Mission Arvada is operated by three volunteers and members of The Rising Church. The programs of Mission Arvada are overseen by Pastor Stephen Byers (“Pastor Steve”). Responsibility of daily operations are orchestrated by Karen Cowling, Mission Arvada Director and three Mission Arvada Team Leaders, Lori Perry-Crumrine, Jackie Beaver and Julie Campanella-Arlt. 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% give financially to the organization.
Stephen Byers (Pastor Steve) has been the senior pastor of The Rising Church for twenty-one years. Steve has Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and History, a Master of Business in Finance and Marketing, a Master of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree. Prior to attending seminary, Steve was a Financial Analyst for American Airlines. Before coming to The Rising, he served as a Youth and Young Adults Minister and Teaching Pastor in Arlington, VA.
Steve and his wife Cathy have been foster parents to sixteen children, five of whom they have adopted. That experience exposed them to behavioral issues associated with drug exposure, trauma, and neglect in children and has allowed Steve to understand the mental health, trauma and substance abuse issues present in the homeless community. As pastor he is the spiritual leader and teacher in the church. He provides vision, organizational skills, and financial expertise for Mission Arvada as well as one-on-one counseling and navigation of services for our clients.
Director, Karen Cowling has been serving as a volunteer with Mission Arvada since November 2017. Karen has a background of thirty-three years in Special Education with two Master’s Degrees in Speech/Language Pathology and Learning Disabilities. Karen and her husband Keith are foster/adoptive parents and served as Denver County foster parents for ten years through 2015. They facilitated a faith based foster/adoptive parent support group for nine years through 2017. Karen volunteered in many capacities for the Severe Weather Shelter Network which shelters the homeless overnights in severe weather since 2017. She has ministered to and advocated for children and adolescents in residential placements and for those on the streets since 1992.
Karen received the 2018 Image Award from the Arvada Chamber of Commerce for her exemplary work with the homeless community in Arvada. Her roles and responsibilities at Mission Arvada of The Rising Church include but are not limited to: running and operating the day shelter on a daily basis; managing day shelter services include meals, showers, clothing closet, and severe weather closet; supervising and covering all stations with qualified volunteers; counseling clients; prayer support for clients; transporting clients to various agencies; assisting clients with paperwork and securing section 8 apartments, moving clients into their apartments, and the overall care of our clients. Karen also manages administrative aspects; provides advocacy/case management of clients; oversees volunteer recruitment and training; connects clients to agencies such as Dental at Your Door, Benefits in Action, Family Tree, City of Arvada Homeless Navigation, Jefferson County Public Health; Jefferson County Human Services; Jefferson Center for Mental Health; The Denver Rescue Mission and Nurse Valerie for our medical clinic; and implements services which benefit our clients. Karen is passionate and caring at a deep level and has on many occasions transported and advocated for clients in court or for probation; transported clients to crisis centers or the ER at Lutheran Hospital; counseled, arranged and transported clients to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs; and made hospital and jail visits to clients.
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 Applewood Baptist Church.
Lori began volunteering at Mission Arvada in March of 2019 and is currently 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.
Julie Campanella-Arlt has been a Day Shelter Team Leader since May 2019. Julie went to college for business management. She worked at King Soopers for 28 years and held various management positions; the last one being a store manager, before having to retire due to an illness. She currently attends church at Reds Rocks Church Arvada.
Julie has always enjoyed volunteering. She was going through the loss of her own mother and her mother in law and the Lord led her to Mission Arvada. While Julie knows we are supposed to be helping the clients, she really feels like it's helped her more than she can explain. It’s not only shown her to appreciate her life more and the people around her, but to be more accepting of others. Julie says, “The people we serve are so grateful for the littlest of things that we take for granted.” Julie is so thankful for the opportunity to serve at Mission Arvada. She feels her life will never be the same.
Sean Calderon helps Mission Arvada manage their data using his experience in software engineering. He has provided a brief word about his experiences with Mission Arvada:
I, Sean Calderon, first discovered Mission Arvada (Rising Church) through a Red Rocks (church) small group. As a small group, we did a Wednesday night dinner at Mission Arvada in April of 2019. It was an evening to remember for me. I witnessed first hand a level of compassion for the homeless that I’d never experienced before. As I stood observing men and women of various ages and backgrounds enjoy what very well could have been their only decent meal that day, one older gentle man in super ragged clothes and a dirty face walked up to Karen Cowling with tears rolling down his eyes. He looked her in the eyes and thanked her for the food he was given. He proceeded to give Karen a hug, his voice cracking as he continued to tearfully thank her for the food. I was crushed. My heart broke in a million pieces for this man and every other individual in that room eating what could be their last meal. I knew in that moment I wanted to be a part of making a difference in this place. My experience is in tech/software however, and I wasn’t sure what I could offer. But, then I noticed the process of taking in (checking in) their clients (the homeless) was all done by hand on paper. Lightbulb! I approached Karen about their other processes and how they manage their data. After further discussions, Karen, Pastor Steve, and I agreed to talk more about the possibility of me volunteering to build MA a software system to track and manage their Day Shelter processes and data. Over the next 6 months, I volunteered to run front desk check-ins on Wednesday nights as I built them a software system to help digitalize, automate, and track their workflows and data. Working the front desk on Wednesday nights helped me learn their check in processes as well as the data that needed to be tracked and managed. In August of that year, a Beta version of the system was delivered and installed on MA’s computers. We tested it for a couple of months as I continued to tweak, fix, and enhance the software. A couple of months later, in October, an updated version was delivered. Mission Arvada (MA) was now fully operational with their new software system. I continue to work on fixes, enhancements, and updates on a regular basis with more features and additional systems in the pipeline to help MA continue to optimize their processes and data management as well as to enhance their ability to analyze and interpret their ongoing collection of data to help further and grow the ministry.