Lakewood resident Bradley Cook has been busy running errands for his loved ones since the COVID-19 pandemic started. His mother, who lives in Arvada, is sick with a cold, and Cook has been going grocery shopping and carrying out other deeds for her and his father. His friend needed someone to pick up medication, and Cook rose to that task too.
Cook says he is healthy, and his job as a Realtor has put him in a good financial situation — but he recognizes there are some who aren’t in his position — and he wants to help out.
“I thought since I am buying groceries and delivering them to my parents in Arvada, I might as well extend that out. If you need anything, if you are self-quarantined, or if you are under orders to stay away from people, just let me know what you need, and I’ll bring it to you,” said Cook. He said he is willing to deliver groceries in Lakewood, Arvada, Denver and Wheat Ridge.
“A lot of people are panicking right now, and I don’t want people to panic. I think this will be over, but in the meantime, I think the people who can help each other out need to do so, and the people who need to stay away from anybody and not go out into public need to do that, so yeah — let’s just help each other out,” Cook added.
The common words that some residents may have heard to describe the COVID-19 pandemic are “unprecedented times.” But amid the fear and uncertainty that COVID-19 has caused, there are organizations and people like Cook who are willing to help the community.
Here are a few Lakewood entities and people who are working to ensure the community gets through these unprecedented times.
Action Center still active
While the Action Center human-services organization has had to modify its work by offering drive-thru services for food and mail, it is doing everything it can to stay open, according to Action Center Executive Director Pam Brier.
As Colorado has extended its shutdown of dine-in restaurants to April 30 to combat the spread of COVID-19, many restaurant employees are left searching for work.
“We know there is an increased demand, so we are doing everything we can to stretch our resources to make sure food is coming in and the volunteers and staff are staying healthy to stay on hand. We’ve seen new families and individuals who have been coming to the Action Center before,” said Brier. She added that it is hard to know how many new residents the organization is serving, but at the end of the month, she’ll be able to look at data and have a better sense.
The Action Center’s volunteers and employees are working outside and keeping a safe distance from each other, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While residents can still get food and mail, another demographic is still being served by the organization — college students.
In February, the Action Center reopened its family shelter, renamed The Launch Pad, to serve homeless Red Rocks Community College students. Brier said the shelter is still housing 12 students who are learning from a distance and staying inside. Red Rocks is closed and doing online classes for the remainder of the semester. The COVID-19 outbreak has delayed the Action Center’s efforts to recruit more students to its shelter, but Brier says the organization is still eager to meet and provide more housing for Red Rocks Community College.
On March 14, the Action Center hosted a food drive where cars were lined up to provide for those in need. In a four-hour period, the organization raised 16 pallets of food donations.
Brier said the best way the community can support the Action Center is by donating food, financial resources and volunteering.
“We think of ourselves as one of the key resources, so our commitment to staying open is really critical. For people to know the Action Center is here, we’re committed to staying open as long as we can — I hope that brings an added sense of security to the community to know that we’ll be here for them,” said Brier.
The Action Center has been talking with the Jeffco Schools Foundation, an organization focused on bringing resources to the school district, to discuss ways it can help support food hubs for students as schools are closed until at least April 17.
Other organizations are stepping up efforts to provide food to Jeffco kids, like Jeffco Eats.
Jeffco Public Schools has set up food hubs all over the county for children 18 years and younger to pick up breakfast and lunch, and Jeffco Eats, operated by Lakewood resident Barb Moore, is providing support.
Jeffco Eats, a nonprofit organization that provides free food to children in Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater and Arvada, has been delivering food at Jefferson County Head Start in Arvada, Lasley, Westgate and Foothills elementary schools in Lakewood, and some apartments in Lakewood, including Maplewood Apartments, Belmar Groves Apartments and Cedar Garden Apartments.
Moore said the organization wants to stay in its lane and is trying to adapt the best it can. Jeffco Eats relies on a core team of volunteers that are over the age of 65, but many of them are self-isolating. The organization will need volunteers at some point, Moore said.
Around 3,000 kids a week are being fed through Jeffco Eats, according to Moore, and she said some food pantries in the Jeffco Food Policy Council are talking about bringing food hubs into neighborhoods. Moore, who is a member of the council, said she believes accessing food hubs at schools can be a travel burden for some Jeffco Public Schools students.
“(Jeffco Eats believes) we have to get into the neighborhoods with the food where the kids are. We know (kids) are inside their house, and we know their shelves are pretty bare,” said Moore.
Jeffco Eats is in need of cases of food and a vehicle, Moore said. Until then, she said Jeffco Eats is going to work to see how it can collaborate with other organizations to bring more food to children, families, and now seniors with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe people in our community are generous, and I am really believing that people are going to provide in ways we can’t even think of or imagine,” said Moore.
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