DENVER (CBS4) – A group of volunteers that’s patrolled Denver for two decades hit the streets for the first time in weeks Saturday afternoon. For the foreseeable future, the mission of the Denver Guardian Angels will now involve checking in on the homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Guardian Angels have existed since the early ‘90s, often focusing most efforts on crime prevention. Recently, the group took a break from doing community outreach because of the threat of COVID-19.
On Saturday, Commander Robi Salo, went out to walk East Colfax Avenue, an area he’s patrolled countless times before. With a bag full of toilet paper and snacks, he planned to check in with a number of people who have been living on the streets.
“We’re always concerned about the plight of the homeless,” Salo said. “I’m concerned that there could be people infected with this virus that won’t seek treatment that could spread it amongst the rest of the population.”
CBS4 has previously confirmed at least two positive cases among the homeless in Denver. For two hours Saturday, Salo looked for anyone else with symptoms or concerns, between High street and Civic Center Park. Along the way he offered up resources and much needed essentials.
“It’s tough, it’s really tough to get the resources that are needed for people right now,” said Rob, who has been living at Civic Center Park. “I think the homeless population has been completely overlooked, honestly.”
Typically, Salo would be joined by a number of other Guardian Angel volunteers, but not on this afternoon.
“A number of our group are older, even in that vulnerable group,” said Salo. “And many people have circumstances where they either have someone quite vulnerable at home or they’re just afraid.”
For now, he’s ready, willing and able to step up on his own, and hopes others will find their own ways to do so too.
“This is the crisis of our generation, of our time like the world wars were, and I think it’s so important that everybody that can do something,” Salo said. “We all have to feel obligated to step up and make a difference so we can get through this situation much quicker.”
In his trip down Colfax, Salo did not meet anyone who exhibited symptoms or who had concerns about the health of someone else.
With Salo giving out toilet paper, many of the people he came across did point out one hardship in this time.
With many public buildings closed due to COVID-19, they’re left with nowhere to go to the bathroom or shower outside of busy homeless shelters, where social distancing can be a challenge.
Several people told CBS4 they are concerned about COVID-19, but it’s not their biggest worry currently.
“I don’t think anyone is immediately afraid of it, but it’s a silent enemy,” said Rob. “It’s one of those things you don’t know how to fight because you don’t see it.”
LINK: Colorado Guardian Angels