Canyon View Vineyard Church puts on weekly meal in Clifton
In the cold, drizzly rain just a couple hours before the Super Bowl kickoff, about 100 people gathered inside large tents at Kimwood Park in Clifton.
Inside, warm steam rose from a chicken, cheese and noodle dish, and bowls of hot, hearty chicken noodle soup sat waiting for the taking. The good smells mingled with the boisterous chatter of children running about and neighbors greeting one another with hugs and hellos.
The simple gesture by members of Canyon View Vineyard Church to feed neighbors on Sundays in one of Clifton’s more run-down areas is doing more than filling bellies, said local resident Sonja Alvarez-Barker. Before church members started the effort in September, fights broke out easily, drug dealing in public was common and children were afraid to use the local park.
“The kids are so much closer,” Alvarez-Barker said, while keeping an eye on the entrance and calling out hellos to neighbors by name. “They smile, they’re not scared to be here anymore. For the first time they say they can’t wait to be here and they look forward to Sundays.”
Not unlike the rest of the country, people are falling on hard times. Volunteers, many of them teenagers, who fan out into the Clifton community bringing food and cheer on Sundays have taken on some heartbreaking stories. Some folks they meet truly don’t have food to eat. Others are homebound. One man who answered the door was so thankful to see the volunteers because he didn’t think he’d live through the day without food in his home and recovering from a drug addiction.
Canyon View Vineyard Church pastor Bob Clifford said the effort has taken off since the fall when about 20 hesitant people showed for warm meal. Since then, people of all ages and backgrounds have shown to gather with neighbors and to enjoy a free meal. Having a weekly meeting place for neighbors is also increasing communication, resulting in neighbors helping meet each others’ needs.
Somehow, increasing food donations and volunteers continue to make the gatherings successful, said church member Brad Thomas.
“God keeps providing more food and more clothing and money seems to come out of nowhere,” Thomas said.
Thomas organizes a group of about 20 Central High School students called “The Revolution Group” who go door-to-door with bags of food and open hearts.
Some of the teens are church members and others live in the Clifton area.
“The biggest thing is translating what you believe to actually doing what it is you actually believe,” Thomas said. “The kids feel like they’re helping and it’s more than you can get at a weekend service or anywhere else.”
Sixteen-year-old Yolanda Garcia would agree with that. The Fruita Monument High School junior helps out by knocking on doors and volunteering where she can,
“In the summer we play football in the park,” she said. “I get a really good sensation that I’m helping out people that are less fortunate.”