Rural Outreach Initiative connects isolated households living in underdeveloped & remote areas of the SLV to resources and a safety net. We work to ensure dignity for those seeking independence in harsh conditions. Families and veterans get what they need to survive in a cold, desolate environment: food, firewood, propane, trash service, medical assistance, support and whatever else their unique situation requires.
The purpose of La Puente’s Rural Outreach Initiative is to expand the regional safety net of services for marginalized individuals and families living in the “flats,” in order to give consideration to health, safety, and general well-being, while respecting the choices that residents have made in the establishment of their lifestyle.
Hundreds of miles of unimproved roads crisscross the landscape of the “flats.” Thousands of acres were sub-divided into small parcels by opportunistic land developers, then sold, often sight unseen. Over the past 4 decades, hundreds of individuals and families have attempted to jump-start their lives anew here, spending out their savings in exchange for the pride of land ownership.
There are an estimated 250 “provisional” homes throughout the flats. Most of these “homes” have no running water or electricity. Those that occupy these provisional dwellings own their land and do their best to prepare for hardship. When their water freezes, or they are out firewood or fuel, or the roads are impassable, these individuals’ and family’s lives become precarious, given that they have no access to services.
Their choice to live and venture a life in the flats is a form of self-determination for their own lives . The harsh side of the isolation and the severe elements of nature can become insurmountable obstacles to their choice to live in the flats.
Many leave after their attempt to survive falters, others make do with the severity, and others find themselves trapped in a cage of crises, with no resources or knowledge of how to get help. Creating a safety net is the imperative of La Puente’s Rural Outreach Initiative.
We have been working with families to provide basic assistance and educate each household to know how and where they can seek assistance.
A rural case manager works with families to connect them to the services offered by La Puente and other service providers. We get hungry clients connected to La Puente’s Food Bank Network and enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. We get cold clients connected to Outreach Services which can provide assistance with firewood and propane.
Ultimately the program seeks to create a safety net for the most vulnerable living in the rural expanse on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley.
The program depends heavily on wood donations. Each year the program gives out 90 tons of firewood for families to heat their homes. If you would like to donate wood or volunteer your time in our wood lot to buck and split wood.