Springs Rescue Mission
Care in Action
To say Springs Rescue Mission saves lives is not a stretch. Glen Nelson, a recent guest at SRM, arrived with pneumonia, the clothes on his back, and his two dogs. Without SRM, its bunks, food, and work support, he says, “I believe my dogs and I would’ve been dead in the streets.”
And even just five years ago, he might have been. While SRM has been working those in the community struggling with homelessness since 1996, it’s seen massive growth most recently.
“What I think a lot of people may not know, even in the community, is that we only started providing shelter for individuals about five years ago,” says Travis Williams, SRM’s Chief Development Officer. “And at that time we were asked to see if we could provide 30 shelter beds. And we did. Then we thought could we stretch a little more and we sheltered 65 for two years. And then we started a capital campaign and now within five years’ time we’ve gone to sheltering up to 450 people a night on those cold nights.”
Shelter isn’t the only thing SRM provides. In addition to a men’s shelter, a women’s shelter, a shelter for about 50 men participating in an addiction recovery program, and supportive family services, SRM houses a 10,000 square-foot comprehensive Resource Center — the focus of Colorado Springs Health Foundation’s grants to the nonprofit.
“The Resource Center is really the heart of what we’re trying to do,” says Williams. “We’re a come-as you-are shelter, that’s rare within the United States. We will take people wherever they are at, whatever substance they may have in their system. We’ll take them if they have a pet, anything. We’ll try and work with them.”
The intent of the Resource Center’s work, he adds, is to build a relationship with each individual experiencing homelessness and provide the right resources that will help that person move forward. About 25 different partner agencies have a presence on site, and SRM staff can make instant referrals seven days a week for a range of assistance including medical care, veteran’s benefits, social security, housing, and work coaching.
In a city where it’s a five-mile loop to hit all the major social services, the Resource Center provides the accessibility that people need. More than 2,500 individuals sought services at SRM during 2017, and Williams says SRM is committed to three things for each person who walks through the Resource Center’s doors: better housing, better health — physical and mental — and work.
Restoring confidence and personal dignity for its guests is something else the Resource Center is committed to, whether it’s supported by the welcoming staff, the laundry services the program offers, or something even more basic.
“Before we opened the resource center, there are only two showers in Colorado Springs. And once we opened, we were able to provide 16 showers for men and women,” says Williams. “There were tears of joy, people who hadn’t taken a shower or had the opportunity in six months. That was probably one of the more touching moments in this journey.”
That, and as former guest Douglas Smith, who is now employed and living under his own roof, says, simple presence. SRM was there, he says, “when no one else was, a place to be when I had been cast out, and a warm smile when the one who I had trusted turned cold.”