How one church is bringing hope to homeless mothers and their children in Colorado

In just 10 days, a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit built a community space for the dozen formerly homeless families they house. The rapid raising of a 3,100-square foot building––modeled after the TV show “Extreme Makeover”––was only half of the story. Where construction crews poured a new foundation formerly sat two methamphetamine houses.

“Two weeks ago, this was a condemned meth house,” Dream Centers board chairman and New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd tweeted on Oct. 15, 2018. “Today it is a place of hope and healing in our city. Huge thanks to the 300+ volunteers who helped make this Dream Center a reality.”

Dream Centers is a nonprofit founded in 2011 by New Life Church and other local church leaders that oversees two initiatives in the Pikes Peak region. Mary’s Home houses homeless mothers and their children, providing them with resources to get them back on their feet. The second project, the women’s clinic, offers free and holistic gynecological healthcare for women in the region––from medical care to mental health counseling.

As Mary’s Home reached capacity, leadership observed nearby property that seemed ideal––except for the fact that it housed two meth houses.

“Why can’t we redeem that land?” Dream Centers Chief Development Officer Yvette Maher remembered thinking. After three long years of prayer and pushing the property owner to sell, Dream Centers purchased the land through the support of local churches and foundations. For Maher, the new foundation for their community building was symbolic.

“We’re not building onto a foundation that used to be laden with sadness and grief and death, but truly a new foundation was poured––redeeming not only the land, but also rebuilding the future,” she said in an interview with the ERLC. “The Lord has literally brought us into the land to grow and redeem it.”

They plan to build another similar building on the same property––the combined projects are estimated to cost $1.7 million.

Their ultimate desire is to offer more housing for mothers, since they turn away 400 families annually, Brenda Rogers, the program’s director told the Colorado Springs Gazette. Women are allowed to live at Mary’s Home, enrolled in all of the vocational and financial programs offered, for up to five years. The new buildings were necessary to allow for programs and activities to move out of the apartment complex into a separate space, opening up more apartments for families.

In 2010, Pastor Brady Boyd and several other city pastors gathered to determine how they could most wisely invest in their area, asking community leaders which areas were least addressed. One of them was women’s healthcare for uninsured and underinsured women. The other was the “hidden homeless”––women and children who were homeless, often because of domestic violence or generational poverty. Out of those discussions were born the Dream Centers.

Mary’s Home was also a rundown apartment complex purchased and renovated into 17, 500-square foot apartments through the efforts of more than 35 churches, including New Life Church. Boyd is passionate about investing the resources of their church, a 12,000-member congregation with six locations, back into their community.

“We’re the largest church in our city and in a prosperous part of our city,” Boyd said. “We’re not going to be the complacent church in our city. We have been given much, and there is much required of us. It was time for our church to be at the front of the line and be helpful.”

It’s been a powerful shift to witness the collective effort citywide, he said. In 2017 alone, the women’s clinic treated nearly 800 mostly uninsured women, and Mary’s Home housed 12 mothers and 21 children, with the help of 72 partnering organizations in the area.

Boyd said they have had a spiritual impact on these families as well, offering them transportation to church on Sundays if they want. Many of the women have been baptized. Many women have embraced Christianity after experiencing the services at the women’s clinic and Mary’s home.

In the future, the leaders of Dream Centers want to expand their space, offer more housing, and provide more services. In the meantime, they have their hands full. It costs the program $72,000 annually for each family, about only half of which are covered by government subsidies.

“Our whole goal is to prevent and end generational poverty and family homelessness in the Pikes Peak region,” Maher said. “I want even more churches and partners to be involved with that and be part of the story.”