DenUM is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Thirty-five is a significant number!
Think about what you were doing thirty-five years ago – I was a freshman in high school just trying to not be noticed. And when I turned 35 – well I had spent the previous 49 days learning how to be the new Executive Director of this fantastic organization named Denver Urban Ministries. Turning 35 was pretty significant for me, and it’s even more significant to this organization.
Tonight we are officially announcing our name change to Denver Urban Matters. Some of you might have heard about this over the past year, but some of you might be surprised.
So, why the name change? Simply, we are not the same organization we were 35 years ago, and our world has changed. We want to tell the people who come for our very meaningful services that they matter. We want to tell people from every walk of life that they matter. That no matter what their belief system is they matter. The services we provide matter. The way those services are provided matter. That we exist in the city matters. That we partner with the community in addressing issues matters. That those issues impact the lives of those who walk in our doors matter.
There are people who believe that what we do is a “band-aid.” I challenge anyone who uses that term, always in a derogatory way, to come and tell someone who is hungry, who is looking for a job, who needs our help in any way, that they just need a band aid. By the way, we do give out band-aids, and that matters too.
So, what comes with a name change? Well, we tweaked our mission statement a bit. We are well known for our service provision. Our new mission statement highlights that our work in the community to impact greater system level change matters too. Our logo is changing. It is more colorful, more inclusive and simple. It represents our role in the whole community. Our operating hours are changing to provide more evening hours and accommodate our smaller staff.
Last year I told you that we were exploring a social enterprise. We continue to look into this, but now I have a few more details. We want to open a grocery store in the neighborhoods north of DenUM. Two weeks ago we had a meeting with a national grocer about opportunities to partner to make this happen. That’s all I can tell you for now but know that this is a very exciting opportunity for us.
What doesn’t change? Our values aren’t changing. We are at our core the same organization – we value excellent services, we value transformation for individuals and the whole community, and we value leadership in making both of those things possible.
If we stayed stagnant and didn’t transform, we wouldn’t have made it this far, we wouldn’t be here celebrating 35 years, and you wouldn’t want to be here. We would not be relevant in the lives of those who need our services the most. But if we don’t hold on to our core values, we wouldn’t be here either.
More than any other year I have stood in front of you to talk about our progress, your support and belief in DenUM is needed. It is only through the commitment of our donors and volunteers that we are able to provide services that allow our clients to take their next step forward.
Every year I try to watch as many of the Academy Award nominated movies as possible, and Carolyn willingly participates in this weird annual ritual with me. Thanks to being able to rent movies through Redbox for $1.56, I brought home Mad Max: Fury Road. This movie was nominated for ten categories and won most of them. Toward the end of the movie the leading lady tells Maxhim she hopes she will find her home. Max says, “Hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix things, you’ll go insane.”
I scribbled that statement down right away just in case . I also wish that certain groups of people would ask my opinion – the Broncos coaching staff, the foundation world as they choose who to fund, the lottery balls. If Max were to call me the following morning.
Here’s what I would tell him – Max you are wrong. Hope isn’t a mistake. At DenUM we have hope, and we instill hope in those who come to us, and here is why! Sometimes it seems like we can’t fix things, but instead of going insane, we do this: we set goals, we hold ourselves accountable to the community, we change what we are doing if the last thing didn’t work. We make a difference in people’s lives every single day. We help them move their lives forward. And for that reason, hope isn’t a mistake – hope matters!
Tammy Mulligan, Executive Director