Safe Place to Rest had a successful 2016/2017 pilot season thanks to the volunteers and organizations that contributed to help the homeless in Fort Collins with overnight shelter options during the winter months. Safe Place to Rest is a program that sets up shelters designed to help those in need when existing shelters experience overflow. In Fort Collins during the winter months shelters are higher in demand; this season there were 45 nights that dropped below freezing.
Fort Collins' Safe Place to Rest project joined a national "compassionate community" movement proven to help communities addressing the challenge to expand shelter options. The community-based program was inspired by a 30 year old program in Nashville, Room in the Inn. They work with nearly 200 churches to shelter homeless individuals during the winter months.
The program fully launched in December 2016 and ran until April 2017. The project vision was to provide 23 weeks of community-based, overnight shelter. They were able to offer 69 nights of shelter with a welcoming open door and served 120+ guests. Their three site partners are the Geller Center, Peak Community Church, and Knights of Columbus Council 1214.
One of the sites contacted United Way of Larimer County with the concern of needing new sleeping mats. Mary Baird, Campaign Director at United Way of Larimer County, helped them get connected with Sierra Trading Post and within one week they provided sleeping mats for all three Safe Place to Rest community-based sites.
"I was having a conversation with Ben Condon, volunteer coordinator of Peak Community Church and he told me that the sites were in desperate need of new mats. I picked up the phone and started putting the word out there and Sierra Trading Post stepped in with a generous contribution to outfit all sites with brand new mats. We are so grateful for their contribution and support of the local community" - Mary Baird
Ben Condon, volunteer coordinator of Peak Community Church, poses with donations
United Way of Larimer County also assisted with volunteer recruitment by spreading the word in the community. Safe Place to Rest is a volunteer-run program and without all the volunteers this program wouldn't have been possible. These volunteers helped staff the sites overnight. They also provided transportation from shelters to one of the Safe Place to Rest community sites. They had 64 volunteers and 250 shifts were covered by volunteers. Thank you to the volunteers and all that you contributed to our community and keeping homeless individuals safe this past winter!
To learn about volunteer opportunities in your area, visit our volunteer portal.
Jasmine Saucedo Jasmine is the marketing and communications intern for United Way of Larimer County. She enjoys planning themed birthday parties for her kids and family.