Abraham Connection reports record numbers

By Pat Sunderland


A record number of bed nights have been reported at Abraham Connection, the homeless shelter that opened a permanent shelter at 5th and Silver last fall.

Board president Cheryl Oeltjenbruns and board member Kami Collins provided the update to Delta City Council members last week.

Since the first of November, they said, bed nights are up over 1,500. A year ago, the six-month total was 1,133. With 61 days left of seasonal shelter, Oeltjenbruns said the homeless shelter is on track to double last year's numbers.

Over 65 different people have been served either a meal only, or have been overnight guests.

The facility is operated primarily by volunteers. One staff/board member does intake several nights a week, and another paid staff member is covering the midnight to 6 a.m. shift a couple of times a week.

"We probably have over 300 volunteers between meals and the shelter. We're getting lots of people fed and keeping them warm," Oeltjenbruns said.

The city allowed the homeless shelter to open despite a few unfinished details, and Oeltjenbruns assured council members those items, including landscaping, would be completed by June 1.

She addressed another concern, and that has to do with facility use by Montrose area residents. Every night, a bus brings anywhere from one to six Montrose residents to the shelter.

"We feed them and give them a place to sleep, then the driver comes picks them up and takes them back to Montrose in the morning," she explained. "I don't believe many of them want to stay here [during the day]. We don't have many services or anywhere for them to go."

Collins added, "While we have exponentially increased our bed nights, that's a huge success because our mission is to house and feed people."

But the number one success, she said, has been facilitating a conversation with a group of volunteers in Montrose actively working on opening a shelter there. "That's a huge success for us," she said. "We're here to help people who need us, even if they come from Montrose, but it would be better if the Montrose community could help their own."

Oeltjenbruns sits on a homeless coalition in Montrose, and has volunteered to assist with training, paperwork and any other needs, in the same way Delta got off the ground with help from a Grand Junction facility.

"I believe they'll have something up and going for next year," Oeltjenbruns said.