The Denver City Council proclaimed Monday Lindi Sinton and Tom Leuhrs Day, honoring two retiring leaders in the homeless services community.
City Council member Robin Kniech sponsored the proclamations. She is chairperson of the Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee of the council.
Sinton has served Volunteers of America Colorado for 43 years, most recently as Vice President of Program Operations, according to the proclamation. She “selflessly serves the Denver Metro Area and beyond, connecting underserved people from diverse populations, including those experiencing homelessness, to life-changing assistance, affordable housing and other transformative social services, and the testament to VOAC’s success is its 400 plus loyal, hardworking and dedicated employees,” the proclamation reads.
Leuhrs served as executive director of St. Francis Center for 31 years. St. Francis is the largest day shelter in Denver and heavily used by the homeless community. “At first, the center served a few hundred people a day, helping them meet their most basic needs, but under Tom’s leadership, the center grew its services exponentially and serves more than 10,000 people each year, providing them with housing, employment and other services––always meeting them where they’re at,” according to the proclamation.
In accepting the proclamation, Leuhrs said people given housing feel honored by it. They appreciate being dignified, he said. “I really care about those who are most vulnerable in our community.”
Leaders expand services
Leuhrs grew the Center’s staff from 15 to 80 and expanded the center’s programs and services, the proclamation explains, “including a street outreach program that reached 9,500 people, employment services that served 1,174 people, helping place 579 of them in full-time jobs, and developing four new supportive housing complexes totaling more than 200 homes––all of which serve as part of his larger than life living legacy at the center.”
Sinton’s proclamation also lauds her accomplishments. “Lindi has taken VOAC to new heights, better expanding and deploying its services to run efficiently and deliver the help, security, and safety that many in Denver and Colorado desperately need. Under Lindi’s leadership, VOAC stood up affordable housing programs and communities in Denver and across Colorado tailored to serve women, families, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities, helping them become self-sufficient and reach their full potential.”
As a dedication to her decades of work and commitment to her community, a 24/7 safe shelter for senior women now bears her name, “Sinton’s Sanctuary,” according to the proclamation.
John Parvensky, former CEO of Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, also retired this spring. Britta Fisher, former director of the city’s Department of Housing Stability, has already taken over for Parvensky. Kniech made a point to mention Parvensky while reading the proclamations as did Laura Brudzynski of the city’s Department of Housing Stability. Brudzynski also noted the retirement of Brad Miley of the Denver Rescue Mission.
Affordable housing advocates honored
The council also proclaimed June 5 Heather Lafferty Day and Getabecha “Gete” Mekonnen Day. Kniech brought forth proclamations honoring them for their contributions to affordable housing efforts in the city.
“As a visionary, Heather is fueled by and asks those she leads: ‘How can we do more?’ which has not only resulted in incredible impacts across Denver, but created ripple effects far beyond our city limits,” the proclamation states. “Heather made countless tangible and intangible differences in the lives of Denver families as a leader of Habitat for Humanity locally and nationally since 1999, including her role as CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver beginning in 2008.”
The proclamation states Lafferty is taking “a well-deserved break.”
Mekonnen’s proclamation honors him for his work as leader of the Northeast Denver Housing Center. “Gete has brought unmatched dedication to NDHC’s founding mission, along with an uncanny ability to make the most out of every opportunity with the highest of standards and expectations––all while working closely with his team of NDHC board of directors, staff, housing professionals and partners in all levels of government,” the proclamation reads. ”Gete led and moved NDHC forward and delivered crucial work and results, serving 16,000 households and producing more than 2,500 homes, both for ownership and rental apartments.”
Brudzynski said the honorees are “truly pillars in the housing and homelessness resolution community." She said they are responsible for creating “person-centered, trauma-informed approaches” to homelessness.
"The collective impact of each of them is really a legacy," Kniech said. She said they provide "roofs over heads" and "doors with keys." She said they have been trailblazers in expanding services to the homeless population.