From the classroom to Little Flower, Loretta and Sharon’s humanitarian roots run deep in Aurora

Loretta and Sharon’s lives ran parallel in many ways. They both taught at Aurora Public Schools for decades, their kids went to the same schools and they went to the same parish. However, where they connected most was volunteering at Little Flower Assistance Center in Aurora.

They both vividly remember when Donna Potter, Director of Little Flower, stood at the pulpit after Mass at St. Michael’s in 1985 to recruit parishioners to get involved with a new ministry in the community. They answered that call and began dividing their time between teaching, parenting and volunteering. For many years, Sharon taught half-day kindergarten and would come to Little Flower in the afternoon. Volunteering was a connection to the students they taught at their respected schools because many of those families leaned on Little Flower in times of need.

After Loretta and Sharon retired, they solidified their friendship by spending even more hours volunteering together at Little Flower, a ministry of Catholic Charities of Denver. They work off each other and the other amazing volunteers who dedicate their days to serving the growing population of people facing food insecurity.

According to Feeding America, one in every 11 people faces food insecurity in Colorado. The number of people facing hunger in the state has reached 533,000, 130,000 of which are children. Each week, dozens more neighbors than a year ago come to the doors at Little Flower, many of whom are migrants who are currently ineligible for government assistance. The fresh produce and nutritious meals they are able to retrieve on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays may be the only meal they get all week.

The center is for people like Ivan and Debbie who come to Little Flower to stock up on the fresh food that food stamps don’t cover.

“We’ve been coming here for a long time. Recently I became eligible to get a senior box with other things I need as I get a little older. It’s been so great for us,” said Debbie.

As they continue to work side by side, Loretta and Sharon continue to share anecdotes from what their lives were like in the classrooms, finding parallels between their experiences at school and the struggles faced by the families. It was clear, even in 1985, that the need extended beyond the walls of a classroom.

“Working with this community has been a blessing. And I am glad we can come together with these great volunteers to continue this work in Aurora,” shared Sharon.