Through its Totes of Hope program, FBR distributes backpacks filled with nonperishable, nutritious, and kid-friendly food to children whose families might otherwise not be able to provide regular, full meals at home. After receiving the backpacks, children can bring them back to a Totes of Hope site each week so the organization can refill them with food to take home for the weekend, when many in-school programs that provide food are not operating. Last year, Food Bank of the Rockies provided 91,929 backpacks full of food at 57 sites in the Denver metro area, and the organization aims to distribute 123,000 more totes at 75 sites before June 2012.
By 7 a.m. each day, the kitchen staff at Coal Creek Meals on Wheels is already hard at work preparing the day's meals. Along with the typical daily meal based on protein, vegetables, and starch, plus bread, fruit, and a freshly baked dessert, the crew also makes several dozen specialized meals each day to accommodate special dietary needs and restrictions. Volunteers chip in around 9 a.m. to bag and package the food, and when the volunteer drivers arrive at 11 a.m., the food is ready for delivery. But the volunteer drivers do more than just deliver hot meals to the organization's homebound elderly, disabled, or ill clients—they also serve as friendly visitors, providing wellness check-ins in addition to hot, nutritious meals. Coal Creek Meals on Wheels has seen a 16% increase in clients since 2010, and its volunteers delivered more than 16,000 meals in 2012.
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CrossFit Julia’s husband-and-wife team takes a personal approach to fitness. Rather than set their clients loose in a jungle of workout machinery, they structure their daily CrossFit workouts around functional strength and cardio exercises in a supportive group setting. The classes themselves constantly vary; one day’s deadlifts and pushups are another day’s sprints and burpees. Success is determined not by any uniform standard, but by each student’s ability to meet or exceed his or her own fitness expectations. Just as CrossFit differs from normal workouts, CrossFit Julia’s facility differs from a normal gym. Ropes hang from the ceiling, and the rows of cardio machines found in typical gyms have been replaced with heavy tires lifted from cars illegally parked outside.
Forward Steps support teens transitioning out of foster care with housing, support services, and life-skills classes in financial literacy, resumé building, and nutrition. The organization also focuses on community, providing its young clients with a place to live in a communal environment and connecting them with successful program alumni who share experiences similar to their own. While Forward Steps' clients are working toward self-sufficiency, it supplements their limited incomes with a monthly stipend and assistance in applying for financial aid and scholarships.
Club W's team of vino experts reject the stiff, stuffy, and pretentious vibe that some people associate with wine tastings. In doing so, they help make newcomers feel more welcome as they explore different labels and varietals at one of Club W's festivals. They also facilitate wine-based learning via a home-delivery service, which sends out three bottles a month that members choose from a list of 12 carefully selected bottles that changes monthly. Club W's online palate profile helps users narrow down their choices to the vino most suited to their tastebuds.
Women’s Bean Project works to break the cycle of poverty and unemployment among women and single mothers with significant barriers to success, such as felony convictions, chronic poverty, and past drug addictions. To do this, it established a six-month job-training program where participants can gain the skills necessary for mainstream employment. Within a safe, accepting environment, the women identify and build their talents while producing gourmet food and jewelry with the aid of professional designers.
In 1986, Toni Schmid and Kathy Carfrae were interning at homeless shelters in the area as part of their studies at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. They observed homeless women leaving the safety of the shelters each morning with nowhere to go but back to the streets. Believing that these women should have a safe place to spend their days, Toni and Kathy used a $6,000 donation to form The Gathering Place in a one-room facility on Santa Fe Drive. It quickly became a regular daytime drop-in center for women, their children, and transgender individuals who were experiencing episodic or chronic homelessness. At its inception, The Gathering Place served 25–35 women each day; today, it serves approximately 275 women and children daily in its state-of-the-art, 28,000-square-foot facility.
The Gathering Place's programs contribute to personal growth with GED training, a computer lab that hosts skills classes, and a writers' group that facilitates creative expression. It also works to meet basic needs ranging from providing nutritious food to making showers and laundry services available. The housing stabilization program helps women achieve and maintain self-sufficiency with rent and utilities support, transportation assistance, and job training.