Christmas in the Park – Please donate rolling suitcases or backpacks to the attention of Sheri Salis at Washington Park United Methodist Church, 1955 East Arizona Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80210 or make a monetary donation, and we’ll buy backpacks for you. Details below.

Hard Times Writing Workshops – Support our efforts to help homeless writers get published and get paid. Details Below.

Millions of Americans, because of a lack of affordable health care and living paycheck to paycheck, are one slip on an icy sidewalk or one debilitating illness away from homelessness. In spite of how precarious our situations are, there is a massive stigma associated with homelessness.

The causes of homelessness range from drug addiction to poverty to illness or accident, yet our society assumes that homeless people are lazy and stupid. The fact is that there are lots of extenuating circumstances that land people on the streets. The situation is complex, and many organizations – government, faith-based and private corporations – are doing a lot to tackle the ever-increasing homeless situation.

At Stigma, we are looking for ways to be part of the solution, instead of complaining about the problem. Sheri and Matt want to take our experience in serving our homeless neighbors, and use Stigma to help it grow. Since December of 2017, we have participated in Christmas in the Park in downtown Denver. Sheri has led the parishioners at our Washington Park United Methodist Church to collect and distribute backpacks and rolling suitcases at the annual Christmas morning event.

Other organizations who participate provide food, clothes, toiletries, warm winter socks and boots, coats and gloves. But it all starts with the backpacks and suitcases so the shoppers have a place to put their Christmas presents of survival. It is a wonderful event where people pull together to support our homeless neighbors.

Christmas in the Park serves over a thousand people who face the stigma of homelessness and poverty. That is a lot of backpacks and suitcases, and we accept donations to fund the project year-round.

We are working to join the partnership between the Denver Public Library and Lighthouse Writers Workshop to help our homeless neighbors gain valuable writing skills, as well as confidence and connection, in a program called Hard Times Writing Workshops. The downtown branch of the DPL hosts weekly sessions, complete with instructors and editors, to help participants improve their writing skills and polish personal narratives, fiction and poetry.

At Stigma, we plan to help the writers get published in various online magazines and blogs. If their writing is promoted by editors at these publications, and is read by enough subscribers, the writers can be paid for their work. Imagine that – from hopeless and homeless to a professional writer. It is a magnificent program. Your support will help build confidence that can lead to work and housing for our neighbors most in need.

The issue of homelessness is massive and growing, and the stigma that sufferers face is needless and heartbreaking. We can’t solve this complex problem, but we want to make the situation better though education, compassion and your generous donations.