Holly Center Posts

Holly Center Making Immediate Impact on Denver’s Homeless Population

They asked us to grab a token as we walked into the Holly Center. The token was made of wood and in the shape of a circle, about the size of a dollar coin. The one I got had the number 50 stamped with crimson ink in the center of it.

I would guess that nearly 200 people attended the opening of the Holly Center that day, most of them were employees of Denver Rescue Mission and others were city officials and our compassionate donors. The ceremony included speakers, Brad Meuli (President/CEO of Denver Rescue Mission) and Michael B. Hancock, to name a couple.

Crowd at the Holly Center grand opening

The crowd at the Holly Center grand opening

Toward the end of the event, Brad told us to look at the wooden piece we grabbed when we walked in. He said that each number on the token represented a bed at the Holly Center. My piece represented bed 50.

I remember walking over to the bed, bed 50. I sat down on it and rested my hands on the smooth mattress cover. I felt the urge to pray out loud. I can’t be sure what I said–I don’t remember. But I remember envisioning a man who was probably hurting—physically, from being outdoors in the weather on his feet all morning and afternoon. But also, maybe emotionally hurting too, from not having a family or friends to help provide for him. I prayed to God that whoever the man was that slept on bed 50 would experience restoration and a new life.

It must have been two or three days later when Kevin came to the clinic for an appointment (I’m the Clinic Supervisor at the Lawrence Street Shelter). Kevin is a conversationalist, so as he was waiting in our lobby he began chatting with me, telling me about his day and what was going on in his life. The first thing he spoke of was his experience at our new Holly Center. “It’s so big and nice,” he said. He went on and on about it. “The showers are so spacious. They have huge restrooms and storage during the day. I just can’t believe it!”

Inside the Holly Center

Inside the Holly Center

Just out of curiosity, I asked him what bed he was assigned to, and he said “bed 50.”

My eyes lit up; he must have been startled at how surprised I was at his response. I carried the wooden token with me in my pocket every day as a reminder of why we do what we do at the Mission. It’s not about us or me; it’s about people, helping people who are experiencing homelessness and poverty. I reached into my pocket and showed him the token with his bed number on it. I hugged him and told him I’d been praying for him.

Kevin's wooden chip

The wooden chip

I’ll never forget the smile he had on his face. But it really wasn’t me who put that smile on his face. Sure, it was a response to the words I said to him. But, it was our donors’ that built a shelter for Kevin, and men just like him. And more than that, it was the generosity of amazing people in this city that provided a life-changing experience for Kevin.

You see, what’s great about the Holly Center shelter is that it is located just one block away from The Crossing, where our New Life Program is held. When men stay at the Holly Center, they often interact with men in our program, and they begin to form relationships with staff members who are familiar with the program. It’s those connections that help inspire people to transition from emergency shelters, like Holly Center, to long-term rehabilitation programs like the New Life Program. And, in Kevin’s case, it’s working.

Kevin seated on a bed at the Holly Center

Kevin, NLP participant, seated on his old bed at the Holly Center

Kevin has transitioned from living in a shelter into our New Life Program, and he is on his way to finding affordable housing. His change didn’t start with my prayer, although I’m sure that helped. His change didn’t begin in the program. It started with our donors’ decision to give, to make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness. I think Kevin said it best, “I don’t think I would have thought about joining the program and taking steps to further my life had it not been for the Holly Center.”

Holly Center Officially Opens :: Sleeps 200 Men In Need

Tonight is the first night we will sleep men in our new shelter facility, the Holly Center! This means that, starting today, the Mission will operate three separate overnight emergency shelter facilities in Denver (48th Street Center, Holly Center and the Lawrence Street Shelter downtown) with total capacity of 800+ men on any given night.

At the Holly Center, we are currently setup with 200 beds with the capacity for 228. These are the first permanent shelter beds for men in the City of Denver since the late 1980’s, providing much-needed capacity and stability to the shelter system. The Holly Center also featured lockers for storage, restrooms, showers, water fountains, laundry and extra outlets where our guests can charge their phones.

 

Mission staff members have been working closely with crews from JHL Constructors and DEC Architects over the past several months to complete this project, along with generous support from The Denver Broncos, The Patten-Davis Foundation, Keith and Kim Molenhouse and The Anschutz Foundation to make it a reality. To learn more about the building plans, read my March blog post here.

This facility will allow the Mission to serve those in our community who are experiencing homelessness for many years to come. We were thrilled to hold a Grand Opening Ceremony for the Holly Center on Wednesday, November 15 where Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Erik Soliván from the Office of HOPE, Mission staff and Board members, program participants and community supporters all came together to celebrate this new shelter. Check out some of the photo highlights below.

 

Guests will be transported to the Holly Center at night after having dinner at our Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC). In the morning, guests will be transported back to LSCC for breakfast. This is the same procedure that  currently takes place for our 48th Street Center, which is an overflow shelter for men that the Mission operates in partnership with the City of Denver. The 48th Street Center can sleep up to 300 men. This is in addition to our Lawrence Street Shelter downtown which can sleep up to 315 men, making the total capacity of 800+ men receiving overnight shelter at Denver Rescue Mission on any given night.

We’re grateful to provide this safe refuge for our homeless and struggling neighbors, something that we’ve been doing since 1892. This year marks the 125th anniversary for the Mission and we’re grateful for all of our supporters and volunteers who walk alongside us to comfort and care for the most vulnerable in our community.

As winter approaches with frigid temperatures, the opening of the Holly Center has come at an important time. I am humbled that God has blessed the Mission with the opportunity to serve so many individuals in the name of Christ, and I pray that we meet their immediate needs well, with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.

Please join us in praying for the new Holly Center and each person who will be sleeping with us this winter at one of our three shelter locations.

God Bless,

Brad Meuli
President and CEO

Plans to Build A New $2.5 Million Shelter :: The Holly Center

We have an exciting announcement to share!

Earlier this month, after much prayer and consideration, the Mission’s Board of Directors approved a plan to renovate a section of our current Ministry Outreach Center (MOC), our warehouse facility in northeast Park Hill, to create a new overnight shelter for men called Holly Center. This renovation will provide 228 beds, the first new permanent shelter beds for men in the City of Denver since 1989, as well as shower and restroom facilities. All guests will be transported to Holly Center from our Lawrence Street Community Center downtown in the evening and back again in the morning by bus, in partnership with the City of Denver. Construction will begin as early as May, with a projected opening in the fall of 2017. JHL Constructors will be the general contractor. The project’s architect is Wayne LaGrone of DEC Architects.

 

For the last decade, it has been the Mission’s desire to expand overnight shelter services downtown to meet the growing demand of people in need. Since 2012, in order to meet these growing community needs for shelter, the Mission has partnered with the City of Denver to operate an overflow shelter in a city-owned facility offsite – currently an office building near I-70 & Peoria – which offers mats on the floor and no shower facilities on site. Originally, it was a cold-weather shelter, but has since expanded, out of necessity, to a year-round facility.

During the last two years, our leadership team developed plans to build a more dignified permanent shelter inside the MOC, and we are pleased that God is now opening the doors to make Holly Center a reality. We have zoning and neighborhood approval, and are just a few weeks from beginning construction. While we still expect to operate a City-owned overflow shelter in the future, Holly Center will add both capacity and stability to Denver’s emergency shelter network at a time that it is desperately needed.

Lives are transformed every single day because of our community of supporters, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to minister to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in our community, not only at the Holly Center, but at all of our Mission locations now and in the future.

In the upcoming months, we ask for your prayers over this project and God’s ministry to the poor we serve.