ESP (Emergency Shelter Program)
Grand Valley Peace & Justice is in its 8th Season of coordinating The Emergency Shelter Overflow Program (ESP). Deeply concerned that many people could die cold and alone on the streets of Grand Junction, we continue to take on the task of organizing area churches who are willing to provide safe, warm nights of rest for single men from our local shelter, known to be alert, mentally stable, and substance free.
When this program began, eight churches participated by offering the use of their building or volunteers on site overnight. Although area homeless men were at first wary about ESP, reports of the peaceful, quiet surroundings and generous volunteers began to spread; it was only a matter of time before men who had been camping out in the dead of winter began showing up at HomewardBound for screening, in hopes of participating.
Space is still at a premium at our local homeless shelter. ESP has expanded in response to the greater need with nearly 800 volunteers representing around 23 collaborating organizations each season. Each site volunteers their location for a two week period of time and volunteers from each location, as well as the general public, are trained in best practices with which to welcome and serve our homeless guests. Our best practices are based upon the right to basic human dignity for all.
As the 2015 – 2016 ESP Season gets underway, we say thank you to all who have and are contributing to the humane treatment of our homeless neighbors, including the Grand Junction Fire Department which assists us in making certain that each location is safe and appropriate for overnight guests. Since the inception of ESP, this collaborative effort has provided 16,441 bed nights in gymnasiums, sanctuaries, fellowship halls, Sunday School rooms and meeting rooms around Grand Junction. The success of this program is a great testament to the compassion of our community members. Our volunteers are the reason that Season 8 is great!
Everyone involved is making a profound difference. 23 people died due to exposure to the elements the first winter that ESP operated in our community. The second winter, that number dropped to 16. The third season, no one died cold and alone on our streets because they had nowhere to go. Since then, the death rate has hovered at 0 to 1 each season. We are grateful to report that the loving service and collaboration of so many organizations and individuals has saved lives in our community, the community that we and our guests call home. To support the Emergency Shelter Overflow Program, please click on How You Can Help.