First UMC Colorado Springs gives $218,000 to Urban Peak

September 15, 2016
Submitted by the Rev. Chuck Stephens
Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Urban Peak Colorado Springs, which aims to help youth without homes get out of their situations through education, health care and employment, is no longer restricted to just thinking about expanding programs and its outreach. The organization now has means to beginning making those goals a reality.

During Sunday service, the Rev. Kent Ingram noted that every Good Friday is followed by Easter morning. Sept. 11, 2016, which is set aside as a memorial in most churches became “Miracle Sunday” at First United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs. First UMC announced a donation of $218,000 to Urban Peak. The nonprofit's executive director, Shawna Rae Kemppainen says the amount is the biggest private donation her organization has received.

Rev. Ingram began looking for a local missional opportunity last year which would engage the congregation at First UMC. The church has had an ongoing relationship with Urban Peak for several years mostly through the leadership of Rev. Dr. Todd Spencer who with other volunteers has cooked meals and spearheaded a “Nite Out” fundraiser at the church. The campaign, which culminated Sept. 11 with Miracle Sunday, was designed to raise funds to provide more space for services at Urban Peak as well as to engage the congregation in new and exciting volunteer opportunities at the shelter.

Urban Peak Colorado Springs was established in 2000 and works with 600 youths across the Pikes Peak region, supplying them with shelter and services to help them get off the streets. Though she doesn't know which projects the money will be used for, Kemppainen says some possibilities include expanding the organization's 20-bed emergency shelter and creating a drop-in center where youths can shower, do laundry and grab clothing and food.

"That money is going to really stop us from daydreaming about our future and make us start really planning, assessing and developing a way to expand the programs for youths," Kemppainen said.

Ingram said the church has been fundraising for several months. He stated the last time the church made a large donation was a few years ago, when it gave $250,000 to the Marian House Soup Kitchen. "We care about our youth and children and it seems like a good fit," Ingram said, referring to Sunday's offering to Urban Peak.

"This goes beyond money," Kemppainen said, adding that First United Methodist Church members "volunteer time and have a long-term partnership with us. That's the kind of partner that we are looking for in a partnership. We're blown by their generosity and compassion to help the youths with which we are working."