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Serving Smiles and Hope

A Portrait of Volunteering At Denver Rescue Mission

Riding through the city of Denver on his bike, Ray Lubinski hears his name from a distance. He turns his head to see the smiling guest that regularly goes to Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Community Center (LSCC) waving at him. Ray hasn’t been in Denver that long, but here he is getting recognized and running into familiar faces as he rides down the city streets. The interaction has left his morning even brighter and a cheesy grin spreads across Ray’s face as he steps on the pedal and bikes to his next volunteer shift at the Mission. 

Once Ray arrives at the Mission’s volunteer room he is greeted by the warmth and comfort of what he considers to be his second home. He begins putting on his volunteer “uniform”— or as the Mission volunteer team likes to call it an apron, gloves and a hairnet. He is suited up and ready to change lives. His shift includes everything from cutting fruits and veggies, separating plates and cups to serving the guests meals directly. All of which seem like simple and everyday tasks, but to the Mission’s guests are extraordinary acts of kindness. 

Once a truck driver traveling around the greater United States, Ray is now a man with a great passion to serve those in his local community and has been doing so for just over a year at the Mission. 

“Especially during the pandemic, our guests needed us more,” Ray said. “Our guests are why we are here.” 

When speaking about the people Ray serves and volunteers with, you would think he has spent his whole life with them; he has so much to share about the people he spends so many of his days with. 

“They're not just people, they become friends, family. We share funerals, weddings, cheers, smiles, grandchildren’s pictures, anything going on that you would do as a friend,” he explains. 

One of the guests who feels the sense of community that Ray so perfectly articulates is Patricia, who has been utilizing the Mission’s services since March 2021. Her face lights up as she shares more about the staff and volunteers who greet her as she walks through the doors each day and refer to her as “The Queen”. Patricia has been able to get hot meals from volunteers, like Ray, during her stay. 

“The more I am here the more love I feel from people,” Patricia said. 

Patricia isn’t unique in her situation of feeling loved and cared for through the Mission’s volunteers. In fact, the Mission was able to serve more than 815,500 meals last year with the help of volunteers like Ray. It doesn’t come as a surprise with hearts like Ray’s that the Mission’s mottos is “hope starts with a meal.” 

Ray’s experience at the Mission has been nothing short of positive and has allowed him to find meaningful work during his retirement, develop lasting relationships in a new city and serve a kind population that is in great need. 

 “[Denver Rescue Mission serves the community] 7 days a week. 18 hours a day, 365 or 366 days a year on leap year. There isn't a day or a meal that we're not serving somebody,” Ray said.

There are so many different volunteer opportunities that range from serving meals to tutoring kids in our youth program, from long-term to short-term, it’s all about what works for you and your schedule. 

To learn more about all the Mission’s volunteer opportunities head to DenverRescueMission.org/Volunteer.

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