Volunteer Posts

Auto-Amanda! Local Teen Fixes Cars in the Mission Auto Shop

Did you know Denver Rescue Mission has a fully functioning auto repair shop? For more than 18 years, we’ve ran the shop as part of our Vehicle Donation Program. We created this program to provide transportation for graduates of Mission programs including the New Life Program, STAR Transitional Program and Family Rescue Ministry. The men and women who complete our long-term programs often require reliable transportation to secure employment. Owning a vehicle makes one less barrier for these deserving individuals to overcome on their road to success. The shop also provides services such as repairs and maintenance.

And the shop just got a new volunteer! 18-year-old, Amanda Dungan, began volunteering at the shop earlier this summer. She comes every Tuesday to offer her time and skills to fix cars and further her experience in mechanical engineering. It is inspiring to see that such a young and bright mind is willing to get her hands dirty to be of service for those less fortunate.



When I first met Amanda, she was wearing cowboy boots, so it was no surprise to hear that she was born in Texas. Eventually, her family consisting of her mom, dad, sister and herself moved to Denver. Amanda had a very active childhood and continued her active lifestyle throughout high school. She has a tendency to pick up a hobby and run with it. By the age of 18, Amanda has been a swimmer, tennis player, horseback rider, hiker and archer.

Unlike most teenagers, Amanda already knows her true passion and what she wants to achieve in life. She plans on attending Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall of 2016 with a major in Mechanical Engineering. Amanda first started repairing cars in high school, when her school offered a one-day car repair workshop that taught her how to change brake pads. Not long after, she wanted to get more hands-on experience, so she enrolled in a “Cars 101” class at Front Range Community College.

As a recent graduate of Valor Christian High School, Amanda’s always heard about Denver Rescue Mission. When she discovered the mechanic volunteer opening, she felt selfishly excited because she got to learn so much and build her resume while getting to volunteer. But it turned out to be so much more than that. Amanda is full of compassion and heart and truly enjoys what she does at the shop.

Her favorite part about working in the shop is working hand-in-hand with her two supervisors, Russ and Don. Amanda quickly learned to love the work environment and the community it brought her. It was an instant connection. She says she loves the shop because “the guys are super funny and know how to have a great time!”

Russ and Don say that they love her desire to learn and her lack of fear to tackle any task. “She loves trying and does a great job trying,” they said. “She’s open to any work. She may need some direction, but her ambition is the best we’ve seen.”

Amanda is willing to do whatever her bosses need her to do. “I clean a lot of gaskets, do oil changes, inspect cars, making sure things are okay and write down what’s wrong with them,” she said. “After that, we check tires and brake pads, and whatever needs to be fixed, we fix it.”

Amanda pays great attention to detail making it easy to recognize malfunctioning parts that are wrong, like leaks. In the future, Amanda has the desire to learn all about cars. She wants to be well versed in the vocab and parts of cars, just like her supervisors Russ and Don.

So far, her favorite cars to fix are Toyota’s. “I have a new earned respect for them because they just keep going and going,” she said. “They’re awesome and they never die— it’s amazing.”

As Amanda matures and attends college, her supervisors want her to succeed at what God has called her to be. She’s already made such an impact on the lives of our program graduates and all the guys she works with in the shop. Russ and Don add, “She makes it fun again, to do what we do.”

The Real Christmas

November and December seem to be the busiest times of year for me and I am assuming many others. People are busy running errands, planning parties, going to parties, and the endless gift shopping. Sometimes, I get so busy at Christmas that I forget I am celebrating and remembering the greatest gift – Jesus.

Last year, my small group decided to do an outreach together for  Christmas and it just so happened that Denver Rescue Mission had the perfect outreach: Adopt-A-Family. We signed up.

We were matched with a family, read their story and received their wish lists!

My friends and I picked a group shopping date and picked out gifts for the family. There was something so special shopping for someone I have never met. Choosing gifts for him was far better than shopping for some people on my own list.

A few weeks after we dropped off all the gifts at the family’s home. They were waiting for us and I hate to think that the children in the family wouldn’t have a gift to open on Christmas morning. I know that Christmas isn’t really about gifts, but the gifts we gave represented community, love and hope – all things that represent Jesus.

I am telling you about my experience not to receive a pat on the back or recognition, but to inspire you to gather some friends and bless another family this Christmas! You won’t regret it!

Right now, we NEED 200 sponsors to adopt families! Sign up here.

((photos taken by the Mission’s photographer, Rachel))

young boy


family girl pointing  presents coming

A Back-to-School Lesson // Warm Hearts Are Contagious

Third grade students from Swansea Elementary School ask questions while on a tour at the Mission's Lawrence Street Shelter. The group of about 80 brought donations and learned about homelessness.

Written by Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern

As summer races towards fall and I see kids buying new backpacks, notebooks and crayons for another school year, I can’t help but think of a group of third graders who came to tour the Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter just before summer began.

They had been learning about human rights — how everyone deserves access to the basic necessities of life (food, water, shelter), and how all people have the right to pursue health, happiness and wellness. I had gone to their classroom at Swansea Elementary School in May as a guest speaker. Some of them were surprised to learn that even here in America, people struggle to meet their own basic needs. Even kids, just like them.

The same the third graders chose the Mission as their next field trip. On a rainy day in June, the kids piled out of a school bus and raced into the building full of spunk. As they funneled up the front stairwell, they began pushing one another, anxious to get to the top and see the sleeping hall.

“I’ve never seen anyone so excited to get up here,” I jokingly mentioned to one of the chaperons. “But then again, they’re not here to stay.”

As we entered the room where 100 bunk beds are lined in rows, I heard a boy exclaim, “Wow, this is so cool!”

He scanned the room, his eyes glowing and imagination firing. I could just picture his fantasy: one giant sleepover with his friends, leaping from bed to bed, sliding on the slippery tile floors and playing hide-and-go-seek.

The sleeping hall is “cool” in a sense. It allows 200 men to get off the streets and have a warm place to sleep. But the boy’s teacher saw he was missing the point.

“This just seems cool to us because we’re just seeing it for the first time,” she said. “It wouldn’t be so fun if you had to sleep here every night and had nowhere else to go.“

The boy didn’t seem to hear her, but she was right. The daily grind that each of our homeless guests endures is far from fun. Perhaps the kids missed that. Maybe they left the Mission thinking of it more like summer camp. Perhaps their minds weren’t ready to know the harsh realities of homeless life.

No matter how they perceived the Mission though, it was awesome that they came. It was inspiring to see them explore a reality outside their own. It was adorable to see their hands dart up to ask questions and their eager minds thirst for answers. Some of their questions were simple, others not. The magic was in the asking.

It was our hope that as the kids toured the Mission, walking the same steps our guests do daily, that their minds would activate. Now our hope is that their curiosity was tickled enough to keep them asking questions, and that their hearts will stay warm and tender enough to keep caring. Warm hearts are contagious you know. The third grader’s empathetic souls taught me that. If only all of us could maintain that child-like warmth and never grow cold, never get jaded.

I heard a quote once about how we spend the first part of our lives learning and constructing our perception of ourselves and our world, then we spend the second part unlearning and deconstructing the misconceptions we’ve piled on throughout the years. The third graders reminded me of this.

So as they enter another school year to learn more, I hope to unlearn a little more. I certainly could use a little more child-like empathy, faith, imagination and awe. I think we all could.



Rachel’s Lens // Losers & Miracles

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

A few weeks ago, I was brought in on a super-secret project here at Denver Rescue Mission. We were having an all-staff meeting and our Senior Leadership team decided they wanted to have a little fun.

They asked a handful of employees to do on-camera interviews about why they love their job. What these participants didn’t know was that our group of senior leaders danced behind them the whole time.

I edited the video down to showcase only their best moves and we played it for the whole staff at our annual meeting. It was a hit! If you’re interested in seeing it, click here.

Though the video didn’t play the audio, the staff was truly speaking from the heart and said some incredible things about their work. Yesterday, I was looking through the videos for some good sound bites and came across Brad Rhoda, the Manager of Operations at Harvest Farm, saying something that blew me away. The man is a poet. I mean, maybe not really, but he probably should be. He was answering the question, “What makes you want to come to work?”

His quote: “I really believe that I work at a miracle – I participate in a miracle every day that I come here – because these are ‘losers.’ These are people that are worthless according to what the world has told them. And that’s a lie. I defy anybody to challenge me on that because all you have to do is look at what we’ve done here, together with ‘worthless’ people.”

I think about all the people I’ve met since working here: staff, program participants, volunteers, donors – not one could ever be considered worthless. Each group is a thread running through this great tapestry, forming a beautiful picture of community. Like Brad, seeing this community come to life at Denver Rescue Mission every day is truly watching a miracle take place. It’s a miracle to watch our participants fight life’s hardest battles and come out smiling.

Staff Spotlight: Dan Dilley

Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern

Each staff member at Denver Rescue Mission has a special blend of ingredients that make them uniquely capable of serving our community – personal experience, passions, tribulations, God-given wisdom. In an effort to recognize each other more often, we have decided to start spotlighting a team member we think our supporters will love as much as we do. This month’s spotlight is on Dan Dilley, chaplain at The Crossing.


Dan Dilley was a bit out of his element when he first arrived in downtown Denver, coming from Blanca Colorado, a rural town outside Alamosa with a population of just over 400. First positioned as Volunteer Coordinator at the Lawrence Street Shelter, Dan was greeted by the downtown buzz of the infamous Triangle Park. His new job: a far cry from his former as a pastor at a small church.

While he said pastoring a small church “was a wonderful experience,” one that taught him to wear many hats, Dan was “stimulated to minister more.”

He found those ministering opportunities “by the truck load” at The Lawrence Street Shelter and was surprised that he really “enjoyed the energy of downtown.”  Moving put him closer to his family (2 kids and 6 grandkids) and being in the heart of the city was eye-opening.

“Going into the fire and the gunsmoke downtown was really good for me,” he said. “I was really able to learn some of the foundation of who the homeless are — where they come from. I was able to rub shoulders with them.”

Proximity, however, didn’t automatically equal discipleship: Dan said it was a process to work his way into the lives of those he encountered.

“Most of them wouldn’t give me the time of day,” he said. “I think they were asking, who is this guy and does he really care about us at all? There weren’t many opportunities to sit down in the Word at first. But these opportunities started to arise after I loved them and served them and made friends with them. I saw opportunities arise that would have never happened had I not done that first. That was a big lesson for me.”

Dan pursued the role of chaplain at The Crossing in 2012 where he got even more opportunities to disciple in a more consistent role.

“Now I’m really getting to do what God has stirred in my heart for years and years,” he said. “My favorite part is literally pastoring these guys, face to face, so that we can fellowship around the Word of God.”

Yet Dan admits the rule he learned at Lawrence Street still applies: One needs to truly embody the love of Jesus before they’ll be effective teaching the Word.

“I can beat you over the head with the Word of God as good as anyone can, but to just live our lives in front of people with a true compassion and a love of Christ…it goes so far to show that Jesus is real — that he’s not just some dead religion.” He said. “I have discovered that relationship evangelism is bigger than I ever knew it was.”

It’s that old adage: People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Dan clearly tries to live by this principle. The Mission is lucky to have him. And Dan feels lucky to have the Mission.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Mission team,” said Dan. “I love the camaraderie of our team — a team where every person is as important and critical as the other – a team that loves the Lord and shares the love of Christ.”