DCSO helping the homeless
By Terri Wiebold; photos courtesy of the DCSO
In May, The Connection introduced readers to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) Community Response Teams (CRT). We caught up with them this month to share one way they are having an impact on the homeless population in Douglas County.
The CRT partners with the community to provide homeless individuals with practical kits made specifically for them and their needs. The kits include a sleeping mat, a backpack and a personalized paper sack.
The sleeping mats are woven from recycled plastic grocery bags, making them water resistant. They are easy to transport and provide comfort and warmth. Each is made by the loving hands of AJ and Kim from MorningStar Senior Living in Lone Tree. AJ is the grandmother of one of the DCSO civilian employees.
The backpacks, which are filled with clothes, socks and towels, are donated by the Packs of Hope nonprofit organization in partnership with the Jail Based Behavioral Health Services program. The CRT gives the backpacks to homeless individuals they encounter on the street, as well as inmates being released from custody who have no place to live.
A nonprofit empowerment program for young girls called Girls on the Run decorates the paper sacks and fills them with snacks and hygiene products like toothpaste, deodorant, tissues, etc. The sacks are then included inside the backpacks.
When the CRT encounters someone living on the street, they work with supporting agencies to provide assistance. Generally, the individuals are looking for transportation further on down the road, and these packs help them on that journey. If requested, the CRT will transport them to the homeless shelter systems in Denver or Colorado Springs. If they suffer from mental health issues, CRT helps connect them with the appropriate resources.
“We strive to make sure that at the end of each shift, we go home knowing that we have given back to our great community, one way or another,” stated DCSO Public Information Officer Cocha Heyden. “The best possible scenario is when we have been able to work together with our citizens to help those in our community who may need a little extra help.”