It was May 28 and Mercy's Gate Executive Director Julie Wilson was telling 420 supporters at the nonprofit's Messengers of Hope annual fundraising breakfast about the year of providing emergency and crisis support to those in the area.
Of all the things Mercy's Gate (formerly Northern Churches Care) had done in the community during the last 30 years, little could compare with 2012 and the scope of the Waldo Canyon fire, she said. Mercy's Gate, she said, was one of the first organizations called in to provide crisis management, starting with short-term housing assistance to move evacuated families, most of whom had lost their homes, from Red Cross shelters into housing.
More than 350 of those impacted by the fire received their help, Wilson said.
Almost beyond comprehension, the experiences of 2012 were eclipsed just two weeks after the fundraising breakfast, June 11, when Mercy's Gate - with its 54 member churches - was among those called on after an even bigger disaster: the Black Forest fire that wiped out 511 homes.
Mercy's Gate immediately handed out hundreds of gift cards to evacuees: Walmart cards for general items and King Sooper (also used at Loaf 'N Jug) cards for gas. Calls went out for gift cards and donations toward the cards. The first day of disaster assistance, cards were given to twice the number of people as the first day of the Waldo Canyon fire, according to a Mercy's Gate Facebook posting.
Without any doubt, Julie Wilson will be completely rewriting the nonprofit's statistics for next year's fundraising breakfast.