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Fort Collins Rescue Mission expands services to homeless amid frigid weather across Colorado

Fort Collins Rescue Mission expands services to homeless amid frigid weather
Fort Collins Rescue Mission expands services to homeless amid frigid weather 02:15

Homelessness is an issue that impacts thousands of Coloradans, many of whom live outside of the Denver metro area. As Colorado makes its way through a cold spell, with temperatures often below 0 degrees, the Fort Collins Rescue Mission has expanded its services to those who are homeless.

People like DeWayne Barton and Robert Gensman have been leaning into the resources the rescue mission has provided of late. Both have secured beds in the Fort Collins location which they can rely on for extended periods.

"You don't know what you have until you lose it," Gensman said.

Gensman said he lost his job and moved to Colorado to be closer to family. However, he has needed to stay at the shelter while he tries to get back on his feet. He can work during the day and sleep well at night thanks to the rescue mission.

"We call (these temperatures) 'the killing cold,'" Gensman said.

"You would probably die in the cold around now. So, the shelter has kept me alive," Barton said. "(When sleeping outside) you hope you have what it takes to cover up and stay alive."

The shelter provides housing and warmth for men in need in Fort Collins. Those like Gensman and Barton can stay longer terms so long as they commit to maintaining their sleeping space, setting and achieving goals and more.

"I would not have been able to make it without this shelter," Barton said.

During the recent drop in temperatures, the mission has expanded its services by making more beds available at night.

"We get a warm shelter. Out of the wind. Out of the wet. Hot meals during the day. A peaceful, safe place to hide from the weather," Barton said.

Thanks to staff and volunteers who still make time to serve during the cold weather, the men in the shelter are given two warm meals during this winter weather.

"All that is a real big blessing," Barton said.

"A warm meal amongst caring people brightens their day and warms their hearts and not just their bodies," said Seth Forwood, Senior Director of the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. "The fact that we can bring all these people out of the bitter cold, it makes all these difficulties worth it."

Those relying on the shelter during this time said they were grateful for a resource that could help them focus on improving and maintaining their lives without concern of not making it through the night.

"I am grateful I am not out in the cold at night. That is a good peace of mind right there," Barton said.

Gensman said those who survive cold weather often do so at the cost of being productive during the day. To stay warm they have to stay awake and moving. The shelter helps them be able to rest and be productive during the day.

"(Cold weather) is like a homeless anchor. It just keeps us there. Shelters like this give us the ability to cut those anchors away and get back to having jobs, being on our own and supporting ourselves," Gensman said. 

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