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.
Tu Casa The San Luis Valley is home to three of the four poorest counties in Colorado. Valley wide, isolation, poverty, geographic expanse, and limited economic opportunities give way to great human need, and limited resources. As a result, those who are impacted by sexual and partner violence/exploitation, have difficulty accessing financial support, safe housing, and advocacy important to ending the violence and building a safe and healthy future. Tu Casa provides intake and exit services to survivors and non-offending family members of those survivors of partner violence, sexual abuse/exploitation, as well as engages the community in the cause through event planning, and volunteer recruitment and management. AmeriCorps members will serve over 311 survivors/family members at Tu Casa.
Community and Services Liaison
Tu Casa, Inc has two charities. One, Tu Casa, provides advocacy, education, shelter, referrals and direct services to survivors of domestic/intimate partner violence, stalking, harassment and sexual exploitation/trafficking. The other, The Child Advocacy Center, provides centralized child-friendly forensic interviewing, examinations, support and family advocacy for the entire San Luis Valley. The main function of a services liaison is to make the entry process into services and the exit process out of services to be welcoming, efficient, engaging and supportive. The community liaison will help develop and implement community education opportunities and create volunteer opportunities for community members to support Tu Casa and the CAC’s services, fundraising, committee work and education. Because Tu Casa is a small nonprofit, with an essential community role, community participation is necessary to continued operation and services.
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.
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.
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.