By Jamie Leary
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – An Aurora nonprofit is hoping a stolen van along with a rock thrown through a window is not a precursor for more problems to come.
The Village Exchange Center has been open for under a year and already serves as many as 1,000 people per week. It was formed to serve immigrants and refugees in the Aurora/Denver metro area.
The stolen van was a recent purchase for the youth programs which organizers are developing.
“We started to use it to go swimming at nearby recreation centers, go to the park, do outdoor sports. It was a way to connect these kids with some of the resources in this community,” said Amy Buchanan, director of Programs.
It was also going to be used to pick up children daily from North Middle School and take children home when after school programs at the center were over.
“I made it clear to them that this was their van and we were going to use it to help them get home safe at night,” said Buchanan.
The community center, located off 16th Avenue and Havana Street, was formed to meet the demand of the changing and diverse community.
The multi-faith worship space, along with eight different agencies, are not only there to ease integration, but to build an even bigger community.
Co-founder and Executive Director, Amanda Blaurock, says she knows the risks and hopes that people see the good and want to help.
“We’re in a high risk position by doing what we’re doing, and we hope that the community supports keeping everyone safe. Especially our youth,” she said.
Blaurock’s father was the pastor at the former church. After presenting the idea of the Village Exchange Center to a dwindling congregation, they opened their doors to all religions.
“We accept every single person in this community no matter where they’re from or what their status is.”
She knows there is a risk and despite a rock thrown through the window and a stolen van, Blaurock is determined to continue to grow the organization.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.