Posted: November 01, 2011
Top Company: Denver Rescue Mission
Winner in the nonprofit categoryMaria Martin
Ask the president and CEO of the Denver Rescue Mission what would make his future bright, and he has an unusual response.
"Nothing would make me happier than to be out of work," says Brad Meuli, who heads the oldest full-service Christian charity in the Rocky Mountain region.
"I do hope our economy improves and more people get jobs," he says. "But for the past 12 years, since I started this job, every year we've been serving more people - never fewer. I don't see that changing."
The nonprofit organization, which has been in business for nearly 120 years and employs 162 people, depends on the kindness of volunteers to keep operations running smoothly.
Last year, those volunteers spent more than 125,000 hours doing everything from mentoring children to serving meals.
The organization is still successful in this down economy thanks to the support of the community, Meuli says.
"Like all nonprofits, we have to do more with less," he says. "But I can't complain about funding. Grants, businesses and funding from the government help some, but it's really the individuals reaching out that do the most."
In fact, around 90 percent of the Denver Rescue Mission's budget comes from individuals, he says.
"I think in times like this, the community asks, ‘What are the basic needs of people?' They don't have much to give, but when they do give, they think about the essentials. They don't want people to freeze to death, or to go hungry."
Because of the generosity of the masses, Meuli says, the Rescue Mission served around 600,000 meals and provided 240,000 nights of shelter last year.
"We're serving more people than ever before in this economy," Meuli says. "All of our programs are filled, and we have waiting lists and emergency overflow shelters, even in the summer."
The organization works through four main programs, all of which are aimed at helping the poor and homeless become productive members of society.
The emergency care shelter, Meuli says, is what the organization is best known for.
"Our main shelter is where we encourage them to look at our other programs," he says. Programs like a rehabilitation center that helps people reach sobriety, another of the four arms of the Denver Rescue Mission. A transitional housing program reaches out mostly to single moms with kids, a segment of the population that was the focus of the organization in its first years. Finally, outreach programs provide everything from food to furniture to clothing distribution.
"When people ask us what we can use, this time of year we encourage coat drives," Meuli says. "We can't get enough coats, hats and other warm things."
While he may wish he's out of a job, Meuli enjoys every workday.
"I have the best job in the whole world," he says. "When you see someone come in our shelter intoxicated and in despair, and you watch them turn their lives around completely in 13 months, it's wonderful.
"Plus, I work with people who love and believe in people. It's exciting to work here."
Maria Martin is a freelance writer.