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South Denver Food Bank: Where meetup and ministry make a difference

Early in his ministries, Casey Franklin, the lead pastor for the Inversion Community, observed a congregation largely made up of people living “inward lives”. He wanted to turn that perspective around by finding a way people could learn to live life outward in the real world.

Casey Franklin, his wife Valerie and their daughter Madison

So Casey, along with his wife and 13-year old daughter, started the Inversion Community, a ministry dedicated to serving others and living truly authentic lives.

Casey has a soft-spot for those who are not interested in church, either because they never were, or have “dropped out” for one reason or another. He has created a different path for people to join a compassionate, Christian community.

It began small with an advertisement for a new food bank on Craigslist opening in the South Denver area. Through volunteers and regular outreach, the food bank has grown steadily over the years. It now serves each Saturday, on average, 80 individuals and families, who arrive to pick up milk, eggs, fresh fruit, bread and more. In this safe-zone, everyone is welcomed by caring hands to share the bounty of our Denver community.

The food bank has become more than a distribution center. It’s the seed creating a faith community where people—with individual thoughts and doubts, different backgrounds and experiences—gather to live authentic lives.

Powered by meetup

Casey buys into the motto for meetup.com, the social networking app where “getting together with real people in real life makes powerful things happen.” He began the movement with a call-out on meetup.com for new members to join the South Denver Social Club in 2012.

The South Denver Social Club now has over 3,000 members. Today meetups to gather for fun and service are regularly posted to the South Denver Social Club. The community gets together for dance nights, game nights, hiking, serving the homeless, barbecues, bonfires, sleigh rides, wine tastings and potlucks. The meetup site admonishes visitors to “Quit twiddling your thumbs and sign up!”

Once a month, the meetup takes place at Q’s Pub & Grille in Littleton, where up to 100 people will gather for happy hour. The price of admission is a single item for the homeless. The clothing, food, blankets and other items attendees bring are paid forward to make a difference in the lives of local people.

More than hunger

Casey explains that in Denver, we don’t need to worry about a homeless person going hungry. He says there are plenty of places to get food but individuals may have other challenges perpetuating the cycle of homelessness.

He explains that 80% of homeless in Denver are what is called “transitional” homeless. They may have a house, job, family or education but they lack the wherewithal to get back on their feet alone.

Volunteers get ready to distribute fresh food at the South Denver Social Club Food Bank in Littleton

The remaining 20% of people on the street are chronically homeless, often beset by mental illness or a drug problem. Some simply prefer living on the street. There is no government program or safety net for this population.

It’s up to the community to help individuals that are struggling. Casey explains that the demographics of poverty are unsettling. In Littleton alone, one in ten residents is living below the poverty line.

The Inversion ministry helps those on the edge, marginalized and homeless. Each week, volunteers arrange to pick up food donated by King Soopers, Sprouts, Target and other grocers. A separate food bank, open each Friday, sends its leftovers to the Inversion food bank so nothing goes to waste. The food is stored until Saturday’s at 2:00, when volunteers arranged through meetup take food to the distribution point.

Get involved

The Inversion community receives tax deductible gifts and donations from Wambolt & Associates to continue their good work in the community. Our team is also gearing up to get hands-on.

You can too. In addition to online giving, join the South Denver Social Club. Here you can see—and sign up for—all the fun community activities and opportunities to serve the homeless, and more in this growing ministry.

Casey and the Inversion community look forward to greeting you!

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