Delta shelter in need of more space

Those coming through the doors seeking a warm bed are often people the volunteers with The Abraham Connection Homeless Shelter already know.

They are longtime Delta County residents or families who have fallen on hard times, said Kami Collins, board vice president, who trains volunteers to understand that they will see children who go to school with theirs or recognize the adults.

Now, entering its third season, the shelter has outgrown the church basement that helped it get started.

So, this month, they are running a “Buy a Square Foot Campaign” with the goal of raising $280,000 for a “home of their own.”

“We expect bigger numbers this year not just because we are getting more well-known, but because people are hurting out there,” said Collins, adding that they went from 77 bed nights in the first year to more than 600 in the second, along with more than 1,000 meals.

Abraham Connection, which continues to borrow space at the Delta United Methodist Church, began after board President Cheryl Oeltjenbruns met a homeless man and helped him apply for disability.

He moved into assisted living and is doing well, she said.

Now, the shelter is open from November to April, operating 100 percent through volunteer labor during the coldest nights.  Shelter and food are not the only services provided.

“We don’t want to just shelter people; we try to move them beyond to self-sufficiency,” Oeltjenbruns said.

Volunteers have helped the homeless fill out Medicare and food stamp applications and even taken them to job interviews.

“We’ve had people tell us they’ve gotten their hope back when they’ve come in,”  she said.

If the organization is able to raise the money and receive grants already applied for, it will move this season to a new location.

In fact, board members are eyeing a half-dozen buildings that would make good homes.

“I know it’s a long shot, but that’s what we are hoping for,” Collins said.

“I know the community is behind our shelter.”

For information or to make a donation, the shelter can be contacted at 970-773-8290 or by mail at The Abraham Connection, P.O. Box 910, Delta 81416.


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