One Village One Family “Graduates” Featured in Local Newspaper

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Coloradoan Features Recently-Housed Family/Graduates of One Village one Family Program

Fort Collins, Colorado, November 24, 2016

The Fort Collins Coloradoan today published a feature on Matt and Sarah, recent One Village One Family program participants who escaped homelessness over the summer.

To read the article, visit this link: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2016/11/24/home-holidays-thanksgiving-cp/94231436/

ABOUT ONE VILLAGE ONE FAMILY

OVOF is one of a small number of rapid rehousing programs in Fort Collins. It was modeled after a similar program in Denver, One Congregation One Family, that was launched out of then-Mayor John Hickenlooper’s office in 2016. Statewide, the program’s offshoots have helped more than 1,000 families escape homelessness.

For more information on the program, visit www.HomelessGear.org/OVOF.

Local Bands to Host Benefit Concert, Donation Drive for Homeless Gear

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South to Cedars, Aires Attic and Amy and the Peace Pipes to Host Benefit Concert and Gear Drive for Homeless Gear—Event Slated for November 18 at Pateros Creek Brewing Company

Fort Collins, Colorado, November 11, 2016

Three local bands—South to Cedars, Aires Attic and Amy and the Peace Pipes—plan to host a “Stuff a Truck” benefit concert for Homeless Gear next week, raising money and collecting supplies at Pateros Creek Brewing Company in north Fort Collins.

The concert, scheduled for November 18th, 7 PM to 11 PM, is free to attend. Several local businesses have sponsored the event through in-kind or financial donations.

For more information on the event, visit the following page: https://www.facebook.com/events/101222837027274/?hc_location=ufi

Career Closet Thrives with New Volunteer Team, Anonymous Donors

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Hand Up Program Provides “Career Gear” to Record Number of Job-Seekers—Supplies Empower Individuals to Accept Otherwise-Unattainable Jobs

Fort Collins, Colorado, November 1, 2016

Homeless Gear’s Hand Up program recorded 150 transactions in a newly-revamped Career Closet during the first ten months of 2016—including a record 26 in October—distributing thousands-of-dollars-worth of work-related supplies to job-seekers experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.

The Career Closet, located at the Murphy Center, contains supplies that individuals need to interview for jobs (button-down shirts, slacks, etc.) and accept job offers (steel-toed boots, slip-resistant shoes, etc.). The Closet has benefited from a large, anonymous donor and a team of dedicated volunteers. Those volunteers order and stock supplies, maintain the space and work closely with Homeless Gear staff to manage inventory.

The Career Closet is available to guests of the Murphy Center and to those referred by select nonprofits and employment agencies. In the words of one nonprofit partner: 

“A client of mine got a job working for [a restoration agency]. He was not prepared with the proper clothing and there was concern that he’d be unable to work. I contacted Homeless Gear and got immediate service, outfitting him with steel-toed work boots and heavy-duty pants, as well as a belt and some shirts. He was glad to receive the gear, but once he got to the job site, he had a new appreciation for what had been given to him…. [He] reported that having a job and looking nice improved his self-esteem and even some of the symptoms of his mental health… [it was] constant encouragement.”

ABOUT HAND UP

Homeless Gear’s Hand Up program empowers job-seekers who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless to find and maintain employment. The program was launched in 2008 by Sister Mary Alice Murphy, a longtime advocate for people who are homeless, and Andy Troccoli, an employee of New Belgium Brewing Company. The program operated as an independent nonprofit until it merged with Homeless Gear in late 2012.

For more information, visit www.HomelessGear.org/Hand-Up.

Homeless Gear, Murphy Center Mourn Loss of Long-Time Guest and Friend

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Homeless Gear and the Murphy Center Mourn Loss of George, a Long-Time Guest of the Murphy Center and Friend to the Organization—George Escaped Homelessness Earlier this Year

Fort Collins, Colorado, October 15, 2016

Homeless Gear today mourns the loss of George, a long-time guest of the Murphy Center, who died abruptly this week, just months after he had escaped homelessness. Homeless Gear released the following statement:

Almost every morning this year, just as the Murphy Center opened, a man — homeless and struggling with addiction — strode into the building. He sported a colorful fanny pack and a white beard that (as is often the case for the people we serve) belied his actual, relatively-youthful age.

That man died last weekend — no longer homeless, no longer using drugs — quietly in his apartment. It was an abrupt, heartbreaking and undeserved end for a man who had worked hard to turn his life around; but it was also an end with dignity, and a testament to his tireless efforts and the people who helped him along the way.

Today, we pay homage to the man and say thanks to the people who brought joy to his life.

Homelessness is a complex issue that elicits passionate and sometimes-competing responses. The man who passed away encapsulated many of those complexities.

But he also encapsulated a simpler, far-more uplifting truth: there is always a path forward — always an opportunity for a brighter future. This man emerged from the darkness, surrounded himself with people who cared and, ultimately, built a life that brought him happiness.

So to the many agencies who helped him move forward and find a home; to the many people experiencing homelessness who gave him friendship, hope and support; and to the countless others with whom he crossed paths: we say thank you.

Rest in Peace. We wish the journey could have lasted longer.

Bike Program Thriving with Record 53 Repairs in September

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Homeless Gear’s Bike Program Records Record 53 Repairs in September—Volunteer-Run Program Provides Transportation Lifeline to Guests of the Murphy Center

Fort Collins, Colorado, October 5, 2016

Homeless Gear’s bike-repair program, launched at the start of the year by a long-time volunteer and organized around a weekly-repair clinic at the Murphy Center, has thrived in its first nine months, recording 182 repairs and a record 53 repairs in September.

Mark Brewer, a Homeless Gear volunteer, started the program in January after he noticed that many Murphy Center guests—and many people experiencing homelessness, more generally—rely on often-unreliable bicycles for transportation. Those guests, he observed, struggled to make it to doctors’ appointments, job interviews and elsewhere due to tire blowouts, faulty chains and other fixable bike problems.

The program was featured in the Colorado this week: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2016/10/04/bike-repair-program-gives-wheels-foco-homeless/91486880/

Since Mark launched the program at the start of the year, several volunteers have joined the bike-mechanic team. Bike Fort Collins, the Fort Collins Bike Coop, Recycled Cycles and others have contributed to the program via donations of cash or bike parts.

ABOUT THE BIKE PROGRAM

Homeless Gear’s Bike program hosts a free bike-repair clinic every Friday, 3 PM to 5 PM, at the Murphy Center (242 Conifer Street in Fort Collins). The service is available to any registered guests of the Murphy Center. The bike-repair team also hosts repair clinics at off-site locations; the team expects to expand its outreach in 2016 and 2017.

For more information or to get involved, visit www.HomelessGear.org/Bike.

Homeless Gear Introduces New Hand Up Program Manager

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Homeless Gear Announces Rachel Kirkland as New Hand Up Program Manager—Rachel Accepts New Position after One Year on Murphy Center Staff

Fort Collins, Colorado, October 1, 2016

Homeless Gear is pleased to introduce Rachel Kirkland, formerly an Intake Specialist at the Murphy Center (managed by Homeless Gear), as the new Manager of the Hand Up program. Rachel replaces Colter Schutte, a former Homeless Gear intern and staff member who departed for an overseas job opportunity.

Rachel joined the Murphy Center staff earlier this year and has, since then, served as an Intake Specialist, performing intakes with new guests and organizing referrals to other on-site agencies. She began training for the Hand Up position in September.

“We are thrilled to have Rachel in this new role,” said Linda Nuss, Homeless Gear’s Program Director (and former Hand Up Program Manager). “I could not imagine a smoother transition—Rachel has built a strong rapport with the staff, other agencies and hundreds of Murphy Center guests, and we are confident that she will blossom in this new role.”

ABOUT HAND UP

Homeless Gear’s Hand Up program empowers job-seekers who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless to find and maintain employment. The program was launched in 2008 by Sister Mary Alice Murphy, a longtime advocate for people who are homeless, and Andy Troccoli, an employee of New Belgium Brewing Company. The program operated as an independent nonprofit until it merged with Homeless Gear in late 2012.

For more information, visit www.HomelessGear.org/Hand-Up.

One Village One Family Helps Three Families Escape Homelessness in One Week

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In Milestone Week, One Village One Family Program Helps Three Families and Six Children Escape Homelessness

Fort Collins, Colorado, September 1, 2016

Homeless Gear’s One Village One Family (OVOF) program helped three families and six children escape homelessness last week, a milestone seven-day period that raised the program’s totals (since inception less than two years ago) to 18 families and 45 children.

The families were referred into OVOF by three agencies—Neighbor to Neighbor, Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) and Salvation Army Loveland—on July 19th, August 1st and August 6th, meaning that none of the families waited more than 38 days to secure housing.

“It was a whirlwind of a week for the One Village One Family program,” said Linda Nuss, Homeless Gear’s Program Director. “Our volunteer teams, or villages, worked tirelessly to help each of the three families get into housing—just as the 15 villages did before them.”

OVOF matches volunteer teams, or villages, with families experiencing homelessness. Each village raises money to help a family get into housing, and then provides that family with six months of support.

The villages for the three most-recently-successful families are comprised of volunteers from Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church, the nonprofit community and multiple unaffiliated individuals.

ABOUT ONE VILLAGE ONE FAMILY

OVOF is one of a small number of rapid rehousing programs in Fort Collins. It was modeled after a similar program in Denver, One Congregation One Family, that was launched out of then-Mayor John Hickenlooper’s office in 2016. Statewide, the program’s offshoots have helped more than 1,000 families escape homelessness.

For more information on the program, visit www.HomelessGear.org/OVOF.

Murphy Center Hosts Inaugural Community Dinner

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Murphy Center Hosts First-Ever Community Dinner, Uniting Community Behind Cause

Fort Collins, Colorado, August 15, 2016

The Murphy Center held its inauguration Community Dinner on August 5th, hosting more than 150 people for an evening of great food, awareness-building and fundraising at the downtown Masonic Temple.

The event was the first-of-its-kind for Fort Collins, as attendees included a combination of volunteers, donors, community stakeholders and people experiencing homelessness—an intentional effort to bridge the gap (or perceived gap) between those with homes and those without. It was hosted by the Fort Collins Masonic Temple at no charge; some 13 companies and organizations sponsored the event through cash or in-kind donations.

The program included speeches from representatives of the four agencies that, collectively, form the Partner Council that oversees the long-term vision of the Murphy Center: Homeless Gear, Neighbor to Neighbor, SummitStone Health Partners and Catholic Charities. There were impromptu and inspiring commentaries from current-and-former guests of the Murphy Center, and attendees bid on original guest artwork through a small silent auction.

ABOUT THE MURPHY CENTER

Named in honor of Sister Mary Alice Murphy, a Larimer County pioneer of service to neighbors in need, the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope celebrates compassionate action and serves as a resource center for families and individuals who face homelessness. The Murphy Center opened in 2009 and has proven to be a model for community collaboration and an essential resource in Larimer County. More information is available at www.murphycenter.org.

Homeless Gear Eclipses $25,000 Mark in Food Donations to Thompson School District

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Homeless Gear Collects More than $1,000 Worth of Food for Loveland Rotary Kids Pak over Weekend—Eclipses $25,000 Mark in Food Donations to Loveland in Less than Two Years

Loveland, Colorado, August 6, 2016

Homeless Gear collected $1,150 worth of supplies for the Loveland Rotary Kids Pak program today, eclipsing the $25,000-value mark in total donations to the organization in less than two years.

Homeless Gear began hosting food-collection events at the Loveland Sam’s Club in October 2014 and has, since then, donated all of the food proceeds to Loveland Rotary Kids Pak—a hunger-relief program that sends food bags home each weekend to low-income children and families in the Thompson School District.

Some 23 times since October 2014, Homeless Gear staff and volunteers have stood in front of the Loveland Sam’s Club, requesting donations of specific items from customers as they enter the store.

“It is a simple premise, but it has worked wonders,” said David Rout, Homeless Gear’s Executive Director. “It makes it easy to help, and the results speak for themselves.”

For more information on the Loveland Rotary Kids Pak program, visit www.lovelandrotarykidspak.com.

Rick’s Speech—Text from a Speaker at Homeless Gear’s Recent Fundraising Event

My name is Rick, and if you want to know the good that you all do, if you want to know how your efforts save lives, I’m living proof.

I don’t want to talk too much about all the hard things I’ve had in my life. For one thing, I’m not sure it’s all that interesting. For another, I know I brought those hard times on to myself.

It’s a story that’s sadly all too familiar.  I started smoking weed as a teenager and it wasn’t that long before I turned to harder drugs. I had a son at 24. More drugs, harder drugs. I had a daughter at 26. More drugs, harder drugs.  My life was spinning out of control, much faster than I could ever hope to put it back together. I moved from Colorado to Utah and back to Colorado.

Eventually, it spun so far down that I hit bottom.

For me, bottom was prison, where I spent five years.  Everything I did, all the problems I had, all the losses of money and jobs and friends and family – it was all because of drugs.  In prison, I saw no reason to think that anything in my life would ever change.  I had nothing, and nothing to look forward to.

My life was a hole I had dug myself into, and I saw no way to ever get out of it.

I got out of prison on December 12, 2014, with no job, no family, no friends, no hope.  Then, on December 17, 2014, I met Linda Nuss.  It was five days after I had gotten out of prison, and five days before my dad died. It was the first day of my new life.

To say Linda and Homeless Gear have been an inspiration to me would be an understatement.

To say they have taken me under their wing and protected me and showed me the way would be an understatement.  To say that they saved my life would be an understatement.

What makes Homeless Gear, and Linda, so different than anything else I’ve ever had in my life is the personal interest and attention they’ve showed me and the example they set about how a life could be lived.  The lifestyle they promoted is also the lifestyle they practice every day.  A life that’s clean, honest and kind. They are the role models I never imagined I’d have.

Thanks to Linda and Homeless Gear, I got jobs, real jobs —washing dishes, working for a landscaping company and working at Valley Steel & Wire, where my boss was Dave Wasson, who is here today.

These people showed me kindness that I can’t begin to thank them for.

Then, when I found myself slipping back, Linda and Homeless Gear were there to make sure I didn’t slip too far, getting me into Fort Lyon where I have been since March and will be for the next year and a half.

For the first time in my life, I have the freedom to go to school, to do what I want to do, to make the right choices.

Those are all the facts, but let me tell you what’s really different about my life, and why my life can be divided into two parts: Before Homeless Gear and After Homeless Gear.

When I was in prison, I could see where I was going: nowhere.  And I was going there real fast.

I had two definite things in my future; prison and death.  There was nothing else.  There were no other paths that seemed open to me.  But with the support I have from Homeless Gear, I suddenly have a chance to go down a road that I’ve rarely traveled in my life.

If I do right by them and myself, if I can love myself and believe in myself, if I can believe in my future as much as they believe in my future, I know I can keep moving forward.

For the first time, I look ahead and I don’t just see prison and death.  I see a good job, a house, a family.  I see a life that for most of you seems ordinary and natural, but which I never thought was within my reach. 

Now I not only think it’s possible. I think it’s likely.  You can’t imagine what that feels like.

I know what it’s like to always take the wrong road, and I know what it’s like to sometimes take the right road, and the right road is a much better place to be. 

I know what it’s like to have nobody.  It’s lonely, it’s scary, it’s dark, it’s cold. 

Now, thanks to Homeless Gear, I also know what it’s like to have somebody.  It’s warm, it’s safe, it’s right.

Somebody asked me today if I feel cursed to have had so much suffering in my life, or if I feel lucky that finally, things are looking better.  There’s no question about it: I am lucky.  I am lucky because unlike most people, I know what it’s like to have nothing.  I know what it’s like to have less than nothing, to lose everything.

And knowing what that’s like to have nothing makes it so much better when you finally have something.

Because believe me, there’s no comparison.

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