Homeless assistance group off and running | PostIndependent.com

Homeless assistance group off and running

The fledgling charity group Carbondale Homeless Assistance formed last winter is establishing some concrete programs after some initial uncertainty about where to begin.

The Roaring Fork Valley already has a number of resources in Glenwood Springs and Aspen that the homeless can utilize, but they’re little good if the person in need doesn’t know about them.

So the Carbondale group’s main purpose will be to provide information and access, said Lynn Kirchner, a Realtor who pushed for the group’s formation.

The group has developed a “help sheet” that lists the valley’s resources on a number of fronts: crisis hot lines, shelter, camping, food, health and hygiene, housing assistance and pet care.

The Carbondale group’s main purpose will be to provide information and access (to resources) said Lynn Kirchner, a Realtor who pushed for the group’s formation.

This group was founded in the winter when the community had an immediate threat of someone dying from being stuck out in the harsh cold. Now it is stockpiling for next winter.

The main thing supporters need is money to get people off the streets on zero-degree nights, said Kirchner. The group paid to put people in emergency housing – usually a hotel room – for seven nights last winter.

It has also been collecting camping gear, mainly sleeping bags and tents, which members can distribute to the town’s homeless.

And it’s worked out a program with the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center to purchase punch passes for the facility’s showers at $120 for 20 punches, said Kirchner.

At a fundraising book sale last weekend, the group raised a little more than $1,000, and it’s had some success by partnering with local businesses.

At Ragged Mountain Sports, 902 Highway 133, the group has an account to which individuals can dedicate the money they would have gotten from consignment items. They’ve generated more than $500 this way.

At Miser’s Mercantile, 303 Main St., you can do that same. That’s brought in about $100.

The group has received about $700 in cash donations, and its generosity.com site has generated about another $500. Visit the site at http://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/carbondale-homeless-assistance.

Just as big of a concern for CHA is Carbondale’s “almost homeless,” said Kirchner. “These are people that are just one event away, if the car breaks down or they get sick and can’t go to work, from being without a roof over their heads.”

But simply raising awareness of these issues has the greatest effect. Homelessness is an issue that many people don’t want to be aware of, but when word gets out, an outpouring from the community has always been there, she said.

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