The story of Joy House’s connection to Columbine High School is one of stepping from trauma into healing. In the early 2000s, Providence Network explored the possibility of acquiring a home in a Denver neighborhood to serve women and children in recovery from domestic violence and addiction. We were set to host a gathering at an historic apartment complex to generate interest and funds. That’s where Ann (pseudonym) stepped in.

A Home for Women and Children

After volunteering at a women’s safe house, Ann had a vision for a long-term, live-in transitional housing program, for women and children, specifically victims of domestic violence. She saw so many of these women go back to their abusers. She also saw that they had other deeper issues that needed long-term work

Ann approached Providence Network’s leadership, and Andy Cannon, one of our co-founders. Andy suggested the idea of having an apartment complex where residents had their own bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. It would include a community area for staff and residents. Andy also suggested what became the pillars of the program at Joy House for residents: live-in staff, a two-year program, and participation in a supportive faith community.

Ann called a real estate agent, and when they found a potential location, the price of the apartment complex far exceeded the board’s consideration. So she suggested hosting a fundraiser with some of her friends from the business world.

The Events of Columbine

The day before the event, April 20, 1999, is now infamously known as the day of the Columbine High School tragedy. As the events unfolded, Andy Cannon and volunteers pondered and prayed about what was happening. They all wondered if the event should be canceled. They decided to move forward with the fundraiser and hoped it would serve as a healing opportunity for those in attendance. It turned out to be just that.

Andy shared with the group, highlighting the need for meaningful involvement in people’s lives who are struggling. That night, enough funds were raised for Providence Network to put in an offer for the building that would become Joy House. Joy House opened its doors to residents in 2001.

Beth’s Story

The other side of the story is about Beth. Beth was a Columbine survivor whose life spiraled out of control after the tragedy.  She turned to substances to cope and found herself in an abusive relationship. After years of struggle, she was ready for change and discovered Joy House.

Beth utilized her time in the program to further her recovery and healing, and to dig deep into her faith, where her true transformation took place. Now long after graduation, Beth and her son continue to thrive. Beth has even given back at Joy House through volunteering

These full circle moments are powerful reminders of God’s working power. We can trust that seeds planted can yield fruit we cannot imagine. We raised funds for Joy House the day after Columbine. Many years later a young lady impacted by that day came to Joy House to find healing and hope.

Trauma to Healing

The story of Joy House and Columbine High School is surprising, terribly sad, and yet in the case of Joy House, turns from trauma to healing. We are grateful for Ann and Andy’s vision to make Joy House a reality. And we are thankful that we got to help in the healing process for one young lady who experienced both Columbine and Joy.

You can watch Andy Cannon share this story here or below.