INSIDE THE WALLS OF THE BRONCOS ROOM IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF POTENTIAL LEADERS, DOERS, ENTHUSIASTS, ACHIEVERS, ENTREPRENEURS, DISCIPLES, AND WORLD-CHANGERS. DENVER RESCUE MISSION EQUIPS THESE CHILDREN TO RISE UP AND BECOME THEM.
When the doors to the Broncos Room open at 4:30 p.m. sharp, an 11-year-old boy with big, brown, eager eyes and excitement at his core is usually the first in line waiting to go inside. “There’s Cruz,” Joe Bermingham, youth coordinator for the Mission, usually says at 4:25 p.m. “You’ve got about five more minutes, buddy!” Cruz, who is heading into sixth grade this month, loves going to the Broncos Room and rarely misses a day.
The Mission’s youth center, a hub for children and teenagers whose parents are part of the STAR Transitional Program, was sponsored by the Denver Broncos in 2005 to create a place for them to learn, play and grow.
The space provides opportunities for Mission staff and volunteers to pour their time, skills and passion into our youth—teaching them that they were created in Christ’s image, they are precious in His eyes and He has mighty plans for their lives.
The youth program offers Math and Reading Club, Bible studies, movie nights, art and music lessons, group outings, and more. Cruz said during Math and Reading Club, the volunteer tutors taught him how to do fractions. “When I didn’t get it or when I got it wrong, they helped me with it,” he said.
During Bible study, the kids each get a Bible to learn and highlight the passages. At Bible study, Cruz learned that Jesus saved him. “When we have our Bible studies, and in the Broncos Room in general, we just want everybody to feel like they belong,” Joe said.
In the midst of the daily activities of homework, tutoring, art, story time, and free time, are
opportunities for Joe, along with the Mission’s other youth coordinator, Hannah Menzies, to
instill deeper life lessons. The three fundamental rules in the Broncos Room are to be responsible, respectful and safe.
At the end of the summer, the Mission provides backpacks and school supplies for the children as they prepare to head back to school. “The last thing we want them to do is go to school feeling like they are any different,” Hannah said.
This year was a notable example of one generation carrying another during a time of need. The Mission’s Young Professionals (YP) group, a network of influencers in their 20s and 30s, raised nearly $3,500 through a crowdfunding campaign to provide school supplies for the kids.
Elisabeth Podhaskie, head of the YP Fundraising Committee, said that in addition to providing school supplies, the group also funded activities such as coloring books and games to keep the kids engaged throughout the summer months, which was especially important because of the quarantine and social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While you can look at these tangible things that we’re giving them as just items, I think that it provides stability—it provides support for kids who probably can’t process a lot of this emotionally complicated stuff that’s going on with COVID,” Elisabeth said. “I just felt it was really important that we help the most vulnerable within the most vulnerable.”
Joe and Hannah lead support groups for pre-teens and teens to give them opportunities to spend time in fellowship. “They are going through that age of trying to find themselves,” Joe said,” and we help them explore that.”
During Hannah’s group, she often gives the girls something to do, like a puzzle or an adult coloring book, while they talk, creating a safe space for them to share. “It’s amazing how much someone is willing to talk if you just give them something to do—about their feelings, emotions, insecurities, doubts, fears or past trauma,” Hannah said. “It all comes out, but in a really healthy way—not forced. Sometimes it’s super deep, and some weeks I’m just checking in to make sure they feel heard and known.”
Eleven-year-old Jeremiah was excited to return to school last year after receiving a new backpack and supplies thanks to generous donors.
The Mission’s greatest goal through the youth program is to show children and teens the unconditional love of Christ. “We can give them the Broncos Room, tools and support groups,” Hannah said, “but the coolest part is that we can give them Jesus, and that will last for eternity.”
Cruz’s mother, Erica, said their family is in a much better place, both spiritually and mentally, since joining the STAR program. “We ended up losing everything,” Erica said, “and I feel like it was a blessing for us to lose everything because now we’re a lot closer and a lot closer to God.”
Beyond the games, homework and projects inside the walls of the Broncos Room, is a deeper, intangible impact.
“Cruz is a perfect example,” Joe said. “You can see a sweet kid absorbing—absorbing by watching people and building relationships in here. He may forget about the games he played, but he will remember the relationships.”
Meet The Youth Leaders!
As the doors to the Broncos Room open, the kids are greeted by two passionate, fervent leaders from two different generations who teach, equip, support, and love them.
Joe, a kindhearted youth pastor from Springville, New York, has been at the Mission for 12 years and has been instrumental in the development of our youth program. “I really felt that kids who were in tough situations are the kids that God was calling me to work with,” he said.
Hannah, a compassionate and enthusiastic leader from Naples, Florida, holds a master of social work and has worked for our youth program for about two years. “To come alongside children as they grow and learn is one of my favorite gifts,” she said. “They continually remind me to find joy in the small things and to seek hope in the hard things.”
We value the importance of building up the next generation so that they can carry out the bright futures that God has in store for them. You can invest in the lives of the children and teens living at The Crossing by giving today.
The Mission’s youth program offers a special incentive that teaches children about money management, the importance of saving and the concept of working hard for their earnings. Inside the Denver Broncos Youth Center (the Broncos Room) at The Crossing, kids can earn “Broncos Bucks” by attending youth center activities, doing homework, bringing in their report cards, helping clean up the room, and more. They can then “purchase” toys and school supplies that were donated to the Broncos Store to achieve a sense of accomplishment and ownership. Here’s more about how it works:
Shop, but not ‘till you drop! The Broncos Store is only open for shopping once a week, which teaches the kids that it’s not necessary (or a good idea) to shop every day.
The more you save, the better your shopping experience will be. If the kids decide to save their Broncos Bucks one week, they earn five extra dollars, which teaches them the importance of saving and how it can build up interest.
Be responsible with your spending. If the kids’ accounts drop below five Broncos Bucks, they can’t buy anything that week.
Keep track of your bank account. The kids can check their “receipts” so that they know what they’ve bought in the past and how many Broncos Bucks they have left.
Cruz is super diligent about participating in activities and helping with chores in the Broncos Room. He usually saves up his Broncos Bucks to buy something that he’s been wanting for a while. One of his favorite memories is the day he was finally able to buy a bike for 75 Broncos Bucks!