HOPE Week at La Puente Homeless Shelter

Stephany Nellessen
La Puente Volunteer

Join La Puente for a week of events to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness in the San Luis Valley. HOPE Week will begin on Saturday, Sept. 24 with an all night sleep-out. A Mile of Hope run will began at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25. On Wed., Sept. 28 there will be a Fiesta Potluck dinner at the shelter at 6 p.m. followed by a candlelight vigil at 7. Saturday, Oct. 1 there will be open houses at Adelante and the Food Bank from 11 a.m. to 1p.m. Experience hunger for a day and pick up a Fasting for Change button at Milagros or Rainbow’s End throughout the week. Contact the Community Education office at 587-3499 for more information on events, volunteer opportunities, or bringing a dish to pass for the potluck. Hope to see you there.
What does it mean for the 46,000 people who inhabit an area larger than Connecticut, spread out between thirty-five rural communities, with a poverty rate of 20.5 percent? How are the lives of the 31.8 percent of children living in poverty different from those who are living comfortably? What happens to a local economy in which the average household income is $20,000 less than that of its surrounding urban areas? The answer is simple—limited access to limited resources and a greater need for support from the community and the nation. How does all of this affect you?
This is you—this is the reality of the San Luis Valley. Whether you are included in that 20.5 percent or not, you are affected by the impact that those numbers have on a small community like Alamosa.
When an individual ceases to have a stable home environment, a secure means for generating income, or fair access to health care, education, or food, they are prevented from contributing to a positive social structure. This creates an unequal distribution of wealth, work, and moral, and the entire composition of a community is jeopardized. Why does this predicament occur? Well, with an expected average of 43 million individuals relying on food assistance annually and an estimated 600,000 people surviving without shelter in a single night, it is easy to imagine that the 30 percent of the federal budget allocated to social services each year can only assist a portion of those in need. Homelessness occurs for several reasons, some of the most prominent being unemployment, mental or physical illness, domestic abuse, lack of accessible health care and affordable housing, and a decline in public assistance. Whatever the reason is, it takes the compassion and efforts of every person to keep a community healthy, safe and thriving.
So, how can you help? There are several ways to get involved right here in Alamosa. Volunteer with La Puente, a non-profit organization which endeavors to fight homelessness and hunger and to empower people to live independently, with dignity—donate food or clothing to the Food Bank, cook a meal at the shelter, provide a hygiene kit to a migrant worker, or become a ‘Big Buddy’ at the PALS children’s program. Treat every individual with respect, whether they are enjoying a meal at the shelter or dining at a fine restaurant. Get to know the inhabitants of your community—listen to their stories and tell them your own. Remember that unless you take the time to personally find out why an individual is homeless you cannot make judgments about their situation. Inform yourself. La Puente believes that education is the first step towards success, so we are hosting HOPE Week—Homeless Organizations Promoting Education, Sept. 24 through Oct. 1. HOPE Week will consist of several events to spread awareness of hunger and homelessness and to provide a space for education and understanding throughout the SLV community.
The week will begin with an all night Solidarity Sleep-out at on Saturday, Sept. 24 to experience what it would be like to go without shelter for a night. Sunday, the 25th, there will be A Mile of Hope run and shoe drive—bring a pair of used or new shoes or a monetary donation for the registration fee. Bring a dish to pass for the Fiesta Potluck (contact Cory at 719-587-3499, for more details) at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the 28th, at the shelter. After you enjoy the meal join La Puente for the HOPE Week candlelight vigil—hear stories of homelessness and hope from individuals who have experienced them first hand. Saturday, Oct. 1, we will end the week with open houses at Adelante and the Food Bank through the afternoon and Open Mic Night at Milagros Coffee House at 6 p.m.
For more information on the events or how to get involved with La Puente check out our website www. lapuente.net, find us on facebook at LaPuente Home Inc., or call our Community Education office at 719-587-3499. Hope to see you there.

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