Jan 16, 2024 - News

How the Denver community is rallying together to help support migrants

Esrom Bolivar, 6, is pleased with the presents he received during a gift giveaway event at an undisclosed hotel in Denver in December. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

From local nonprofits, churches and moms on Facebook to students, teachers and small businesses, Denverites are stepping up to help meet migrants' basic needs.

Why it matters: Denver is at the brink of a humanitarian crisis as it struggles to support an influx of families arriving from the southern border.

What's happening: The community is rallying together to bridge the resource gap.

  • Numerous Facebook groups, largely run by local women, are actively working to raise money, organize meal trains, gather winter clothing and coordinate toy drives.
  • Some people have launched GoFundMe accounts, including Lisa Wimberger, who has raised more than $63,000 and helped a dozen families find housing.
  • Stanley Marketplace in Aurora is hosting a new pop-up program for Venezuelan migrants to showcase their skills and help them raise money while they navigate employment barriers.
  • Students and professors at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) are offering aid and advocating to local leaders on migrants' behalf.

What they're saying: "We're working as hard as we can to try to meet the immediate needs of the people who are here … but it's not sustainable," says Jennifer Greenfield, associate dean for doctoral education at GSSW.

  • "Our systems are not set up for these individuals who are crossing the border to find success here," she tells us.

Between the lines: Some of the community's efforts have been thwarted by the city.

  • For example, when Denver officials cleared a massive encampment earlier this month, they destroyed the majority of the hundreds of tents and sleeping bags that community members had paid out of pocket to provide.
  • "We were only able to reclaim 29 tents … so we're having to go back to the store to buy things to replace what was lost," Greenfield tells us.

The bottom line: More coordination with local leaders "is needed to understand that when the city has run out of resources and no longer has funds for things like tents and food, [Denverites] are stepping up and providing … but we need the city to then protect those investments," Greenfield says.

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