By Jon Roberts – Broomfield, Colorado … Responding to the wildfires that devastated Superior and Louisville, Colorado on December 30, Adventist Community Services (ACS) opened a warehouse in the old Nordstorm store in the Flatiron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, Colorado. Here, families can receive not only material goods but also mental health counseling and apply for assistance in the rebuilding process.
The State of Colorado reached out to Cathy Kissner, RMC ACS director, asking ACS to lead the state relief program and the warehouse. In one short week, Kissner and her crew of ACS volunteers from various churches around the Rocky Mountain Conference were able to oversee the setup and opening of the distribution center to the public.
On Monday, January 17, Deanne Criswell, FEMA administrator, and other federal officials toured the warehouse and met with Kissner and volunteers to thank them for their service. Kissner stated that Criswell was very impressed with the operation and how quickly it launched.
Since opening, the center has been serving 150 individuals per day on average. Those needing assistance can browse clothing, pet supplies, hygiene products, food, toys, and other household items. Either FEMA or the Red Cross has vetted all families.
Individuals who need someone to talk to or to help them through any mental health issues that arise after loss are also available, explains Kissner. “We have licensed and credentialed mental health volunteers available through our partner Spark the Change. Eventually, we will have a private area where people can schedule visits with counselors. I am working with Mickey Mallory to schedule pastors who can spend time in the warehouse to be available for any spiritual counseling needs.”
Kissner explains that the warehouse is getting a few volunteers from the churches but is daily in need of volunteers. “Pathfinder and youth groups are welcome. Please contact me at [email protected] to schedule volunteer options.” For volunteers over 18, please sign up and schedule volunteer hours on the Colorado Responds website https://volunteer.coloradoresponds.org/opportunity/a0C2S00003H3Sc1UAF.
She adds that volunteers will sort clothing, toys, and other donations. Some volunteers may be on the floor where families are browsing, but most will be on the second floor of the distribution center, away from the families.
Assisting the community is essential for June Spaulding, member of the Fort Collins Adventist Church. She has been volunteering and assisting in the warehouse. “People are so emotional and thankful when we help them get and replace items that are destroyed.”
Larry Brandt, member of the Mountain View Adventist Church, views volunteering at the center as a mission. “I have a heart for missions, and this is [one]. When you give of yourself, it is better to give than to receive. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
The response for donations has been overwhelming; however, some items not in general donation requests are in great need. “We are in need of pallets to store the unsorted and sorted donations,” Kissner commented.
Kissner explains that money is also needed. “Cash donations are ideal because there is equipment that we need to buy. An example would be if we are short on mouthwash, we can purchase ten bottles of mouthwash till we receive some donations of mouthwash.” She adds that the rent and power for the building are being supplied by the state, and donations are never used to pay any salaries. The quickest and most secure way to give is by using the Adventist Giving website, Kissner adds. On the website, choose Rocky Mountain Conference Church and select the line item: ACS DR. Also, you can mail donations to the RMC Treasury Department or place donations in the offering at your local church. Please make sure to mark all donations ACS DR.
The ACS warehouse is open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. seven days a week for the next few months. Find out more ways to help at https://www.rmcsda.org/marshall-fire-relief-and-support/
–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts