Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper praised Denver’s First Christian Reformed Church as a model for his 10-year plan to end homelessness in the city.
Early in 2006 First CRC began a partnership with the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. Seven church members volunteered to mentor a homeless family as they transitioned from homelessness to long-term housing. And the congregation contributed more than $2,400—enough money to fund two families in the program.
The mentor volunteers were trained and paired with a family in April. They met socially with Natasha and her son, Noah, 5, and began the five required mentoring sessions on financial goals and parenting skills. The mayor’s program calls for six months of mentoring, after which a family should be well on its way toward self-sufficiency.
“The team has established a good rapport with Natasha and Noah,” said Karen Waanders, First CRC’s mentor volunteer coordinator. “They seem to trust us and are open to receiving the mentoring piece of this program.”
The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative is part of a larger movement nationwide in which 216 cities in 40 states have signed up to move beyond management to ending homelessness, according to Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Hickenlooper’s plan involves a relationship between his office, the Family Rescue Mission, and congregations across Denver willing to help with rental deposits and personal mentoring.