The Emergency Shelter Program
Grand Valley Peace & Justice and the HomewardBound of the Grand Valley homeless shelter initiated the Emergency Shelter Program (ESP) in Fall of 2008. Area churches agreed to cooperate to provide safe, warm nights of rest during the winter months for the homeless guests who cannot be accommodated at HomewardBound, due to lack of room. Nine churches in the valley answered the call for space to sleep up to 16 homeless people, each church for a two week perieod. Some months required two churches to be used.
Grand Valley Coalition for the Homeless > Emergency Shelter Program
Here's How You Can Help!
Become an ESP Church: Faith communities commit to housing homeless individuals from 7:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. for a two week period. This year the program begins October 31st and continues through April 16th. Committed groups provide a facility and or volunteers. HomewardBound provides training, cots, bedding, laundry, transportation and screening of guests.
Become an ESP Volunteer: Spend an overnight with our "houseless" neighbors! You'll be with other volunteers, make some friends and learn something more about our community.
Become an ESP Van Driver: For a one week period, drive the transport van (provided) to the designated church to pick up guests and deliver them to the shelter, the VA Hospital or downtown. (A chauffer's license is NOT required.)
For more information and to volunteer, contact Grand Valley Peace & Justice: 970-243-0136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the program's inception, these numbers have increased to around thirty-five people per night or more, with fourteen churches now opening their doors to meet this need! Homeless families are on the increase, many sleeping in cars, motel rooms, with relatives and friends and camping outside along the Colorado River. Last year the REACH program of School District 51 reported over 500 children who were homeless attending classses. We consider this situation an emergency, which is why we are grateful to have such compassionate and generous participation by local churches.
Families and women are given the priority at the shelter, followed by veterans. This leaves many other men, known to be alert, mentally stable, non-alcholic and drug-free out in the cold. During the wither of 2009-2010, over 3,000 beds were provided for these men by area churches for a night of safety, shelter and human warmth and comfort.
The shelter trains volunteers in how to handle any incident which may arise and provdes back up assistance by telephone. Throughout our two year history of the ESP, there has not been one instance of violent behavior. In fact, our ESP churches have returned enthusiastically to the program each year, sharing how their participation has enriched the lives of their congregations.