For most people, the holiday season has begun. From now until the first of the year, things outside of work slow down for parties, family get-togethers and all those other things that take place this time of year. But the homeless are not most people. Sometimes, a meal and a warm place to crash is reason enough to celebrate.
In Pueblo, one place the homeless---homeless adults---can satisfy these two needs is at the Pueblo Rescue Mission. It’s not fancy but it’s open everyday and it beats the heck out of roughing it, especially this time of year when temperatures plunge.
“I just believe this is the path I’m supposed to be on,” said Kathy Cline, Pueblo Rescue Mission Director. “I’ve always believed in social justice and at this stage (of my life) I’m just carrying out social justice.”
Right now, the Mission is in a temporary shelter near the city’s midtown. It had a rush reopening when a cold snap hit in mid-October. The former grocery warehouse was also used for the homeless last winter. It closed in April. A permanent shelter will be opened before the end of the year.
While Cline said the Mission is paying the facility’s upkeep, including staff and building security, the contract it has with the City assures that all costs will be reimbursed. The Mission will also be in charge of the new and permanent homeless facility which will be located a few miles away on East Fourth Street. It is scheduled to open next month.
Pueblo, southern Colorado’s largest city, is going through what almost all American cities are experiencing; an upward tick in homeless, including homeless families. The city’s homeless population, which was tabulated in the “Point in Time” count conducted earlier this year is estimated at around 300. But, Cline thinks “it’s closer to 500-600 range.”
The Mission offers only bare bones amenities. Its hours are 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. There are bathrooms but no showers. The facility provides shelter for adults at least 18 years of age. Men and women using the shelter are segregated. There are no beds. Those using the Mission sleep on the floor on mats.
Those who check in for the night are offered only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Cline admits, it’s not much, but it’s something. “We’ve handed out more than fifty-thousand sandwiches,” she said. “Most everybody is glad they have something,” adding, “if they don’t want to eat, they don’t have to.” It’s understandable if guests get tired of the same thing, she said. “But there’s not a lot of complaints.”
Cline said cold weather nights usually tap out the facility’s capacity. “Our highest number has been around 63, but last year we had nights well over a hundred,” she said. She said this season “we are seeing more women.” In the four years that she has been with the Mission, she estimates that the number of women overnighting has doubled.
Cline came out of retirement to run the Mission. “It’s a calling,” she said. “It’s not for the faint of heart.” She said she doesn’t judge those showing up seeking shelter. “I respect them; they respect me.” It balances out. “The world needs a little kindness.”
While Cline said the Mission does not solicit donations, it does accept them. Gloves and socks, she said, are always good to get. But the basics, including soap, toilet paper, cups and clothing, including winter coats and sleeping bags are always great donations. She also said that cash---which helps cover the overhead---and gift cards are welcomed.
If you are interested in donating to the Rescue Mission, you can contact Cline at 719-251-2136