Tepeyac’s new clinic is part of a development bringing affordable housing to Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.
In the early 1990s, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a large Catholic parish in Denver’s Northside that’s a hub for local Latinos, faced a crisis. Nearly every day, people come to the office asking for help with medical or mental health, the pastor at the time told the parish council, and we don’t have anything to offer. Is anyone willing to take the lead on this issue? Jim Garcia, attending his first meeting of the church’s leadership group, raised his hand.
Back then, Garcia worked for Tim Wirth, a Democratic U.S. senator from Colorado. “It wasn’t like I had a health care background,” Garcia says. “But I did have an understanding of the issue from the policy level…. It turned out to be a lot more than I imagined.”
The church owned a run-down two-bedroom, 800-square-foot bungalow in the Highland neighborhood that could potentially serve as a free clinic, but bids to renovate the century-old house came in around $150,000. Garcia’s budget was $10,000. So, he stood up at a Sunday service and asked for volunteers. “More than 100 people showed up,” Garcia says. And they kept showing up, often working construction jobs by day and laboring at the clinic into the night.