Volunteers Build Bike Shelters For Homeless Youth: 'So Much Trauma In Their Life'
DENVER (CBS4) - Volunteers at Authentic Life Church are on a mission to provide homeless youth with a safe place to lay their heads. They are working with Mission 5280, an organization that provides a support system to homeless youth who have aged out of foster care.
"No one should be sleeping on the ground. No one should be sleeping in a foot of snow in minus degree weather," said Tami Slipher, Director of Operations and Leadership Development at Mission 5280.
"This is a real scary time for kids who've already experienced so much trauma in their life and don't have any family of support, and now they are living alone on the streets," she continued.
The bike shelters are eight feet long and built out of corrugated plastic, which is resistant to moisture. The wheels are drilled in and an arm is attached to a bike that's donated by the Littleton community. Inside of the shelter comes with a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, inflatable pillow, portable lantern, trash bags, and non-perishable food.
Dutch Seyfarth created the bike shelters after he saw the conditions of several homeless camps as he visited them with his homeless ministry.
"After just seeing people getting bit by rats all night long, climbing into sleeping bags filled with spiders, all the terrible things you see at the homeless camps, I said 'this isn't right. My dog lives better than this,'" Seyfarth said.
Each bike shelter costs $500 to put together, and Authentic Life Church purchased 11 of them for Mission 5280 to use. Those looking to use the shelters have to fill out an application with Mission 5280. Once approved for use, they are checked out for a week before they are returned. A GPS tracking system is placed on the bike shelter, just in case they are lost.
"We would power wash them, clean the interior, clean their sleeping bag, their clothing, all those things while they have a hot meal. We would also establish a relationship with them and then figure out the next steps they would need," Slipher said.
Amaya Estes believes this would be a game changer for the homeless youth. A decade ago, she was 19 years old and was homeless and sleeping under an underpass while she was four months pregnant.
"It was very dangerous and unnerving. I was always on guard," Estes said. "I was constantly getting my stuff stolen."
Estes now works as an intern for Movement 5280 and her daughter, Destiny is thriving. Estes knows having bike shelters as a tool to serve her community will go a long way to help others who were once in her shoes.
"Being able to give someone this opportunity to have something as simple as shelter, something that a lot of us don't think about, is going to be awesome," she said.
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