La Puente: Alamosa, CO
Dates: March 21st – March 29th
Group Size: 2 student leaders, 8 participants
Alamosa is located in southern Colorado in the heart of the San Luis Valley, the world’s largest alpine valley. The valley is surrounded by the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. La Puente Home is a nonprofit organization that serves the valley by providing emergency shelter, food assistance, and community outreach services for the homeless and community members in crisis. Furthermore, La Puente Home provides homelessness prevention programs, promotes self-sufficiency for individuals and families, addresses community barriers, and raises public awareness to issues of poverty and homelessness. La Puente Home endeavors to meet immediate needs and empower people to live independently with dignity.
Poverty: The valley has a population of 46,190 residents. It remains the poorest region of Colorado. 19.6% of the valley’s population lives below the poverty line, compared to the state average of 9%. The per capita income in the San Luis Valley is %15,180 compared to $24,049 for Colorado as a whole. The group will contribute to solutions to this wealth disparity be working alongside La Puente’s full-time volunteers and forming relationships with the people La Puente serves.
Rural Isolation: The rural isolation, coupled with the poverty that exists in the San Luis Valley, makes it difficult to acquire and maintain ongoing financial support to afford critical human services. La Puente Enterprises generates earned income that helps support La Puente programs providing opportunities for job training and employment for the homeless and low-income residents.
Homelessness: Rural homelessness is a silent epidemic afflicting thousands of individuals and families every year. Unique economic, sociological, and geographical factors contribute to the causes of rural homelessness, and without outside help the ranks of the rural homeless in San Luis Valley will continue to grow.
The group will have the chance to hike at Great Sand Dune National Monument, visit local natural hot springs, or take a trip to northern New Mexico. The group will work with La Puente’s homeless shelter. Past groups have done painting and landscaping, gleaned vegetables from local fields, and helped with renovation projects. The group also will cook, serve, and eat meals with men, women, and children experiencing homelessness, who are guests at La Puente. Good physical condition is recommended.