By Nancy Hahn
While the number of homeless people continues to grow, understanding and the support of so many excellent people and organizations grows, also. The following local organizations provide shelter and assistance.
Denver’s Family Promise, one of the earliest organizations to recognize the growing homelessness crisis, was presented with one of 21 Points of Light awarded by President and Barbara Bush in 1992. It is open all day, seven days a week. At night, families are sheltered in area churches.
“Homeless families have lost more than their homes…,” according to a National Center on Family Homelessness Report. “The homeless children are young: they have witnessed violence … they are anxious, depressed, and withdrawn. Today they need a shelter. To build a life, they need support.”
The motto of Family Promise is “Ending homelessness one family at a time.” Helping families, together, helps rebuild faith and confidence. Family Promise provides case management and support. Their goal is to get families back into a home. Computers are provided for job searches and learning. There is help to use them, if needed. Children can be children without worries. They have fun play spaces, a backyard to enjoy, and a quiet room for naps. There is time to rebuild confidence in life, without the fear of where you we be or what you will eat tomorrow.
Family Promise can be contacted at 303-657-0713.
Severe Weather Shelter Network
The Severe Weather Shelter Network supports the area’s homeless adults in our Colorado winter. Daily by 10:30 a.m., the Shelter Network website posts whether it is a shelter day or not. Shelters will be open if that night’s weather is predicted to be below 30 degrees and wet, or below 20 degrees and dry.
The Applewood Community Church, Westwoods Community Church, and Sloan’s Lake Church rotate serving as the shelters in the Lakewood and Wheat Ridge area. The Elks Lodge in Lakewood serves as a warm gathering place to wait for transportation to the shelters. The Wheat Ridge Police Department is part of the Severe Weather Shelter Network, also.
The shelters are used by adults, who must register before they can use them. Lakewood Action Center, Wheat Ridge Family Tree, Denver City Square, and Jeffco Human Services in Golden are the registration sites. These sites are also where registered adults will be picked up and transported to the church on the severe weather nights.
Once there, guests are served a home-cooked meal together. After their meal the men and the women go to separate sleeping spaces.
The Rising Church
The Rising Church in Olde Town Arvada at 7500 W. 57th Avenue calls itself “the hub of homelessness in Arvada.” It is a fitting name.
Rev. Steve Byers said the homeless population in Olde Town Arvada literally showed up on their doorstep. Next to the library, also considered a safe place to spend time by the homeless, The Rising Church has become a great resource.
Homeless guests from Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Golden, Lakewood, and Denver have benefitted from the church’s programs. It serves as a day shelter on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., serving breakfast and lunch. A clothing bank, showers, and a sleeping bag and blanket closet are provided, also.
Like homeless everywhere, the church’s clients are a varied group: infants to the elderly, veterans, people with mental health issues, some with disabilities, while others just had a run of bad luck.
Rebel Rodriguez, named Arvada’s Woman of the year for her work with the homeless, is one of the shelter volunteers in the food bank, which serves about 110 people a week. In addition to canned and boxed food, twice a week a box of fresh produce is available. A number of the homeless, also, work in the food bank.
Karen S. Cowling, homeless advocate and mentor, manages the shelter and helps clients find the help they need. They receive help signing up for Medicare and food stamps, applying for free phone services, registering for the Severe Weather Shelter Network, and are transported to appointments.
Dental At Your Door works with Arvada Rising to provide regular dental care. The impact of Arvada Rising’s wide-ranging assistance is, clearly, life-changing.
The Action Center and Mean Streets Ministry
The Action Center and Mean Streets Ministry provide support to those who are homeless or in need, particularly, in the Lakewood and Colfax corridor areas. Both had shelters that closed down last year, but they hope to reopen them in the future.
“We will be open next season,” said Chaplain James Fry.
Mean Streets Ministry is now a mobile ministry that reaches out to people in shelters, in motels, and in the projects. Fry and his volunteers go out on Colfax Avenue to provide counseling and prayer, as well as meals, diapers, bus passes and other needed items.
The Action Center, also, continues programs to support individuals and families that need a hand. Those in need can call 720-215-4850 and make an appointment to access their free services at 8745 W. 14th Ave. Services include the clothing bank, free personal care items and household needs. Five days of groceries can be chosen up to six times a year. Help is available with health care, landlord and tenant issues, and other immediate needs.
The Action Center programs help participants build a life of self-sufficiency. Case managers and participants work together to set and reach positive goals in Pathways, a six-month program.
To learn more about the Action Center’s programs or other services call 303-237-7704 or make an appointment call 720-215-4850.