A year ago, COSILoveYou’s board sat in the fellowship hall of a small Hispanic church, Iglesia Centro Mundial De Alabanza, to name its theme for 2020: “United in Love.” At the time, nobody could have foreseen the challenges that would confront our world, our nation, and our community this year, and just how much our Colorado Springs neighbors would need our church and our partners to be United in Love.
Each of the projects that COSILoveYou organized this year have been collaborative efforts that required the compassion and the dedication of our partners and volunteers. It has been a privilege for us to be part of some of the amazing stories that have come out of this year’s difficult circumstances. So what has COSILoveYou accomplished in 2020, and how can we look forward to seeing more positive impact as we continue to grow?
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, needs in our community surfaced in new and unpredictable ways. Neighbors in need began calling our local 2-1-1 hotline with needs the hotline were unprepared to meet. Through COSILoveYou, our church partners stepped up to help.
COSILoveYou’s partnership with the 2-1-1 Hotline connected neighbors in need with local churches from all across Colorado Springs, who mobilized volunteers by the dozen. Volunteers bought and delivered groceries to those who were experiencing an emergency or unable to leave their homes, free of charge. Neighbors were blown away by the care they felt from the volunteers dropping groceries off at their door. This year, over 40 churches took part in the 2-1-1 Partnership by meeting over 400 unique needs around the city for isolated individuals. One of our grocery recipients, Lelia Gibson-Green shared her experience, “The Church really blessed me and let me know there was someone there who understood. It’s a humbling experience to ask for help. When I put up the groceries there was a card from the volunteer and that touched me and made me teary.”
Other sectors feeling the stresses of COVID have small businesses and health care workers. Through the Frontline Healthcare Support Program, COSILoveYou’s partner churches funded free meals to our health care workers through local food trucks. Nurses, doctors, and hospital staff gathered weekly with smiles through their masks to receive a free meal, expressing their gratitude for the support. The Frontline Healthcare Support Program was a gift from 6 local churches to 12 local food trucks that provided 5,175 meals to front line workers at no cost to local hospitals. Communications Advisor for Centura Health, Andrea Sinclair shared, “When I told the staff that local churches came together and raised the money for the food trucks, they’re always amazed. They realize what a generous gift it is, and they’re so grateful and moved.”
COSILoveYou’s mission statement is to “unite and ignite the church so that every woman, man, and child experiences the tangible love of God.” As the needs of our community increase this year, we wanted to find ways to bring together our partners and volunteers to meet these needs in a safe way, while demonstrating God’s love and care. One of the ways this happened was through the Backpack Bash, a school supply drive in which COSILoveYou convened nearly 30 local schools, businesses, churches, and community agencies. After pivoting the event to a drive-thru format and seeing immense in-kind and monetary donations pour in from the community, our volunteers packed and gave away over 7,000 backpacks full of school supplies. Across 5 different locations throughout the city, volunteers showered thousands of kids with love and smiles as they dropped new backpacks through car windows, providing a much-needed lift at the beginning of an immensely challenging school year.
Every year, our biggest project of the year is CityServeDay, which typically deploys thousands of volunteers to serve at hundreds of sites all across our community. But how would we do that in a year like 2020, with so many restrictions and so much fear of getting out to serve? As we sat down to prepare and plan, we decided that, even if it was smaller, CityServe Day was more important this year than ever before. So many volunteers stepped up to help in many different ways—from building community gardens, to remodeling nurseries, to helping neighbors with yard work. “United in Love” became a reality with the smiling faces of volunteers from all parts of town and backgrounds joining in service to uplift Colorado Springs. CityServe Day 2020 brought together 44 churches to complete a total of 83 projects, 6,640 labor hours, and produced a value to our community of $60,240. Even though it was only half as large as it was in 2019, it is still the largest volunteer event in Colorado Springs.
How do our partners feel that COSILoveYou provides a unique opportunity to meet the needs of Colorado Springs? We spoke to several of our neighbors, and this is what they had to say:
“As a church leader, I have interacted with a variety of parachurch organizations. None have impressed me as much as COSILoveYou. Rather than trying to replace the church, they serve as a bridge between the church and the community. They have helped us build a relationship with our local school by serving as a facilitator and matchmaker. They provide the framework and resources so that all we have to do is provide the people.” — Matthew Capone, Lead Pastor, Cheyenne Mountain Presbyterian
“We absolutely love our partnership with COSILoveYou. They have encouraged us and shown us how to engage the city in a humble and loving way. Loving the City is becoming part of the culture at our church and COSILoveYou had been the catalyst for that change.” — Page Clark, Director of Mobilization, Village Seven Presbyterian Church
“The committed partnership we have with COSILoveYou has helped change so many lives here at Panorama Middle School. They have become a part of our school community by supporting not only the students, but also the staff here at the school. We are so grateful for all the support they have given us and the timeless energy and work they have done here, from painting bathrooms, supplying teacher rewards, meeting with students, and many more things.” —Patricia Parks, Assistant Principal, Panorama Middle School
“We love our partnership with COSILoveYou! Because we are a tiny nonprofit, we can’t accomplish everything involved in our mission without volunteers, and we believe it is part of our mission to invite others to share in our mission. COSILoveYou helps us accomplish that! Thanks, COSILoveYou, for all that you do for us and for serving Colorado Springs.” — Lisa Schmitz, Community Relations Director, Family Life Services
“COSILoveYou is not only talking the talk, they are walking the walk.” – Lelia Gibson-Green, CityServe Day Team Member, 2-1-1 Grocery Recipient
COSILoveYou has made a significant impact on the Pikes Peak region in 2020, thanks to our partners, donors and volunteers who continue to be United in Love as we come together to uplift our community. Many new projects and partner opportunities await us in the next year, and we are so excited to continue the work and touch more lives in Colorado Springs.
Check out the official 2020 Impact Report for more info – CLICK HERE
Blog post written by Mariah Stewart, 2019 COSILoveYou Fellow