For more than 40 years, the Action Center, a human-service non-profit, has stood as a beacon of hope to the homeless, near homeless and working poor of Jefferson County. It has help thousands of families and individuals break the cycle of poverty and improve their lives and their community.
The Action Center (originally called Jeffco Support Inc.) was started by the Jefferson County Human Relations Council May 20, 1968 at Applewood Valley United Methodist Church as an information and referral service. The idea was to provide basic human services to residents of Jefferson County on an immediate basis and in a non-judgmental environment. Formal partnership with Church Women United began in May 1969. This marked the birth of intervention services, which remains to be the core of our mission today.
The earliest programs included a furniture bank and several food and clothing banks located in churches throughout the county.
As it became evident that members of the community were struggling more during the holidays, Santa Shop distribution was initiated in 1972 and one year later, more than 600 children received gifts. This was the first sign of what is now a myriad of prevention programs. By 1976 more than 1,300 children received gifts from Santa Shop.
In the winter of 1971, a total of 21 families were helped with food. By the end of the 70’s, numbers increased to nearly 130 families served in the months of November and December respectively.
In 1975 Jeffco Support Inc., changed its name to Jeffco Action Center and emergency services personnel increased to two full-time positions in 1979. This was the beginnings of what is now a counseling corps of staff and volunteers totaling nearly 50 people.
By 1986, the Action Center was serving 14,491 food pantry clients and 3,811 shelter clients. Bringing a close to the 1980’s was the birth of a new medical clinic as a joint venture between Jeffco Action Center and First Baptist Church of Lakewood. Today we partner with many agencies to help support connection programs – one of which is the Estes Street Community Clinic.
The growth of the facilities coincided with growing community needs and by 1993 more than 28,000 five-day supplies of food and more than 146,000 articles of clothing were given away annually. The end of the 90’s marked the first School Supply distribution and the dedication of a new shelter in 1997.
Mag Strittmatter was named Executive Director in early 2006 and continues to serve.
Under the direction and leadership of Mag Strittmatter, the Action Center has been able to successfully weather the last five years which brought the second worst economic recession this country has ever seen. Demand for services has jumped 40 percent since the beginning of 2008 and the Action Center is now serving more than 28,000 individuals each year. In 2010-11 the Action Center distributed 60,969 five-day supplies of food, provided 6,213 nights of shelter and helped 4,366 children through Santa Shop.
The corp. of volunteers that originally set out to help their friends and neighbors make ends meet has developed into an ever-growing army of volunteers that help in each and every area of operation. Today, more than 80 volunteers work at the Action Center each day, with a total of more than 4,000 annually. The dedication of volunteer hours donated equates to more $2 million dollars worth of time – the equivalent of an additional 30 staff members.
In 2011, the Action Center forged a pathway through two new frontiers. A new Capital Campaign was organized and launched, seeking more than $6 million dollars to fully renovate and expand the Action Center to a campus of three buildings over the course of approximately five years. Additionally, a new logo and brand was developed, introducing a new name – The Action Center.
This fresh new face of the organization will allow us to continue to broaden and strengthen program and service capabilities into the future as we deal day-in and day-out with the new normal of nearly 160 households each day.