LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Near Colfax Avenue in Lakewood is a place where the downtrodden have found dignity for over 40 years.
Deborah Wilkerson was the mother of two young children and pregnant with another when she left Texas and headed back home to Colorado.
“I was very aware I was in a dead end because of my circumstances. I know that I had gone to some college and I could do better for myself and that was my goal to model to my children,” said Wilkerson.
That was 10 years ago when Debra’s family was homeless and hungry. Now she’s looking forward to three job interviews for good jobs.
The Action Center at West 14th Avenue and Estes Street, one block south of Colfax, provided Debra’s family with food, clothing and other things that are taken for granted.
“It sounds a little silly but I couldn’t really afford a cookie sheet. And when I found a cookie sheet here I was able to get a pan that I still use to this day. I think about the Action Center every time I use that pan,” said Wilkerson.
A total of $10 million is donated each year in goods and in cash. Of that, 90 percent goes into the hands of families.
Part of the reason for the high efficiency is a large group of volunteers.
“We rely on 80 volunteers a day to do everything we do,” said Action Center Director of Development Joe Haines.
He says volunteers doubled their workforce last year donating a total of 100,000 hours.
Those volunteers greet over 150 families and individuals that come in each day.
Anna Mae Davis was a single mother of six kids ages 1 to 14 when she decided to leave an abusive relationship 10 years ago.
She went back to school at Metropolitan State University of Denver while working full time and being a mom to six kids.
“I did finish my degree and I actually went on for my masters,” said Davis.
Along the way Anna’s family received food and clothing from the Action Center which not only gives away canned and dried foods, but thanks to donations from local companies like Sprouts, is also able to give away meat and produce.
“This is a well-rounded meal. This is something that most food banks can’t provide,” said Davis.
Davis has helped develop a scholarship at the Action Center designed to help others in need.
“It may not be a short time struggle, it may take some time. But just stick with it. It does work out,” said Davis.