CommunityJefferson Awards


News 5 Jefferson Award winners refuse to say "no" to anyone in need

Jefferson Award Winners Kevin and Mitzi Howard
Posted at 6:55 PM, Apr 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-15 21:01:16-04

PUEBLO, Colo. — The big green boxes outside Kevin and Mitzy Howard's home on East 5th Street in Pueblo will soon house a community garden for anyone who needs a little help to enjoy. It's thanks in part to a donating from Southern Colorado Services, recycling LLC.

"These two middle boxes are going to be the starter of our 100 fruit tree project where we hand out 100 fruit trees to the community," said Kevin Howard.

It's an idea born from Kevin's time in group homes for more than ten years as a child.

"They had a gardening project where they taught the children how to grow plants and vegetables," he recalled.

A lesson that somehow stayed with him through a life filled with abuse, gangs, addiction, homelessness, and time in prison, twice.

"I made a lot of poor choices in my life and I'm not proud of those choices, but because of those choices I'm able to see exactly what's needed to help the people that went through what I went through," he said.

Along with his wife, Mitzy, they run a non-profit out of their home called Pueblo United. Their goal is to help provide basic necessities to anyone struggling to get by.

"Kevin is my go-to guy for everything, "said Mitzy. "He's my emotional support human."

It's a mission born out of knowing exactly what people in need, actually need. Twelve years ago Mitzy was a single mom of two struggling to find help.

"It was Christmas, I had nothing," she said. "I reached out to a local charity for help and she reassured me that I would get help and nothing ever came."

Now Mitzy refuses to allow that to happen to anyone else. Every Wednesday night the Howards, along with their volunteers of friends and family, feed a home-cooked meal to anyone who shows up.

"Tonight we're having meatloaf," said Pueblo United Vice President Stephanie Thompson. "I make it in little cupcake liners. We made mashed potatoes. They have cookies and apples to give out, as well, and bottled water."

Every Wednesday night Pueblo United offers free clothing and haircuts, too. Three other days of the week they hand out care packages with food and hygiene supplies. On Saturdays, they give away furniture at their storage unit for free.

Courtesy of Mitzi Howard

The Howard's 16-year-old daughter, Elyssia, plays a major role, too, running a free pet pantry out of their home.

"My (biological) mom passed me and my brothers around for a while when my dad was in prison," said Elyssia. "I saw how this struggle is so my dad started this up and it made me feel happy to be able to help the homeless."

It's a full-time job for the family determined to never have to say "no" to someone in need.

"Even on their days off they're doing stuff that's Pueblo United related," said Thompson.

Thompson is now the Vice President of Pueblo United. The single mom of three daughters asked for help from Pueblo United when she moved to Colorado from Florida a few years ago.

"I've always wanted to live in the mountains, so I packed everything with my kids and we came to Pueblo because it was the cheapest place in Colorado," said Thompson.

Now Thompson volunteers to cook the weekly hot meals.

"I love to cook," Thompson said. "It's my love language."

Thompson helps serve the more than 75 people who show up outside the Howard's home every Wednesday night.

"A hot meal is everything when you don't have anything," said Thompson.

It's work that's multiplying good across their community and that's exactly why we chose Kevin and Mitzi Howard to receive the News 5 Jefferson Award. To learn more about Pueblo United call (719) 696-8586 or click here.

The Jefferson Awards were started more than 50 years ago with the help of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. To learn more and nominate someone you know click here.

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