Stewardship Center houses vital food bank
By Julie Filby
Photo by Julie Filby/DCR
On the morning of Oct. 10, Jeff Dickhaut browsed through the rolls, bagels and baked goods that were organized into neat rows in the “bread room” at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church’s food bank. The food bank opened in its new location at 11426 Pearl St. just the week before, after being housed in the Northglenn church for many years.
Dickhaut, a father of four, relies on the food bank to supplement his family’s needs. The former roofer and truck driver has been unable to work since sustaining injuries when he fell off a roof while helping out after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“We’re out of jobs at home,” said Dickhaut who lives a few blocks away. “So we’re out of food, too.”
Though it’s called the “bread room,” his shopping cart is filled with not only bread and bakery items, but milk, meat and produce as well.
“Jeff, do you need some toothpaste?” asked his mother Delores when she noticed the bins filled with toothpaste, shampoo and other household items.
The two finished their selections and headed out with several bags of food to help get through the week.
“The Catholic Church has always helped us out greatly,” Dickhaut said. “This is really a nice place.”
The new 5,000-square-foot Stewardship Center, which houses the food bank, is located about a block and a half northeast of the church that sits at 11385 Grant Drive.
“Our Stewardship Center is one beautiful way where we can see, very visibly, that the ‘stewardship of life’ is an incredible and exciting way to live,” according to pastor Father Greg Ames.
It continues the longstanding tradition of Immaculate Heart of Mary’s food bank ministry, which began in 1976.
“We were bursting at the seams,” said Melani Rohr, director of outreach, who manages its operations, along with a team of 300 volunteers. “We were serving 350 to 400 clients a month in the church, and that number could grow.”
According to 2010 census data, about 12 percent of Northglenn residents live in poverty.
Stewardship Center of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
What: Stewardship center and food bank
Where: 11426 Pearl St., Northglenn (block northeast of church)
Food bank: 9 to 11:30 a.m., every Mon., Wed. and Fri.
Questions: Call 303-452-2041, ext. 118
“The need in this community is so great; it’s eye-opening to see how many people are struggling,” she said. “Many of our clients don’t have transportation … they’re within walking distance. They can’t get to other food banks.”
The IHM food bank covers a geographic range from Interstate 25 to Quebec Street, and 104th Avenue to 160th Avenue; and is open to registered parishioners. All are welcome regardless of religion or ethnicity, and no proof of income is required. Hours are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The team of volunteers also provides job resources, referrals for services such as shelter and financial assistance, and when needed: a listening ear.
“Sometimes people just need to talk … they’re out of work, they’re humiliated,” said Rohr. “The love of our volunteers is amazing; they give so much to the clients.”
It was one of those dedicated volunteers—who chose to remain anonymous—who researched, purchased and began renovating the building last April. While in the process of refurbishing the former child care center, the generous donor decided to gift the building to the parish.
“(It is) truly a powerful sign of stewardship,” said Father Ames. “Although they have requested to remain anonymous, I am hopeful that they know what a beautiful gift they have given our parish family.”
In addition to housing the food bank, the center—complete with shower facilities, a full kitchen and a fenced-in backyard—will house homeless families several times a year through the Growing Home program; and it will be used for parish events, meetings, wedding receptions, parties and other gatherings. For more information, call 303-452-2041, ext. 118.