COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — An association of 21 different faith communities, Westside CARES, provides basic human services to neighbors in need on the westside of El Paso County.
Mellissa Espinosa is a volunteer at Westside CARES but one day after someone ran off with her rent money, she suddenly found herself in need of help.
“It was really scary, because I was homeless before,” said Espinosa.
She said she didn’t know what to do, but Westside CARES was there for her.
“I talked to them and they helped me with my rent. They were really good about it,” she said. “I would have been homeless if they wouldn’t have helped me.”
Rent assistance is just one of the services the organization provides. It also provides food, utility assistance, and even some health care among others.
“We buy a lot of prescriptions for people who can’t afford their prescriptions,” said Stephen Brown, the Executive Director.
The comprehensive approach to care isn’t just a response to the need in the community but also an answer to a much higher calling.
“For a lot of us our faith bases tell us that each human being we meet is a beloved bearer of God’s image and beloved of God,” said Brown. “That’s the whole person. It’s not just the food, it’s not just the housing. So trying to be more comprehensive in the services that we provide is a reflection of the things that we say we believe.”
Westside CARES is there to give those in need a helping hand and support them as they work to get back on their feet.
“Our state mission is to share care and compassion with neighbors in need today, tomorrow and beyond,” said Brown. “But yes, we always want to celebrate those folks who are able to reestablish stability in their own lives and hopefully grow then towards being more self-sufficient than they might have been otherwise.”
“Instead of taking steps back this place has helped me to do steps forward and there are so many doors opening for me because of them,” said Espinosa.
Brown said Westside CARES assists about 23,000 to 24,000 people in the community each year.