H.O.P.E Week Kicks Off Documentary and Candlelight Vigil

Toni Steffns
The Paw Print

La Puente is holding H.O.P.E. (Homeless Organizations Promoting Education) to help people gain a deeper understanding of the complexity and some of the common causes of homelessness.
The educational series will begin with a documentary and talk to be held at the Adams State College Student Life Center on Sept. 27 starting at 7 p.m. This event is being organized by La Puente volunteer Alissa Tombaugh who hopes the educational events of the week will not only increase awareness of the issues and be “a call to action” to find ways to engage the issues. The documentary is called American Harvest and will focus on agriculture in the United States and the role that migrant farmers serve in that industry. During the local harvest season volunteers report an annual increase in the number of meals served and the number of people using the shelter.
H.O.P.E. week also serves as an opportunity for people to come together as a community and the candlelight vigil on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. will give people that opportunity. Presenters, some of whom have been homeless, will share their personal experiences along three stops to encourage reflection. Each stop has its own theme. The stops will be at Boyd Park, the train tracks near Hunt Ave. and near Centennial Park.
A more hands-on experience is available on Community Gleaning Day being held on Oct. 2. Volunteers collect crops left over after harvest or that were not good enough for sale to be used at the shelter or taken to the food bank. This event allows people to pick the food together and build solidarity in the community. The group will meet at 513 6th Street at 8 a.m.
In an effort to give back to the community and say thank you La Puente is holding their annual Community Picnic on Oct. 3 at 12 noon. There will be free food, live music and children’s activities during the picnic. Volunteer Craig Denuyl said that the picnic is primarily a way to say thank you to everyone, but also serves as an opportunity for people to enter the shelter and day hello to the guests. People will be able to see first hand the services La Puente provides and even some ways they can help.
Homelessness and poverty are problems that affect many families in the San Luis Valley with 52 percent of the families in the Valley living below the poverty line compared to 37 percent nationally. The number of children in the Valley living in poverty is 28 percent compared to 12.2 percent for the state.
The San Luis Valley La Puente offers services to those families and individuals who have become homeless with the shelter and a rapid re-housing program. The Adelante program helps people go from the shelter into short term housing. La Puente also has a preventative program that tries to keep people in their homes which will cost less than moving them into the shelter.
Volunteers are welcome to contact the administrative office at 587 – 3499. For a complete schedule of the H.O.P.E. week contact the administrative office or visit www.lapunte.net.

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