Carla Madison Recreation Center
Opinion Piece and Points of Interest
On November 29, 2022 at the Carla Madison REC Center on or around 6:15 pm, alongside co-worker for H.A.N.D Kenneth Beck, did I attend an Activated Weather Center. This is the aforementioned center on Colfax.
WARMING CENTER: 7am – 9pm
OVERFLOW SHELTER: 7pm – 7am
Upon entering, there were between 6-8 people waiting for shelter in the warming center which was the lobby/front desk area. Carla Madison Recreation Center (C.M.R.) would be unable to accommodate numbers as there were only 5 “comfy” chairs. Others were permitted to sit/lie on the floor. In my nearly 1 hour in the warming center, I did not witness any participants asked to move nor harassed for their property in tow. Of the 8 or so persons present at least 1 had drug an entire unpacked tent inside. There was a water fountain, T.V., and limited luxury seating but no provisions otherwise.
We had been able to obtain clear procedural information during a phone call placed to C.M.R. the desk staff upon entry was completely uninformed. Though very receptive to our questioning of him the gentleman was unable to clearly answer. Even after escalation he was unable to do so. I cannot stress enough how much the polite and courteousefforts of that First-Point-Of-Contact staff member are rendered useless when he is equally as uninformed as he is pleasant. This cannot happen again. My colleague had to actually explain to the employee of the facility what the difference is between a warming station and an overflow shelter.
- It is essential to have staff in the activated weather response shelters like C.M.R. educated in advance for future events. This could perhaps be as simple as an infographic rendered by H.A.N.D. on the behalf of the facility and remitted to desk staff.
- After further investigation it was also learned per a Denver Rescue Mission mole in place, that the change in bussing and shelter accommodations was not announced over the P.A. system which is not typical.
- Rather, attendees had to personally inquire to obtain the information. Many potential guests might of missed out on the opportunity due to this obvious error.
When the bus arrived and attendees entered the facility the transition was smooth and orderly. Walk-In guests like us were able to blend into the D.R.M. bus line as it flowed into the stairwell and subsequently the gymnasium. The sign-up sheet bearing BAYAUD’s logo requested the reported name and D.O.B. However, I was not given the opportunity to self-identify per gender orientation. The consequence of this failure was that I was grouped into the women’s section. This really pissed me off and also distanced me from my co-worker with whom I felt safe.
- The “Women’s” section held 4 cots.
- The “Men’s” section held nearly 80 cots.
- The grouping of my person with women even while I was fully presenting as a male felt insensitive. The shelter (BAYAUD) staff appeared to me to be completely unaware that what they were doing was insensitive.
- I took possession of my cot area without further incident.
Facility is otherwise clean, bright, and well-maintained. Bayaud only provides snacks and hot beverages at this time. With that said, though the staff is friendly it is useless if they are uninformed. My finding out that dinner is not provided upon entry (D.R.M. is expected to feed prior to arrival) could really cause a future female walk-in guest to have a hard time if she expects to be fed and does not know until she is locked in and it is too late to seek out provisions outside. The front desk staff who are first-points-of-contact MUST KNOW these things to prevent future emergencies.
It is signed and affirmed to:
Housekeys Action Network Denver
Towards rights, dignity, housing…