(Updated on April 30, 2020)
When our world changed last month, the Refuge Cafe changed with it. Like a stage performer changing outfits between scenes, my Refuge colleagues, volunteers and I have ushered the Cafe through three distinct stages:
- Our “Regular” Cafe operated like normal through the first week of March — Tuesday-Thursday, 10a-4p, free lunch, coffee and WIFI, hospitality and presence, referrals to local services at our Refuge hub, 11600 Quay St., #200, Broomfield, Colo.
- The “Outdoor Cafe” sprung forth after most other local faith communities, non-profits and government agencies had closed. We set up a tent, hosted many of our regulars outside the Refuge facility, this time on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10a-1p. Thanks to a crash course in social distancing and CDC guidelines we upscaled our efforts so that all our volunteers wore masks and gloves (when appropriate) and we sanitized surfaces regularly. Our friends who are unhoused were grateful for the pre-packaged and separately wrapped food and household items that we distributed. And the to-go coffee from Starbucks. And they were ESPECIALLY grateful to be able to use our restroom. (We’re still down to one until our other one is back online WITH a new shower!) When cold, snowy weather hit, we ramped up our efforts to work with local agencies on solutions for our unhoused friends, and thankfully, we were able to put together a hotel voucher program funded by area faith communities, the City and County of Broomfield and grants from local non-profits. Because of that almost all our friends who had needed our Outdoor Cafe, finally had a place to “stay-at-home” — because how can you comply with a “stay-at-home” order if you have no home to stay at home in?
- So that prompted our latest and still current effort — the “Outreach Cafe” — we’re no longer open at our Refuge facility, but a small group of our volunteers gathers each week to prepare “care packages” by request for individuals and families in need.
- Starting next Tuesday, May 5, we’re beginning our next iteration of the Cafe — the Walk/Ride/Drive Through Cafe — outside our facility at 11600 Quay St., #200, in Broomfield. We’ll follow CDC safety protocols while distributing lunch and household necessities to folks who come by. If you live nearby and you or someone you know is in need of food or household supplies, please let me know so we can prepare a small care package for them ahead of time!
Hopefully this COVID season ends sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, we’re in it for the duration!