“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
It’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state of Colorado and Larimer County declared a state of emergency. And what a year it has been! This last year has seen many changes and challenges especially for our frontline heroes. But, our staff at Fort Collins Rescue Mission did not let these challenges define the past year. If anything, they overcame adversity every day, and used their faith to guide them through.
In response to the pandemic, the Mission quickly shifted operations. The City of Fort Collins and other service providers joined forces to open the Northside Aztlan Community Center as a temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness. This facility, which opened in April provided a safe space during the pandemic that could accommodate 250 men and women. Fort Collins Rescue Mission temporarily closed its shelter operations but frontline staff continued serving meals at the Aztlan Center. We were able to help serve 22,313 meals and 6,460 nights of shelter over the duration the temporary facility was operating.
When the Aztlan Center closed at the end of June, the Mission and other local service providers went back to their original facilities, quickly realizing the lack of space available to safely shelter guests under social distancing guidelines. This was right around the time when “we are in this together” took on a whole new meaning. The best solution to finding the space necessary to shelter our neighbors experiencing homelessness was to combine forces and work together.
The City of Fort Collins, The Health District and other service providers in the northern Colorado community rose to the challenge and established a new arrangement for caring for those experiencing homelessness. The Blue Spruce Temporary Shelter opened in October, which is still being operated by Fort Collins Rescue Mission staff.
Behind the Scenes at the Blue Spruce Temporary Shelter
The goal of the temporary shelter is to provide a safe space where our guests experiencing homelessness can shelter safely and socially distance in response to COVID-19. Catholic Charities is caring for women and families. Murphy Center and Homeward Alliance offers a day shelter with basic services. The combined efforts have made it possible to continue caring for the vulnerable.
It would be foolish to leave out one of the most important partners, YOU! This community has shown an incredible amount of support for not only those experiencing homelessness but for staff as well.
To all our volunteers, our donors, our prayer warriors, and families, THANK YOU! We could not have done this work without your steadfast support.