While shopping the other day, I came across a festive purple and yellow messenger bag made from a recycled plastic banner. Its brand was "Mission Wear" and it was made by Robin, according to its label.
Founded in 2006, Mission Wear creates products that are all about determination and redemption. It started when founder Beth McWhirter was mentoring Carrie, a woman who was trying to break free from a life of addiction and prostitution.
Beth says, "She and I tried to find employment for about 4 months with no success. After that she ended up relapsing, going back to drugs and prostitution. I couldn't help but think that if she had had the stability of a job opportunity, she might not have relapsed."
If you ask to use the restroom at the Wild B.I.R.D. Information and Rehabilitation Center of Denver, you'll have some company, since you'll have to share with a duck taking a bath or a cormorant preening before the mirror.
On the day of my visit, there were about 240 birds at the center - most of them sick or injured and a few who just couldn't find enough to eat over the winter and needed a little R&R before being released. Lodgings range from incubators to paper towel-lined baskets to large habitats, or "flights." There is no caste system here - chickens, ducks, great blue herons, snowy egrets, grebes, western tanagers and pigeons ("the most maligned bird," according to my tour guide, Judi Vietmeyer) all receive the same level of care.
Program Director and grant writer Katie Jones has always been interested in connecting people in need with material necessities.
I recently caught up with Katie while she was researching grant opportunities with the Foundation Directory Online here at the Central Library. "I've been drawn to helping professions for as long as I can remember," she said, "so I chose psychology as my major in college and recently earned my Master in Social Work from the University of Denver. My social work program helped connect me to Clothes to Kids of Denver."