Dallas Transplant Finds Community Volunteering in Denver
What can you gain from giving back?
“What can I do to help?”is a question that we hear every day at nonprofits like Volunteers of America. In Denver, where nearly 1,500 families are living on the streets, it is a vital question to be asked, and though seemingly simple, it can bear an incredible feeling of hopelessness when gone unanswered.
“When I first moved from Dallas to Highlands Ranch, I was depressed. I didn’t have any friends or family around me; I didn’t know what to do. I cried myself to sleep many nights,” she explains.
At the time, Kimber was unfamiliar with Volunteers with America; however, she knew she wanted to connect with locals, volunteer, and give back to her community.
Last October, Daley found her answer in the form of a dream -- a group that would soon come to existence as “Highlands Ranch Helps the Homeless.”
Daley turned to Facebook to help spread her new mission. She posted information about the group to the already existing, "Highlands Ranch Word of Mouth," and urged others to join. By the end of the day, she had racked up more than 100 group members of people interested in giving back to the community, specifically, the homeless population.
“Driving through Highlands Ranch and Denver, you see homeless people everywhere,” Daley says. It is a dire problem, impossible to ignore.
Today “Highlands Ranch Helps the Homeless” has an astounding 538 tried-and-true members.
Daley posts in the group daily promoting sales that are going on in local grocery stores, asking for specific donations, and informing the group of upcoming volunteer opportunities in Denver. She is consistently shocked by the openhandedness of members, most of which are stay-at-home mothers like her.
People donate everything from socks, gloves and toothpaste to tents, blankets and other means of shelter for homeless individuals and families. The donations have now filled two rooms in her home, Daley's proud to say.
“Two weeks ago, I got a message from a woman who donated three brand new tents and tarps,” Daley shares. “She had unexpectedly received $400 and decided to pay it forward.”
This generosity allows Daley and other group members to collect and bring several carloads of supplies, food and clothing to the Volunteers of America Colorado Mission biweekly.
Today at the Mission, Daley is joined by Epicurean Catering Company, several members from the Facebook group and even a few children who are eager to volunteer. While Epicurean prepares a tasty lunch of chili, salad, and bread pudding, Daley and the others distribute the donated goods.
“If it was just me, there would only be a few bags of stuff. But with all these amazing people from the community joining us, we could deliver four full car loads today,” Daley exclaims.
Jamie is one of these amazing people and a longtime group member. She often joins Daley on these days, bringing her children along.
Jamie sees this volunteer experience instill valuable life lessons and morals in her children. It brings up necessary conversations about homelessness, the LGBTQ community, and other related issues in addition to “breaking down the stereotype of what homelessness is.”
Watching the children happily hand out supplies, it is evident these lessons have taken impact. Daley hopes even more volunteers will be able to experience this positive impact and light being shared within the community -- and possibly even discover a newfound sense of purpose like she has through this unique mission.
“If I could stress one thing about all of this, it would be just how simple it is to get involved,” Daley shares. “Anyone can do what I did. Anyone can make a difference within their community.”