One of my best friends, who also happens to be a teammate of mine at the Refuge, likes to hashtag things with “heals” — #WaterHeals, #BeautyHeals, #CommunityHeals, etc. So, in her honor I’d like to add one to the list: #TeamHeals.
#TeamHeals is probably just a subset of #CommunityHeals, but I’ve been reflecting lately on the things that keep me going, and right at the top of the list is the team of amazing people that I get to serve alongside, both at the Refuge and beyond.
I grew up participating in team sports — basketball, baseball, soccer, and to a lesser extent, tennis. Even in my adult years I’ve been drawn over and over again to playing and watching sports. I’ve often wondered why they attract me so powerfully, because they are, at every level, co-opted by varying degrees of spectacle, politics, greed and exploitation. Perhaps it’s because, at every level, there is still the possibility of a collective sacrifice for the benefit of all and a deep camaraderie that cannot be faked. The business world enthusiastically adopts sports lingo for these reasons, but at least for me, it’s a harder sell.
In addition to sports, I grew up watching TV shows and films that depicted, and often glorified, military violence. Despite my more recent non-violent, pacifist leanings, I’ve wondered why I still get choked up by the preludes to violent battle scenes from movies like Gettysburg (“Bayonets!”) and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (“Charge of the Rohirrim”). I think it’s because they hint at these two almost mythical realities of collective sacrifice and deep camaraderie. I say mythical because despite my lifelong longing for both of those things, I’ve only rarely experienced them. Mostly, I’ve fumbled around in life and work looking for a place to be myself while being shoehorned into groups of people who were “teams” in name only. It took me a while to realize what it is that I was really looking for, what it is that I needed from a team and what I needed to bring to any team of which I was a part.
All that to preface why I’m so grateful for my teammates at the Refuge, our refreshingly small and gloriously flawed Christian community and mission center in Broomfield:
Kathy — Our heart-and-soul co-pastor and the aforementioned namer-of-things-that-“heal.” My dear friend and colleague, who’s also like my big sister, she inspires us all to dream big, hold onto hope and stay in for the long haul.
Mike — Our nuts-and-bolts co-pastor, who walks the walk behind-the-scenes and fuels our work with faithfulness. His practical wisdom and his presence make everyone around him feel more safe, secure and seen. He listens with the kindness of wisdom and experience and friendship.
Billy — Our soft-spoken Cafe colleague, who coordinates our shower schedule, fixes things, energizes us and helps at a moment’s notice. He knows what it is to advocate and to spend himself for others, and he lets me vent without judgment!
Lamonte — Our food service manager, who coordinates and sometimes delivers our Cafe lunches, he originally visited the Refuge looking for help and later joined our team. Taking on this responsibility has freed the rest of us up to grow the other services we offer at the Cafe.
Angie, Lauren and Michael — Our social work interns have expanded our capacity to be present with our neighbors in need, especially during the COVID pandemic when many of our volunteers have been unable to serve. We literally could not do our work without them.
Volunteer Advocates — There are too many to list in this post, but our advocates, again, extend our capacity so that we can provide more meals, showers, household items, gas cards, bus tickets, laundry packs and care packages for our neighbors in need.
Sharon & Jen — My work at the Refuge and my part-time grant funded “housing catalyst” role often take me beyond the four walls of our facility, and in those capacities I often cross paths with Sharon from FISH and Jen from Mental Health Partners.
Chris — My best friend and rector at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Chris is an existentialist shepherd of the highest order whose honesty and humility constantly amaze me. Plus he knows me and still wants to be around me.
FCTIS — There are some amazing local clergy who put in long hours to serve their most vulnerable neighbors, and I’m glad to know them through “Faith Communities Together In Service.”
BCSN — I’ve been part of this group for more than 10 years, and while many people have come and gone, there are a number of long-serving social workers, non-profit leaders and local government reps who continue to inspire and encourage me to not try to help people from falling through the cracks, but also work to seal those cracks in our local social safety net. None of us can do it alone, but together we can do and have done a lot!