Sopris Sun Staff Report
Glenwood Springs and Aspen each have year-round or seasonal homeless shelters, but what about the mid-valley? Who helps the homeless there?
Well, a year ago Lynn Kirchner and others saw a need to help the homeless, especially during Colorado’s cold winters. The upshot is Carbondale Homeless Assistance (CHA), now in its second year.
“We recognize the fact that there are different kinds of homeless,” Kirchner told The Sopris Sun. “There are the working homeless (those with a job but sleeping in their car because they just can’t seem to make ends meet), there are the transients, and there are those who have been affected by addiction.”
Kirchner stressed CHA isn’t trying to take on the larger issue of housing itself. “ … we do aim to find a warm space for these individuals to lay their heads at night.”
There are several ways for individuals or organizations to get involved with helping the homeless through CHA:
• Donate goods to sell through consignment shops: Miser’s (account: B-152) Ragged Mountain Sports (account: CHA).
• Take cash donations at any Alpine Bank branch or Amoré Realty located at 711 Main Street in Carbondale (cash will be used to purchase things like shower punch passes at the Carbondale Recreation Center and rooms at local hotels).
• Donate gift cards from businesses such as City Market, Subway, Dos Gringos, Peppino’s, Bonfire and White House Pizza (the recommended amount is $15 or more).
• Donate RFTA bus passes.
• Volunteer time or donate dishes for the free community lunches at Faith Lutheran Church on the first or third Saturdays of each month. The church provides the facility and we typically feed around 30 people.
Carbondale Homeless Assistance’s Facebook page (“carbondale homeless”) is also used to share information, raise awareness and to help organize the efforts of individuals who would like to lend a hand. “We currently have 305 followers on Facebook, many of whom have participated in some way,” Kirchner said.
A recent posting on CHA’s Facebook page says in part, “PUBLIC APPEAL CARBONDALE. In Search of Immediate Place for an older homeless woman and her service dog to stay for the Winter months so she is out of the cold … . She also has serious dental needs and is in need of surgery so that she can be eventually fitted with dentures. (sic)”
A formerly homeless man sent CHA a note that said, “Thank you – you cared when no one else did. The shower passes helped me to make a good presentation for my job interview. I am now working full-time and have an apartment. Without your help, I’d still be homeless. God Bless you all for what you are doing.”
An inventory of CHA accomplishments provided by Kirchner include:
• Opened a conversation with the habitat challenged in our community;
• Created awareness of who these people who are in our community;
• Established a reputable fundraising process to support our efforts;
• Help get people back on their feet and self-sustaining;
• Provided annual membership passes for our habitat challenged community members to take showers at the Carbondale Community Center;
• Provided gas/repairs for vehicles;
• Provide veterinarian care for pets;
• Provided assistance for safe and legal camping, including but not limited to, sleeping bags and tents.
For Carbondale Homeless Assistance’s next big push takes place at the Faith Lutheran Church from 11:30 to 1 p.m. on Dec. 17 (across from Wells Fargo Bank). The entire community is invited to come out and share lunch, and is asked to bring items to donate to CHA (see the ad on page 10).
For more information on Carbondale Homeless Assistance, call 963-5177 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Sopris Sun on December 15, 2016.