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Chaffee’s Got Heart spotlighted Pastor Melinda Roberts of the Salida United Methodist Church as their 15th nominee for the Chaffee’s Got Heart award. The board spoke with Roberts to find out how the pandemic changed worship for her community and to learn more about how she approached the challenge of the pandemic.

When asked how COVID-19 caused her to change the way she does things, Roberts explained “When we shut down in-person worship services, we went completely online, which meant us learning a lot about technology very quickly. In summer and fall, we also added a hike church – a modified church service while a group of people went hiking. That was really fun and was a great way to safely see each other while still providing fellowship.”

Image courtesy of Chaffee’s Got Heart.

“The ministry services we offered also had to change to meet some needs within the community,” She continued. “After the showers at the pool and Presbyterian Church shut down, we were asked to open ours up twice a week. We’ve done that and will continue to do that. We also opened our doors to the women’s shelter and will continue to house it here as needed.”

Roberts then explained why she decided to go above and beyond to contribute to the community. She said “There was nothing else that we could do. I couldn’t sit here with our doors closed and not help, so we just looked for ways we could do things differently, ways we could think outside of the box to help the community. And we were grateful we had support from the congregation to make those changes.”

When asked where she see examples of the idea that “Chaffee’s got Heart” Roberts said “I saw it in how our ministry changed; we used to be able to assist four families a week with gift cards to Safeway, but because folks were so generous, we are now able to help 10 to 15 families a week. In the past, each person was eligible for four cards a year, but because people saw a need and were so generous in response, each person is now eligible for 10 cards per year.”

She explained how that ministry has grown, saying “We have seen it through donations for the shelter, our shower ministry, and our Samaritan fund from within our congregation and from people outside of our church who heard what were doing. People from all over the community, even those without any connection to our church have given and shown it is a group effort to get all of us through this.  No one person or organization can say we’ve done it all because it’s been a citywide and countywide effort to help.”

Roberts’ biggest takeaway from the last year is that “We can change and change quickly if we need to. Churches and other institutions are known for being slow to change, but we needed to change quickly, and we did it. This is true of other organizations, institutions and people; they can change to help their community.”

Salida United Methodist Church is always accepting donations for its Samaritan Fund which provides Safeway gift cards to families in need. To donate, send a check to PO Box 945, Salida, CO 81201. Click here to learn more. Those interested in volunteering to manage their shower ministry on Mondays and Thursdays are encouraged to email

To support the shelter, click here.