House with the Red Door changes stride
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE ” Big changes are happening at the House with the Red Door. The Breckenridge nonprofit “safe place” is keeping its central mission: to help young adults in Summit County, but modifying its program focus.
The Red Door, located north of the 7-Eleven in the Summit Ridge development, reopened last week after a mud season hiatus with a new schedule and a new look. The goal of all this retooling is to involve more working young adults in the Door’s activities, founding director Fr. Ron Griffin said.
“We’re trying to reach a young person who has a job here and is trying to make a go of it,” he said.
Established in 2001, the Red Door was initially designed as a resource for the large numbers of young adults who pass through Summit County in search of seasonal work, fresh powder or simply an escape from the flatland life. Volunteers and staff at the Door have provided hot soup, computer access, warm clothes, social service agency referrals and shoulders to cry on to hundreds of twenty- and thirty-somethings who found themselves in the High Country inadequately prepared.
“I came to the Door several years ago because I heard they had a printer, and I wanted to print my resume,” Lindsay Breece, now 26, said. Breece eventually got a job, became a volunteer and has been the volunteer coordinator at the Door for nearly two years. She expressed her enthusiasm for the program changes taking place.
“The goal is to create a connection more directly (with young adults), especially with the weekend programs,” she said.
Possible weekend activities proposed by the staff include hikes, trail clearing and cooking and computer classes. Breece added that the popular “Ladies’ Night Out” will continue to meet on Thursday evenings.
Up until the new schedule was implemented, the Door had been open only on weekdays, with most of its service hours before 6:30 p.m. Always a welcoming environment, it had become a resource for the person who was not working, and floating from couch to couch, Griffin said. Since 2001, Griffin has observed what he calls a “cultural shift” in the type of people coming to the Red Door for help.
“The steady trend we’ve seen at the Door is that people are older, poorer and less prepared when they get here,” he said.
Fortunately, survival services have improved substantially in the county since the Red Door was founded, Griffin added. Local police departments have developed a voucher system for emergency housing and numerous meal programs are now sprinkled around the area. Griffin also cited the county’s Mountain Mentor program as well as Dillon’s Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) as examples of agencies providing services the Red Door does not need to duplicate.
“This year I looked at the programs we’d had that were succeeding,” Griffin said. “I realized we needed to change the (public) perception that the Door was a rescue service for Summit County.”
The new Door will continue to serve up soup at 5:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and make available washing machines, showers and internet service. Its army of more than 75 volunteers and “soup angels” will still be there for visitors, but more structure and diverse programming will be the hallmark of its new look.
Breece is optimistic about the Door’s new direction.
“I’m really excited about if,” Breece said. “I feel it’s a great opportunity for growth.”
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