With average overnight lows dipping down to 21 degrees Fahrenheit in Colorado Springs this December, we had record numbers of people seeking shelter from the freezing cold. 113 women received 2,091 nights of shelter in our women’s shelter and 411 men received 7,000 nights of shelter in our men’s shelter.
On the coldest nights, we made extra space in our shelters to keep up to 325 neighbors safe and warm. Thanks to several generous community groups, our shelter guests enjoyed some Christmas entertainment from choirs, instrumental ensembles and carolers and appreciated getting some gifts to help them stay warm this winter.
Every day, we provided warm breakfast and dinner to hungry men, women and children. Record-breaking numbers of shelter guests led to record-breaking numbers of meals being served out of our small kitchen. In December alone, we served 17,202 hot meals—averaging more than 550 meals a day!
And this doesn’t include the meals served to neighbors who celebrated Christmas with us at our Christmas For All Banquet at City Auditorium. At this year’s banquet, hundreds of volunteers helped us serve 775 turkey dinners to more than 530 people with nowhere else to celebrate Christ’s birth this Christmas. Additionally, our neighbors took home 900 pounds of winter clothing and children’s faces lit up when they got to choose a gift from an assortment of stuffed animals, kids books, and other toys.
Continuing the trend, our resource center saw record numbers this December. Every morning, 125 neighbors took advantage of the opportunity to warm up, take a shower, wash their clothes and meet with a client navigator to continue down their pathway out of homelessness.
Our navigator team conducted 285 case management sessions with guests and on-site partner agencies like the Department of Human Services, Veterans Connections, and Aspen Pointe made another 462 connections. A group of interns introduced two new group counseling opportunities every week—a grief and trauma group and a group for people struggling with PTSD. And one of our partners, Peak Vista Mobile Medical, provided medical services for 54 people last month, bringing the total number of people who have received medical care to 226 since July.
Our Supportive Family Services program distributed over $740,000 in gift-in-kind (GIK) to guests and partner agencies in the surrounding area—thanks entirely to generous neighbors who dropped off food, clothing, household items and other goods to our dock throughout December. This brings our total distribution for 2017 to $2.8 million!
Additionally, we made 25 furniture deliveries to help men, women and families settle into their new homes. That’s one delivery for every day leading up to Christmas! Since July, we’ve helped 134 neighbors furnish their new homes with donated furniture.
In our residential men’s addiction recovery program, the New Life Program, everyone enjoyed a holiday treat and attended Michael Jr.’s Bringin’ the Funny Comedy Tour. Afterwards, many men received passes to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. Some were visiting their families for the first time in years. Although there were no graduations in December, one man passed his GED exam after several months of studying and tutoring from devoted volunteers.
Last (but certainly not least), our chaplain led worship every Sunday morning in our resource center and on December 17th he served 20 guests communion. On Christmas Eve, a voluntary offering was taken to help provide homeless services at Pueblo Rescue Mission. Like the poor widow who gave everything she had in Mark 12, the attending saints generously gave $12.50 out of their poverty to help others this winter.