The seeds for what has become Community Ministry were planted in 1966 when women from Brentwood United Methodist Church attended a conference on Affluence and Poverty. The study disclosed that one of the poverty pockets in Denver at that time was in Southwest Denver in the College View neighborhood.
Brentwood UM decided that they wanted to be an agent of change in the area. Residents in the area said there was a need for a store that offered low cost clothing and household items. Two sisters from Loretta Heights College and four students rented a house in the neighborhood so that they could more directly work in the neighborhood. The sisters talked to Rev. John Neives about the protestant churches joining with them to better work in the community. As a result College View Ministry was formed in June of 1967 and a full time social worker was hired to work with the sisters. In September of 1968, College View Ministry was incorporated with a core of eight churches all located in the SW Denver area.
The ministry began with a thrift store at 2420 W. Evans. They also sponsored swimming classes, tutoring and had some emergency food. In September 1971 the name was changed to Community Ministry to better reflect that the ministry was a service organization working together with individuals and churches in the community with the desire of helping people become self sufficient. The office was then move to 1000 S. Lowell Blvd.
The ministry changed its outreach focus as it became more obvious that a food bank ministry was a greater need then a thrift store. As the food bank grew so did the number of churches supporting the ministry, which now has 28 sponsoring churches. In 1993 the food bank moved to St. Andrew Presbyterian Church on the corner of Dartmouth and Sheridan. In addition to the food bank Community Ministry offered transportation, utility assistance, and grants to fund parenting classes. Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Box were started and the Sharing Tree, a program which provides gifts to children at Christmas, was also begun. In 2000 the clothing bank was reopened at Garden Park Mennonite Brethren Church located at 1755 S. Zuni. The clothing bank was co-sponsored by the Denver County Foster Parents. A job service center was located at 1810 S. Federal Blvd. and office space was used at 2500 S. Sheridan.
The need to have the various ministries located under one roof became more and more apparent to the churches as each ministry continued to grow. A zip code study revealed that the majority of clients were coming from the 80219 and 80223 area, which is in the Ruby Hill and College View Neighborhoods. The facility at Garden Park Church became available for use by Community Ministry, which is in the middle of this area. Remodeling began in April of 2002 and was completed at the end of May 2002. When Community Ministry moved from the Bear Valley area into the heart of the southwest Denver neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates in the city, it had returned to its roots, serving the people in need in their own neighborhood.
According to a Piton Foundation analysis, more than half of the children in 11 of 16 southwest Denver communities qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Seven of those neighborhoods have household income averages that are 25% to 40% lower than the Denver average household income. In Denver neighborhoods such as Baker, Barnum, College View, Overland, Ruby Hill, Valverde and Westwood, family members are more likely to work in low-wage jobs and more likely to struggle to put enough food on the table, purchase sufficient clothing for their children, and spend money during the holiday season on food and gifts for children. Further, rising rent costs threaten family stability.
The building at 1755 S. Zuni now houses the food and clothing banks and offices
Updated on 2015-05-30T12:45:28+00:00, by .