When you walk through the doors of the Douglas/Elbert County Task Force building, it immediately fills you with an overwhelming sense of comfort. That’s because the dedicated staff and volunteers at the 501(c)3 non-profit, have been giving their energy and resources to providing assistance to community neighbors experiencing hard times.
For over 30 years, this human service organization has given residents of Douglas and Elbert Counties counseling, food and other necessities for those who find themselves experiencing financial hardship. Needing only to provide proof of residency and fill out a short application, clients go on to meet with a caring staff member to better assess their situation and determine how the Task Force can best serve their needs.
Case by case, each individual’s circumstances are evaluated, and clients are assigned to someone that will manage their needs and get them back on their feet again. Sometimes this aid comes in the form of financial assistance, other times, it comes by granting them access to their on-site food bank.
Once food items arrive, the donations are carefully sorted through to maintain quality. “The volunteers filter through all the food and make sure it’s looks good and that it has not passed the expiration date,” Marcella Shadle, Executive Director, continued, “We wouldn’t want to give anything to our clients that we wouldn’t want ourselves.”
Former volunteer, now Food Bank Manager, Rodolfo Gallegos, has worked for the past ten years to see that the Task Force adheres to strict government guidelines, while giving food and other needed items to clients each month. Gallegos explains, “Every day, I receive orders from different people who need assistance from the food bank, via computer. Every request is different and sometimes the clients make too much money, so that affects what we can give them- we make sure we give them what we can.”
But Gallegos couldn’t accomplish the work involved in processing the orders without help from his team of volunteers. He relies heavily on each changing shift of people to help ready everything for each pickup. “The volunteers try to organize each package so it has enough food for five days. That works out to three meals a day for each person in the household. But what we can give depends on the amount of donations we have at the food bank,” he states.
However, food is not the only thing stored in the warehouse. Other needs, often forgotten, are basic everyday items like toilet paper. Gallego’s wife, Maria, volunteers each day to manage donated toothbrushes, diapers and other toiletries – things that add up when someone is without work. “This is her area to manage,” he smiles, “‘The Boss’ keeps track of the non-food items and organizes them so we can fill requests as they come in.”
Likewise, along with attending to immediate needs, the Task Force complex houses a treasure chest of gently used items at ‘Treasures on Park Street.’ An inexpensive option, the thrift store is open to anyone looking to find clothes for their closet, children’s toys and furniture at great prices. “Besides offering a place for the public to buy quality used items, we also open it up once a month to clients so they can get things they need for themselves,” said Shadle. At no cost, this gives them a chance to get things they otherwise might not be able to afford, like shirts and shoes.
Though the current operation continues to help numerous individuals and families rise above tough situations, Shadle has dreams of a still brighter future. “Currently, we are starting to remodel our facility so interviews and counseling services can be done in a more private setting,” she continued, “But to do this, we rely largely on the community to supply volunteers and grants. It is my hope that help will arrive like a tsunami that sweeps from the west to the east end of the building so improvements can allow us to serve more people with more programs and services.”
The ‘Task Force’ is always looking for volunteers and organizations to sponsor various projects!
For more information, please contact:
The Douglas/Elbert County Task Force and ‘Treasures on Park Street’
1638 Park Street
Castle Rock CO 80109