A local agency that helps those in need with emergency assistance continues to be in need itself of a more permanent space to provide its services.
And, while several local entities have their sights on the former Glenwood Springs library building at Ninth and Blake for various space needs, the Glenwood Springs Salvation Army is asking to make use of at least part of the now-empty building in the meantime.
Such an arrangement could also extend to a longer-term collaboration with other nonprofit organizations to use the building, representatives from the agency suggested to Glenwood Springs City Council last week.
“We do need something a little more stable to be able to serve the people who need the help we provide,” said Sandy Anderson, a board member for the local Salvation Army chapter.
The Salvation Army has been operating temporarily out of the basement of the Masonic Lodge on Colorado Avenue since April. That’s its third location in two years as it has attempted to find a permanent facility.
“Especially right now when we do have a lot of tourists and people traveling through town, there are more people who need our services,” Anderson said.
Typical requests can range from someone needing cash because they lost their wallet, their car broke down, or they got injured and ended up in the hospital, she said.
Other services offered through Salvation Army include short-term help in paying rent or utility bills, or travel assistance for those who have become stranded.
Last year alone, the local Salvation Army provided 2,000 assists, Anderson said. On average, the office can see around 100 clients per month, and up to 200 or 300 per month during the holidays.
Karen Lee, area caseworker for the Salvation Army, said in a follow-up interview with the Post Independent that she is grateful to the Masons for allowing use of the small basement area. Ideally, though, she needs something in the 1,000-square-foot range with a separate office and waiting area.
“It doesn’t work to have conversations with clients that are supposed to be confidential when you have someone else waiting in the room hearing your whole story,” Lee said.
Another problem is access, which is down a narrow stairwell into the basement area of the building and is not conducive for someone with an injury or requiring handicapped access, she said.
“I also only have about a third of my office here, the rest is in storage,” Lee said, adding that includes numerous case files that can’t be kept in an unsecured area.
As for the potential to use the library building, “we wouldn’t need the whole space, just a portion of it,” she said.
The former library building reverted to city ownership following the completion of the new Glenwood Springs Branch Library at Eighth and Cooper in September last year.
Earlier this year, City Council solicited proposals for use of the 4,500-square-foot facility. Those ranged from requests that it be utilized for office and programming space for a variety of nonprofit, human service organizations to a proposal by Garfield County to buy or lease the building for a long-sought-after senior center.
Council has not formally considered the proposals, and at its July 17 meeting followed through on its intentions to put a question on the November ballot seeking permission from city voters to sell the building, if that’s determined to be the best course of action.
“I do want to clear up any confusion, that this just gives us the option to sell,” Councilman Mike Gamba clarified for the Salvation Army representatives. “That doesn’t mean we will sell it in the end.”
Council members said they would also be willing to meet with them and representatives from any other organization about the possibility of a short-term lease while the longer-term options are being considered.
“I do want to clear up any confusion, that this just gives us the option to sell. That doesn’t mean we will sell it in the end.”
Glenwood Springs city councilman