Serve the impoverished and underprivileged of rural Colorado
La Puente serves the homeless, the hungry, and people living in poverty in the San Luis Valley (SLV), Colorado. Our services include: a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, a support program for families in crisis, a homeless prevention program, 13 food pantries scattered around the SLV, a food recovery program following the farm harvest, three community thrift stores, and a coffee house.
La Puente is located in Colorado's San Luis Valley (SLV), in south central Colorado. Though the area is pristine in its mountainous beauty, it is host of 4 of the 6 poorest counties in Colorado. The poverty and isolation of the Valley gives way to a lot of human need. The economy is primarily agricultural, and many of the crops are worked by immigrant migrant farm workers.
About La Puente Home Inc
Our services include: a homeless shelter (45 beds averaging 700 people each year), a soup kitchen (50,000 meals/year) a self-sufficiency program for homeless families, a homeless prevention program, 15 food pantries scattered around the Valley (serving more than 25% of the SLV’s populations), a food recovery program following the farm harvest, three community thrift stores, and a coffee house.
La Puente is located in Colorado's San Luis Valley (SLV), in south central Colorado and touches the New Mexico Border. Though the area is pristine in its mountainous beauty, it is host of 4 of the 6 poorest counties in Colorado. La Puente is the lead organization in a collective AmeriCorps program called the Rural Alliance for Dignity (RAD). RAD serves specifically in rural communities around Colorado and provides a range of services from tutoring, hunger relief, to serving the homeless. RAD has multiple programs to choose from. La Puente's RAD program utilizes 36 AmeriCorps members annually to work the front-lines of all of our services. It’s a great opportunity to serve and meet many like-minded people.
AmeriCorps Members experience community on many different levels as they form relationships with their housemates, co-workers, and the community as a whole. Members experience intentional community living, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. United by commitment to a shared vision, participants renew and encourage each other while challenging one another to form honest and open relationships.
Members are also encouraged to practice community in a larger sense as they immerse themselves in the culture of the local area. Members live on less and strive to practice simplicity. This commitment is more than attempting to live within a monthly budget; it is a shift of focus that comes with thoughtful analysis of your lifestyle and values. Spending a year centered less on money and consumption and more on deeper sources of satisfaction can free members to experience the value of simple pleasures, conversations, and their own creativity. Simplicity should not be thought of as doing without, but rather as having enough, and this awareness provides participants with an opportunity to discover healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
Manna Soup Kitchen helps reduce barriers to food insecurity and is the only soup kitchen, free produce market and culinary training program in La Plata County. The Manna Supportive Services program will provide food and supportive services to those in need, as well as increase awareness and champion the cause of the undeserved through outreach, program planning, and collaboration. AmeriCorps members will help serve nearly 3,000 residents of La Plata County. AmeriCorps members will provide direct services to our clients; therefore, increasing the number of clients that the organization can serve and provide more in-depth case consultation which greatly improves their chances of becoming self-sustainable. With the help of the AmeriCorps members, Manna seeks to grow in offering more programming to support client self-sufficiency, address basic needs, and provide valuable work skills.
Manna Support Services Consultant The Supportive Services Case Consultant provides outreach and supportive services for people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness in La Plata County through: providing resources directly to the clients such as bus tokens, clothing, hair cut vouchers, thrift store vouchers, prescription coverage, emergency food boxes, hygiene supplies, information regarding other regional support services, referrals, assistance in obtaining identifications (birth certificate, ID’s, and driver license) and SNAP application assistance. building on current partnerships and creating new collaborations to create a more comprehensive hub of social services/programming offered for our clients here at Manna to support client self-sufficiency, address basic needs, and provide valuable work skills. Creating and distributing a survey to our clients to attain actionable data for Manna and the community. It is important that the Supportive Services Case Consultant is compassionate and comfortable serving with diverse populations. They should also be excellent problems solvers and handle pressure well.
La Puente’s shelter is the oldest established rural shelter in the country! There are seven positions at the shelter, each one serves 3 days/week as a case manager for the guests and helps oversee the daily operations of the Shelter. Case management involves meeting with shelter guests to help discover the causes of homelessness and connecting them to resources in the community to help them transition to self-sufficiency. Daily operations include, ensuring guests complete chores, preparing and serving meals, overseeing volunteers who come to help cook meals, making showers and hygiene supplies available to guests and community members. This is a unique shelter in that guests do not have to leave in the morning and come back in the evening. It is open all day and has a very "homey" feel to it. It is also unique in that guests are only allowed 30 night stays each year, most shelters do not have a limit. Our guests are treated with dignity and respect, and are encouraged to make significant forward progress while having their immediate needs met.
The other 2 days/week at the Valley Educational Gardens Initiative Program, Outreach or the Food Bank.
Valley Educational Gardens Initiative
The VEGI Garden Coordinator is a split position between the Homeless Shelter and the Valley Educational Gardens Initiative (VEGI). The Garden Coordinator position assists with coordinating production in our seasonal and year-round garden spaces through VEGI. This member represents VEGI through Shelter guest relations as well and helping manage production in our geodesic Grow-dome, located behind the Shelter, which produces food year-round for community meals. This position works in collaboration with the year-round Garden Education Coordinator through VEGI, and helps prepare, coordinate and conduct garden-based educational lessons in schools, gardens, and within community agencies for underprivileged youth and families throughout the SLV. Garden-in-a-Box is a project that provides qualifying families with resources to grow their own gardens at home, an initiative that is supported by this position as well. These tasks are balanced with a focus on seasonal planning and preparation for garden production between early spring and late fall. Produce generated from garden sites in Alamosa and with partners across the SLV is donated to community members and those in need.
The Adelante Program is a Strength Based Supportive Service program that provides intensive services to families and individuals with great needs. The Adelante Program uses a client centered two generation Family Development approach to empower families to lift themselves out of homelessness or difficult times that may lead to homelessness. Nationwide, children are the fastest growing population of the homeless, making services like the Adelante program crucial to breaking the cycle of generational poverty and homelessness. AmeriCorps members serve as intensive case managers to this population, offering guidance, resources, supportive services, life skills training, and accountability as they embark on their journey to stabilization and healthy interdependence. Through weekly home visits and services, case managers partner with the families to empower and support them in accomplishing their goals. Through their journey, the people served learn coping skills, financial literacy and management skills, parenting skills, increased education levels for adult household members, and so much more. If you are passionate about ending the cycle of generational poverty and homelessness, excited to see people accomplish their goals, and are able to offer strong leadership, this program would be a great fit for you. It is incredibly helpful to be able to speak Spanish.
Positive Activities Leads to Success (PALS)
The PALS Children's Program works closely with children 5-9 years old who have experienced some level of trauma. These children suffer maltreatment either from abuse, mental physical or emotional, malnourishment, domestic violence, homelessness, and so on. PALS aims to enhance each child's sense of self, family, and community by providing social, emotional, and academic support. AmeriCorps members work closely with parents, teachers, caseworkers, other service providers, and especially the children, to serve each child in the best way possible. The PALS AmeriCorps members are advocates for the children in the classroom during the school year and help to provide a safe environment for children to grow and experience the world after school and all day during the summer. If you enjoy children and want to serve challenging children who need to experience a higher quality of life and see their potential for the future, you would be a wonderful addition the PALS team.
Outreach - Homeless Prevention
The Outreach Program is designed to help hundreds of households with emergency rent, utility, and health assistance, (and more) and provides guidance in assisting families to stability. The program coordinates its services with the homeless shelter, and other local services. In addition, La Puente Outreach has a backpack drive for children and puts together the largest community Christmas party in our area for almost 600 people. Serving at Outreach allows members to acquire many professional training's and skills that are highly marketable for transitioning into the workforce. There are 3 full-time positions, and 3 positions split with the Shelter and Outreach.
Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley
The Food Bank Network is a cohort of 15 food pantries across the San Luis Valley (SLV) designed to help more than 10,000 individuals with emergency access to food each year. With about 25% of the the Valley's residents uncertain of where next week's food will come from, the Food Bank Network provide food access to individuals and families who are food-insecure. There are 3 positions split between the Shelter and the Food Bank and one full-time Food Bank position. The full-time Food Bank AmeriCorps member leads a 6-week food rescue program and assists the Director in assuring that the Food Bank's mission is reflected in every-day operations. All Food Bank AmeriCorps members provide a welcoming, dignified experience for visitors, seek to help SLV residents maintain a healthy diet by cooking samples and providing recipes for Food Bank available food, and are eager to connect Food Bank visitors with other resources in the community.
Volunteer Coordinator/Community Educator (VolCom)
This position is shared between the two departments, offering help and support as a team mate, and taking the lead on projects and tasks throughout the term. This position is also a facilitator for work groups that come from all over the country for one or several days at a time. As a facilitator, this position coordinates work projects, creates and leads service learning, and engages participants in the services of La Puente. In the Community Education department, this position helps to run educational events such as a CROP Walk, creates publications, writes articles for the local newspaper, and gives public presentations. The unique creative twists added from a fresh perspective, and the educational opportunities with work groups allows this position to strengthen the messaging of La Puente's services and increase the capacity to serve those in need. It is very helpful to have a strong interest in learning design software, experience with design software is even better!
Volunteer Coordinator (VolCoor)
There is one full-time position in Volunteer Coordination. This position is the lead contact for all local community volunteers, providing opportunities for the public to get involved and participate in La Puente's mission. This entails frequent communication to all La Puente's programs to ensure the best service for each program and the best experience for each volunteer. There is a lot of follow up with programs and volunteers and often outside entities when the volunteer is performing mandated service such as parole officers and governmental service providers. This position is also a facilitator for work groups that come from all over the country for one or several days at a time. By coordinating work projects, creating and facilitating service learning, and engaging the participants in the services of La Puente, this position strengthens the ability of La Puente to serve those in need.
Boys And Girls Clubs
There are two Boys and two Boys and Girls Clubs Programs. One being the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chaffee County (BGCCC) and the other the Boys and Girls Clubs of the High Rockies (BGCHR). The Clubs work to inspire and enable youth ages 5 - 18 years old through programs that support Healthy Lifestyles, Academic Success, and Good Character and Leadership. The AmeriCorps members plan and implement before and after school opportunities and strive to address the gaps in opportunities experienced by rural youth, and strengthen the academic performance of students who have fallen behind the curve. AmeriCorps members work closely with teachers, guardians, other service providers, and especially the students ages 6-14.
BGCCC also has two Clubs, one located in Salida and the other in Buena Vista, Colorado. Members complete one year of service at one of the Clubs beginning August 6th, 2018. It is useful, although not required to have your own car because of the rural and small town nature of Chaffee County. Although it does snow in Chaffee County, it is not as much of a factor as it is at the other Clubs.
Please visit the website to learn about the program: http://www.bgcchaffee.org/
BGCHR has two Clubs, one located in Fairplay and the other in Bailey, Colorado. Members complete one year of service at one of the Clubs Beginning August 6th, 2018. Because of the rural, mountainous setting, it is necessary to have your own car to serve with BGCHR. It is best if you have a car that has 4 wheel drive as there is snow on the ground about 9 months out of the year.
MSTFP utilizes five AmeriCorps members and serves in three communities - Dolores, Mancos and Cortez, and is home to Mesa Verde National Park and a wealth of micro zones and high altitude growing climates within the county - from high desert and red rock canyons to the San Juan Mountain Range. The county prides itself on its' "no-frills, just hard work" ethic along with its strong agricultural heritage. The students come from diverse cultural backgrounds. Montezuma County has a large Native American population (Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, and Puebloan Tribes) as well as a strong Hispanic population. The MSTFP team includes five AmeriCorps members.
Please visit MSTFP's facebook page to learn more about the program: http://www.montezumaschooltofarm.org or https://www.facebook.com/MontezumaSchooltoFarm/?fref=ts
GPSW is located in the small mountain town of Durango. Located in southwest Colorado, Durango has quick access to outdoor play such as skiing, mountain biking, and river rafting, but is isolated from any larger urban areas. Ft. Lewis College is a source of diversity and adventure for the town. GPSW is growing a healthier community through school and community gardens, and has helped develop 20 community gardens since 1998. There is a strong focus on connecting people to their food, developing healthy nutrition, and encouraging environmental stewardship. The GPSW team includes two AmeriCorps members.
Please visit GPSW's website to learn more about the program: http://www.thegardenprojectswcolorado.org/
Position start date August 5th 2020.
The Employee Experience
Through direct service, participants are exposed to the daily struggle for justice, dignity, and human rights. In their various placements, they provide essential services to the poor and marginalized, and are encouraged to search for creative, long-term solutions. Members are challenged to work within themselves to promote compassion and respect for those they serve. In forming relationships with the clients, Members are open to understanding causes of injustice, and are consequently, changed by their experiences.
Service is a vague but beautiful idea. This year is about exploring what service means to participants with experience as the teacher. Members come to understand the fulfillment and impact of their service while also growing through sacrifice and inconvenience of giving a year of their life to help others.
Our ideal candidates are recent college graduates who are new to the work force and eager to serve and get involved.
Room and Board
These positions are AmeriCorps positions and receive a living allowance of $1,144/month before taxes, medical insurance and an education award of $3,047.50 upon successful completion of a six month term. La Puente has housing available depending on the program you enroll in (not all programs will be offered housing) for $360/month + $40/month toward a $250 damage deposit you are likely to get back when you move out. La Puente housing includes: a private bedroom and shared community spaces, a house vehicle that is shared with housemates for local use, all utilities including heating, electric, water, and city services, and all maintenance upkeep costs. WiFi is not included in the monthly housing cost. All AmeriCorps members are eligible for full food stamps benefits (around $180-$200/month). La Puente does not house spouses, dependents, or pets. It is the program model for Members to live together in La Puente housing it is not a requirement of the program, and members may choose to find their own local housing.
Positions out side of the San Luis Valley and La Puente do not offer housing. Each program is responsible to help you find housing but do not offer housing.
This opportunity is available to all without regard to race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, political affiliation, or religion. Reasonable accommodations will be made for individuals with specific needs as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
AmeriCorps Members receive medical insurance along. Members may put federal loans into forbearance during their service year and will receive two Education Awards totaling $6,095 which can be used for existing federal loans or future education expenses. All AmeriCorps members are eligible for full food stamps benefits, free housing, access to a vehicle locally, and a monthly stipend of $1144 before taxes, rent and damage deposit.
Members also receive training, certificates, and experience in the social services field. Team-building orientations, training's, and retreats throughout the year allow members to self-evaluate, reflect on their values, and grow as individuals throughout the year.
Getting Here and Getting Around
La Puente positions Provide a Vehicle, but only for local use. It is not necessary to bring your own vehicle, but if you do it would enable you to travel and explore in your free time. Alamosa is very easy to bike around in. La Puente has some bikes for Members to use, but it is best to bring your own if possible. The San Luis Valley is larger than the state of Massachusetts and has no public transportation.
Positions that are located out side of the San Luis Valley require that you bring your own vehicle. Some programs do offer vehicles that can be use during your hours of service.
Outside of work, AmeriCorps members enjoy: exploring the outdoors, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, music festivals, plays, small community, coffee with friends, game and movie nights, community meals, and other small town dynamics.