Something divine is happening in Albuquerque’s International District.
After seeing people sleeping in Phil Chacon Park in the cold, Interfaith Bible Center pastor Joanne Landry offered a solution: “We thought, ‘Let’s clean up the park; Let’s get them out of there and put them somewhere safe.” I’d say half the park is (stays) here,” she recently told the Journal.
The longtime pastor dreamed of opening a day care center for years. Her dream became a reality last summer when the Compassion Services Center opened in an old portable classroom across from her church.
But Landry wasn’t enough to provide meals, outdoor camp showers and some off-road time. The center had only been up and running for a few months when Landry decided he wanted to do more. She expanded the day shelter into a concept she calls a “heat station.”
The Compassion Services Center’s warming station, which opened in November, now offers overnight accommodation for up to 25 people. And through its “Gate” program, it provides blankets, gloves, and other essential items.
“It was very, very heartwarming, especially at night when it’s so cold,” Landry said.
So what about the neighbors? Are they against a homeless shelter like those who have appealed a zoning decision that would allow the long-awaited Gateway Center to open at the old Lovelace Hospital – which, by the way, is less than two miles from the Compassion Services Center? ?
Landry says she hasn’t experienced a significant setback. In fact, she says many people who live nearby have donated.
It’s good that the city of Albuquerque is also helping, with things like a six-unit portable shower station and about $137,000 to keep the warming station up through the winter, utility funds, a professional security guard, and daily stipends from 20 to 12 $35 to customers like Bill Van Bebber.
Van Bebber helps with the work at the shelter, distributes supplies at the gate, sets up the cots at night and helps enforce the shelter’s rules. Drug and alcohol consumption are not allowed.
Van Bebber has avoided traditional shelters. He doesn’t trust them. And many shelters do not allow him to bring his beloved dog. Not so in the warming station, where pets can sleep with their human companions. “Their animals are very important to them,” notes Landry.
According to Landry, the shelter is intended as a way station on the way to more stable shelters. Although it may be a temporary fix, it is an important fix to a larger problem. Perhaps even a divine intervention worthy of our praise and support.
This editorial first appeared in the . It was written by members of the editorial board and is not signed as it reflects the opinion of the newspaper and not the authors.