Homelessness Just Got Real

HighCraft’s Cheri, Shann, Kira and Katie pose with super-volunteer Reggie in the Rescue Mission kitchen.

(Guest post by Becky Jensen) — Fort Collins Rescue Mission sits at the corner of Jefferson and Linden. The line of cold and hungry men and women forms down the sidewalk every day, several times a day. Many struggle with mental illness and addiction. They are homeless.

Fort Collins Rescue Mission is a nonprofit that provides shelter, meals and life changing programs to help these men and women get back on their feet.

Last night, Kira, Cheri, Shann, Katie and I helped in the kitchen. We learned so much from Reggie who volunteers each week without fail. We organized supplies. We cleaned. We served food. We looked into the faces of more than 100 homeless individuals as they gratefully received a hot plate of homemade beef stew. I was lucky enough to share a few words with every single person in line.

There was the smiling woman who expressed gratitude for all of life’s adventures, good and bad. And the man who proudly said it was his job to clean the tables and kitchen – work that earned him a warm place to sleep in the small dining hall that doubles as an overnight shelter. There was the young man I gently teased about having a hollow leg as he came back for thirds. He smiled at my poor joke and quietly explained that he hadn’t eaten in a long time. I squeezed his hand and offered him an extra dessert. As I listened to their stories I opened my eyes to the hunger and hardship that exists in my hometown. More than 100 grateful faces made homelessness more real to me. They made it personal.

When I got home, I looked at my modest little house with renewed appreciation. As I thought about what to make for dinner, I peered inside my fridge with fresh eyes. My sparsely stocked shelves looked abundant.

My boyfriend asked how it went at the Mission. As I started to describe my night, a stream of faces flashed through my mind, and my eyes welled up with tears. I was reminded of so much hardship, yet so much hope and gratitude. Those faces will stay with me for a long time. This volunteer experience was such a gift.

We have a lot to be thankful for at HighCraft Builders. Our amazing clients. A supportive community. Such a talented and dedicated crew. We enjoy roofs over our heads and warm food in our stomachs each day. We are deeply grateful for the good people and abundance in our lives. Special thanks to Katie Read for coordinating HighCraft’s volunteer night at the Rescue Mission.

On this Colorado Gives Day, consider giving to a local organization that makes a difference on the front lines of homelessness and hunger, such as:

From our entire HighCraft crew, a heartfelt thank you to the staff and volunteers who offer a helping hand, day in and day out, at Fort Collins Rescue Mission. You are amazing.