For 15 years, I worked at St. Barnabas’ Church in Denver. After driving over the 6th Ave. viaduct I often noticed someone standing on a street corner with a sign: “Help, any amount helps” or “I Am Human 2.” The second sign caught my imagination. Ultimately, I met Emily. She had used that sign for three years. Emily was homeless. She lived in a car with a man so she wasn’t interested in going to a shelter. I gave her a gift bag filled with items like a comb, Band-Aids, a toothbrush, etc. that the youth group had put together. Frequently, I saw Emily during the summer on a corner that others did not want.
Now, I spend most of my time in Lakewood and Golden. Of course, I grew up in this part of town. Last weekend, I drove up and down West Colfax looking for someone with whom to share the LoveForward gift. There was a woman with a baby stroller at Colfax and Kipling. When I circled back, she was gone. Yesterday, when I was leaving a parking lot at Wadsworth and Colfax near the big Walmart, there was a man sitting on a shopping cart that was tipped over. He was busy coloring something with a marker. His small cardboard sign: “Any amount helps.” I parked my car and walked over to speak with him. I handed him the LoveForward money and told him a bit about LoveForward and my church. His response: “Thank you, ma’am..” When I drove away, he didn’t look up. He continued coloring.
The interaction with the gentleman near Walmart made me wonder about the folks in Lakewood who need support. They certainly are not as visible as those in Denver. I’ve seen men and women gather near the Colfax Walmart. Someone told me that the Lakewood Weight Watchers meetings now take place in the shopping center near Sprouts at 1st Ave and Wadsworth because it seems to be a “safer” location. Just like in East Denver, I know there are people that we just don’t see. There are needs that are not being addressed. The people of St. Paul’s are involved in outreach; that’s been the case for a long time. I was impressed when I first heard about LoveForward. To participate in LoveForward was a gift. And yet, there’s more to do.
I’ll get off my soap-box now.