This week on 11 News Colorado we are running a series of special reports called Homeward Bound, The Journey Home. We will be profiling some of the many success stories being made by Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley and its goal of getting homeless people back on track and self–supporting again.
The best known of the programs under the Homeward Bound umbrella is the Grand Junction Community Homeless Shelter. In this story you will meet a couple who has been stuck in Grand Junction for about four weeks. They are hard working people who just stumbled on to a streak of bad luck, and now they are trying to make their journey home.
”Basically on the street,” said Kelly Bissinger, when asked about where she and Steve Mouylyn would be if not for the Grand Junction Community Homeless Shelter. It has been their home for about four weeks. While making a trip home to Florida from California where they were working, the couple's truck completely broke down in Grand Junction.
With few options and little money, they turned to a place they never thought the would have to for help, the shelter. ”It could happen to anybody, unfortunately most people don't realize that. Some are just one pay check away. People don't see what drastic circumstances they could be in,” said Kelly.
Steve added, "I see a lot of people out here. Myself, I always worked a lot, saved money. I was not prepared for this, and now we're here.”
The Grand Junction Community Homeless Shelter can sleep up to 87 people in the winter, and in the summer months the capacity is limited to 45. Jordan McGinnis is on the homeless shelter staff, ”Most people here are just really good decent people, here for a very short time. You wouldn't recognize they were homeless unless they told you.”
Kelly agrees with McGinnis, ”People have a bad idea about homeless people, and maybe in some cases that may be true, but in most cases it isn't. Nobody is here because they choose to be, they're getting help.”.
Steve says he could have asked his parents for the money to get home, but he won't, ”They live on a fixed income. They are in their seventies and we put ourselves through this. It was just bad money management.”
To move on from the homeless shelter, Steve and Kelly are working at temporary jobs through Quicktemps, a Grand Junction job placement service. They say they have worked as landscapers and for the Mesa County Fairgrounds, among others.
McGinnis wants people to know that most people the shelter helps are working to get out. ”We're housing a lot of people right now and pretty much everyone in this building is working. Whether it is jobs or mental health, whatever is keeping them homeless, they are working on it.”
To make it out of the beds at the homeless shelter, and on their way home, they hope that hard work will help get them there, ”We're just saving our money. We don't cash our checks. We are going to get bus tickets and go back,” said Steve.
They have been together for 13 years. They say they don't drink alcohol or do drugs and their has been no domestic violence between them. When they return to Florida to work in the hospitality industry, they will do so with a new attitude.
"People just need to realize, the general public needs to realize, that it can happen to you tomorrow,” said Kelly.
Thursday on 11 News Colorado you will meet a family of eight living in an apartment that is less than 900 square feet. They are going through Homeward Bound's Family Transitional Program.
It's Homeward Bound, The Journey Home, only on 11 News Colorado.
by: Rick Thurtle
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