Thursday, January 12, 2017

Inside/Out Youth Services launches first satellite program

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade.

Through a partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District, Inside/Out Youth Services, our local LGBTIQA+ youth center, announced an expansion of its after school program. They will establish a group in Library 21c in order to serve students in District 20, who may not always be able to reach the center’s downtown location.

Inside/Out’s after school youth program helps create a sense of community for LGBTIQA+ students, reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm. According to Mary Malia, executive director of Inside/Out, the El Paso County Public Health Department has said that LGBTQIA+ youth make up an estimated 60-70 percent of completed youth suicides. Malia has been working with the department on reducing that number.

According to Malia, the program’s goal is to “reach more youth, give them the chance to have that experience, to say ‘being LGBTQIA+ is okay, and I’m okay.’”

This expansion is a pilot program, hopefully the first of many across school districts in El Paso County. Provided Inside/Out can find the volunteers and the funding, they hope to make a decision about further expansion by this summer.

Inside/Out will hold an informal open house with more information about the program on Jan. 24, 4-5 p.m. at Library 21C in the ENT Conference Center. The program itself will launch on Jan. 27. This group, like Inside/Out’s downtown after school program, will be open to all LGBTIQA+ youth (whether they live in District 20 or not) between the ages of 13-22, or allies of the same age.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Western Museum cuts ties with Haunted Mines after 10 years

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 3:38 PM

Haunted Mines actors zombify the grounds of WMM&I at last year's haunt. - ROBIN SCHNEIDER / THE GALLERY BELOW
  • Robin Schneider / The Gallery Below
  • Haunted Mines actors zombify the grounds of WMM&I at last year's haunt.

It may seem a little early to be thinking about Halloween, but the folks at Haunted Mines, a local favorite Halloween attraction, need to start planning for it now.

The organization announced on Facebook this morning that the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (where they have set up their haunted attraction since Haunted Mines began in 2006) has decided to go in a different direction, and has asked that Haunted Mines use 2017 as a “teardown year.”

The letter, delivered by a WMM&I board member last night, came as a shock to Angel Nuce, executive director of Haunted Mines. She says that the museum board hadn’t expressed that any kind of contract termination was on the horizon, and she doesn’t yet know the reason for it.

“All we have is that letter,” she says. At the moment, she hasn’t made any moves to follow up with inquiries to the board. “I spent the evening placating my volunteers, taking care of my staff. That’s the most important thing to me right now.”

Once the holidays are over, the organization will seek clarification from the WMM&I board and begin the process of moving on out, but so far they aren’t sure exactly where they’re going. Considering there are some large pieces to transport, including carnival rides, it’s important they find a new partner — and fast.

The optimistic Facebook post that announced the termination reads:

After 10 years and over $1,000,000 donated into our community - $340,000 in last 3 years alone to the Western Museum of Mining & Industry, they no longer wish to continue to be the recipient of our generosity. Excited for new possibilities - anyone need a roommate?

But Nuce is confident they will find a place, and their plans to do extra events (such as setting up a tent haunt at the Tiny House Jamboree) have not changed. Moreover, it looks like Wescott Fire Department may allow them to set up an office in an unused fire station, where they can start searching in earnest for a more permanent location.

Nuce’s dream is to have two or three acres of property to establish permanent attractions like a corn maze, but she said that if someone has a space — whether it’s an empty field or a warehouse — they’ll make it work.

“We’re not going anywhere,” she says. “You can slow us down, but you can’t stop it.”

When reached for comment, Executive Director Rick Sauers of WMM&I said that the decision to cut ties with Haunted Mines was “a board decision, purely business."

"It has nothing to do with Haunted Mines except the board would like something better professionally managed,” he said.

The museum will be seeking proposals soon.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

LGBTQ organization One Colorado planning to tour the state

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 9:47 AM

One Colorado, a statewide organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights and awareness, conducts an annual tour of Colorado. This year, it’s stopping in 13 cities, ours included.

The “We Are One Colorado” tour will, according to its press release, “address One Colorado's priorities for 2017 and the future, including continuing to ensure LGBTQ Coloradans have equal access to health care, making sure every school is safe for LGBTQ young people, and removing barriers for transgender Coloradans.”

In addition to the above, the organization will reveal the results of its 2016 needs assessment, which surveyed more than 3,600 LGBTQ Coloradans, asking questions about what they considered our community’s greatest needs both politically and socially.

The organization will be stopping in Colorado Springs on Jan. 31 and in Pueblo on Feb. 22. Please sign up if you’re planning to attend either event, or an event held in one of the other 11 cities.
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Monday, December 19, 2016

Homeward Pikes Peak clients get new mattresses thanks to Virginia-based donor

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 2:19 PM

On Thursday, the online mattress company Leesa donated 100 mattresses to Homeward Pikes Peak, a Springs-based housing program. The donated mattresses, valued over $20,000, will go directly to the program’s clients who are either: homeless; formerly homeless; struggling with mental health issues and/or addiction; leaving abusive relationships or are in other challenging circumstances. For many of the recipients, this is the first brand-new mattress they’ve ever owned.

Client Brian Howard tests out one of the donated mattresses. - HOMEWARD PIKES PEAK
  • Homeward Pikes Peak
  • Client Brian Howard tests out one of the donated mattresses.

“Can you imagine sleeping on the ground for a year or longer?” Laura Fonner, executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak, asked rhetorically at a reception to celebrate the donation, according to the organization's press release. “Currently we reach out to the community for mattresses and it’s hit or miss. With this donation, our clients can finally get some good sleep and that’s important to their recovery in all aspects.”

Homeward Pikes Peak offers myriad housing programs that serve 84 individuals and households at a given time in addition to operating an outpatient clinic specializing in women’s services. Overall, there are over 1,300 homeless people in Colorado Springs according to the latest Point In Time count. Among that group, 227 have chronic substance abuse issues, 311 have a serious mental illness, and 168 are veterans and family members.

The donor, Leesa, is a Virginia-based B-Corporation, meaning it incorporates social and/or environmental welfare into its for-profit model. The company's “One-Ten” program promises one mattress to a shelter for every ten sold. So far, they’ve donated over 8,000 mattresses to nonprofits like Homeward Pikes Peak around the country.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Learn about the future of education with the Women’s Resource Agency

Posted By on Tue, Dec 13, 2016 at 12:58 PM

The Women’s Resource Agency, an Indy Give! nonprofit, works with women in the Pikes Peak Region to empower them for success. For some, that means providing interview and employment clothing or training in necessary job skills. But the process can also start much earlier than that.
  • Shutterstock
WRA also provides school-based programs, saying on their website, “Encouraging teen girls to complete high school is important because dropouts earn lower wages than graduates, which can become a barrier to long-term self-sufficiency. We value girls and seek to build a community that values girls as full participants.”

Since WRA has a vested interest in education, they’re hosting a film screening tonight, which relates to the education of students of all backgrounds. This collection of media resources from NOVA’s School of the Future examines the science of learning and how technological advancements in education are changing the landscape.

School of the Future seeks to answer the question, “how can the science of learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?” which is a relevant topic for parents, students, educators and community members who value educational advancement.

The event is donation-based and includes pizza and a cash bar. All donations will benefit WRA’s Give! campaign. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the film and discussion starting at 5:30 p.m. in the MacKenzie Place Theater, 1605 Elm Creek View.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Take a virtual tour of new shelter, SRM expansion

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 2:32 PM

The Springs Rescue Mission is just in the nick of time.

Its new, 168-bed, $3.2 million, year-round, low-barrier shelter will open tonight, the second night of wintry weather to hit Colorado Springs this season. The beautiful new structure is the first part of a big expansion that will also include a day/resource center (opening in 2017), a much larger kitchen and dining hall (opening fall of 2018), and a welcome center (opening fall 2018).

The city has helped SRM with the project by directing federal dollars its way, but much of the work is being funded by donations. The expansion meets a critical need for the city, which has few places to temporarily house homeless people — even in the most frigid months. It was hoped the shelter would open earlier in the season, but construction delays prevented that. Thankfully, warm weather meant less dangerous conditions for those forced to sleep outside.

Speaking of which, earlier in the year, a homeless camp on SRM property had been allowed to slowly expand, in recognition of the fact that its residents had nowhere else to go until the new shelter was complete. But it was disbanded in October. The opening of the shelter means many of those who felt safe at the complex at 5 W. Las Vegas Street can now return.

In addition to bunk beds, the new shelter has room for another 32 mats on the floor if the need is great. The space, which was built to be green and uses geothermal power, also features tables, coffee bars, and bathrooms with stalls.

It's likely that the new shelter will house men for now, as an emergency shelter on the campus has room for 57 women.

Want to see what the project will look like when it's finished? Check out SRM's video:

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Give a turkey to the hungry

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 4:31 PM

click image The bird is the word. - GAVIN ST. OURS
  • Gavin St. Ours
  • The bird is the word.

Unfortunately, giving a turkey to Springs Rescue Mission isn't going to end homelessness or poverty. But it is a sign of love. And on a day that we send out a little gratitude for all the good things in our lives, it seems appropriate to brighten someone else's world.

So, if you feel like donating poultry to someone in need, this is your chance. SRM is collecting turkeys tomorrow. They need more than 800 birds. Let's make it happen.

Springs Rescue Mission Needs Turkeys to Help Feed the Hungry for Thanksgiving

November 10, 2016, Colorado Springs, CO. – Springs Rescue Mission (SRM) is collecting turkeys on Friday, Nov. 11 to distribute and feed to Colorado Springs’ families and neighbors in need.

As part of the Turkey Team, which consists of Care and Share Food Bank and Catholic Charities, SRM’s goal is to collect more than 800 turkeys to help feed the hungry in our community.

SRM is asking the community to make Thanksgiving a reality for those in need by donating turkeys.

Turkeys can be dropped off at Springs Rescue Mission, located at 1 West Las Vegas St., Colorado Springs, CO, 80903. Turkeys will be accepted between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“Our wonderful and caring community consistently shows its generosity and we believe that they will again display their goodwill and enable this partnership to exceed its goal,” said Larry Yonker, Springs Rescue Mission President & CEO.

The turkeys will be used at SRM’s annual Thanksgiving meal that takes place at the City Auditorium on Nov. 23rd. Turkeys will also be provided to families who visit SRM’s family services for food.

Springs Rescue Mission exists to see lives transformed and filled with hope as our community works together to fight homelessness, poverty and addiction.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Springs Rescue Mission opens temporary beds for homeless

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 8:45 AM

Since other nonprofits decided not to open emergency winter shelters for homeless people this year, a lot was riding on the Springs Rescue Mission’s (SRM), which is in the process of expanding its shelter.

However, construction delays have prevented the shelter from opening Nov. 1, as planned. While the weather has been unusually warm, many fear that if temperatures drop, homeless people could be at risk, since many have no choice but to sleep on the streets.

Ecumenical Social Ministries recently announced that it would provide beds for 25 women from Nov. 1-18 to help fill the gap. And while the SRM permanent shelter isn't open yet, as of Nov. 1 men are being housed on an additional 50 beds and mats at the nonprofit. The beds are low barrier, meaning people can "come as they are."

SRM explained the decision to open the beds in a press release that noted, in part:
In past years, Springs Rescue Mission has been able to shelter up to 60 individuals each night. Once the organization’s new year-round shelter opens, this capacity will increase to 232.

While the new, year-round shelter won’t be open until mid-November, Springs Rescue Mission is maintaining their promise by offering low-barrier shelter options for individuals experiencing homelessness by November 1. 

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

County proclaims "Jan Doran Day"

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 3:09 PM

Jan Doran, center, stands with Commissioners Darryl Glenn, Dennis Hisey, Peggy Littleton and Mark Waller - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Jan Doran, center, stands with Commissioners Darryl Glenn, Dennis Hisey, Peggy Littleton and Mark Waller
The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners — like most governing boards — will sometimes choose to proclaim a day in honor of someone or something.

Like breast cancer survivors. Or a fallen police officer. Or — if it's the El Paso County Commissioners — the NRA. But it's rare to see a living person honored by such a proclamation for simply volunteering their time, steadily, over many years.

Jan Doran is the exception. County Commissioners proclaimed Wednesday, Oct. 12, "Jan Doran Day," in honor of her many years of service on boards in the community. Read on to learn more about what makes Doran special: 
October 12 Proclaimed Jan Doran Day in El Paso County
Neighborhood Advocate Recognized for Decades of Volunteer Service and Community Engagement

El Paso County, CO, October 11, 2016 – The Board of El Paso County Commissioners during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting officially Proclaimed October 12 as “Jan Doran Day” in El Paso County and urged all El Paso County residents to follow her example of community participation and engagement in local government.

The Proclamation was read into the official record by Commissioner Dennis Hisey noting, “Jan Doran grew up in a small community where everyone knew and watched out for each other and has for decades worked tirelessly to share and grow that same sense of caring and protective community throughout the Pikes Peak Region.”

Shortly after moving to El Paso County Jan Doran became a member of her homeowner’s association and then went on to serve eight years as President of the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) which represents neighborhoods throughout the region. Commissioner Hisey personally thanked Doran for the help she had given him in assisting a neighborhood in his district get a better understanding of government processes to ensure that their voices were heard and concerns addressed.

The Proclamation of Jan Doran Day noted her passion for public process and helping people to understand the process in order to become responsible and fully engaged citizens. As a result of that passion, she became a charter member of the El Paso County Citizen Outreach Group (COG) and served as its Chair for many years. Under her leadership, the COG promoted and facilitated multiple “El Paso County Citizens Colleges,” through which hundreds of citizens took learned about El Paso County government, meet with County leaders and visited county facilities.

“You have built a legacy by sharing your knowledge and expertise with others and that is a true mark of leadership,” said Commissioner Peggy Littleton. “You have spread your tentacles far and wide duplicating and replicating yourself in others who are now better equipped to be effective and engaged citizens.”

“You have been a role model,” said Commissioner Vice-Chair Darryl Glenn, “when it comes to bringing communities together and finding thoughtful ways to talk through the issues.”

"Jan Doran is an incredible role model for others to follow in volunteerism", said Board Chair Commissioner Sallie Clark. "She has been able to effectively work with neighborhoods and local government to find solutions to complex issues. Jan is respected for her ability to advocate and find common ground at all policy levels. I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this recognition

“I am deeply honored and also greatly surprised by the Proclamation of Jan Doran Day in El Paso County on October 12, 2016. Thank you for all the accolades and appreciations that you personally expressed and outlined in the Proclamation,” Doran told Commissioners. Over the years it has always been a pleasure to volunteer for the various Boards and Commissions in El Paso County. I have learned so much about County government from so many wonderful people and enjoyed the challenges each opportunity presented.”

The Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO) will read the County Proclamation as it honors Jan Doran during its annual meeting on October 12, 2016, Jan Doran Day in El Paso County.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Win a $10,000 bike for $10 and support a good cause

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 10:59 AM


The American Diabetes Association of Colorado
has their work cut out for them.

Yes, Colorado is usually rated as one of the healthiest states in the nation. But that doesn't mean that we don't have a problem with diabetes. As the Association notes, "Coloradans are increasingly feeling the effects of diabetes as 410,312 Coloradans suffer from the disease, and an additional 1.3 million more have prediabetes. It is estimated that one out of every three children born after 2000 in the United States will be directly affected by diabetes."

Since diabetes causes more death in a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined — and is a major risk factor for heart attacks — that's a serious problem. A number of factors contribute to a person developing Type 2 diabetes (by far the most common type), including genetics and ethnic heritage. Being overweight, as most Americans are, is a contributing factor as well. 

Thus, eating healthy and exercising regularly is a good way to lower your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, as well as managing the disease if you already have it. Which brings me to this $10 bike.

On Oct. 7, the American Diabetes Association of Colorado is hosting a Cycling Social at Bar K,  124 E. Costilla St., at 6 p.m. Attendees can buy $10 raffle tickets for the "Johnson & Johnson Bike," which was made locally by  Jeff Tessier of Tessier Bikes at the show, but they can also buy them in advance. It's all a part of the 2016 Tour de Cure event. 

Here's a little more information about this beautiful bike from the Tour de Cure:

• The bike is made out of Stainless Steel, which DePuy Synthes uses to create trauma products.
• The headset is made from highly polished stainless steel which represents the material and processes used by DePuy to create joint reconstruction parts.
• The red paint represents the American Diabetes Association and the Red Riders (cyclists riding with diabetes) and Red Striders (walkers or runners with diabetes) that we support! Go Red Rider!
• The chevrons on the top tube represent the lancets that people with diabetes use every single day.
• The red drops on the top tube and chainstays represent the blood needed to test blood sugar every single day.
• The wheels represent that DePuy Synthes is a one world company.
• The head tube badge represents our commitment to quality and living our CREDO
• Life with diabetes isn't always easy - but you aren't in it alone! Team DePuy Synthes participates in Tour to make a difference in the lives of people living every day with diabetes.
• The bike includes Enve Fork, White IND Hubs, Custom-Made Head Set, FSA Stem & Bar, Custom Seat, Seat Bag, & Handlebar Tape, and Campagnola Super Record 11 Groupset - total worth is over $10,000!

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Inside/Out Youth Services participating in Give OUT Day

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 11:03 AM

Tuesday, Aug. 2, marks the only national day of giving focused entirely on the LGBTQ community. A project of Horizons Foundation, Give OUT Day has supported more than 500 different LGBTQ organizations throughout the country since its inception in 2013.

The online fundraising initiative lasts 24 hours and begins at midnight tonight.

This year, Inside/Out Youth Services, local LGBTQ youth center and 2016 Indy Inclusion Award recipient, is participating. The organization asks the community to take this opportunity to donate.

Inside/Out, which has been in operation in the Springs for 25 years, provides a safe space for LGBTQ youth by offering recreational activities, education, emotional support and resources for youth, parents, schools and community members. 

The organization's fundraising goal is $5,000.

Here is what Roger Doughty, the president of Horizons Foundation, has to say about the importance of supporting LGBTQ organizations on Give OUT Day:

“It would be hard to find an LGBT person who hasn’t, at one time or another, turned to an LGBTQ nonprofit at some point in our lives. Give OUT Day is an opportunity to engage new donors and support our LGBGTQ organizations for their tireless efforts, often working with limited resources.” 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Independence Center celebrates ADA anniversary

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 3:53 PM

Mayor John Suthers presented the People's Choice Drivers' Awards - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS / KIM MELCHOR
  • City of Colorado Springs / Kim Melchor
  • Mayor John Suthers presented the People's Choice Drivers' Awards

Tuesday marked the 26th anniversary of the day President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act, the crowning achievement of a civil rights movement that is still in progress.

The Independence Center held a luncheon to celebrate the anniversary at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Colorado Springs. Speakers highlighted the importance of public transit to those with disabilities and the larger community.

Keynote speaker Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, spoke at length about the struggle to make public buses accessible to those who use wheelchairs. Golden is an expert on the law, and was closely involved in its proposal and passage, as well as with the continuing battle to see it implemented.

Golden noted that before people with disabilities were protected by the law, a disability was seen as the responsibility of the person with the disability. It was only through direct action like sit-ins (including one that lasted 28 days) and people who use wheelchairs physically blocking buses (sometimes leading to arrest), that our current system came to be.

Golden pointed out that before buses became accessible, people with disabilities weren't just confined to the back of the bus, as African-Americans were before their own civil rights movement. A person who used a wheelchair couldn't even get on a bus.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers also took the stage at the luncheon. He outlined the millions of dollars that have been reinvested in the transit system since he took office, expanding routes and increasing frequency of buses on key routes. He also noted that the passage of 2C last year, which pumped more money into city road repairs, is also being spent on concrete repairs that improve access for people with disabilities. Because concrete must be in good shape to protect new roads, and because the ADA requires that roads and sidewalks be made accessible if roads are improved, 45 percent of 2C dollars go to concrete repairs, like sidewalks and ramps.

"Colorado Springs is making headway in our goal to make our city fully accessible," he told the crowd.

Suthers also handed out awards to bus drivers that were voted the best in their field by riders. The People's Choice Drivers' Award recipients were: Robert Bailey (Metro Mobility), Ricky Brooks (Mountain Metropolitan Transit), Charles Jennings (Mountain Metropolitan Transit), Gary Maestas (Mountain Metropolitan Transit), Wayne Peacock (Fountain Valley Senior Services), Ray Schwartz (Community Intersections), Melvin Smith (Amblicab), and Jack Souders (Silver Key Senior Services).
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

One Colorado asks LGBTQ residents to prioritize needs

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 3:07 PM

  • Shutterstock / Marc Bruxelle
One Colorado, a statewide LGBTQ rights organization, is once again asking for feedback from LGBTQ Coloradans.

The organization provided a survey in 2010 that not only covered demographics, income, goals and lifestyle, but also asked LGBTQ people what they felt One Colorado's priorities should be. 4,600 completed the survey.

In response to the results, the organization focused on relationship recognition, school safety for LGBTQ youth and access to health care. Through lobbying, organizing political actions and protests, and bringing speakers and events to various communities in Colorado, it has spent six years concentrating on these issues.

Working in what One Colorado's website calls "post-marriage-equality Colorado," it is time to refocus the organization's efforts. With that in mind, the organization is conducting another survey and inviting all LGBTQ Coloradans to respond.

The survey, which is available in English and Spanish, takes about twenty minutes to complete and includes questions about daily life, political priorities and social priorities.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Urban Peak breakfast hosts 900 people

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 2:15 PM

A huge crowd gathered for the Off the Street breakfast. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • A huge crowd gathered for the Off the Street breakfast.

Urban Peak's Off the Street Community Breakfast drew approximately 900 people Wednesday morning. The crowd gathered to support the nonprofit's mission of ending youth homelessness in Colorado Springs.

The annual breakfast is held under the Colorado Avenue bridge downtown, a setting not unlike those that many of the area's less fortunate residents call home. Event-goers were treated to a breakfast provided by Picnic Basket Catering and a moving program, including a video about a young person who was helped off the streets by Urban Peak, and two performances from the Hear Here Youth Poetry Slam Team.

Urban Peak executive director Shawna Kemppainen told the crowd that money raised at the breakfast would help the organization expand its programming for homeless youth, like health care, a shelter, educational services and outreach. While the nonprofit works with nearly 600 youth in a year, she says it only reaches about 20 percent of the youth who need it. Ultimately, she says, she wants to get to a point where no young person is ever turned away from Urban Peak's doors, and instead each person is put in the appropriate programs within 24 hours.

"In an ideal world," she said, "we would expand every program that we have Monday." 

In the meantime, she said, every dollar earned at the breakfast will go directly to programs to help homeless youth who face steep challenges. For instance, according to Urban Peak, 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Twenty to 30 percent of female homeless youth are pregnant. And 45 percent of the homeless youth that Urban Peak serves identify as having a mental illness.

One of the most moving parts of the program was the speech given by 18-year-old Jorge, who spoke of how he escaped an abusive home and a dysfunctional safety net in Indiana and came to Colorado Springs. Here, Urban Peak's outreach workers provided him with needed necessities and encouragement that he had never experienced before, giving him confidence to get his life back together.

"Urban Peak taught me I should stop doing it for everybody else and just do it for me," he said, choking back tears.

Jorge told the crowd that he now has a full-time job and is about to sign a lease on his first apartment. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Other presenters included Greg Morris, executive director of Ascending to Health Respite Care, who has worked with Urban Peak for decades. He said that a homeless person can expect to die 30 years before his or her housed peers, meaning that many of the youth that Urban Peak helps could be halfway through their lives if they don't find a way off the streets.

Another presenter, John Spears, executive director of Pikes Peak Library District, told the crowd that struggled to tell his family he was gay when he was a young man, which led to 20 years of substance abuse. His life, he told the crowd, "had many dark chapters." It was only because of the support of friends and family that he didn't end up on the streets.

Because of that, Spears says he's very drawn to helping the struggling youth of today, who need support so that they can leave their own dark chapters behind and go on to "write the story that they were meant to." 

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"Fun Facts About Homelessness"

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2016 at 10:43 AM

The Coalition for Compassion and Action, which describes itself as "the activism arm for the movement to end homelessness in Colorado Springs" has released a video called "Fun Facts About Homelessness," that is, to be frank, not very funny. 

The video discusses the plight of the local homeless, who have been without emergency shelter through the last few snow storms, and criticizes the city for not responding quickly enough.

For instance, the video notes that the city did not spend federal dollars on homelessness that instead sat in an account for years. The city does get funding for certain homeless programs from the feds that is spent every year. But it's true that the city left years worth of money it receives from Community Development Block Grant Funds sitting in an account for years. You can read about it here. (It should be noted that CDBG funds didn't necessarily have to be spent on the homeless, and could have gone to other community needs had the homeless not been identified as a priority by the city.)

The video also criticizes the city for a lack of emergency shelter beds. It is true that winter shelters have closed, and that the city has fewer shelter beds than needed. But it should be noted that many normal shelters are still operating, even if they do fall short of the true need.

Finally, the video points out that without adequate shelter, the homeless are forced to camp on public lands, which is illegal. That's true. The city police, however, are supposed to provide campers with a shelter bed if they force them to pack up camp. The city is meeting soon to discuss how to handle homeless camps this summer, when there will be a severe shortage of shelter beds.  The upshot: People will be allowed to camp.

Enjoy the video. Or don't. Really it's pretty depressing.

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