Special Report: Homelessness in the Grand Valley

By  | 

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Ask someone what they think about those that are homeless…and you’ll get a lot of disparaging remarks.

But try telling all of this to an Army veteran.

Retired Army Sergeant Donnie Andres served from the end of the Vietnam War until the early 1980’s. But during hard times he came to Grand Junction, with nowhere to live.

For six months, Donnie relied on what was around him to help him get by.

"I was able to use the resources that are available in this great community that help people in my similar situation," Adams said. "It’s a matter of doing it the proper way and using the resources that are available."

Jade Joyce, interim executive director of Homeward Bound of the Grand Valley, helps provide a place to sleep and warm food to 180 people every night.

"We have newborns up to their 80’s," Joyce said. "We have male, female, families. We have people who are veterans and people who are not. People who are employed, people who are not. We have people from a variety of racial backgrounds, ethnic backgrounds, and religious backgrounds."

Jade says that over the past few years, the amount of people in need has jumped. Six percent more individuals, 25 percent more families. They track the reason why and they vary; everything from jobs and the slow economy, to more people coming to Colorado for legalized pot.

That’s why for the past five years the shelter has been at capacity every night.

"We don’t have enough space in our facility to accommodate everyone so the faith based and Grand Valley Peace & Justice have stepped up to the plate," Joyce says.

And the services don’t end with overflow. The shelter also works with places like Catholic Outreach and Colorado West Mindspring’s to provide everything from health care, to counseling, and vouchers to get the basics to survive, but it doesn’t come easy for the shelter.

"We are the only shelter in the state that doesn’t not get assistance form the city or the county," Joyce said.

Meaning the communities help time, money, and donations is vital for Homeward Bound to survive, and to give people like Adams a chance to get back on his feet.

"It would be impossible if it wasn’t for places like homeward bound, catholic outreach, the VOA, Adams said. "I commend all of them on the great job that they do."

But if you think you’re above ending up on the streets, Joyce says think again.

"People don’t realize they are only one paycheck away from being homeless themselves," It only takes a minor disaster like a health problem, a divorce, a fire in their home and they could all be here."

And as for Donnie, he’s been able to overcome with a little help from some special friends.

"I’m Proud to say that I rose above and am no longer homeless," Adams said.

To help Homeward Bound with donations or to volunteer, you can call (970) 256-9424.

Some of the top items on their wish list include: Toilet paper, paper towels, socks, underwear, meat, pain/cold medication, toothpaste, coffee, sugar, canned fruit, canned vegetables, and spices.