EDGEWATER, Colo. — Edgewater didn't grow larger and main street isn't any longer, but there's more space in town, and Joel Newton feels it.
"There's a little bit of distance, but at least we can see each other not on a Zoom call," Newton joked with the 9NEWS crew at the corner of 25th Avenue and Ames Street.
COVID-19 created space between reporters and their subjects and complicated the mission of Newton's nonprofit Edgewater Collective.
“Our big goal is just a thriving Edgewater community," Newton said.
The leader of the nonprofit saw opportunity in these times of social distancing to help restaurants and neighbors in need of food.
"It’s called Mutual Meals because we really want the sense of mutuality," Newton explained. "People that deliver have a role to play. People in the community have a role to play.”
Edgewater Collective first teamed up with Cody Ford, who owns the bar and restaurant Providence at 5280.
Ford's kitchen cooks up the food and Edgewater Collective picks up the tab thanks to donations from the community. Then, volunteers deliver the meals to seniors, healthcare workers and local families impacted by COVID-19.
“The Edgewater Collective really does a great job of trying to keep a finger on the pulse of the community and help out where they can whether it’s small business in Edgewater or the people of Edgewater as well," Ford said.
The program works with family liaisons from Jefferson County Public Schools and referrals from neighbors to identify families in need.
Volunteers knock on the door, leave food on the doorstep and step back six feet to greet each family.
"So it’s not really ding-dong and ditch," Newton said. "We really want that social interaction, even if it’s brief just greeting folks, which is so important for all of us these days.”
A delivery on Wednesday night meant Hope Ontiveros didn't have to cook for two. She lives with her mom who she said was disabled.
“I think my mom is really grateful for this opportunity. I know I am," Ontiveros said. "It's a great little program and it's very helpful."
The feeling is mutual for Ford from Providence at 5280.
"To be honest with you, I don’t think we’d be surviving as well as we are right now without [Mutual Meals]," Ford said.
Now in its fourth week, the program expanded to Edgewater Inn. The town's oldest restaurant now cooks up pizzas for Mutual Meals.
“Some days, we throw between $700 to $1,000 between both businesses," Newton said.
COVID-19 may separate us by six feet, but even from a social distance, community finds a way to feel close.
"There's a lot of businesses in this neighborhood that have just banded together and a lot of community members that have banded together as well to try to help each other out right now," Ford said.
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