At 9:00 in the morning, the Riverside Auto dealership showroom was jammed with people. Huge sale? Nope… huge effort.
I was surrounded by local charity executives and we were gathered together to receive donations from the Dagenais Foundation. As we stood by the Christmas tree with our arms around each other to “tighten the shot,” I literally felt the love these amazing people have for our community. It was so humbling to be amidst the group of leaders who care for the homeless, the children, the mentally disabled, the strays and those less fortunate in some way.
We all walked away with a check and a beautiful note about how a small foundation joined forces with the dealership staff to choose where to give for Christmas. Small foundation? More like giant hearts and philanthropic leadership.
At 10:30 am we were standing on the loading dock of the Cherry Creek Market with Cindy and Mike Schwemin, preparing to load 29 cases of food into my husbands truck to bring back to fill the help-yourself pantry in the kitchen at Beacon House.
Our cupboards were close to bare, and the gift of non-perishable goods through the TV 6 Canathon couldn’t have come at a better time! We now have Spaghetti-O’s and cereal for the children who stay with us, and cases of corn, green beans, tomatoes and other wonderful side dishes to go with a beautiful donated ham and turkey.
While we were loading the truck, we learned that Cindy’s father recently passed away and this would be a different kind of Christmas for them without him. I marveled at how she channeled her grief into an outpouring of love for the strangers who are our guests. That’s how they do things there at Cherry Creek Market.
On my way back to Beacon House, my cell phone rang. Michele Butler was calling to let me know that the Rotary Club had received my grant request and they’d be delivering a $2000 gift card from Econo Foods from the proceeds from their summer golf fundraiser. We’d be able to shop for whatever the pantry needed when it starts to get low again.
When I walked in the door, the mail had come. The daughter of a guest from Delaware had sent a check for $1000, “to be used as needed.” Our electric bill came too, and it was exactly $1000 more than last month. I’m beginning to realize that I don’t have to worry about everything here anymore, because some wonderful person somewhere who has been touched by us or experienced a crisis of some kind will be right around the corner offering their help. ‘Cause that’s how this beautiful world of ours works.
After wiping my tears and thinking it was time to “get back to work,” Cynthia DePetro walked in the door with a dozen students from Marquette Alternative High School. And an enormous box of socks. During the coldest time of the year. When our guests need them the most.
I can’t even count how many pairs of socks were in the box, but it was at least 2 feet by 2 feet (pardon the pun) and full to the top. The joy on the student’s faces was perfectly reflective of this season of giving, and they truly seemed to love making this delivery.
As we were hugging good-bye, a young boy walked out of his family’s guest room into the hallway with bare feet. I stopped him to gently remind him that our house rules require everyone to cover their feet when walking around the house. His face fell when he said that he didn’t have anything to wear until the laundry was done.
Cyndi and I looked at each other and broke into grins, and said, “Well, you do now!!” and took him to shop in the box.
As I turned to go back to my office, Coach Gordy LeDuc walked in and handed me an envelope. “Kay and I wanted to help. We feel so fortunate, and believe it’s important to share,” he said with a sweet smile, and turned and left.
It’s the middle of the week. And it isn’t Christmas Day. But it sure feels like it is here at Beacon House today.
Mary Tavernini Dowling, Beacon House CEO