After 125 years the Denver Rescue Mission keeps its initiative to help those in need alive
The Denver Rescue Mission has been serving Coloradoans in need for 125 years. To mark this anniversary, La Vida Latina had the opportunity to speak with the mission’s Director of Public Relations Alexxa Gagner to discuss the anniversary and the continued efforts of the mission in times of political divisiveness.
“Initially Denver Rescue Mission was founded as a rescue home for women known as the Mission on Market Street,” Gagner said in reference to the mission’s inaugural efforts in 1892. “They focused on young women, encouraging them to leave the life of prostitution, and welcomed many of these women into their home. The Rescue Home soon merged with the Florence Crittendon Mission and Home for Women in late 1892. With a shelter available for women, Rev. Joshua Gravett and his church, Galilee Baptist began plans for a men’s shelter, which they opened as a faith mission under the name Living Waters Mission. The Mission would come under another namesake, Sunshine Rescue Mission in the 1920’s before officially becoming Denver Rescue Mission in the 1940’s.”
Gagner added that the ministry within the Denver Rescue Mission has evolved as well.
“In the earlier years, the mission mostly focused on sheltering and providing meals,” Gagner said. “In the 1980’s the need for rehabilitation became clear and this eventually became the New Life Program. In the 1990’s transitional housing became a need and the mission responded by purchasing what is now The Crossing, a transitional living facility for men, women and families.”
Regardless of the subtle changes in focus and ministry, the mission of the Denver Rescue Mission has remained the same over the last 125 years, to provide for those in need.
“At the core of what Denver Rescue Mission does, is provide emergency services which includes meals, shelter, clothing, and basic medical care,” Gagner said. “Many times these things are keeping people alive. Those were essentially what began the original mission and still keep us running today. At the Lawrence Street Community Center approximately 1,500 meals are provided and 1,000 people utilize the courtyard, bathrooms, showers and laundry facility each day. About 500 men are kept off the streets at night at the Lawrence Street Shelter.”
Gagner added that by focusing the mission on a higher order, politics do not influence what can and is provided to those in need.
“The mission exists to help people,” she said. “Our goal is to do that every single day. Help people, give them hope and provide ways for them to change their lives. We keep our purpose in front of us at all times and strive to be a good neighbor and also keep good relationships with public and government officials.”
As for the anniversary itself, Gagner said that everyone involved in the mission sees this mark of 125 years as something very significant.
“This particular anniversary means a lot to our employees, volunteers, program participants and supporters,” she said. “We plan to touch on this milestone throughout the year at different events and through our website and social media channels. Many employees (including myself) feel nostalgic about how far this organization has come.”
As for what the future holds, Gagner said the Denver Rescue Mission remains focused on its current expansion and hopes to rely on help from the community.
“Looking at the last ten years, the mission grew from five facilities to eight facilities and to a budget of $33 million,” she said. “I imagine the founders of this organization had high hopes for the future of the ministry they were setting it up. We are a non-profit organization relying on the generosity of the community in order to serve some of the most vulnerable people in Colorado. The mission operates eight facilities in Denver and Northern Colorado and has been able to grow and help more people because of this support.”
The basic needs of the Denver Rescue Mission are ongoing. For information on how to help visit www.DenverRescueMission.org.