Longtime friends reflect on Brothers’ history and services they received from agency
Denver residents Delfinia Lujan and Maria Crespin had a front row seat to the early days of Brothers Redevelopment’s impact.
During the 1970’s, the two longtime friends were actively involved in community work, including at the Action Center — a Lakewood-based human services organization.
At the Action Center, Brothers co-founder Manny Martinez would regularly attend the organization’s board meetings. It was there where he met Crespin and Lujan.
“We just got to be real good friends. He was amazing — very friendly, very respectful, and sometimes he was funny,” said Lujan. “He was a pretty awesome guy.”
Little did Lujan and Crespin know that they would eventually benefit from the services Brothers offers.
Lujan clearly remembers being one of the first clients to purchase an affordable home that Brothers repaired in Denver in the 1970s. She says the house was beautiful and had features that her family fell in love with like its spiral staircase, and backyard.
On move in day, former Denver Mayor Federico Peña and others from Brothers joined the Lujan family where the group took a photo in front of the spiral staircase for the former Rocky Mountain News newspaper.
The house was the first home the family purchased and was needed at that time, because Lujan had recently given birth to her third child.
“It touched my heart that our house meant that much to so many people, and we were the lucky ones to buy that and live there. The name (Brothers Redevelopment) alone touches my heart, because they do so much for so many people,” said Lujan. “I’m just so happy that Brothers is still in business, because back when they first started, they were doing so much for so many people.”
Finishing an unfinished job
Crespin crossed paths with Brothers again in 2022 when she reached out to the organization during a time of desperate need.
In January 2020, Crespin, a recently widowed woman who lives directly on South Sheridan Boulevard, was laid off from her job of 26 years. To survive, Crespin lived off her Social Security to pay her mortgage, utilities, and other bills.
But after hiring a contractor to paint her house to be able to get a refinance approved so that she could afford to keep her home, the contractor left the property unfinished. Crespin said the contractor painted her home but swindled her out of money for the painting of her garage and shed that were left with “paint samples” roughly sprayed on them.
Thankfully for Crespin, she remembered Brothers’ Paint-A-Thon Program was a resource available to her. So, she applied, and in the summer of 2022, volunteers arrived with paint brushes, buckets, ladders, and other materials to finish painting her garage and shed.
“It’s difficult to have any extra money as far as with everything that has gone on not only with me, but so many thousands of people too,” said Crespin. “My intention was I would get back to work — but I’ve also been pretty sick. I’ve been in the hospital a couple of times. And it’s just been one thing after another. But when you get help, you appreciate it. I was always attracted to helping people, but now I need the help. It’s a blessing to have organizations like Brothers that are able to help.”
“The many ways that we’re able to help our clients at whatever point they find themselves on the housing continuum is part of the legacy of Brothers Redevelopment,” said Jeff Martinez, Brothers president. “Like Maria, they remember and, hopefully, treasure what we’ve been able to do on their behalf. They know we are able to help them at various points of their lives.”