La Puente Volunteer
The San Luis Valley experiences a great deal of economic hardship due to its lack of job opportunities and geographic isolation, and in 2009, 20.5 percent of its residents were estimated to be below the poverty line.
Homelessness has been a long running problem in this area, and many individuals and families are forced to live in hotels, camp out, or sleep in their cars. These conditions are unfit for anyone, which is why we are working so hard to improve the chances for people in these circumstances to turn their lives around.
La Puente Home is the longest running rural homeless shelter in the country. It provides emergency shelter and meals every day for people of all ages, races, backgrounds and situations. Poverty has been a long-running problem in the San Luis Valley, and when people have nowhere else to turn, they come to our shelter. We have a total of 40 beds and five couches, with accommodations for families, veterans, travelers and victims of domestic violence as well as numerous migrant workers.
Along with providing temporary case management for guests including resources for housing, employment opportunities and outreach services, we also give out everyday necessities such as hygiene products, diapers, warm clothing and linens, and our shower facilities are open to the community. Guests are able to experience a sense of pride in their surroundings by taking part in everyday chores and keeping up on the cleanliness of our facility.
So far in 2012, La Puente has served a total of 45,850 meals. Meals are provided three times a day, 365 days a year and are often prepared by work groups and volunteers from the community, as well as staff members. Since we aren’t able to buy our own food, all of our food either comes from the food bank, or from the generous donations of supplies that we receive.
The La Puente dining room doesn’t just serve as a place to sit and eat, though. Many meetings and events take place here, and during the busy migrant season, we may have as many as 30-40 people sleeping on the dining room floor. We take a lot of pride in being able to serve our community’s migrant farm workers as well as we can.
The staff and volunteers create hundreds of bagged lunches for the workers to take to the fields with them, and we’re always collecting donated blankets and coats to give out whenever possible.
Another great feature of the shelter is our beautiful Grow Dome, which was donated to us and provides vegetables and herbs for our meals all year round.
La Puente wouldn’t be the thriving shelter that it is without the generous contribution of donations our community provides to us almost every day. We are always in need of hygiene kits, sheets, blankets, pillows, and food, but we’re also open to anything the community has to give.
It is because of the generosity of others that we are able to be so generous to those who have such prominent needs. Whether it’s providing veteran services, help with finding permanent housing, or just a shoulder to lean on when times are tough, La Puente’s staff and volunteers will bend over backwards to strengthen this community and help give our guests the pride and motivation to overcome homelessness.