Each year for the past three years, Adventist hospitals in Denver have conducted a day of service called Love Matters Most, coordinating efforts with schools and hundreds of volunteers to serve local neighborhoods in need. Projects have varied from painting homes for elderly neighbors to donating time and resources to local food banks.

This year’s program was unique because it morphed from a day of service into an ongoing system of service. Located near the older “College View” community on the south side of Denver, leaders from Porter decided to look for specific needs in their local neighborhood and invest in those needs on a long-term basis.

They connected with a local community center that serves various underprivileged groups in their neighborhood. Jim Feldbush, director of Mission and Ministry and Community Health Improvement at Porter Adventist Hospital, initially met with Leo Alriez, director for the College View Community Center and Life-Line. Feldbush attended that first meeting with an open mind and a willingness to explore needs.

“I had no idea what an amazing work was already happening in our neighborhood,” Feldbush shared. “When I met with Leo, I was amazed at the breadth of work that was happening through mostly volunteer efforts to meet the emotional and physical needs of our Porter neighborhood. I came to the meeting without a premeditated set of services that we as a healthcare organization could bring to the table. By the end of the conversation, I simply said, ‘What can we best do to help?’”

Alriez brings his own unique perspective and skill set to the community. He grew up in a less-than-ideal set of circumstances. He was once a gang member and eventually spent time in prison. Fortunately, his story didn’t end behind bars. It actually began there with a rebirth of sorts. After regaining his freedom, he pursued advanced degrees, eventually earning a Ph.D. in counseling. He is now a certified substance abuse counselor and a representative for the National Gang Crime Research Counsel.

Alriez was thrilled to have the resources of a Christian organization like Porter Adventist Hospital at his door asking, “What can we do to help?” What followed was an amazing collaboration between not only Porter but also dozens of other area health providers and non-profit organizations.

The one-day service event took place on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at College View Community Center, with more than 30 exhibitors and well over 300 attendees. The event included free, fresh, healthy food along with health and dental screenings, exercise and cooking demonstrations, and even tattoo removal services. Local law enforcement agencies and fire departments also participated.

“We can only do so much on our own,” said Morre Dean, president of Porter Adventist Hospital. “But when we join forces with other community-focused organizations, we become a huge force for good.”

Feldbush adds, “Our mission statement begins with ‘We extend the healing ministry of Christ,’ but it continues with ‘by caring for those who are ill and by nurturing the health of the people in our communities.’ Efforts like Love Matters Most are a perfect example of our mission in action.”

This article was written by Mark Bond on Behalf of the Colorado Adventist hospital campuses that make up Rocky Mountain Adventist Health/Centura Health.