Homeless murders spur Coalition advocacy - Denver, Colorado, USA

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 26 Dec 1999 14:08:36 -0800 (PST)

FWD  Denver Rocky Mountain News - December 20?, 1999


     Kim Folstad

A month ago, Cherie Calbom admits, she knew next to nothing about the
homeless situation in Denver.

She and her husband, John, moved to Colorado just a year ago, and they live
in Evergreen. So Calbom's image of the metro area's homeless community was
mostly based on the men she saw standing on city street corners with signs
asking for money.

Then, the murders of seven men in LoDo motivated her to find out more.

Today, Calbom is a bona fide advocate, the newest member of the board of
directors of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

This is how it happened (and frankly, the efficiency of it makes me blush):
Calbom saw the Coalition's phone number in a newspaper article. She made a
call. She met some people. She listened and she learned. She told them what
she thought she could do for them.

And then, Calbom says, she committed herself to the cause.

"I really want to do this. I can do this," she says.

Interesting concept, huh?

While the rest of us have been wailing and gnashing our teeth about how
terrible these homeless crimes are -- maybe putting an extra dollar in the
Salvation Army pot or finally volunteering to dish up a dinner at the
nearest shelter -- Calbom took a longer look and made the leap from
know-nothing to do-something-more.

"Everybody wants to give back in some way if they've been blessed," says
Calbom, who has a successful and busy career as a nutritionist, author and
businesswoman. "I was already ready to do something. But I don't have a lot
of time. So it was really a matter of where do I want to put my energies?"

After meeting with members of the Coalition for the Homeless, she says, she
not only had a better picture of "the true face of a homeless person," but
also how she could help.

She hopes to educate the public about those truly in need, especially
homeless children. The idea, she says, is to break the cycle -- to help
them catch up mentally, socially and physically -- and to keep homeless
youngsters from being locked into a label.

She'll also do some fund-raising and help with marketing strategies --
making the most of the special skills she has to offer. (She is, after all,
the "Juice Lady" and, as a nutritionist and spokeswoman for George
Foreman's indoor-grilling machine, one of the QVC shopping network's most
popular pitchwomen.)

"Imagine if everybody got involved and offered what they can do," she says.

Yes, imagine.

And if you're moved -- as moved as Cherie Calbom was -- make a call.

You can reach the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless at (303) 293-2217.
Tell them about the something special you have to offer to some special
homeless project.

"It's sad that seven people had to die to get my attention," Calbom says.

Well, yes. But it would be sadder if time passed and those men were
forgotten and it never made any difference at all.


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