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7Everyday Hero dishes up soul food to Aurora's homeless

Posted at 10:36 AM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 12:37:05-05

AURORA, Colo. — On a corner of E. Colfax Avenue, Rena Peterson, better known as "Mama Rena," serves soul food to those in need.

Peterson is the heart behind loving and serving Aurora's homeless. At 81 years old, she is single-handedly changing people's lives.

"We feed the body and we feed the soul and we serve as if they were at our table, guests in our home," she said.

Twice a month for the past 17 years, she has served hot, home-cooked meals from street corners across the city.

"When my husband passed I didn’t know what to do with myself," Peterson said. "I've always been a church person, but I prayed and I asked the Lord, 'What do you want me to do?' He said, 'Feed my people.'"

Leigha Goetzl, who volunteers alongside Peterson, said she has never met anybody in her life who's more committed to serving and loving people than Peterson.

Peterson serves with the help of other volunteers from area churches.

Her faith is her driving force. Through breast cancer, multiple surgeries, rain and snow — nothing stops her from dishing out compassion.

"There is no 'I can't' or 'We can't' or 'It's snowing,'" said volunteer, Cheryl Traylor.

Peterson said she probably has the highest utility bill of anybody in her complex, including those with five or six kids.

"I have two freezers, two refrigerators and I’ve gone through two stoves in the past couple years," she said. "I get so much more than I give, so much more."

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.