Five minutes with Joyce Neufeld

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Community Ministry of Denver, Colo., was about to lose its 6,000-square-foot facility after 52 years of serving the low-income neighborhoods of southwest Denver. This outreach, of which Garden Park MB Church was a partner, has a food pantry, clothing bank, cooking classes and more. Lifelong Garden Park Church member Joyce Neufeld is also executive director of  Community Ministry. Last July she and her board began a capital campaign to raise $800,000 to buy the building and save the ministry. Six months later the final $10,000 donation came in. Neufeld took a few minutes from planning their celebration party to tell the story.

How did you lose your facility?

Community Ministry had leased the building from Garden Park Church for 18 years. The church closed in 2018 and turned its property over to Lighthouse Church for a satellite location. Through a series of events, Lighthouse had to sell the property.

Why did you choose to stay where you were?

We’re right in the middle of the five zip codes we’ve been serving. It’s a poverty pocket with lots of churches who want to have an impact in this community. There wasn’t another place suitable to house all the activities for the 53,000 people we serve each year.

Where did your funding come from?

I reached out to everyone I knew including City Councilmen. The city found $200,000 to help us with a conditional loan that turns into a grant in five years. The Anschutz Foundation, the Gates Foundation and elderly members of a local church that was closing (who gave all their church savings) gave sizeable donations.

What about individual donors?

Stories like the widow’s mite happened a lot—clients would give us quarters or five-dollar bills while waiting to receive services. It was money they could have used to pay their bills, but they wanted to help. There were many older people giving out of their retirement funds and savings—money they had worked their whole life for, but they gave because of how we impact people’s lives.

What kept you going through the campaign?

The first couple of months we had a hard time finding grants and donors. One volunteer came in every single Monday and told me “God’s got this. Don’t worry.” When we received that final gift she said, “Didn’t I tell you, God has this.” And she was right. We’re buying the property outright, with only a $75,000 loan to cover pledges. Raising $800,000 in six months is pretty incredible.

For a video of one supporter’s crazy fundraising efforts go to https://www.facebook.com/namedotcom/videos/2414395448777493/

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