On Tuesday night, the Broncos went to the Denver Rescue Mission to meet families and decorate gingerbread men.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **The Denver Broncos have a long-lasting partnership with Denver Rescue Mission, which is one of ten flagship community partners. Denver Rescue Mission works to change lives by meeting people at their physical and spiritual points of need, with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.
"Listen, a lot of people are just one paycheck away from being homeless," explained President and CEO Brad Meuli. "There's really no difference than you or I."
In 2005 the Denver Broncos granted $150,000 to fund the Denver Broncos Youth Center at The Crossing Facility. The Crossing is one of a number of Denver Rescue Mission facilities, and serves to provide a clean and safe residential community where individuals and families who are transitioning from homelessness to a life of self-sufficiency and community contribution may reside. It houses approximately 300 men, women and children caught in the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
The Denver Broncos Youth Center is an education center at The Crossing that provides direction for young children and teenagers whose parents are participating in the Denver Rescue Mission's transitional programs and provides a place for youth going through similar tough life issues to connect with each other.
The center is a place where children may use computers, do homework, interact with mentors and tutors, and play games. In fiscal year 2014, more than 3,500 homework hours were logged at Denver Rescue Mission facilities, including at the Broncos Youth Center.
During his tenure with the Broncos, 12-time Pro Bowler and two-time Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee Champ Bailey spent extensive time at The Crossing and Broncos Youth Center.
"Champ Bailey became very involved with us and that really led to a lot of great things going on with the youth that we serve there," said Meuli. "He really just did serve very unselfishly, we so appreciate him."
Many Broncos players have taken it upon themselves to continue to serve and volunteer with Denver Rescue Mission in honor of Bailey and his legacy. Safety David Bruton Jr., CB Kayvon Webster, DE Malik Jackson and TE Julius Thomas each adopted families for the holidays through Denver Rescue Mission as part of their holiday community outreach.
In 2014, the Broncos supported the Denver Rescue Mission during Thanksgiving with their turkey drive. Rookie WR Isaiah Burse volunteered and helped distribute 2,000 pre-ordered Thanksgiving food boxes to families the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
"This is a beautiful event, it's all about making these families happy," said Burse. "I'm glad they have something to eat come Thanksgiving time."
In early December, the Broncos hosted their annual holiday party at The Crossing for families in residence. Eight players, including CB Chris Harris Jr., and Miles the Mascot spent time visiting with the families and decorating cookies in the Broncos Youth Center.
"It's got to be one of our most favorite events. For the families that are there it's an incredible thing. They are treated like they're royalty and that is just an incredible experience for them," said Meuli. "To have these players that these kids and everyone wants to be, they admire, to come alongside them and just encourage them, is an incredible experience."
"We're blessed to have this platform to be able to hang out with kids. You can never get enough of it, they love it," Harris said. "It's tough to live in this world nowadays and have fun and we just want them to forget about life for a couple hours… It's the kind of thing you want to keep going, it's a great event every year and we love coming to it, you can see by the turnout all the guys have fun here."
For more information about the Denver Rescue Mission, please visit: www.denverrescuemission.org.