A local church is being lauded for a program it put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic that doled out about $205,000 to struggling local businesses in Douglas County and beyond.
The Town of Parker recognized a representative from Southeast Christian Church during their July 12 meeting for the Restart Program.
“On behalf of the council and the Town of Parker, thank you so much,” Mayor Jeff Toborg said to Creative Pastor Jeff Percival. “Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.”
Toborg provided a certificate to recognize the church’s “outstanding support and commitment to Parker small businesses,” he said during the meeting.
Tom Fitzgerald, the executive pastor at the church, said the program started in January and the last funding went out in June.
“The idea was as we were looking at aid that was being made available and there was a lot of it, but there were still gaps,” Fitzgerald said. “We saw an opportunity as a church to go to our congregation to raise some money for small businesses.”
The approximate 5,500-person congregation raised about $100,000 and the church matched that funding, Fitzgerald said.
“It was a time that felt so unbelievably out of control. To as tangibly as possible be the hands and feet of Jesus and help and do something in a situation that we all felt so powerless in was really motivating,” he said.
The church went out and advertised the opportunity for businesses with the Parker Chamber of Commerce and the town council. They also had their congregation and staff hand out cards to businesses.
In the end, they were able to help 14 businesses that ranged from Parker to Aurora to Castle Rock. The funding the businesses received was based on their need. For some, the church helped them pay rent; for others they helped with replacing equipment or other needs. Each business got about $5,000 to $25,000 depending on their need, Percival said during the Parker meeting.
Businesses helped included restaurants, retail, childcare providers, contractors and mental health clinics.
“The Southeast Christian Church Restart Program has greatly contributed to helping small businesses thrive in Parker, Colorado,” Toborg said during the meeting.
A committee of six people from the church — four members of the congregation and two staff members — selected the businesses. The committee, made up of business strategists, accountants and other business-minded members, also helped work with the companies to help them with business coaching and to find additional funding and grants.
“We’re always looking forward to being generous to our community and to take care of the people in our backyard and beyond it,” Fitzgerald said.
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