Providing tutoring, mentoring and other after school activities for our youth at Denver Rescue Mission is essential in supporting them during a time of transition. Now, these services are expanding to include counseling for children and teenagers whose parents are in the STAR Transitional Program, a Mission program that gives families a safe place to live and the tools they need to transition out of homelessness.

With generous funding from the Caring for Denver Foundation, the Mission can now expand our counseling services to address mental health needs and offer an important service to our program participants. This will include hiring another full time and part-time counselor. It is our goal to further develop a safe and trusted space for families and their children where mental health, trauma and substance misuse support is readily available.

Addressing Mental Health and Domestic Issues

“While our STAR families live with us, they have issues like domestic disturbance,” said Rachel Lopez, director of services at the Mission. “[In the past], our counseling department [was] unable to offer immediate and time-sensitive sessions to address these issues.”

Through research and conversations with the community, Executive Director of Caring for Denver Lorez Meinhold recognizes that children and youth may experience trauma and school disruption when families lose their housing, which can interfere with their development.

“These families have been through so much,” Lorez said. “They deserve accessible, high-quality, right-now care that supports their unique needs and helps them cope with these experiences, which are often beyond their control.”

Not only will offering counseling services help youth and families overcome issues from the past, it will also help dismantle social stigma surrounding mental health issues among youth.

Taking Care of Each Other

“Mission staff have relationships with the youth and families, and a trusted support can kick-start a road to recovery or shed light on how to go about coping with life’s struggles,” Lorez said. “As we share our stories, engage our communities, and demonstrate how mental health and substance misuse affects us all, we can dismantle stigma.”

We are so blessed to receive support and funding from the Caring for Denver Foundation. Together, we can help families develop positive mental health practices and prevent homelessness and poverty in future generations.

“When Denver residents created Caring for Denver, they showed up for families and recognized them as a vital part of our community that deserve better support,” Lorez said. “We are taking care of each other and building a stronger Denver.”

Written by: Linneya Gardner, Content and Photography Intern