted to get it taken care of.”

For Specialist Jo England, serving the community meant going beyond providing physical labor. Her favorite part about serving at the Mission was building relationships with the guests. She made it a point to know guests’ names. “I always wanted them to feel wanted and welcomed,” Jo said. “Friendship felt so normal.” 

These relationships allowed both groups of people to move past previous assumptions or perceptions. Feelings of uncertainty transformed into an environment of support, care and understanding.  

“When I think of the homeless community, I see how strong they are and how determined they are to live,” Dara said. “The homeless community gets a bad reputation when people don’t know their stories. At the Mission, I was able to hear stories of what people have been through and how they got there. The people you see on the streets are often heroes and determined people. They may have just made one mistake or had no other choice.”

The Guard members were more than helping hands for the Mission. They became friends and teammates to our staff and guests. “They came to know our guests and really talk to them,” Jacob said. “It became more of them being here with us in our Mission as opposed to just being an extra set of hands.”  

Written by: Emily Ostdiek, Content and Photography Intern