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Phillip Tello’s Story of Transformation

Below is an excerpt of Harvest Farm graduate Phillip Tello’s story which he recounted at an event on October 6, 2018. We hope his story encourages you as we work together to provide opportunity for our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and poverty. 


“When I was 27, I was introduced to crystal meth. The first time I used meth I was instantly addicted. It was like someone put batteries inside of me and turned me back on. My depression was gone, I felt energized, and my drunken state vanished. I falsely believed that God had put this drug in my life to cure me of my alcoholism. But nothing could have been further from the truth. Once I was in the trap of addiction to meth, everything went downhill. I lost my job, my apartment, and my dignity. I lived for meth and nothing else.  I struggled with this addiction for close to 12 years. My mind played games with me that horrified me and drove me to insanity.  My only solution was to take my own life.  How I overcame that is nothing short of a miracle.  God was with me in this desperate moment and He showed me a new way.  God changed the direction of my life.

I needed a safe haven to rebuild myself and I found it at Denver Rescue Mission, where I became a candidate to join the New Life Program at Harvest Farm. I believed in my heart that the Farm would be the place where I would be safe, the place where I would heal, the place where God would take the shattered pieces of my life and put them back together.  This home turned out to be everything and more than what I had expected.  It was the most amazing place in the world to me, a vast open space where I could get away and be with God, or be with the animals, or build relationships with other guys that were in the process of healing like me.

I discovered that I wanted to go to school and study to become a nurse. I began a transformative journey into making this happen by joining Front Range Community College. At the beginning, school was hard for me because of the self-defeatist belief system that I had about myself that needed to be dismantled.

Now, as I think about the person that I am becoming, I must admit that my self-image has been completely transformed.  Four years ago, I began this journey of leading a new life and self-realization. Then, I did not have much to start with. I was insecure, fearful, and didn’t have a direction in life. When I decided to become a nurse, I was propped up on the shoulders of the Harvest Farm giants that showed me the way to lead a disciplined life that is fruitful and pleasing to the Lord.

It is my dream to become a nurse and I will achieve that dream because I believe that God has set me up to do so. He put people in my life to create a luminous pathway in the right direction.  At Harvest Farm, I have built the foundation that continues to bear fruit in my work and dedication at accomplishing my goals. I am no longer insecure, fearful, and without direction. I have overcome, and I am thriving!”

Shane Ray on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters

Shane Ray 2.0I know what it feels like to grow up and not always have things that you need. I also know the importance of having a role model. My mom, who was a single parent, worked hard to get promotions and make more money to provide for us. When I was kid, she would wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to go to work and support us. At the time I didn’t understand; I remember being six years old and thinking, ‘mom, you need to get some sleep, you’re going to be tired.’ She believed in hard work, and she was willing to make sacrifices to keep a roof over my head. Watching her do those things, it made me want to follow in her footsteps.

I believe in hard work, just like my mom. And I also believe that kids, especially kids growing up in situations like I did, need a role model. You know, kids look up to football players like we’re superheroes. For me, my mom is the hero. And because of football and the publicity that comes with it, I think it’s my turn to be that role model.

When I heard about the work Denver Rescue Mission was doing, and that they help out families living at The Crossing, I thought it’d be cool to partner with them. The work they do is really important, especially for families who are in a tough spot, working hard to get back into a home or an apartment. Anytime I can spare some time, even if it’s just an hour, I try to make it to the Mission. It’s always fun to go there and interact with kids and parents who are working hard to better their situation. The Mission does a good job of providing the support they need, and I just hope I can be a positive influence and a role model for the kids. – Shane Ray, Denver Broncos Linebacker 

Shane Ray is a fourth-year outside linebacker for the Denver Broncos. Established in 2016, Rays Awareness is Shane Ray’s charitable initiative serving low-income families in both Denver and Kansas City. Programs under Rays Awareness include Shane’s Shoes which is aimed at providing underserved families with shoes for school and sports. Shane’s Shoes is based on Shane’s own experiences and need for athletic shoes coming from a single parent home. For more information on Shane and Rays Awareness visit

Together We Serve

Together we serve header

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107: 8-9 (NIV)

We serve thousands of meals daily.
All with your donations.
Ever wonder how it happens?


It begins with donations…

Donation Photo

Donations come from two places, food banks and people just like you. When food arrives at our Ministry Outreach Center, it’s unloaded and sorted.



Sorting Photo

Jacob, our Warehouse Food Coordinator, and his team of volunteers sort through all the donations. “We’re checking for quality and expiration date,” says Jacob. “We’re finding out what’s safe to use and what’s not.” Depending on how big a donation is, it can take anywhere from just a few hours to three days to sort. When finished, the items are placed in their designated location within the warehouse.


creating a menu…

Creating a Menu Photo

Because we rely on donations, our chefs are tasked with the challenge of starting with ingredients first and then creating a menu based off of what we have available. In total, Denver Rescue Mission has nine chefs on staff in Denver, three located at The Crossing and six at the Lawrence Street Community Center. Every day, one chef from each location does a walk-through at the Ministry Outreach Center, selecting which ingredients they want to use for that day’s meals. Once they make their order, the items are loaded onto one of our trucks and transported to the kitchens. When the truck arrives, the items are unloaded and put in one of two places— cold or dry storage.


prepping and cooking…

Meal Photo

When the truck arrives, the items are unloaded and put in one of two places— cold or dry storage. Two hours before each meal, prepping begins.  Vegetables are chopped. Meat is seasoned. Ovens are warmed. Then, it’s our talented chefs’ time to shine.

Serving starts with you: Give now and your gift will feed people experiencing poverty.

Donate Now

We asked Jeremy, the Mission’s Assistant Food Services Manager, to tell us his favorite part of the job:


“Being able to serve somebody food that you poured your heart into is a special thing.  The hope is that our meals provide a sense of dignity and respect to the people we serve; I think that’s what matters most.”

Your giving does more than fill stomachs. Chris, one of our friend’s experiencing homelessness had this to say:


“The food is good. It really
is, and it feels good to come
off the street and be acknowledged
by good-hearted people.”


Would you like to volunteer?

Learn More


Read the Full Newsletter

October 2018 Newsletter Cover


Also in this issue:

  • Letter from the CEO
  • The 14th Annual Last Waltz
  • Are You Ready for a Seismic Shift in Giving?
  • Shane Ray, Denver Bronco, on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters

Download Now


Mentoring Matters

Mentoring Matters: Woman and girl work together

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” – PROVERBS 27:17 (The Message)

There’s no magic formula to mentoring. Each person in our program is here for a reason, but those reasons are very different—depression, foreclosure, addiction, family issues. During these difficult times, our mentors are challenged to build their mentee up, exploring what gives the participant value and acknowledging their worth.

Mentoring begins with matching our Change Maker volunteers with program participants. Once participants reach their 12th week of enrollment, they meet with our Mentor Coordinator, Donna, who pairs them with an ideal mentor for their individual needs. “Matching starts with knowing the program participant,” says Donna, “knowing what he or she is doing well at in the program and also knowing what he or she needs to improve upon.”

She also assesses volunteers, surveying their interests, hobbies and reasons for mentoring. Once paired, each mentor attends an orientation followed by an initial meeting with their program participant. Donna is at every first encounter, and after she makes introductions, she steps out and lets their relationship unfold.


    Mentors help break the cycle of poverty by taking a child under their wing. These children are kids of families who live at The Crossing. Over a six-month time frame, mentors seek to have a weekly connection focused on anything from helping with homework to playing games.
    We serve two types of families—those transitioning out of homelessness and refugees. Small groups meet with families once a month for six months discussing practical life skills such as budgeting and parenting.
    Support from mentors provides additional accountability to men and women enrolled in our programs. Mentors meet with program participants twice a month for 12 months, creating a healthy space for encouragement.


Help us provide mentorship opportunities to more people who need help!

Donate Now


Mentor photo

“Being a mentor is about building a relationship and a level of trust in her life. We work through what her goals are and I try to provide guidance and insight into how she can reach those goals.”


Mentor Photo

“I talk to my mentee about once a week. I just meet him where he’s at. The experience has really broadened my view of people and helped me find value in people’s stories that are different than mine.”


Mentor Photo

“My mentee is 12. When we first met, she ran up to me and gave me a big hug; I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting her to be so excited.”


Would you like to become a mentor?

Learn More


Two girls hug one another


“It’s like going to see family. [My mentors] are like mother figures to me. I love how they greet me and that I always get to bring my daughter with me.”

—GWYNNIESHA, Mom and Family Rescue Ministry Mentee

“I think it’s a very good resource. Mentoring helps you to adapt to the U.S. and I am very happy with my relationship with the volunteers. They always help me if I ask and even got us an English teacher who comes to our house.”

—ALIAKSANDR N., Family Refugee Services Mentee

“My mentor gives me the space to talk freely and express myself. We go out and do different things in the city. Our time together builds me up so when I come back to The Crossing, I’m my best self.”

—JEANETTE, Mom and STAR Transitional Program Mentee


Read the Full Newsletter

September 2018 Newsletter Cover

This article was featured in the September 2018 issue of Changing Lives titled “Mentoring Matters.”

Also in this issue:

  • Letter from the CEO
  • Harvest Farm Fall Festival
  • Double your donation
  • Jordan Jackson, CEO of Security Central, on Why Denver Rescue Mission Matters

Download Now


Fort Collins Rescue Mission is Honoring Volunteers this Month!

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Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Harvest Farm Honoring Volunteers this Month

Here at the Mission and Harvest Farm, volunteers are our heroes. They help us prepare and serve meals to guests with a caring smile, dedicate time to mentor and encourage program participants, as well as share messages of hope and possibilities of a new life. Volunteers are an invaluable resource that help our organization flourish as we do God’s work.

Last year, volunteers provided over 14,000 hours of service at Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Harvest Farm. This is equivalent to having an additional 6 full-time employees! It’s because of their dedicated service, that we’re able to meet the needs of the broken and lost in our community.

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month and the Mission, along with numerous non-profit organizations across the country, are taking some time to celebrate. Throughout #VolunteerAppreciationWeek (April 15-21), we will honor and thank our volunteers for their tireless service.

We’re excited to share the passion and commitment of four featured volunteers. We are so grateful for them, and all our amazing volunteers, for everything they do to #SERVENoCo!


Jim Lord

Jim Lord

Jim has been serving warm meals to our homeless guests at Fort Collins Rescue Mission for seven years. He enjoys filling this need in the community and says, “It keeps me humble and helps me appreciate what I have more often.”

Jim loves trying to make our guests smile. He has made it his mission to help our guests feel important while they are here.

We appreciate the work you have put in at Fort Collins Rescue Mission Jim. Thank you!


Laura Steven

Laura Stevens

Laura has been volunteering with Fort Collins Rescue Mission for the past two years. She loves being a Mentor and helping our homeless guests. Specifically, she has a heart for helping women feel good about themselves. Often, she donates clothing to fulfil this passion.

“Being a Mentor has been the most fulfilling experience at the Mission so far. In the midst of sadness, challenges and pain, we manage to find the humor and faith and laugh a lot together.” – Laura

Thank you Laura for showing compassion to our guests at Fort Collins Rescue Mission!


Marilyn Calcatera

Marilyn Calcatera

Marilyn wanted to use her hair cutting skills to do good in the community. That’s how she got connected to Harvest Farm.  Each month, over the past year, she has been offering free haircuts to men in the New Life Program.

She loves being able to have spiritual conversations with the men in the program and helps encourage them in this journey of their lives. “I can show some motherly love, provide encouragement and share a hug” said Marilyn.

Thank you for using your skills to touch the lives of our New Life Program participants, Marilyn!


Ryan Carter

Ryan Carter

Ryan serves as a preacher for chapel services at Fort Collins Rescue Mission and he has been doing this for the past year. His goal is to assist the staff in connecting the Mission with pastors and community leaders to maximize the care and service to those in need.

“I see the Mission’s guests as some of the richest and most gifted people in our city.  Darkness has marginalized many people who are desperately needed and deeply loved.”  Ryan loves the Mission because he gets to work with Jesus in the restoration process!

Ryan’s most impactful experience at the Mission was preaching to a man that had never been to church before or heard the Gospel.  “I saw this man two weeks later, and he grabbed me and said, “Everything is changing!”  He had started to read the word of God and exclaimed, “It’s really making sense to me!”  Also, in that two week span, he was restored with his mother in San Diego, and was leaving that week to be with her again.  I will meet this man in heaven!” Ryan shared.

Thank you Ryan for diligently doing God’s work with us at Fort Collins Rescue Mission!

These are just a few examples of passionate volunteers committed to doing the Lord’s work alongside us. If you’ve been inspired to give back and make a difference, we encourage you to serve with us! There are many ways to get involved.  To learn more and sign up, visit: