Through The Dark Times Of A Global Pandemic, Hearts For Our Homeless Guests Shine Bright.
The novel coronavirus has challenged us, as individuals and as a community, in unique and unforeseen ways. For Fort Collins Rescue Mission, it has been a season in which the very protocol for society has been an impossible feat for our guests: stay home.
The past few months have been a time when we have depended on God wholeheartedly for protection, a time when the community has helped keep our doors open, and as our President/CEO Brad Meuli said to encourage staff, “a time for the light of Jesus to shine through all of us.”
The Mission worked alongside the City of Fort Collins and other service providers to open the Northside Aztlan Community Center as a temporary shelter, providing boxed meals three times a day and other basic care such as restrooms, showers and medical support. This has allowed us to comply with social distancing guidelines at Fort Collins Rescue Mission as we continued to provide shelter for men and women.
Frontline Staff Heroes:
The courage and optimism of Mission staff has made all the difference during a season when fear has become a prevalent reaction. “The natural thing to be is scared right now,” said Stephen Ronquillo, emergency services coordinator at the Mission. “These are some trying times for people without any hope.”
Stephen is responsible for keeping our facility sanitized and safe during his shifts from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. He assigns guests to beds and provides what they need for the evening, including towels, hygiene products and clothing.
He has been instrumental in encouraging and praying for guests during this time. “I feed them faith, daily,” he said. “When you come show up here every day, day in and day out, with the love of Christ, they can feel it.”
With the opening of the Aztlan Center shelter, our need for volunteers has been greater than ever, but slots have continued to be filled with people like David Kimmey, a senior at Colorado State University, who, during his graduation month, has been volunteering about three times a week.
“When things go badly, the way we respond is probably the most important thing,” David said. “The Rescue Mission has been responding in a way that’s very true to their mission statement.”
David said it’s been helpful to be a part of the positive and encouraging environment created by Mission staff and other volunteers. “In a time like this, you have a choice,” he said. “You can focus on all the negative sides or you can put your energy toward something positive. I guess you could say I’m helping out at the Rescue Mission, but in many ways, they’re helping me.”
Stephen and the rest of the Mission staff have had the strength to diligently serve largely because of encouragement from the community. Members of Genesis Project, a church located about two miles from the Mission, have boosted staff morale through many acts of kindness, such as providing coffee for weekly meetings, ordering meals to be delivered and sending encouraging notes and cards.
Colleen Conrad, director of children’s ministry at Genesis Project, said they wanted to encourage the staff because with the lockdown, they may not have access to the resources they usually do to rejuvenate.
“We have a real heart for the Mission,” Colleen said. “They’re on a different kind of frontlines than health care workers, but at the same time, it’s kind of the same frontline because they’re dealing with a vulnerable population who doesn’t have access to good health practices when they get sick.”
Genesis Project also donated more than 100 homemade masks for Mission guests. “The staff is trying to be as supportive and helpful with all of the needs as they can be,” Colleen said. “They love these people.”
The ripple effect of COVID-19 left tens of thousands of Coloradans unemployed, and we expect the needs of our homeless neighbors to increase. Join us in supporting the most vulnerable in our community.
Statistics of the novel coronavirus have been flooding the news so we want to take a moment to share some numbers* of hope thanks to your generous support:
Meals were served at
the Northside Aztlan
to Mission guests
visited Fort Collins
During a season of darkness and uncertainty, the light of Jesus shines bright. We don’t know how long the effects of COVID-19 will last, but we know that through the courage of our Mission family, your faithful support and the community at-large, we are better, together.
*Numbers reflect the time frame of 3/13 – 5/31.
**The community center was available as a temporary shelter for guests during COVID-19.