Stevinson Automotive + the Denver Rescue Mission

It was a bitter cold Wednesday morning in Lakewood, Colorado when Stevinson Automotive hosted two individuals from the Denver Rescue Mission, Blake Nauman and Jordan Smith. They have both dedicated their careers to serving people who are experiencing homelessness, and they visited Kent Stevinson and the Stevinson corporate office to conduct an interview for their newsletter featuring Kent Stevinson, a donor to the Denver Rescue Mission.

It may seem an odd coupling; a family-owned automotive corporation featured in the newsletter of the Denver Rescue Mission, but the Stevinson family has actually been involved with the organization for decades, since around 1970. Before diving into the interview questions, we reflected on how awful the past weekend must have been for those without a home, considering we experienced about five inches of snow across Denver. Denver has experienced an almost four percent rise in homelessness since the last count in 2016, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Jordan from the Denver Rescue Mission asked Kent why he supports homelessness as opposed to other public work organizations. 

“If you’re able to help people, then they can help other institutions,” he responds. “You have to help your fellow man to make that flower blossom. At the core of it all, it’s important to humanity to help people, no matter what stage of life they’re at. It’s the payoff, for me, when I can see the transformation in their eyes when they notice that someone cares.”

If there is hope in homelessness, we can define homelessness differently. Hopelessness is a whole different ballgame. So, what is hopelessness? Take a moment; that question deserves to be pondered. Kent defined hopelessness as someone who gets to a point where they think others forgot about them. Then their lives begin to tilt to the dark side. Both those with and without homes can experience hopelessness.

Kent and the Stevinson group serve the homeless to prevent hopelessness.

“You get a sense that you weren’t sitting on the sidelines, you actually contributed to their moment.” It gets you thinking about how you can do more. “You hope that by having someone new serve them, it becomes more of a two-way street.”

When one homeless individual was asked by the Denver Rescue Mission what seeing new faces serving in the kitchen does for them, he responded that it’s encouraging to see “people from out there,” people who aren’t homeless, come and smile and serve. You get to provide a connection that they don’t experience every day.

“When you’re fortunate like we are as a company, you need to look inside and remember that a lot of people helped you get here,” says Kent. When you taste success, in any sense, it breeds excitement, and when you enable others toward success, the feeling is just the same.

“We choose to help and, I think, that helps define us.”

“I grew up in Jefferson County, right here in Golden, back in the day,” says Kent, “and you knew people who had a hard time making ends meet.  When we moved here, it was ranch country, and you would get a sense of when people had to live lean.”

Chuck Stevinson, Stevinson Automotive Group Founder
Growing up in a family of nine children, the Stevinson’s had many hands to lend, and that’s what they were raised to do. “My father was known for loaning out the kids for labor, he would make a trade for half a beef if that’s what the neighbors had to give,” and he was open to working alongside those lacking their own resources, enabling them to help themselves.

Kent’s first impression of serving the homeless was that it’s direct. “You know where your contribution goes and feeding the homeless has the lowest denominator of operating costs [compared to other community works projects]. The Denver Rescue Mission has always been very formative in that way.”

Kent Stevinson’s first memory of the Denver Rescue Mission dates back to the 1980’s. He and a friend who worked for the rescue mission heard about a call to control the overabundance of antelope in Wyoming. They bought their doe tags and began hunting and harvesting, a passion of Kent’s. After the animals were cleaned and prepared, they loaded them up and drove down to the Lawrence Street Community Center. The downtown location had giant industrial-sized meat lockers and they filled them to the brim with meat, supplying a great amount of what’s normally in such limited supply for the soup kitchens: protein. The soups and meals were hearty and healthy for weeks afterward. “My father was involved with the Denver Rescue Mission from a corporate standpoint before that, but that’s what I first remember,” Kent recalls.

Blake Nauman of Denver Rescue Mission remembers previously serving with Kent when the paramedics showed up at the community center. Kent’s concern was shifted to the well-being of the paramedics, checking in with them and seeing if they needed anything to eat, attesting to his generous spirit. “People don’t remember what you said or what you did,” Kent responds. “They remember how you made them feel.” The Maya Angelou quote rings true, reminding us all to remember just how fortunate we are.

To put it simply, if you’re able to lend your time, those in the Denver Rescue Mission deserve it. Learn how to give (or get) help here.


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