Catholic Charities Marian House Expands Services

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The Marian House is much more than a soup kitchen.  It is a place of help and hope for people seeking sustenance, employment, health services and so much more.  This year, Catholic Charities celebrates 25 years of operating the Marian House, although the soup kitchen has been around since 1970 and located at the Marian House location since 1985.  Over that time, it has grown from a place to receive a daily hot meal and a warm welcome, to a hub of activity to help individuals and families move forward to achieve a sustainable future.

Over the past year, as the Springs Rescue Mission’s (SRM) chronically homeless campus has expanded, there has been an increase in rumors of the Marian House closing.  Marian House is NOT closing, in fact, services to help community members in need continue to expand.  In addition to serving a daily meal, the newly renovated Hanifen Employment Center at Marian House (previously Life Skills & Career Development Center) will continue to help hundreds of people find sustainable employment each year.

While there will be a new soup kitchen in town to serve chronically homeless adults, it will not end the meal services at Marian House because it is not anticipated that the additional dining hall will meet the full community need for meals.  The Colorado Center on Law and Policy, in their December 2018 report “Overlooked & Undercounted 2018,” noted that 27.9 percent of the population in El Paso County live below the Self Sufficiency Standard – the income necessary to cover necessities such as food, shelter, health care and child care.  For these families, working adults – known as the working poor, people with disabilities, seniors and unsupported teens, the Springs Rescue Mission facility will not be an appropriate venue.

Catholic Charities leadership applauds SRM for their continued commitment to serve our community’s most vulnerable at a site where services can be coordinated.  We have been in constant conversation since 2015 about how to help our chronic homeless navigate the services that both agencies offer.  While Catholic Charities anticipates the number of meals served daily will decrease by about 150 meals (currently an average of 600+ meals are served daily) once SRM’s dining hall opens, the agency continues to look at innovative changes to the noon-time meal – such as family take-home meals for dinner and closer ties to health care and nutrition.  Further, it is anticipated that more families and seniors will begin to use the Marian House for meals as the population composition shifts.

In addition to this evolution in meal service at the Marian House, Catholic Charities continues to realize exciting developments in other core program areas that build resiliency and stability for those experiencing poverty and homelessness.  In February, the agency opened a newly renovated Hanifen Employment Center which not only helps current Catholic Charities clients find sustainable employment, the services offered are available to anyone searching for a job.  The computer center expanded from 6 work stations to 12 stations to accommodate the growing demand for services, and classes in resume building, basic computer skills, and several other areas are available, in addition to the individual mentorship that has become a staple of the centers’ success.  Over the past three years, the Hanifen Employment Center has placed people in more than 439 jobs (16 just this month!)

 There is a Job Fair at the Hanifen Employment Center April 30 from 2 – 4 p.m., and an Open House May 22 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. (14 West Bijou Street) to celebrate the success of the program and the expansion to help even more people find employment.

Other changes include an expansion of health related services and a more robust Senior Food Box program.  So rest assured, the Marian House services that have helped so many over the past 40+ years, will be available for many years to come.

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