My name is Jacob Paulsen and in the last two weeks, I was able to witness something that changed my life.

My wife and I were both born and raised in Southern Wyoming and as such we have connections to The University of Wyoming. My father received his master’s degree from UW and both my father in law and mother in law have received multiple degrees from UW.

Now living in Colorado, I work as a volunteer to coordinate with local and regional media outlets when news stories involving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are covered.

Several weeks ago I received a phone call informing me that there may be some media interest in an upcoming food donation that the church was involved with in partnership with The Black 14 Philanthropy organization.

I had to dust off my Wyoming roots and do a little research to refresh my memory.

Before it was a non-profit organization to support schools, university, black student athletes and underserved communities the Black 14 were just 14 University of Wyoming football players.

In 1969, these 14 football players approached their football coach Lloyd Eaton and asked permission to wear black armbands during the upcoming home game against BYU.

As this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns and operates BYU, had a policy that excluded black people from the priesthood of the church and many athletes on other teams had worn black armbands to silently protest against that policy.

The church, through revelation to the prophet, changed it’s policy less than a decade later but in 1969 these 14 players were caught by surprise when they went into Eaton’s office to request permission to wear the armbands.

Coach Eaton immediately dismissed them from the team. The loss of these players was a devastating blow to the team. At the time of the incident the Cowboys were undefeated and ranked 16th in the AP Poll. It was all downhill from there and many feel that 50 years later the team has yet to fully recover.

Black 14 Member & future New England Patriots player Tony McGee drinks water during practice at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I. on Sept. 3, 1981. (Photo by Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In 1971, when my father and mother in law attended UW they have memories of walking through picket lines to get to the church owned institute where they took religious classes near the campus. The wound was fresh and in many ways for some The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became to target of the frustration and scorn of UW football.

The Church didn’t kick the players off their team. Coach Eaton did based on the school’s “no protesting” policy.

In the mid 1980s my father attended UW to complete his masters degree. He finished his undergrad at BYU and while living in Southern Wyoming spent several summers in Laramie to finish his masters degree.

He tells me he may be one of very few people in this country who can say (or dares to mention it out loud), that he has a degree from both BYU and UW. Nearly 15 years after the incident the wounds hadn’t healed for many at the University of Wyoming.

Fast forward a few decades. In the fall of 2019, appx 50 years after the incident, The University of Wyoming invited back the Black 14 to speak to students, attend a special dinner, receive an official apology letter, and receive jerseys and letterman jackets.

At a football game attended by the eight players that returned the student body that consists of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints wore Black 14 T-shirts during the game.

In 2020, members of the Black 14 saw the need for food to be donated to help those who are suffering during this pandemic as we enter the holiday season.

Working with Gifford Nielson, President of the Church’s North America Central Area, the Black 14 made an arrangement that many may consider a miracle.

The church agreed to donate and deliver 360,000 pounds of food across the US to cities and local charities selected by surviving members of The Black 14.

John Griffin, a member of the Black 14 who resides in Denver selected Catholic Charities of Denver to be one of those recipients. So on November 17th at 9:00 AM a Deseret Industries semi-truck pulled into the Salvation Army Warehouse in Aurora.

Representatives of The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Denver Rescue Mission, and John Griffin and his family. Nov 17th, 2020 Aurora, CO

Catholic Charities who lacked a large enough storage facility called on The Salvation Army to receive and store the food donation long enough for it to be distributed to various food banks and organizations across the metro including the Denver Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, and various Food banks and ministries.

From here I don’t need to tell the rest of the story. The local media has done so for me. Below I include some of the video news coverage and a link to The Denver Post.

I end my part of this story by telling you that time can not only heal wounds but also turn hearts toward each other. As I look back at my own family’s history as proud members of a Church that provides vast relief to people affected by tragedy; and the many UW degrees proudly displayed in homes on both sides of my family; it all has come full circle for me as the charity of Christ conquers all.

CBS Denver Nov 17th, 2020

9News Denver Nov 26th, 2020

KWGN 2 News Nov 17th, 2020


In August we were honored to welcome former Colorado governor and current U.S. Senate candidate John W. Hickenlooper for a tour of the Bishops’ Storehouse in Aurora.

The storehouse has responded to every call for help during the pandemic – including a 100,000-pound donation to Denver food banks in June – and we expect to serve many more Coloradans in need in the months to come.


Courtesy 9News – KUSA May 12th 2020

On April 30th The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a 5.5 million dollar cash donation to be provided to a number of key relief agencies in the US including The Salvation Army.

A small part of that donation was manifest this Tuesday in Aurora where 3000 Coloradan families received a box of food to feed a family of 4 for a week.

From KUSA – NBC – 9News:

The entire event came together in about two weeks. With donated funds The Salvation Army placed an order for the groceries from Safeway Grocery stores who provided this much needed food at a steep discount.

From May 7th-9th volunteers, including full-time missionaries and members of The Church dressed in the signature yellow “helping hands” shirts helped to pack and prepare the 3000 boxes of food.

At 9am the “gates” were opened on Tuesday May 12th to a line of over 100 waiting vehicles. Each car was directed down one of 6 lanes where volunteers placed a box of food, a gallon of milk, and 1 dozen eggs into the vehicle; no questions asked.

Prior to this event, The Salvation Army had already done much good during this COVID19 pandemic. Thousands of boxes of food had already been distributed by The Salvation Army Intermountain Division but the community’s need isn’t going away.

Support and cash donations from local organizations such as this most recent collaboration with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints help The Salvation Army to continue to do what they do best.

By 2:45pm all 3000 boxes of food had been distributed to those in need.

The distribution event was held at the Town Center at Aurora Mall. The mall graciously provided the greater parts of the parking lots for this event.

The event was attended by many leaders from the various participating organizations including Elder Balli, newly called as an Area Seventy in April 2020.

Elder Balli along side Mayor Coffman of Aurora, CO
Salvation Army Major Mike Dickinson shows Elder Balli and President Savage (Denver North Mission) what is packed into the food boxes being distributed

Live from Aurora

Posted by Church of Jesus Christ Colorado on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

In addition to the news story on 9News | KUSA above, the event was also generously promoted and covered by Fox31 | KDVR.

and by CBS7 | KMGH:

and by Telemundo Denver:


Of the many impacts that coronavirus has had on our community, the nationwide shortfall at food banks may be one of the most devastating. Over 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last six weeks. The exponential increase in demand for food is unfortunately met by a drop in donations. Some of the major sources of food donations – hotels and restaurants – are shut down, while another source – grocery stores – have been picked clean by anxious customers. There is, of course, the good will of the community, and that is exactly what came to the rescue this week. Despite the dire situation of many Americans, the Denver Area was boosted by goodwill in a food drive held last weekend.

As the First Presidency reminded its membership in church-wide communication April 14, 2020, “We are to be “anxiously engaged” in relieving suffering and helping those in need.” They further stated, “We invite our members to participate in… relief projects in their areas and communities as opportunities arise and as local government directives and personal circumstances allow.” Denver Area residents responded to the First Presidency’s message and the needs of local food banks with rousing success. 

Starting Saturday, April 25 and ending Saturday, May 2, 13 stakes helped restock food and pantry essentials for over 20 area food banks. With just over a week’s notice, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints helped refill empty shelves with food, paper goods, and even masks. Over a hundred thousand pounds of food were donated, and tens of thousands of dollars came in as well. Each stake was able to supplement the needs of one or several of their local food banks. The Parker Task Force, recipients of Parker and Parker South Stake’s efforts, reported that their total donations more than made up for the two food drives they’ve had to cancel (scheduled for April and June). Boulder Stake’s donations calculated enough to feed 30 families for a month.

As the idea was born, Katie Moon, JustServe Director for the Denver North Area, recalls feeling hopeful, but unsure about the expected response. Given the size of the task and the timeline in which she and her team hoped to meet their goals, there was no telling what result to expect. Nobody knew that they were about to pull off a miracle. The outcome was, “…nothing short of amazing. I was overwhelmed by the amount of generosity I was seeing.” For hours, the lines of cars filled with people donating kept coming. Across the Denver Metro area, rented U-Hauls, pick-up trucks, trailers, and moving vans were filled to capacity. The former scare of not being able to fill personal needs was set aside, and the needs of others took priority.

That exact re-prioritizing of needs brings a silver lining to trials. And it’s one of the ways that communities can come together. Last weekend’s food drive was no exception. Many stakes partnered with other local churches, doubling results and building relationships along the way. When he arrived to donate, Father Michael, of St. Matthews Episcopal Church, thanked the organizers for inviting him and his congregation. His sentiments mirrored those of the rest who were able to help. Moon reports, “Many people thanked us for giving them a way to help others.” Some went one step further. When they took inventory of what else was needed at their initial drop-off, they went back to the store, bought specific food items, and returned with a second load of donations.

Those were not the only steps given in service. Physical donations were supplemented with monetary donations. In Littleton Stake, volunteers were able to do the shopping for those who who couldn’t get out of their homes. This helped fill the specific item requests from their recipients, St. Mary Parish Pantry and Nourish Meals on Wheels.

Volunteers filled Costco flatbeds with food, all bought with the thousands of dollars of donations. Though household budgets are stretched tight, members of The Church of Jesus Christ dug a little deeper and donated even more. Estimated reports show at least $20K in monetary donations were raised last weekend alone. This helped address both the needs of the hungry, and the need of those who are high-risk to remain isolated. Sarah Hill, JustServe Director for Denver South Area said, “The creativity people showed in being able to do such a project in such unusual circumstances was very exciting.”

Of the generosity, Hill further said, “It was heartwarming and impressive to see so many people help. It’s a tough time for everybody, but being able to serve others is at the core of everyone’s well-being.”

While healthcare workers help those afflicted with coronavirus to breathe, Denver residents have helped in their own way. Food bank directors, and their recipients, may all be breathing a little easier themselves, as shelves are re-stocked, pantries filled, and food for the hungry has been re-supplied. The impacts of a pandemic are far-reaching. But in Denver, so is the service and brotherly love that comes with it.

Food Bank Recipients 

  1. Aurora Interfaith Community Services
  2. Bennett Community Food Bank
  3. Broomfield Fish
  4. CARES Food Bank of Strasberg
  5. Community Food Share
  6. Covenant Cupboard
  7. Erie Food Bank
  8. Growing Home
  9. Harvest Food Bank
  10. Health and Hope Center
  11. Hope Starts Here Food Bank
  12. Integrated Family Community Services
  13. Jewish Family Services
  14. Lutheran Family Services, Food Bank for Refugees
  15. Montbello Organizing Committee
  16. Northglenn Christian Food Bank
  17. Nourish Meals on Wheels
  18. Open Arms Food Bank
  19. Parker Task Force
  20. Ruby’s Market
  21. St Mary Parish Pantry
  22. Thornton Community Food Bank
  23. Valley View Cares (SECOR)

Interfaith Partners

  1. Lord of the Hills Lutheran Church
  2. Providence Presbyterian
  3. Beginnings Community Church
  4. Spirit of Hope Lutheran
  5. St. Matthews Episcopal Church
  6. The House Worship Center

Left to right: Sister Packard, Elder Cruz, Elder Woollesen, Sister Van Tassell, Sister Reatre, Elder Hasse, Elder Blackham, Sister Draney

Elder Blackham knew it would be a sacrifice to give up his guitar and music while on his mission, but inspiration he felt in the Denver Temple gave him peace, “Give it to me and I can make it so much more.” With the help of other inspired elders and sisters, Elder Blackham was able to lend his talents to what became a beautiful musical presentation, “Meet the Missionaries.”

Presented by the Colorado Denver North Mission, “Meet the Missionaries” toured the northern front range giving 14 performances between February and April. The program is a fun, energetic, and inspiring performance. Through fifteen songs intermixed with video, four elders and four sisters shared their musical talents, their love of the Savior, and what it means to be a missionary.

President and Sister Savage both served as missionaries in Denver in the early 1980s and had the idea to renew a similar musical program that was a success on their missions. Around the same time the Book of Mormon musical came to Denver. Elder Blackham and Elder Brown pulled out their guitars and began singing on 16th Street in downtown Denver, replying to curious onlookers that they weren’t in the musical, but were the actual missionaries. From there 11 original songs were written by Elders Blackham, Brown, Fenske, and Hasse. In 2018 “Meet the Elders” went on tour.

(more…)

Colorado Gives

 

For all who have volunteered time, talent or energy to others in need, it’s easy to understand the feeling of wanting to do more. You might wish for deeper pockets or unlimited resources to make your giving more significant. Today is the day where a bit of that wish comes true. December 4 is Colorado Gives Day, which means that as each of us goes online to give, our donations have potential to be magnified by the $1 Million Incentive Fund. You can help through ColoradoGives.org, a year-round, online giving website featuring more than 2,300 nonprofits. Last year brought in $36 million in a 24-hour period.

Wondering where to start? Below are a few JustServe partners who stand in extra need and would benefit from a boost on this day of giving.

 

 

Volunteers of America

The Volunteers of America provides a variety of year-round support to those in need. Areas that need the most right now include serving meals at a daytime shelter and helping with yard clean up for senior citizens. They also have several volunteer from home ideas that include writing letters to veterans, decorating bags for meals on wheels, or even putting together a craft kit for low income preschool students.

Catholic Charities

In like manner, Catholic Charities offer a variety of services and can use volunteers to help pull together. Current opportunities include helping at a women’s shelter, either serving dinner, decorating cookies, or hosting a movie night. You can also host a Christmas party for residents of Catholic Charities housing, or adopt a family for Christmas.

 

Lutheran Family Services

Lutheran Family Services (LFS) is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the Rocky Mountain region. Every year LFS responds to needs of 30,000 people. One simple but constant need is for diaper donations. Clients often have large families and always need diapers. You can also help with creating baby baskets for refugee families who are either expecting or have just had a new baby.

In this season of giving, and as we Light the World, we hope you will consider joining in this day as Colorado Gives.

 


Have you seen a few of these around? Wondering what the big deal is?

For the third year in a row, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is choosing to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas via a campaign known as “Light the World.” Each year some of the details change but there are always a few things you can count on…

  1. There will be one or more awesome videos released by the church (click here to see the first 2018 video)
  2. There will be an emphasis on SERVING others as Christ served
  3. The hashtag #lighttheworld will once again go viral on social media channels.

You can learn all about the campaign and this year’s suggestions from the Prophet by (more…)


For the second year the Aurora Stake held it’s Community Veterans Day Concert at the Leadership Development Center on Buckley Air Force Base. The base has been part of the Aurora community since 1938 and makes for a great place to host a Veterans Day Concert.

There are almost 400,000 US military veterans in Colorado according to the US Census Bureau and many of them served in the Air Force and were stationed at Buckley.

In attendance were Base Commanding Officers, Community Leaders, Representatives from Aurora Fire, and friends from the Sikh faith. Gurpreet of Gurdwara Singh Sabha Colorado gave the invocation and Elder Thomas Priday of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave the benediction.

Colorado Mormon Chorale and Orchestra, conducted by Kent Jones provided all the music.