Experiencing homelessness is always hard, but it is even harder during a public health crisis. Still, we met each person who came to our doors with short and long-term solutions to their problems, and provided seats at our tables for those in need. Our staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure that care didn’t stop and lives continued to change. The community pulled together, and our mission remained the same.
And so the hope of Jesus in our city continues, and we move forward together, even during a pandemic, even when the logistics aren’t the same as they used to be. Our mission is more powerful than ever before, and we’re grateful that you’ve joined us to take care of our most vulnerable neighbors. Continue reading to see the ways your support has provided so many seats for those in need.
Denver Rescue Mission is changing lives in the name of Christ by meeting people at their physical and spiritual points of need with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.
We do this using Four Core Strategies:
People are invited inside, off the street where their immediate needs are met and critical relationships are built with Mission staff.
Men living with an addiction are equipped with work readiness skills, receive help to overcome destructive habits, find permanent housing, and begin a new life.
Families and individuals in need receive case management, develop life skills and save for permanent housing.
People struggling in our community receive assistance with food, clothing, furniture, household items, and holiday meals.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“I have so much support here and so much help…. It’s stability. I feel like this place is all God. It solidifies God is real.”
STAR Transitional Program participant
“Everybody’s lives are changing—getting better. [I like] striving for something better in my life to smile about. I thought at my age—being older—there wasn’t really much out there left anymore, and I was wrong.”
New Life Program graduate
“I haven’t panhandled since I’ve been here… Now, I got my birth certificate and they gave me a voucher to get my ID. When I told [my case manager] I got a job, she was really happy.”
Next Step member
“It saves me a lot of money… If they didn’t have this place, I don’t know where I’d get my personal items from… they’ve been really good to me. I’m hanging in there by the grace of God.”
Ministry Outreach Center guest
The need has never been greater and our work has never been more important.
In the Denver metro area, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by 6% from 2019 to 2020. Of the 6,104 individuals experiencing homelessness, 2,911 are staying in emergency shelters, 1,582 are in transitional housing and more than 1,561 are unsheltered.2
Everyone has a seat at the Mission’s table. In 2020:
Unique individuals came to our Lawrence Street Community Center
Were first-time guests
Transitioned to our Next Step service or one of our long-term programs
There are many different factors that cause homelessness, and the rising cost of housing is one of the biggest.3 The average income needed to rent a one-bedroom home in Denver is $50,400, which means an individual making the minimum wage of $12 an hour would need to work 81 hours every week to afford a modest, one bedroom home.3
Through our long-term programs, we teach participants the importance of money management and help them find employment that matches their skill sets.
Program participants opened a banking or savings account
Participants obtained employment or transitioned to a new job with a higher wage
Of the 6,104 individuals experiencing homelessness, 420 are families or households with at least one adult and one child under 18.2
Last year, through our STAR Transitional Program:
Households were served
Individuals and families who graduated maintained housing one year later
Thanks to your support this year
Nights of shelter provided
Chapel service attendees
Interns experienced hands-on work
New Life Program graduates
New Life Program graduates maintained their housing one year after graduating
Tons of clothing distributed
Homework hours completed in our youth program
Numbers reflect fiscal year: July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020.
“It was almost like my past was an open wound and it wasn’t healing,” he said. “I couldn’t figure out how to get it to heal.”
In the midst of a pandemic, God’s faithfulness has shown through in miraculous ways to Denver Rescue Mission staff, guests and program participants. While the challenges have been steep, a spirit of partnership quickly overcame the uncertainty during the early stages of COVID-19.
Since Colorado declared a state of emergency back in March of 2020, the Mission has been able to continue serving vulnerable men, women and children through innovative ways. In partnership with the City of Denver, we took the lead in staffing a 760-bed temporary shelter at the National Western Complex. The facility had enough space to offer 24/7 care to our guests with proper social distancing and health screenings provided by the Stout Street Health Center.
Here’s how your donations saved countless lives by creating safe shelter options for people experiencing homelessness:
Unique individuals visited the auxiliary shelter
Temporary employees were hired
Nights of shelter provided
God has called us, as an organization, to lead in such a time as this. We have increased our staffing levels, especially within our emergency services and custodial teams, to meet the challenges of COVID-19, and we anticipate an increased need for our services as we enter into a new year. The Mission will remain flexible as we prioritize serving our guests and program participants to the very best of our ability.
Together, with God’s guidance, your prayers and your support, we will continue our life-changing work in the face of this crisis.
I got [to the National Western Complex] and the amount of support was overwhelming. That was the first hot meal I’ve had in weeks. There were so many people volunteering who were willing to look at you as a person. I had not been looked at as a person for so many days by so many people.Marvin
National Western Complex guest
Providing seats at our tables involves many hands and hearts, from the employees who prepare
meals, volunteers who serve meals and supporters who fund meals. And it doesn’t end with
a meal. As guests sit down at our tables, they are able to connect with our employees and
volunteers. This creates space for fruitful conversations so that we can meet guests at their specific points of need. We could not do this life-changing work without you, a valued member of our Mission family.
I took a tour of the Lawrence Street Community Center a few years ago and was struck by the compassion, empathy and professionalism of the people who work there. I felt like it was something I really wanted to get behind. [In the early stages of COVID-19], I recognized that the population the Mission serves was going to be the most vulnerable. Social distancing and all the precautions that others can take, they’re not able to do. I knew the need was going to go up and the available resources were going to go down. It was important to me to reach out and see how I could help. The Mission is very close to my heart and something that I’ll always want to support and be a part of.Erle Mast
Supporter and Volunteer
During the lockdown, I was [doing] about four to five volunteer shifts a week. It was a personal decision to shift priorities in my life and be more focused on giving to other people. I feel inspired when I see somebody coming through [the line], and before I even get a chance to say ‘good morning’ and ‘God bless you,’ they say that to me.”Peter Dieck
In April of 2020, Denver Rescue Mission received a $2,101,500 loan through the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). This is reflected in the “Program Service Revenue & Other” line item in the full report. Due to the uncertain economic environment caused by the initial onset of COVID-19 the past spring, the Mission’s Board of Directors approved the acceptance of PPP funds to ensure our ability to continue to provide essential emergency shelter services to our community. As of the print date (November 20, 2020) of this report, the Mission’s application for forgiveness of this loan is pending.
Denver Rescue Mission is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance recommends giving to organizations who spend at least 65% of their total expenses on program activities. In fiscal year 2019- 2020, 83% of our expenses were in programs.
Download our audited financial statements at DenverRescueMission.org/Financial-Accountability.
What Lies Ahead
This year was filled with many unexpected challenges. Yet, the needs of our homeless neighbors remain. They need a bed to sleep in on a cold night; a warm meal to sustain them during the day; and a helping hand to support them as they transition out of homelessness.
Our Mission’s promise to serve the most vulnerable people in our community has never wavered in our 129-year history. As we enter into 2021, we anticipate the need for our services and programs to increase. There are still many unknowns, which is why we have adopted an adaptive leadership model, staying flexible in order to address emergent needs as they surface. Our goal remains the same: to lift up individuals and families in need and remind them that they are loved, they are valued and there is reason to have hope.
Despite the many unknowns of 2021, your generous support ensures that we will continue to help as many people as possible and change lives, one seat at a time.
What does it mean to have a seat at Denver Rescue Mission’s table? It means that because of your support, we can provide seats for all who are in need. We invite individuals to come just as they are. But it is about more than just welcoming someone to sit down for a meal. Each seat represents a person, and each person has a story that is important to God.
In 2020, 3,728 first-time guests came to the Lawrence Street Community Center for help. That is more than double the amount of first-time guests who came in 2019. The need has never been greater. As you read this report, you will see the ways your support has provided many seats—seats that have led to transformed lives for so many individuals and families in our community.
Of the 21 years I have been blessed to serve on staff at the Mission, this past year has been the most challenging. At the same time, I have been moved and humbled by our team’s ability to be flexible and adjust to changing conditions and procedures while responding with courage and perseverance to a crisis. As a result of COVID-19, we have had to shift seats to provide basic care and safety to the most vulnerable in our community. During a “stay at home” order, we provided a refuge for those who did not have a home to go to. With the opening of a 24/7 auxiliary shelter to enable social distancing, our tables looked different this year. But our Mission stayed the same: Changing Lives in the Name of Christ.
The phrase I have used continually to encourage Mission staff is: God is in control. He has shown this in miraculous ways through His provision and protection during an incredibly challenging season. I want to thank you for your compassion, empathy and generosity for the people we serve. In fact, they are not only the people we serve and love, but the people you serve and love too. Thank you for joining us in changing lives, one seat at a time.
1Some photos in this report were taken prior to COVID-19
2Source: 2020 Point in Time (PIT) Report: mdhi.org/2020_pit_reports
3Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2020 Out of Reach Report: reports.nlihc.org/oor/colorado
4Numbers reflect April 9 – late July 2020
5Food provided by the City of Denver and served by Mission volunteers