EarthLinks cultivates transformation and self-worth with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. By creating opportunities through Earth-centered programs, individuals step out of isolation and into community - restoring each other and the planet.
EarthLinks was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1996 through the vision, initiative, and dedication of two Catholic religious women, Bette Ann Jaster, OP, and Cathy Mueller, SL. Over their many years of service in the community, the two women noted profound fragmentation and deep hunger for connection and belonging. This cry came from diverse people in many different circumstances. The founders knew it was possible to create experiences that foster relationships, build community, encourage healing, and deepen our understanding of our relatedness with all life. These are the beliefs that guide EarthLinks today.
The heart of EarthLinks remains a supportive community focused on Earth-care, education, empowerment, and new healing in lives often in disarray. Through growing our own food, working on employment skills, taking steps to obtain housing and peer support, participants move from crisis to stability.
Numbers, while important, often do not capture the true impact of our program. As one participant affirms, "It's about what goes on mentally, spiritually, emotionally inside those gates." Indeed, as another participant explained in an interview last year, "EarthLinks is our little bit of Eden on Earth; 2200 sq ft. that helps feed us and other homeless individuals in Denver." In this little bit of Eden, participants find respite from the friction and demands of daily life in Denver. As one resident said, "I come in here, and I get to use my hands, and it's calming.: Another participant echoes this sentiment, saying that at EarthLinks, "It's tranquil." Still, amidst the peace of this place, there is activity and action: As one participant told us last year, "There are so many things to do here, and so many things to learn… No matter how long you've been here and how much you know, you're always learning." Another describes an important aspect of this learning process: she said that she thinks to herself, "I don't have to do it by myself, so maybe I can do it [with help].' And then [I] think, 'maybe I can do it myself.'" That same participant recently said that, thanks to EarthLinks, "I have never in my life felt like I have had more people behind me. I know that no matter how hard things in my life get, I'm not alone." One participant sums up their experience at EarthLinks with this profound statement: "I am very glad to work for EarthLinks, they have saved my life."
"You get out of this program what you put into it. I'm proud to say that I work here, I represent. EarthLinks is more than just a garden- it's family, it's support, it's people who love me even when I didn't love myself, and my family didn't at that point either. I wouldn't be where I am without this community, I don't even know if I would be alive."
"EarthLinks has been therapeutic for me with hardships that I go through. It helps being able to come here and get away from my thoughts for a while, do something different, and to lose myself in something else instead of worrying about things. When I am feeling my worst, that's when I come here because it makes me feel better about my life, and I can face another day."