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Lending a helping hand

Rose Mizer is quick to offer a friendly smile, a warm hug and words of encouragement. Her caring and generous spirit has led her to a lifetime of helping others.Born and raised in Indianapolis, Mizer graduated in 1969 from an all-girls Catholic high school. While attending Marian College in Indianapolis, she met her husband, Wayne, through a Catholic singles group. ìMy husband always says I fell for him because we were ice skating,î she said. ìAnd he asked me to skate with him.î They married in Indianapolis in 1971; and, two years later, Mizer graduated from college with a bachelorís degree in elementary education.Mizer taught second grade for almost two and a half years before giving birth to her first daughter, Michelle. ìWhen I was pregnant I was borderline diabetic,î she said. ìBut after Michelle was born I began suffering from depression, weight loss; and I was always thirsty.î Doctors originally diagnosed Mizer with post-partum depression, but further tests showed that she was a type 1 diabetic.In 1978, Mizer gave birth to a second daughter, Kathryn. While staying home with her daughters, Mizer studied for a masterís degree in elementary education. She graduated with her masterís from what is now the University of Indianapolis in 1979. Instead of teaching, Mizer put her skills to work within her church.After Mizer and her family attended a Billy Graham crusade in 1980, they left the Catholic Church and became involved in a nondenominational church, she said. ìI used my teaching experience there by teaching Sunday school,î Mizer said. She eventually became the churchís Sunday school coordinator, as well as the innovator of the Pioneer Club, a mid-week youth ministry program.In 1981, Mizer gave birth to her son, David. Shortly after his birth, she began working with youth ministry.In 1990, during a nationwide youth ministry gathering in Indianapolis, Mizer met a couple from Denver involved in an organization called Youth with a Mission. They encouraged her to initiate the same program at her church. ìAfter they talked with our youth pastor, we drove out (to Colorado) in vans and took maybe 25 to 30 kids,î Mizer said. The training taught Mizer and the church youth how to evangelize to others through choreographed Christian songs. ìWe would take them to the county fair and they would perform there,î she said. ìThey would present the gospel message and then the kids would go out and talk to the people and ask them if they would like to pray.î Mizer continued working in her churchís youth ministry for the next six years.In June 2000, Mizerís son graduated from high school, and they moved from Indiana to Colorado. ìWe had vacationed here a number of times and loved Colorado,î she said. ìI always felt better with all the sunshine.î Mizer and her husband purchased a home in Elbert, and they joined Mountain Springs Church, where Mizer helped with the youth ministry and a new program called Connect, a group that organized ushers, greeters and recruiters and welcomed new members. With Connect, Mizer said she broke new ground for herself. ìIt was the first time I worked in an all-adult ministry. I had gone from little kids to youth to all adults,î she said. ìBut each thing God put me into helped me stretch and develop new skills.îThrough Connect, Mizer met Jean Woolsey, who had started Mountain Springs Helping Hands Food Pantry in 2006. Mizer became involved. ìI felt like God was saying it is time to get outside of the church,î she said. ìIt was time to begin ministering to those who are lost and need help.îMizer volunteered at the pantry and later became a board member after the pantry received its 501c3 nonprofit status under the name, High Plains Helping Hands Food Pantry. In 2009, Woolsey retired and Mizer took over as the pantryís director.For five years, the food pantry was located in Falcon off Highway 24, but when Mizer took the reins the pantry had outgrown its space. Her initial task was to find a new home for the pantry. In April 2011, the pastors at Mountain Springs Church offered space in a building adjacent to the church. Renovations started in June and the new pantry was up and running in October. Mizer credited church members for making it an easy transition. ìMountain Springs made an announcement and they had so many trucks out at the old place,î she said. ìThey loaded (all the food) and we had everything here so fast.îMizer said she then focused on keeping the pantry stocked. ìBoy Scout 149 goes around every year to collect food for the pantry,î she said. ìAnd in April or May they collected 4,000 pounds of food, which was great because there are no food drives in the summer.î The pantry has helped numerous people, including some families affected by the Waldo Canyon fire. Mizer said one afternoon the phone rang at 1 p.m., after the pantry had closed. She had been catching up on paperwork and decided to let the call drop. ìAbout 20 minutes later I thought I better check it and see what that message was,î Mizer said. A woman had called in immediate need of food for her family. ìThey had rented a house, and everything was smoke damaged,î she said. ìThey had no rentersí insurance so they were starting all over.î Mizer stayed at the pantry until the woman arrived.Mizer said there are several stories about how the pantry has touched peopleís lives. Her favorite is a story about Eddie. ìHe came in once, and when he first started coming he was so depressed,î she said. ìSo, we asked if we could pray with him; and he said ëGod doesnít have time to hear prayers from me.íî Reluctantly, the man agreed to pray with the group. He then returned each week to continue praying and help out at the pantry. Eventually, Eddie got a good job and got married. ìIt was a complete turnaround for him,î Mizer said.Stories like Eddieís encourage Mizer to continue helping others less fortunate. ìI donít see myself anytime in the next few years leaving this ministry because I love it,î she said. ìI love the volunteers I work with; I love the people who come in. I love this.î

High Plains Helping Hands Pantry offers the following programs and items.
  • Cooking Matters ñ a six-week cooking class that meets one time a week. The class covers purchasing and cooking nutritious meals on a low budget.
  • Commodity supplementary food program – a government sponsored program designed specifically for people age 60 years and older.
  • Youth program – a six-week long youth program helping kids with life skills such as cooking, sewing and budgeting their money.
  • Reloadable gift cards ñ purchase a Safeway or King Soopers gift card through Helping Hands Food Pantry. Each time the card is reloaded with an amount, 5 percent of the amount loaded on the card goes to the food pantry.
  • Birthday bags ñ bags designed for children with birthdays. The bag includes small toys, candles and a cake mix or a decorated cake if available.
  • Newborn baby bags ñ items for families with newborns.
  • Coats and blankets ñ In the winter months, the pantry provides winter wear and welcomes donations of gently used coats, hats, scarves, mittens and blankets.
  • Holidays ñ Families are provided a complete Thanksgiving dinner, and during the Christmas season, the pantry sets up a small ìtoy storeî that allows parents to select toys for their children. A Christmas meal is also provided.
  • Food ñ The pantry is always in need of food to keep its shelves stocked.

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