In December I was fortunate to be able to attend St. Joseph's Advent Retreat, which focused on Ignatian prayer. That afternoon, during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the beautiful chapel at Mother Cabrini Shrine, I contemplated “The Nativity.”
Well, tried to contemplate “the Nativity.”
I thought I needed to focus on the Birth of the Jesus, those first amazing moments when He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, the rush of emotions coursing through Mary, but I couldn’t get past Mary and Joseph trying to find a place to stay. They had journeyed so long and when they finally made it to Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn. All their friends and relatives closed their doors on Mary and Joseph, just when they needed family most.
They were homeless.
Many families in our community also experience homelessness. At a time in their lives when they have no one else to turn to, Family Promise of Greater Denver steps in to help them get back on their feet by providing shelter, food, and employment connections. In Golden, families are housed at the Seventh-Day Adventist and Faith Lutheran Churches, and volunteers from the local churches work together to provide meals and activities for the families.
St. Joseph is responsible for Saturday Dinners about 4 times a year, which are organized by Julie and Kevin Lee. About 4 years ago, Julie and Kevin started volunteering and serving meals with Family Promise. And when Helen Leith and her husband Hal asked the Lees to take over organizing the dinners, they gladly accepted, feeling they had found, “a wonderful way to give back to our community.”
One of Julie’s favorite dinners involved a birthday surprise. Jesse, the coordinator from Faith Lutheran, knew it was the birthday of a man in the Family Promise program so after dinner he brought out a cake. The volunteers and families gathered together to sing “Happy Birthday” and share the cake. Julie said, “It was very touching to see the surprise and gratitude from the Birthday Boy!”
For a typical dinner, volunteers from our parish meet at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church gymnasium at 5:30 pm. They spend the first half an hour setting up dinner and getting to know the families staying in there for the week, as well as the other parish volunteers. Then everyone gathers for prayer. Volunteers serve dinner and sit down and eat with the families. Afterwards, the families help cleanup while the children do an activity.
Our next Family Promise Dinner is January 28th. We currently only have a handful of families volunteering and we would love to grow this ministry! This is a great ministry for families to volunteer for and children are welcome to come and help. If you are interested in helping with the dinners, please join the Family Promise Dinner group on Flocknote (email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you need help with Flocknote). Julie and Kevin would love to work on expanding the activities for the Family Promise children, as well as finding individuals or couples who can spend the night in the apartment above the gymnasium on the nights of our dinners.
Can’t make it to a dinner? Donate a blanket! Families often enter the Family Promise program with little or no belongings and a blanket can go a long way in providing comfort and the first feeling of home. Blankets can be dropped off at the Parish Office.
Thank you to the Lees and everyone who has shared their food and hospitality with families through Family Promise of Greater Denver over the years!
To visit the Family Promise website, click here.