Welcome Back! From La Puente

The Heart of La Puente
The Paw Print
Welcome back to Alamosa and Adams State College!  You are returning to a place rich in diversity, but also plagued by continual need.  For new readers, we want to take this week to share La Puente’s organizational story with you.  For nearly three decades, La Puente has worked to meet the immediate needs and empower people to live independently with dignity.  Fulfilling this mission has only been possible through La Puente’s many community partnerships.  This year, we would like to invite you as a partner to join and support us in our work around the valley.
As of the 2000 census, the San Luis Valley has a population of 46,190 residents and remains the poorest region of Colorado.  Currently 19.6% of the SLV’s residents live below the poverty line compared to the state average of 9%.  This number is even starker when looking at the 2010 KIDS COUNT in Colorado survey, put out by the Colorado Children’s Campaign.  The survey reports that 30.4% of children below the age of 18 living in the San Luis Valley live in poverty in comparison to the 14.4% state average.
Poverty does not necessarily beget individuals with high need, but because of homelessness, abuse, and low educational achievement individuals and families find themselves in situations that are unsupportive to their mental, physical, and emotional development and engagement of the world around them.
La Puente was started in 1982 as a response to the community’s need to house and provide assistance to the homeless and under-served families and individuals in the Valley.   Originally operated through a local Catholic church, La Puente began as a homeless shelter in the church’s basement.  Throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s, La Puente Home expanded to provide a variety of services needed by the San Luis Valley community.   For example in the 1991, La Puente began the Adelante Family Self-Sufficiency Program, the first rural transitional housing program in Colorado. La Puente Enterprises, including Milagros Coffee House, Rainbows End Thrift Store, and Hunt Avenue Boutique, also grew as a means to provide revenue to support La Puente’s programs.  Since 2000, the organization has doubled the size of the shelter in order to serve the increasing needs of the growing community.
Where do you fit in?  La Puente has a variety of volunteer opportunities and regular community activities you can join in.  Every fall, we host HOPE (Homeless Organizations Promoting Education) Week, a series of activities to raise awareness and engagement of the challenges many of our community members face.  During the past several years, we have also partnered with ASC during Autumn at Adams to organize a full day of volunteer opportunities.
Our mission in partnership with you is to encourage and provide ways for you to understand and engage the community you find yourself living in.  Mahatma Gandhi spoke truth when he said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
To learn more about La Puente’s work around the valley and the various ways you can get personally involved, call our Community Education office at 719-587-3499 or email us at volunteers.lapuente@gmail.com.

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