There are many service opportunities available to us within our community that can change the lives of others.
Switchpoint Community Resource Center is a local organization dedicated to helping those in need.
Linda Stay, Switchpoint development director, said: “A switch point is a mechanism on a train track. With a slight adjustment, it sends the train in a completely new direction, and that is what we are. We help people become the switch point in their own lives.”
Stay said the adjustments are made by connecting people to the correct resources they need and empowering them to make different choices to get them on a better path.
From 2014 to 2021, over 8,000 families and individuals were served in the shelter. Over 3,000 of them were children.
More than a homeless shelter
Not only does Switchpoint offer food and shelter to those in need, it specializes in personalized services as well. These services include: substance abuse classes, job shadowing programs and a 24/7 childcare service which will open spring 2022.
Mike Estopellan, a thrift store employee, said, “From what I see, this place takes care of their homeless better than any place I’ve ever seen.”
Stay said Switchpoint’s mission is to empower individuals that are experiencing homelessness and poverty. They provide a comprehensive plan that is individualized to help achieve self sufficiency.
In other words, Switchpoint specializes in listening to people and investing individualized time that encourages them to gain belief in themselves.
Nate Nipko, a thrift store employee, said, “What makes us different is that it’s more than just a shelter where people stop in. We offer services that help people find jobs, housing, and addiction recovery if they need it.”
Along with the multiple services Switchpoint provides, it also has a thrift store and boutique. When you shop at the stores, all of the proceeds go back to help the shelter.
According to Switchpoint community resource center: “It’s [thrift store] mission is a three fold: (1) To help provide a continuing funding source for the operations at the Homeless Shelter and Community Resource center, (2) to provide a four week job training program for those in the community who are in need of additional job skills, and (3) to re-purpose useable household and clothing items donated by the community and offer those items at affordable prices to the public
Estopellan said they concentrate on helping the homeless and people at the shelter, but the thrift store is open to everyone.
“We will never turn anyone away for a jacket, sleeping bag, or a change of clothes,” Estopellan said. “That’s why we are here, our mission is that we are here to help.”
Opportunities to serve
There are many volunteer opportunities for DSU students. These options include laundry assistant, the food pantry and meal prep cooks.
Switchpoint relies heavily on the community. They look for 300 to 400 volunteers each month. Over 438,000 service hours have been performed over the past seven years.
Stay said the main thing she would like people to understand is to overcome the stigma of those we serve because each person has their own unique story.
Nipko said, “Being here and working with them [the homeless]… I realize that most of these people are people like us with struggles.”
In the future, Switchpoint looks forward to opening a 24 hour child care center and adjusting to the housing crisis.
“It has been humbling and inspiring, and I’m changed. I feel honored to hear and know their stories. I am honored to be a small part of helping them connect back to their incredible selves and helping them remember who they are,” Stay said.