Lawrence Street Shelter Posts

Preparing for Denver’s Fickle Weather 

As we prepare for a mid-spring winter weather advisory (can anyone say oxymoron?!), staff at Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Community Center, Lawrence Street Shelter and Fort Collins Rescue Mission are preparing for increased demand for our services.

Guests fill the Lawrence Street Community Center dining hall during a March 2016 snow storm.

Guests fill the Lawrence Street Community Center dining room during a March 2016 snow storm

As you can imagine, bad weather brings a lot more people indoors during the day and overnight. Here is how our facilities are preparing for this weekend:

The Lawrence Street Community Center’s dining room will be open throughout the day Saturday an Sunday. Additional food is being prepared for our normal meal times. Warm showers are at the ready, along with emergency clothing supplies. Staff will work to ensure that everyone seeking overnight shelter has a confirmed place to go.

The Lawrence Street Shelter anticipates filling all 315 beds and mats, as well as 325 mats at the Emergency Shelter (operated in partnership with Denver’s Road Home). Area shelter providers are already talking, ensuring that each provider knows where to send people in the event they reach their capacity.

Fort Collins Rescue Mission is preparing for a very similar demand on its services: increased meals and utilizing all of their available beds and mats. Fort Collins Rescue Mission provides more than 100 people a warm, dry and safe place to spend the night, including overflow mats which will be extended through April 30th.

As you brave the looming elements this weekend, consider how you might help Denver Rescue Mission keep these vital services available within the community. We ask you to visit our Donations page to learn how your generous donations can make a lasting impact at our shelter facilities.

Reaction to Clearing Homeless Camps Downtown – What is the Mission Doing?

This week in the news, you may have heard about the City of Denver clearing out homeless camps near Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter downtown at Park Avenue and Lawrence Street.

The Denver Post has the story here.

Photo credit: David Zalubowski, The Associated Press

Photo credit: David Zalubowski, The Associated Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting today, March 8, 2016, the City of Denver, Department of Public Works and the Denver Police Department began enforcing encampment rules along area sidewalks in the Ballpark Neighborhood in an effort to protect the health and safety of our community, including those who are experiencing homelessness.

Signs were posted in the area advising that public spaces must remain free of obstruction. Any items encumbering public spaces will be removed and placed into storage for up to 30 days.

NOTICE

Photo credit: Jason Gruenauer, Channel 7 News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than anything else, Denver Rescue Mission wants to help people who are experiencing homelessness get off the street and become productive self-sufficient citizens. We feel these encampments outside our walls on the streets of our city are significant health risks and create an unsafe situation.

Over the last several months, city outreach workers have reached out to those camping on the streets. Once inside our facilities, Denver Rescue Mission staff work to connect homeless individuals with important services and establish lasting relationships. We sleep up to 640 men each night at our shelters and serve nearly 1,000 men, women and children every day at the Lawrence Street Community Center downtown, a new day center for the homeless.

Other local organizations, such as The Samaritan House, also offer shelter and access to services for the homeless. A full list of resources can be found here.

As a Mission, we will continue to support our homeless and hurting neighbors in every way we can through emergency services and life-changing programs. We ask our community to join us in prayer as the city and those experiencing homelessness go through this trying transition.

Coming Clean

Shower

This is hard to admit, but I have not been able to take a shower at home for over a week.

When my wife and I moved to Denver last fall, friends opened their home to us so that we could have a soft landing while we looked for work. It was quite a blessing, and it’s worked out very well for us. It’s even allowed us to make the transition to buy our own place soon.

Three weeks ago, our friends discovered some leaking water behind the tub and shower, so they had to remove them both and tear out the damp drywall and insulation. Which leaves the bathroom with an obvious and significant problem: the tub and shower are gone.

Which leaves the bathroom with an obvious and significant problem: the tub and shower are gone.

Actually, the tub was on the front porch, and now is in the backyard full of dirt for a makeshift herb garden (it looks nicer than it sounds, I promise). It makes for a pretty funny conversation piece. But the reality is, it’s no joke. Thankfully, the house still has running water, so we’re not totally without options on getting clean.

Of course, you’ll have to forgive me as I spout off some #FirstWorldProblems related to having no tub or shower in the house, but it’s really hard to keep clean and feel refreshed when you can’t take a shower or bath at home. And it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve had to use the shower facilities here at the Mission several times (Thank God the new Administration and Education building has access to a weight room and showers).

But each time I get up in the morning and shuffle into the construction zone that is currently our bathroom, it reminds me of the people I meet down at the Lawrence Street Shelter. They have nowhere to get washed up either. And as embarrassed as I am, at least my situation is temporary.

But each time I get up in the morning and shuffle into the construction zone that is currently our bathroom, it reminds me of the people I meet down at the Lawrence Street Shelter.

It’s a sobering reality that simply getting clean is a near impossibility for most of our homeless neighbors, let alone getting access to clean drinking water and restroom facilities.

That’s why the Lawrence Street Shelter and the now-under-construction Lawrence Street Community Center are so important. The shelter provides a warm bed at night, but it also provides the homeless a dignified place to use the restroom, access to drinking water and a place to get out of harsh weather. For those who stay the night at the shelter, a fresh shower in a requirement before climbing into the 200+ beds to help keep all our guests clean and safe. And soon, the Lawrence Street Community Center will feature showers and more restrooms so that the homeless can have a dignified place to wash up and access to restroom facilities throughout the day.

You know that refreshing feeling of stepping out of the shower, ready to meet the day? Imagine having that feeling for the first time in weeks or months. That’s what the new Community Center will offer our struggling neighbors.

Imagine having that feeling for the first time in weeks or months.

So next time you step into the shower to start your day, remember our homeless friends and neighbors with me. And remember that phrase harkening back to the martyr, John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Because we’re all just a few short steps away from being in their shoes, and we’re all just within reach to help them get back on their feet again.

Lawrence Street Community Center Approved

Praise the Lord!

The  Zoning Appeal Board met this week and approved the building of the Lawrence Street Community Center.

We are so excited to have a safe place for the homeless during the day. A place where their human dignity can be restored. Where they can have access to simple things like bathrooms, water, and showers. They will not have to “hang out” on the streets or in alleys.

The community center will also help our employees build and foster relationships allowing us to connect people to services. It will be a pathway to becoming  productive self-sufficient citizens.

Our goal is to see lives changed and we believe the Lawrence Street Community Center will not only allow us to be a part of God’s plan to do that, but will make our neighborhood a better place for everyone.

Demo 1

Demo 2

Meet Jim Coelho // A Man On the Front Lines

Written by Valerie Cabrera, Public Relations Intern

Jim at his Desk (2)

Jim Coelho was making his usual rounds as a Facility Assistant around the Lawrence Street Shelter when he heard a shout for help.

After sprinting outside, he noticed a hurt man, who had come to make a donation, leaning against the building. His attacker was coming at him again with renewed vigor, but Jim intervened. Over the next 30 minutes, while he waited for the police to arrive, he pressed a knee into the attacker’s back… and the entire time Jim whispered prayers for him.

Although that’s not a typical day as a Facility Assistant (Jim’s only been assaulted once during his notable 15-year run at Denver Rescue Mission), it’s a memorable one for him, especially since that same man who he had prayed for years earlier has come back to see Jim three years later. He wants to be a part of the New Life Program.

I sat down to talk with Jim about his longtime job as a Facility Assistant at the Lawrence Street Shelter and got to hear all about his duties as an FA, his love and compassion for the guests he serves, and how he deals with the tough stuff.

Valerie: Can you walk me through your shift as a Facility Assistant at the Lawrence Street Shelter?

Jim: My shift starts at 5:30 a.m., so I’ve got to be an early riser. When I get here, there’s a 30-minute shift change where I get all the updates from the previous FA. I usually check all my email and respond to anything urgent. I’m also responsible for making work therapy schedules for the New Life Program participants and candidates, so I do that. And then I walk the house, making sure that people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and being where they’re supposed to be. I document UA’s (urinary analysis) for NLP guys on Scribe and I also write incident reports if anything comes up. One shift is eight hours so I get to be here to make sure breakfast and lunch run smoothly.

V: How are you involved with the guests as an FA?

J: All the FA’s through all the different shifts, we are on the front lines. We’re the ones that everything filters down through. My favorite part is being able to get involved with the guys on a one-on-one basis. Being able to be a big brother, you know, someone who cares, to meet their needs. That’s my job, that’s what I get to do. Sometimes when I’m making my rounds, and see outside guests that are in here for a meal, I’ll sit down and start talking with them. I’m really looking forward to the Lawrence Street Community Center.

V: How do you deal with any obstacles that come up in your job?

J: When you hit an obstacle, or a barricade or something, you’ve got to come at them with compassion. You don’t judge. You listen to people. You don’t go after a person at their level, you go after them at your level and you bring them to you.

V: What is your favorite part about working at Denver Rescue Mission?

J: Getting to meet great people. Taking into consideration the position I’m in, I meet a lot of volunteers and donors. I’ve never met so many caring, compassionate, willing-to-give people.

V: Do you have anything you want to say to those who work at/with the Mission?

J: I think my prayer for the Mission is that we all walk the walk.

V: Last question! Is there anything else you’d like to say about your job?

J: I feel blessed to be able to do what I do. I feel blessed to be part of an organization that helps so many people in just a one 8-hour shift. When I go home, I’m at peace with myself.

Fun Facts about Jim:

  • Jim is a native Rhode Islander but longtime Southern Californian.
  • He is a former New Life Program participant.
  • He stayed in Denver after his car broke down very near the Lawrence Street Shelter.
  • You can usually see him in his trademark dark sunglasses because of a special eye condition.