A home for the homeless | AspenTimes.com

A home for the homeless

Dear Editor:

Many thanks to 10-year-old Grace Ferguson of Snowmass Village for bringing the plight of Aspen’s homeless back into the spotlight.

Thanks to the generosity of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Aspen Community Church, Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, Pitkin County Health and Human Services, Pitkin County Homeless Coalition, Aspen Valley Hospital, Valley Information and Assistance, The Right Door, and many others, the Aspen Homeless Shelter has provided emergency shelter, food, and case management services to our local homeless community since November 2006. It should be noted that the good people of St. Mary’s Catholic Church provided informal shelter to the homeless for years prior to 2006.

Aspen Homeless Shelter’s overnight shelter operates during Aspen’s cold winter months, and from December 2009 through March 2010, 42 individuals spent 1,119 nights protected from the elements. The shelter sent out more than 2,000 sack breakfasts and lunches with our guests in the mornings; served more than 1,000 hot dinners in the evenings; made available laundry facilities, showers, counseling, and computer access for doing employment and housing research; and provided health screenings by an Aspen Valley Hospital emergency room physician and patient care representative. The Day Center at the Schultz Health and Human Services building is open year-round from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., offering respite from the elements, access to services, and connections with appropriate helping agencies.

Aspen Homeless Shelter then operates an Evening Dinner Shelter until 8:30 p.m. 365 nights a year, serving dinner, informal socialization with staff and volunteers, and case management. More than 150 people have completed volunteer training, and are an integral and invaluable part of the program.

So, again, thanks to Grace, and all the agencies, organizations, volunteers, and donors who make Aspen Homeless Shelter possible. As always, the generosity of Aspen, Pitkin County, and the Roaring Fork Valley is astounding. To learn more or to make a donation, please visit Aspen Valley Medical Foundation’s website at avmfaspen.org and click on “Community Initiatives.” As Dr. Jim Withers, the pioneer of “street medicine” (see becausefoundation.org), said recently in Aspen, “We should learn to see each person as important as our brother and sister.”

Medford Leake

Aspen Homeless Shelter

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