DENVER – Churches are typically the busiest on Sundays. Not much happens during the rest of the week, which makes the buildings perfect to serve as shelters for families who have no homes.
That was the idea behind Family Promise, a national organization that was seeking to expand in 1995. When the nonprofit organization's founder came to Denver 20 years ago, appealing to locals to establish a chapter, Betti Krapfl knew that she had to take action.
"I thought 'You know what? We can do this,'" Krapfl said.
Krapfl helped establish Family Promise of Greater Denver in 1997. Eighteen years later, her efforts have made her a winner of the 9Who Care Award, given to people who are active volunteers in their communities.
"She is the epitome of the most perfect volunteer," Jolynn Snyder, executive director of Family Promise of Greater Denver, said.
The local program has helped more than 1,100 families find permanent housing and jobs by giving them temporary shelter at churches.
"[The families] go to a congregation on a Sunday afternoon. And the volunteers there welcome them," Krapfl said. "The beds are ready for them. They each have a private room. That's their home for that week."
The families go to a different church each week, giving them shelter for up to two months. The churches also provide meals for the families. Snyder says many of the parents have jobs but are in the process of trying to find better ones as they look for permanent housing.
The Family Promise day site helps in that effort by providing resources like job search information, computers, school registration for students and contacts for meetings with social services.
It's been just the opportunity that many people need. So far this year, 71 percent of families that have gone through the program have found stable housing. And 83 percent of families have improved their financial conditions.
At the end of each week, the families take a survey about their experience at each congregation. When they come to Krapfl's church, Christ the Savior Lutheran Church in Aurora, the families always make note of her kind and caring spirit.
"We get a lot of 'The best part of this week was Betti,'" Snyder said.
The volunteer, who also loves to fundraise for the organization by hosting an annual Summer Solstice Tea, says her only desire is to give to those in need.
"It gives me joy to be able to reach out and help others," she said. "It really, really makes me feel good."
(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)