A warm welcome is an understatement in the Greeley Transitional House in downtown Greeley.
The impression of a home on the outside is reflected in the inside as staff members and families prepare for the upcoming holidays. It’s one big home full of outstretched arms ready to help the next family that comes along. This isn’t just a safety net like other shelters; it’s a temporary home with services provided to help families move toward regaining self-sufficiency.
The shelter, which is set up in a 12-room condo style, was established in 1985 when the community began to struggle and needed a temporary option for unexpected displacement. Families who stay in the house have found themselves homeless after a variety of circumstances, such as unemployment, foreclosure, overwhelming bills, domestic violence and especially lack of affordable housing combined with low wages.
The Greeley Transitional House receives some of its funding from the Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund, a charity organization that runs a holiday campaign around raising money to help nonprofit organizations continue to do the best work they can.
“We would like to see a little bit more capacity for the future,” said Jodi Hartmann, executive director of the Greeley Transitional House. “There is quite a bit more need than resources in the community. We would love to be able to serve more families.”
Although the Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund helps the organization tremendously, other funding comes from donations from individuals and local businesses. Because of much higher demand, the amount of space at the house is limited and new applications are accepted only every six weeks. All emergency shelter residents are required to remain drug and alcohol free. After applications are turned in, there is a possibility of being put on a waiting list.
Hartmann praised the Empty Stocking Fund and the El Pomar Foundation, which helps fund the Empty Stocking drive.
“We are very grateful to the El Pomar Foundation,” Hartmann said. “They provide this resource without us having to do any of the administration by matching donations which is extremely helpful.”
The funds help provide shelter and also create opportunities for the parents and children by assigning case managers to assist with services like finding a job and education. Families are helped while living in the house, and after they become self-sufficient and move out, case managers will continue to help by providing a follow-up program.
Only families who participate in the follow-up program are eligible to return to the house if needed. Parents are required to apply for jobs, and children must go to school while living in the shelter. Along with outside schooling, a class is also mandatory for teens living in the house.
The course is taught by Maitri Day, a 22-year-old human services major at the University of Northern Colorado who is an intern at the house. The primary goal of the class is to teach “life skills.”
“It’s a time for the teens to get together and talk about their week and how it’s been going,” Day said. “We have a really high amount of teens at the moment, but it varies depending on the families who are staying here.”
Day said she appreciates the opportunity at the Transitional House to help families and children right now, and in the future. She said the teens that she works with are all very smart and respectful despite the situation they’re in, making her time spent teaching them that much more enjoyable.