Minding the Meter Does Make a Difference
by Michelle B. Ferguson
Surely you have seen the red parking meters for the homeless all throughout downtown Denver. But how many times have you actually taken the time to stop, dig for change and feed a meter?
No doubt, this has happened less often than you care to admit.
Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe recently discovered that modest donations do make a difference. Firm member Donna Nelson installed an inexpensive plastic parking meter in our firm’s kitchen to collect money for Denver’s Road Home. The meter began overflowing with coins — and some dollar bills. In a few months, the change collected in the meter totaled nearly $200!
According to Denver’s Road Home, $100 provides a week’s worth of counseling to help a young person get off the streets.
If Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe does this several times a year, and other law firms throughout the Denver-metro area join the effort by installing parking meters of their own, the change collected could go a long way to helping Denver achieve its lofty goals.
Denver’s goal is to end homelessness within 10 years. We were shocked by the statistics we learned from the United Way: in 2006, Denver’s homeless population exceeded 9,000; 40 percent of the 9,000 were employed and 46 percent were women and children.
In its second year, Denver’s Road Home proved it is a worthwhile cause. In December 2007, Mayor Hickenlooper reported that there was an 11 percent reduction in overall homelessness, and a 36 percent decrease in chronic homelessness. Denver also reported that in two years, it established 789 new units of housing. In addition, 2,455 homeless people found work and 2,030 homeless individuals accessed treatment services.
Our firm’s Community Action Committee dedicated 100 percent of its charitable efforts toward helping the homeless community in 2007. Members ran in the E-Race Homelessness Run for seniors. We chipped in for the DBA’s three drives, including the Back to School Supply Drive for homeless and underprivileged children. We raised money for the United Way campaign. We volunteered at Project Homeless Connect and Habitat for Humanity.
One of the most memorable projects has been the parking meter in the kitchen.
"Our success in helping the homeless live life off of the streets is in large part due to community partners like Ireland, Stapleton, Pryor & Pascoe who are finding innovative ways to create both resources and community awareness for this initiative," said Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager of Denver’s Road Home.