Throughout November, we’ve highlighted Rockford team members who extend their hands to their communities and organizations close to their hearts. We close the month with Rockford communications manager, Chelsea Warne, who dedicates her time to Dirt City Sanctuary, a community housing project focused on care and support for those facing substance use disorder and homelessness. We recently met with Chelsea to learn more about the organization and what it means to her.
As you’ve become more involved with the organization, how has it gained importance in your life?
When one of the co-founders of DCS, Tyler Trowbridge, came into my life I felt a shift. He was early in his recovery and homeless, but I realized we had more in common than I would’ve thought – a similar age, background, from a rural town. As our friendship developed, I started to realize the commonality every one of us shares. In my life, I believe it was truly luck that I had just one or two influential people to drive me forward. But what about people like Tyler who have no one? No one to help build their self worth, no one to tell them they are important? Through offering nothing more than my time and heart at DCS events and to Tyler, I have gained increased compassion and gratitude for all people.
Based on your experience working with DCS, what are different ways that an everyday person can improve the lives of themselves and their fellow community members?
As they gain increased support throughout the community, DCS has coordinated incredible events focused on generating awareness for the Grand Rapids homeless community. At a recent event in Heartside Park, the Purple Backpack Project, brought together over 120 volunteers to help over 300 homeless people get the supplies they need to stay warm during winter.
Attending this event, noticing how cold my feet were as I did my best to help fellow community members sort through used clothing, then noticing some had arrived at the event in nothing but socks – these are moments I realized how much I have. How, without mostly sheer luck, I could be on the other side of the table without shoes. Recognizing the commonality we share, offering compassion and support, is the best thing we can do to improve our lives and those in our community.
The next Purpleback Event will be held Saturday, December 22. There are a number of ways you can give back, bake some extra cookies, send items from their Amazon wish list, or simply show up and be present.