LDS give inspiration to residents of shelter

Nearly 80 men in a Denver shelter enjoyed Christmas because LDS youth and leaders made it possible.

For the past six months the Church has been providing worship services at Step 13, a transitional living facility in downtown Denver that assists recovering alcoholics and drug addicts to secure employment and therapy as they prepare to re-enter society.Members of six of the Denver-area stakes, under the coordination of the Denver Colorado Stake, have supplied speakers and special music for twice-monthly worship services in which youth, leaders and families have participated. The men have come to enjoy the Primary songs taught to them in the meetings.

In November, the youth of the Arvada 1st Ward of the Arvada Colorado Stake asked if they could give a Christmas party for the men. Soon plans were made and members of the six stakes all joined in preparing gifts for the men.

On Dec. 21, vehicles filled with gifts and refreshments began arriving at the shelter in the midst of a snowstorm. Nearly 30 youth sang songs and gave presentations to the men, who sang along with them.

Bishop Robert Miller gave a special Christmas message, and Denver Stake Pres. Harry Bullock assisted the men of Step 13 in reading the Christmas story from Luke to their youthful guests.

Refreshments of homemade cinnamon rolls, cookies and apple cider were served. Gifts of clothing and personal items were presented to the men, and they, in turn, gave gifts to their hosts. One man brought a belt buckle he had made to be delivered to a young woman, an accident victim, who loved horses. The man had heard the girl's mother speak in one of the worship services weeks before. Others made Christmas cards for the Church leaders, whom they have come to know over the past months. One brought a large poinsettia to give to another family he had met in the meetings. The men themselves, while opening the gifts, exchanged the items with one another based on their own needs.

At the next meeting, one man spoke for all in asking Church leaders to tell the youth how deeply they appreciated Christmas and the youth who brought it to them. Others commented on the talks they had heard in prior meetings and asked that speakers be contacted and told that the men remembered the teachings.

Emily Pratt, a Laurel in the Arvada 1st Ward, said: "Going to Step 13 was a great experience. It was fun to see their faces and how much they enjoyed our program. It made me think of how lucky we are with every little thing we have. It was a great opportunity."

John Stiefvater, 15, said: "I loved it. I could feel the love that was there." Andrea Palmer, 13, echoed: "I didn't want it to end. It seemed we just got talking, and we had to go."

During the evening, two young women leaders and one of the Laurels were talking to a woman who mentioned that she and her husband had just finished the program and scraped up enough money to get an apartment but had nothing else for their four children - all under age 5 - for Christmas. The sisters set about getting things together for this family - a dinner, a quilt, and toys for each child. They took them to the apartment. The family was not home, but the manager let them in. The apartment was very small and humble, and there were only two things in the refrigerator. Thus, the girls and leaders had the opportunity to bless the lives of this family.

The contact with Step 13 residents resulted from the efforts of Whitne Strain, community relations director of the Denver stake. She met the director, Bob Cote, who had become disenchanted with the preacher who visited his facility. He asked if the LDS Church would assume the responsibilities of providing inspirational services every other Tuesday evening.

Lynn Southam, coordinator of the program said: "Our people have come to serve our non-LDS family. The blessings have been shared by those giving service as well as those receiving it. The plan of salvation has been taught, the Book of Mormon has been distributed and most of the men at Step 13 have a picture of Jesus Christ by their beds. The pictures were given to them in one of the Tuesday meetings. We feel blessed to be able to share our Savior's love and teachings with the friends we have come to know at Step 13."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed