Editor’s Note: In September 2021, Champa House was rededicated as Gibson House, a tribute to late Colorado businessman, Warren Jay Gibson, by his wife, long-time Providence Network supporter and former board member, Diane Gibson.
It began with an unexpected call last summer from our friends at Denver Rescue Mission.
This conversation paved the way for Providence Network to acquire a 13-unit apartment building on Champa Street in the historic Curtis Park neighborhood. It quickly became home to eight residents, many of whom were recent or returning alumni of our transitional programs.
The Rescue Mission was closing the long-term transitional housing program it had been running at Champa House. Because they know we specialize in this type of long-term community-centered, faith-based transitional housing, they approached us about buying the property below market rate in the hopes of keeping the missional focus.
This was a rare opportunity to grow our housing capacity in the heart of the city. It also reflected our board’s desire to expand our family of NextStep apartments to balance with the number of FirstStep homes.
Though the property was outside of the Rescue Mission’s strategic plan, it was right within ours.
In a time when property values in the city are skyrocketing, the need for increased affordable housing options is undeniable. The Rescue Mission intentionally reached out to us because they wanted their house on Champa Street to continue to be used for the purpose of transitional housing. Though they could no longer operate their program, they knew the need for transformational ministry was not going away. It was their desire the apartment building stay in the hands of a mission-driven organization, so it was a win for both Providence Network and the Rescue Mission. One of our long-time supporters provided a loan to help finance the purchase of this home, giving us the opportunity to add 13 more apartments to our growing community. It was a glorious way to cap off 30 years as a Denver-based ministry!
On any given night in Denver there are more than 5,000 people sleeping on the streets. No single organization can serve everyone in need. It is for this reason that we gladly serve alongside partners like the Denver Rescue Mission. While they offer temporary emergency shelter, we offer long-term solutions to those who are ready to work for change. Our purchase of Champa House exemplifies this type of collaborative work to serve Denver’s homeless in Jesus’ name.
For Michael, one of our first residents at Champa House, our increased capacity to house those wanting sober living came at just the right time. Michael was a resident in our FirstStep program at Providence House years ago when Providence Network staff member Jennifer Sheedy served as house director. Recovery is rarely a straight line, and after years of working through his sobriety, Michael’s journey brought him back to Providence Network.
Champa House was ready for residents.
Photo credit: CBS
Still on staff with Providence Network, Jennifer now lives at Champa House too. She was a familiar friend as Michael transitioned into his new life. Not only was the Providence Network community a reliable support for Michael when he needed it, the very same staff member welcomed Michael home when he was ready.
Jen says, “I remember seeing Michael intermittently over five years as he wandered on and off the streets and in and out of recovery programs; I saw him at church and Celebrate Recovery, or he would Facebook message me or check in over text.” The longstanding and consistent relationship Jen had with Michael pays off today. Jen continues, “He shares his struggles with me and I’m able to encourage and challenge him in ways I couldn’t without the six-year history we now have. I am one of the few people who was there then and is still there now, and that’s worth something.”
Because of our investment in Champa House, we had a room ready for Michael.