Tuesday, March 3, 2020

REACH Pikes Peak plans move to Helen Hunt Elementary campus

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2020 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge REACH Pikes Peak will move into the first floor of the west building of the former Helen Hunt Elementary School campus. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • REACH Pikes Peak will move into the first floor of the west building of the former Helen Hunt Elementary School campus.

REACH Pikes Peak, a local nonprofit serving low-income individuals and families throughout El Paso County, announced a big move Feb. 26.

The nonprofit — which served more than 9,000 families and individuals in 2018 — will transfer its downtown Colorado Springs office to the former Helen Hunt Elementary School, now a nonprofit campus in the Hillside neighborhood, Executive Director and CEO Patrice Ravenscroft says.

The announcement came at a press conference Feb. 26 at The Broadmoor, where REACH Pikes Peak also hoped to drum up support for its existing services. Ravenscroft highlighted a key aspect of the nonprofit's work: the Emergency Solutions Grant funding it uses for family stabilization services.

The program offers one-time assistance with emergency needs such as rent or mortgage (rural El Paso County only), utilities, food, medical prescriptions, housing rehabilitation, transportation and budget counseling, according to REACH Pikes Peak's website.

"Residents in danger of becoming homeless ... can call REACH Pikes Peak at  719-358-8396 to speak to an emergency service counselor to see if you qualify," Ravenscroft said.

click to enlarge Other nonprofits have found space in the east building of the Helen Hunt campus. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Other nonprofits have found space in the east building of the Helen Hunt campus.

The nonprofit aims to connect people who receive emergency funding to its long-term programs for financial stability, which include assistance with postsecondary education and savings accounts.

The El Pomar Foundation recently gave REACH Pikes Peak $10,000 for homelessness prevention services, Ravenscroft said, and the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners designated $20,000 through its Community Investment Program. REACH Pikes Peak administered $10,000 of that funding on its own and gave another $10,000 to Tri-Lakes Cares, a nonprofit serving low-income residents in northern El Paso County, Ravenscroft said.

REACH Pikes Peak plans to open in the Helen Hunt campus in June, she said. Eventually, Ravenscroft wants REACH Pikes Peak to serve 20,000 people from that location, which will include a Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado pantry location as well as a clothing pantry.

"Twenty thousand is an audacious goal, but we know that if we don't meet those families, we're going to have them on the streets — we're going to have them with no lights on, and no meals," Ravenscroft said.

More than 75,000 El Paso County residents are below the federal poverty level, she noted, amounting to just over 11 percent of the county's total population (according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates).

The poverty level set in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services was $26,200 for a four-person household.

Ravenscroft became emotional when she mentioned her grandfather, Sam Dunlap, a Hillside community advocate who passed away last year.

"I'm so proud to continue [Dunlap's] legacy, because the need is still there," Ravenscroft said. "We're feeding hungry people, we're clothing people, we're still delivering basic needs to our citizens, and we're so proud to continue the legacy. But we're not done."

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