Puerto Seguro Safe Harbor
Puerto Seguro has been serving the homeless and disadvantaged in Socorro County since 2001. It is a non profit organization that provides showers, clothing, food, and other help to people in need. “Puerto Seguro” is Spanish for “Safe Harbor,” and the shelter provides a safe place during the day for people to eat, relax, talk, and get support. The organization has on average 53 client visits per day, three days a week.
Dedicated staff and volunteers make the mission of Puerto Seguro possible. This week I sat down with Hope Faulkner, the director of Puerto Seguro, and Shay Kelley, the chairman of the board, to talk about the mission of Puerto Seguro and their experience working there.
Faulkner and Kelly say that homeless people are not different from the rest of the population. Some people stereotype a homeless person as an old man with a bottle, but the reality is that the homeless population is diverse: there are men and women, young and old, educated and uneducated. What they have in common is that they have lost the support structures that help most people survive (jobs, family, friends, etc). And once a person’s support structure is lost, small issues can quickly snowball into larger ones until it’s almost impossible for people to help themselves back up onto their feet. That’s where Puerto Seguro comes in to offer a helping hand.
At Puerto Seguro, the homeless can access both short-term and long-term help. In addition to food, clothing, laundry, and showers, the organization offers other services, such as help applying for disability, entering rehab, getting a valid ID, and finding a job. Preventative care is important, so the shelter offers one-time utility and rent assistance when funding is available, to help keep people in their homes. Some of these things may seem like small acts of assistance, but all together the services offer a tremendous help to people in need. The services of Puerto Seguro help transform lives, and some people who used to come to the shelter for help are now volunteers helping others.
Kelly and Faulkner enjoy their jobs at Puerto Seguro. Kelly especially appreciates the camaraderie among volunteers and clients—she says they’re all like a big family, and they all care about each other. Faulkner loves talking to clients about topics as diverse as science, economics, and family. Sometimes what homeless people really need is someone to talk to, and at Puerto Seguro they can always find a listening ear and good conversation. Faulkner says it is extremely important to show hospitality to the homeless and treat them with respect.
Puerto Seguro is a place where the whole community can get involved. Kelly and Faulkner say it’s important for a community to have an outlet for service, so people can experience the joy of giving. In Socorro organizations like churches, schools, and businesses come together to work, donate, and raise awareness about homelessness. Rehab centers, hotels, stores, and other businesses partner with the shelter to assist Puerto Seguro in its mission to meet the needs of the homeless and help them back onto their feet.
More volunteers and funding are always needed. Faulkner and Kelley remember a year when Tech students would work at the shelter every Saturday. The students loved it, but the volunteering died out when they all graduated. Now Puerto Seguro is looking for more student volunteers to help serve the food and talk with the people, and also for social media fundraising and GoFundMe work. The shelter is currently open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but with more funding they would like to be open five or six days a week. Kelly says “The more help we get the more we can help people.” Would you consider helping serve at Puerto Seguro? A little support can make a big impact.
- James Nolan