Westside CARES executive director stepping down after 15 yearsSteve Brown, who has been the Westside CARES executive director since 2002, is stepping down at the end of June. He gave his notice several months ago.
A selection process is underway to name his replacement.
But the former pastor and hospice chaplain continues to feel strongly about his work with the charitable nonprofit. In an hour-long interview, most questions
Started in 1983 by a group of churches, Westside CARES is a largely volunteer organization with a few paid staffers. The agency provides a range of emergency services - including a registered nurse and six food pantries - to 150 or more people a week and additionally supports other local charity efforts.
The area served is west of I-25, south of the Air Force Academy, east of Teller County and north of Fort Carson.
The major accomplishment during Brown's tenure was relocating the operation from the basement of a church in the 1900 block of West Colorado Avenue in 2013 to a commercial building with more than twice the space at 2808 W. Colorado.
A $1.5 million Westside CARES capital campaign seeks to pay off the mortgage. It has about $300,000 to go, he said.
Brown is not moving to a different job. He said he plans to live in Colorado Springs another year and a half and after that join his wife elsewhere.
In the meantime, he said with relish, he hopes to continue his role as the namesake for the annual Feast of St. Arnold beer festival fundraiser at the Chapel of Our Saviour Episcopal Church in the Broadmoor area. He sees that as a positive way to mix religion and fun. This year's event will be June 10.
A consortium of 22 churches coordinates the Westside CARES effort.
Eligibility is a consideration for most assistance requests, particularly to get help with rent or utilities. Also, there are limits on how often households can receive aid.
Brown estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the agency's clients are “homeless.” While many such people are looking to improve their situation, he said he's learned that some - most prominently the types who camp illegally, have addiction issues, beg for money or hang out in public - can be defined as the “least and the lost.” He admits to having no ready solution to that problem, nor to neediness in general; however, in his final letter to the Westside CARES community, he touches on luck of birth:
“We speak of self-sufficiency, although that is a word I feel is quite inaccurate and inadequate. My life and my faith have taught me that I did not achieve anything on my own. There are talents I have because of my DNA (a gift), and because of my upbringing (I chose my parents wisely). Without these I would likely be in a much different place than I am. I also believe this is the human condition. None of us rises or falls exclusively because of our own efforts. We all stand in the midst of communities of mutual support.”
Westside Pioneer article