Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Vision and New Hope

“I felt like my feet were cut off, and I was invisible. Crossroads helped me get back on my feet and made me feel visible and hopeful.” Today, Deborah’s eyes are bright and her voice is buoyant. But when she first came to Crossroads Ministry about a year-and-a-half ago, her situation was overwhelming.

Deborah is partially disabled from an injury she suffered while working at her previous job. She came to Estes Park to help her grandmother but, after her grandmother’s death, had no place to live and found herself in a desperate situation. Although Crossroads could not locate affordable housing for her in those difficult days, we were able to provide food, a few basic household items, and even firewood on one occasion, until the joyous day last year when she finally made it to the top of the Estes Park Housing Authority’s waiting list.

“She is a model client,” says Case Manager Eva Bañuelos. “Deborah cheerfully complies with all of our requests to keep her information current, and she completed our two money management classes right away. It’s been wonderful to watch her progress.”

Although her only income is a small disability check, until recently the assistance Deborah received from Crossroads Ministry was mainly in the form of food from our pantry, along with two small copays for prescription medication, and a utility deposit to help her move into the low-income housing that is the only thing standing between her and homelessness.

In the meantime, Crossroads was able to help in other ways, including referrals to Salud Clinic (“My doctor there is the best I’ve ever had,” Deborah says), and assistance applying for food stamps. “Crossroads connected me with someone who donated a wonderful memory foam twin mattress and bed, too,” she added. The joint Crossroads Ministry and LLEV (Lifelong Learning of Estes Valley preschool) annual Spring Sale in 2016 also provided a way for Deborah to get other basic furnishings in her new living quarters.

When she stopped by a few days ago to complete Crossroads Ministry’s routine annual client recertification, Eva asked about her goals for the coming year. “It’s been 11 years since I had a new pair of glasses,” Deborah said. “My sister has given me some frames that will work fine, and I hope to make getting new lenses a priority.” She also needed some repairs on her car.

On April 11, Deborah stopped by with face aglow to share with us how much she appreciates her new glasses, made possible in part by a small grant from the Rotary Club of Estes Park (noon rotary). An additional assist with much-needed car repairs, thanks to Crossroads Ministry’s partnership with the Estes Park Extension Salvation Army, further helped to ensure that she will remain safe and as independent as possible.

“When I was at my most desperate, Crossroads helped make it possible for me to stand again,” Deborah told Executive Director Tim McLemore. She gladly gave us permission to share her story, including her name and an uplifting photo, as a way to express her heartfelt appreciation.

Jesus said, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.        
—from Luke 4:18–19 (NRSV)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pizza and the Power of Partnership

“I know what it’s like to grow up poor, and I want kids who can’t afford it to have pizza!” With this brief explanation, Anthony DeSousa asked if Crossroads Ministry could make arrangements for Antonio’s Pizza to provide fresh, hot New York style pizzas free for local families in need.

About twice per month, Crossroads clients have the opportunity to register to pick up free hot pizza at Crossroads. Since our initial distribution in Fall 2016, dozens of families have received a large made-to-order pizza, each with a retail value of about $25.

Antonio’s Real New York Pizza also has provided hundreds of loaves of fresh-made bread, sometimes prepared for special events like Crossroads Ministry’s annual Thanksgiving food distribution, and other times simply because making fresh bread is a delicious way to make use of surplus dough that might otherwise go to waste.

When sharing the story of Anthony’s generosity with the Executive Director of another Estes Valley nonprofit that assists households in crisis, we discovered that he quietly shares pizzas with others in need, as well.

Anthony later explained in more detail his passion for helping children and families in our community:

When I was young, … my brothers and I would make toast with mayonnaise as it was the only thing in the fridge. I remember the government cheese and searching every cabinet repeatedly thinking something would appear. Mom and Dad were both on methadone until they died.

Quietly, consistently, generously, and gladly, this small business owner touches the most vulnerable members of our community in a special way. He uses his talents, interests, and business resources to make an important difference, for no other reason than to unselfishly make life a little better and brighter for others.

After the first distribution of fresh pizzas here, we excitedly told Anthony, “You should see the joy on the faces of the families that stop by Crossroads on pizza nights to pick up their large, hot pizza for a special family night!”

Anthony’s characteristically humbly reply: “I hope my ancestors are smiling.”

In addition to expressing our appreciation to Antonio’s Pizza, we congratulate Anthony DeSousa for receiving the “Business Philanthropist of the Year” Award as part of National Philanthropy Day in the Estes Valley in November 2016.

Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.
—from Luke 3:11 (NIV)