Cindy adopted her son PJ when he was eight years old. In foster care at the time, PJ had a genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome, and needed special care. Cindy continued to work as a substitute teacher where PJ attended school, but when he turned 21, his government assistance decreased significantly, even though he still needed care while Cindy worked. Cindy found herself paying out more for his care than she was bringing home, so she stopped substitute teaching. Over time, she used up her savings, slipped further into debt, and found herself living out of her van.
Then Cindy entered the Denver Rescue Mission’s STAR Transitional program at The Crossing, a residential program designed to help people transition into self-sufficiency.
“My expenses were one third of what they were before we moved there. I could take a deep breath and finally save money,” says Cindy. “I concentrated on getting my debt paid off, and that really helped us.” In time, Cindy and PJ moved into their own apartment, equipped with new knowledge about budgeting learned through the program.
The STAR Transitional program at The Crossing is one of many faith-based initiatives of the Denver Rescue Mission, which supports the needs of homeless families and individuals, and helps them save money and develop life skills. “Everyone has a unique situation that is a little bit different,” says Alexxa Gagner, director of marketing and communications at the Denver Rescue Mission.
Providing meals to those in need is a large component of their mission. Last year, the Denver Rescue Mission provided 907,125 meals across all locations, which includes The Crossing, the Lawrence Street Community Center, and the Fort Collins Rescue Mission, in addition to other meal distribution efforts.
“They are all human beings who deserve dignity and respect,” Gagner says. “We want to shake their hand, welcome them in, and give them a meal.”
How Families Can Help
- Serve meals to homeless individuals at Denver Rescue Mission locations. Children age 10 and up can help serve meals at The Crossing (6090 Smith Rd., Denver); age 14 and up can serve at the Lawrence Street Community Center (2222 Lawrence St., Denver); age 16 and up can serve at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission (316 Jefferson St., Fort Collins). A three-hour meal shift includes helping prepare the meal, serving food and drink, and cleaning up afterward, in addition to other duties. Sign up for a shift online.
- Tour one of the Mission’s locations, “especially if [kids] are younger than the serving volunteer age,” says Nicole Tschetter, public relations and media specialist. “We have the Bronco Room at The Crossing where our students/kids who are experiencing homelessness and are transitioning out of homelessness study and play games. It really opens up the dialogue for families to discuss homelessness and not only how [they] can help, but shows them why they should help.”
- Run a drive in your community for canned food, coats, baby items, or specific winter gear, and deliver donations to the Mission.
- Make cards or crafts for homeless individuals, that staff can pass out during different events.
- Donate your birthday. Ask your party guests to make a donation to the Denver Rescue Mission instead of buying a gift for the birthday boy or girl.
- Attend the annual Harvest Farm Festival and Corn Maze held each fall in Wellington. Proceeds benefit the Mission’s New Life Program.