Mission Arvada is operated by volunteers and members of The Rising Church. The programs of Mission Arvada are overseen by Pastor Jarrod Irwin (“Pastor Jarrod”). Responsibility of daily operations are orchestrated by Karen Cowling, Mission Arvada Director and Mission Arvada Team Leaders, Lori Perry-Crumrine, Jaci Lippert, and Christine Thurston. Each leader contributes to tasks, events, and programs at the Mission depending on their skill set and interests. Mission Arvada’s leadership are key drivers of new avenues for financial and programmatic support, and 100% of them also give financially to the organization.
Jarrod loves Jesus! His life’s goal is to become like Christ. Hired as Senior Pastor in 2024, he is responsible for being the spiritual leader of The Rising Church. He is committed to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, teach the Bible, guard the Doctrine of the church, engage in pastoral care, and to provide administrative leadership in all areas of church life and function. He endeavors to lead the church to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbors as themselves! He also seeks to equip the congregation to preach the gospel and make disciples of Jesus!
Before joining The Rising, Jarrod served at Open Door Fellowship for 10 years in various positions of leadership including as Administrative Pastor as well as Teaching and Discipleship Pastor. Jarrod also serves as the President of TELOS School of Discipleship, a ministry that focuses on evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development among those who are struggling with addiction, homelessness, and poverty in downtown Denver.
Jarrod has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and psychology. He received his master’s degree in Christian Studies with concentrations in New Testament Studies and Educational Ministries from Denver Seminary.
Jarrod is blessed to be married to Amy with four beautiful children!
Karen Cowling brings over 30 years of experience in Special Education to her role at Mission Arvada. A volunteer since November 2017, Karen holds two master’s degrees in Speech/Language Pathology and Learning Disabilities. She and her husband, Keith, served as Denver County foster parents for a decade, creating a supportive community through a faith-based foster/adoptive parent group.
Karen's commitment extends beyond Mission Arvada; she has been actively involved with the Severe Weather Shelter Network since 2017, providing overnight shelter to the homeless during the coldest nights of winter.
As Mission Arvada’s director, Karen oversees the day-to-day operations of the shelter. Her responsibilities include supervising staff and volunteers, counseling clients, offering prayer support, and facilitating transportation to various agencies. Karen is deeply involved in advocacy and case management, connecting clients with crucial resources from dental care to mental health services. Her compassionate approach is evident in her commitment to transporting clients to court, crisis centers, or rehabilitation programs and making hospital and jail visits.
Passionate about making a difference, Karen manages administrative tasks, oversees volunteer recruitment and training, and collaborates with agencies for dental services, eye care, medical services, benefits, legal services, vital document recovery, mental health and more. Recognized for her outstanding contributions, Karen received the 2018 Image Award from the Arvada Chamber of Commerce.
Keith Cowling, Finance Director for The Rising Church, manages financial reporting and accounting for both the church and Mission Arvada. Retired in 2022 after 37 years at the Credit Union of Denver, with the last 22 years as CEO, Keith brings extensive leadership and financial expertise to his role.
Volunteering at Mission Arvada was a natural choice for Keith, driven by the organization's impactful work and an opportunity that aligned with his background. Holding an MBA in Finance from the University of Colorado at Denver and a BA in Journalism/Advertising from the University of Wisconsin, Keith combines financial acumen with a diverse skill set.
Beyond his professional journey, Keith is committed to community service, reflecting his belief in making a positive impact. Notably, his wife, Karen, serves as the Director of Mission Arvada, and he takes immense pride in their collective contribution to the community.
As a dedicated member of both the church and the Mission Arvada team, Keith is passionate about the organization's mission and looks forward to continued collaboration in making a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need.
Day Shelter Team Leader, Lori Perry-Crumrine is a retired educator. She spent the first 15 years of her career as a Special Education teacher in Denver Public Schools and the last 18 years as an assistant principal in Jeffco Public Schools. Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of Northern Colorado and her master’s and doctoral work were all completed at the University of Denver. She currently attends church at Faith Church in Arvada.
Lori began volunteering at Mission Arvada in March of 2019 and is currently our Assistant Director and a Day Shelter Team Leader. A retirement goal was to find something she was passionate about and volunteer. She spent a large portion of her career helping struggling students and their families find support in a variety of areas. The opportunity to continue to help individuals who come to Mission Arvada who are forgotten and often ignored, has been a perfect fit for her.
Berzette Green started volunteering in October of 2020. She is now a Case Manager. Berzette was also hired as a support worker for clients who are newly housed through a human services grant offered by the city of Arvada.
Berzette came to us from California, where she majored in online classes for Business Management and Administration with Kaplan University. She began working with adults with developmental disabilities in 1993 and was an Administrator of Adult Day Behavioral Centers for ten years, and an Adult Residential Administrator for a Group Home for three years. After completing a Mental Health Paraprofessional Training Course, she moved on to work for Pacific Clinic’s Advanced Behavioral Health Clinics for six years as a Housing Supervisor.
Pacific Clinics allowed her to truly understand how strong collaboration and innovation can help increase opportunities for a better quality of life for individuals who have a mental health or dual diagnosis and who are chronically homeless and in need of wrap-around services. She finds it rewarding to help such individuals successfully integrate, and while housed, become more productive members of their community.
Vera began volunteering at Mission Arvada in November of 2021 as a front desk receptionist. Starting in 2022, Vera began co-writing grant applications to support the day shelter and food pantry. She also began supporting Berzette with client enrollment for housing services and case management. Vera has a bachelor's degree in Physics from CU Boulder. She has previously worked as a middle school science teacher and as a family child care provider. Vera is passionate about helping our clients overcome difficult circumstances to become fulfilled, self-sufficient, and safely housed.
My journey to lean in and love our unhoused neighbors began with my church serving as a host for the Severe Weather Shelter Network (pre-pandemic). An invitation to the table to join in nourishment together is so simple--life saving for guests, and life altering for those who come together in community.
When COVID restrictions were lifted, Mission Arvada was the perfect fit for volunteer opportunities for me. A career in sales, procurement, training, and customer care management provided skills easily translated for this work.
I can't wait to see what God does in this next season.
Christine Thurston, a compassionate individual originally from, has volunteered at The Rising Church since 2015, actively supporting Mission Arvada's mission to aid the homeless population.
With a diverse professional background, including roles in the hospitality and insurance industries, as well as experience as a personal assistant, Christine has honed her organizational abilities and customer-focused approach.
In addition to her professional pursuits, Christine remains actively involved in volunteer work, including ongoing contributions to the Severe Weather Shelter Network and participation in the "One by One" Facebook group dedicated to helping the homeless. Complementing her AA degree in Liberal Arts, Christine's focus on serving God and making a difference in people's lives is evident in her passion for helping individuals navigate their struggles.
Christine's role as a Team Lead and Caseworker involves vital responsibilities, such as facilitating access to supportive services, coordinating with various stakeholders, and assisting with document recovery and credit-related issues. Her dedication extends to attending collaborative meetings, maintaining accurate documentation, and supporting grant administration.
With a personal connection to homelessness, having experienced it herself in Minnesota, Christine's empathy and understanding guide her in providing emotional support and encouragement to those facing similar challenges. She finds solace in grounding herself with God, journaling, caring for horses, and enjoying moments of relaxation, ensuring her cup is filled to continue making a positive impact.
Susan Shirley's journey with Mission Arvada began in March 2020, spurred by her admiration for Pastor Steve and the shelter's mission. Its proximity to her home solidified her commitment, especially during the challenging times of the Covid pandemic.
Twice a week, Susan assists at the shelter, managing the front desk, filing documents, conducting orientations, and handling various tasks. She also serves as a vital resource hub for essentials like money, clothing, and food, generously provided by friends and community members.
As a committed caseworker, Susan goes beyond the shelter walls, addressing the ongoing needs of clients transitioning into housing. She drives hundreds of miles yearly, connecting clients with resources like groceries and medical appointments. Through these interactions, she builds trusting bonds and friendships, helping alleviate the isolation that often accompanies homelessness.
Before Mission Arvada, Susan volunteered at Community Table from 2010 to 2013 and has been an active member of Arvada for All the People since 2013, advocating for responsible development in local political campaigns.
As a mother and Arvadan for over 35 years, Susan takes pride in contributing to Mission Arvada's kind and supportive community. Her dedication exemplifies the spirit of service, making a lasting impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Arvada and beyond.
Jill Nickerson has managed Mission Arvada’s Food Pantry since mid-2020. In this role, Jill collaborates with various agencies and donors to secure essential food supplies for the organization's clients. Operating on a weekly basis, Jill manages the purchasing and receiving of food, handling both planned acquisitions and spontaneous donations. Working alongside a team of dedicated volunteers, she ensures that Mission Arvada's Saturday food pantry remains well-stocked and meticulously organized.
Jill's journey with Mission Arvada began in response to the urgent call for volunteers by the Colorado governor during the early days of the pandemic. Initially serving meals at The Rising church, Jill discovered the impactful mission of the food pantry and eventually assumed the managerial role when the previous manager retired.
With over thirty years of experience as a paralegal in civil litigation, Jill brings a wealth of professional expertise to the role. Holding a BA in criminal justice and political science, Jill combines academic knowledge with hands-on experience to make a meaningful impact in the community.
Beyond Mission Arvada, Jill engages in various volunteer and community activities. She serves on the Fossil Trace Women's Golf Club Board, tutors elementary students in reading with Reading Partners, and has previously volunteered as a course rater with the Colorado Golf Association. Jill has also contributed time to We Don't Waste, a partner organization of Mission Arvada.
In a delightful twist of fate, Jill shares a joyful companionship with M, a wonderful Flat-Coat Retriever. This furry friend entered Jill's life through a client at Mission Arvada, and now, M is a regular and heartwarming presence during Jill's weekly visits to stock the food pantry. This unique connection exemplifies the meaningful relationships that can blossom through volunteering at Mission Arvada.
Sean Calderon, a seasoned software engineer, leverages his expertise to streamline Mission Arvada's data management. Sean's introduction to Mission Arvada occurred in April 2019 while he was participating in a church project. Witnessing the organization's unparalleled compassion for the homeless left an indelible mark on him.
Motivated to contribute, Sean identified an opportunity to enhance Mission Arvada's operations. Recognizing manual data handling during client check-ins, he proposed a digital solution. Collaborating with Karen Cowling and Pastor Steve, Sean volunteered to develop a software system for tracking and managing Day Shelter processes. Over six months, he simultaneously volunteered at the front desk, gaining insights into operational nuances.
In August of that year, Sean delivered a Beta version of the system, gradually refining and enhancing it. By October, Mission Arvada was fully operational with the new software. Sean remains committed to ongoing improvements, with additional features and systems in the pipeline to optimize processes, data management, and facilitate ministry growth.