One life at a time

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Anthony Harris, a fifth grader, and his mother Cherie have been coming to the Denver Red Shield since he was eight months old.

Cherie’s first job after Anthony’s birth was working as a receptionist at the Red Shield. She wasn’t going to church at the time, so when the officers invited her to church she and Anthony started attending services.

“You feel like part of the family here,” Cherie says. “It offers a place where you can come to know the Lord on your own terms.”

She also said the children feel comfortable coming to church and are encouraged by the Above and Beyond Dollars program where they are challenged to do things like memorize the books of the Bible, bring a friend to church or contribute to the self-denial box.

Although Cherie no longer works at the Denver Red Shield, she enrolls Anthony in the after-school program. “It’s a comfortable and safe environment,” Cherie says. She and Anthony both like the after-school program. Anthony admits to not liking to do homework, but says it is a requirement at the Red Shield before he can do things he likes to do, such as playing in the gym and going to the computer lab.

Precious Davis, age 12, has been on the Starlight Drill Team for the past six months at the Denver Red Shield and has been attending the Red Shield for over three years. As a Starlighter, she enjoys the drills they practice, especially the commands the team follows. One thing she likes best about the Red Shield is the encouragement she receives from the staff and volunteers who help her with her homework.

Precious explained some of growth she has experienced at the Red Shield, “I have seen an attitude change…I respect my elders and teachers more and I’m more responsible ever since I’ve been a Starlighter at the Red Shield.”

She also enjoys volunteering at the canteen (concession stand) after basketball games, which she knows is teaching her responsibility and is preparing her for a job.

Seventh grader Shanita Lewis, 13, has grown up in the Denver Red Shield with her six brothers and sisters. She attends church at the Red Shield and every Saturday morning for one hour she goes to Tang Soo Do classes at the center, which she has been doing for the last year and a half.

Tang Soo Do is a type of martial arts that emphasizes respect for yourself and others. Shanita explained her passion for Tang Soo Do, “It’s a good work out… and I enjoy the spiritual part and all of the different things you can learn.” It has also helped her with her anger management. Shanita, with a big smile, described her love for the Red Shield, “I like the variety of choices at the Red Shield…they help you change your life around, they help you find the Lord, they help you with your homework, and they help you be successful!” Shanita wants to be a pediatrician one day.

People come to the Denver Red Shield from all over the metropolitan area and are often referred by friends or relatives of Red Shield members. That is how Raudel Rodriguez, 13, heard of the boxing program at the Denver Red Shield more than a year ago.

Since he’s been in the boxing program run by former heavyweight fighter Ron Lyle, Raudel says he has changed his negative behavior. “ I used to like getting in trouble, now I just come to the gym.”

He says the boxing program has given him confidence as he has learned to defend himself and has helped him to “calm” his temper.

Raudel hopes to become a professional boxer some day and continues to enjoy sparring and learning more about others and himself.

According to the 2002 U.S. Census American Community Data Profiles, 24-27 percent of the population in the Western Territory is under the age of 18.

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