Techies Land $20,000 In Grants For Homeless Shelter

Techies Land $20,000 In Grants For Homeless Shelter
Funds Provide Much-Needed Improvements To Facility

SOCORRO, N.M. – A New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology class applied some persuasive communication techniques to a real-life social issue and, in turn, made a significant positive impact on a local charity.

Students from a Spring 2016 Technical Communications class successfully secured five grants, totaling more than $20,000 for Puerto Seguro, the local drop-in day shelter for Socorro's homeless. Another proposal was awarded $5,000 for the Cottonwood Valley Charter School in Socorro.

Dr. Beth Kramer-Simpson said she was gratified to have her students reap such rewards.


The five grants secured by Tech students funded many improvements at Puerto Seguro, including new dining area furniture. 



New shelving has allowed Puerto Seguro to store more food and be more efficient in distribution. 



New Mexico Tech students successfully pursued grants that have allowed Puerto Seguro to replace the kitchen appliances at the shelter. 


"I was very surprised at how successful we were," she said. "These students are interested in helping the homeless and disadvantaged. It's difficult to volunteer outside of school. So, they appreciate that they can combine their civic interest with their education. We were able to tap into their interest in helping out and it's good to see the positive consequences."

The class, TC 411, is open to all juniors and seniors who have taken TC 112. Students from any department are eligible to take the class. Kramer-Simpson said the goal of the class is to teach students to use the power of persuasion in written communications.

"The trick is finding a nuanced way to explain the need and show that the money will be used for worthy causes," Kramer-Simpson said. "These upgrades are difficult to fund through the regular Puerto Seguro budget. It's hard to meet the needs of these extra expenses."

Soon after joining the Tech faculty in 2012, Kramer-Simpson joined Puerto Seguro as a board member; before long, she was asked to be the committee chair of the Grant Writing Committee.

The successful grants:

  • Frost Foundation – $10,000
  • Wells Fargo Foundation – $5,000
  • Epiphany Episcopal Diocese – $2,000
  • Rice Bowl (Archdiocese of Santa Fe) – $1,680
  • New Mexico Community Foundation – $1,700

"This was a bumper year," Kramer-Simpson said. "We received $14,000 over the previous two years. And now we got $20,000 in one year. This makes a huge impact because Puerto Seguro's budget is $64,000 per year."

The Frost Foundation proposal was written by Matt Bradley, Carl Tucker, Rachel Tucker, Jason Kritter and Magella Honeyfield. The Wells Fargo Foundation proposal was written by Dylan Meals and Antonia Barela. The Epiphany proposal was written Milagre Coates, Cedric Hayes, Makala Hannagan, Karen Bailey-Bowman, Thomas Nicholson, Rachel Rayl, Abbey Chesebrough, Barela, John Mahmud, Alan Gross, Honeyfield, Kritter, Bradley and Caitlin Smith. The Rice Bowl grant was handled by Cheesebrough and Rayl. Alan Gross and John Mahmud contributed to the N.M. Community Foundation grant. Karen Bailey-Bowman successfully applied for a $5,000 grant from the Lowe's Foundation for the charter school.

The Frost Foundation had previously granted $10,000 in 2014. That proposal was written by Samantha Miranda, Danielle Rose, Andy Keith, Josh Smith, Carl Tucker and Rachel Tucker. Former students Angelica Perry and Lysandwr McNary each wrote successful $2,000 proposals to the Episcopal Diocese in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Each of the grant proposals was for specific improvements to Puerto Seguro. The grants have funded all new appliances in the kitchen, shelving, new plumbing and showers, extended hours in the winter, new dining chairs and tables, wages for workers, utility and rent assistance, and temporary housing.

Jean Ryan, board chair for Puerto Seguro, said she was very excited about the successful grant proposals.

"We love the idea that they get to learn and make an impact in the community," she said. "And it's a very real impact. They can tangibly see what's going on."

The day shelter has seen an increase in clients over the past year, climbing from 50 to 75 people per day in the summer. In addition to serving as a food bank, the shelter provides shower and laundry facilities. The staff and volunteers also provide employment services and cook hot meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. One of the grants allows the shelter to stay open an extra day every week during the winter months - when demand is at its highest.

"Our goal is to help people help themselves," Ryan said. "It's a hand-up, not a hand-out. We try to help people find work, dress for work. We are trying to get people in rehab services who need it. And that's not easy."

The Puerto Seguro kitchen now boasts all new stove, refrigerator, freezer, ice maker, water filter, pots and pans. The improvements will allow the volunteers to serve more people, as well as improving morale for the workers.

"This has been a marvelous partnership and we look forward to doing more," Ryan said.

Ryan said Tech student groups have volunteered with Puerto Seguro for a variety of tasks over the years, including painting, new floor installation, building maintenance, food drives, July 4th fundraisers, and ringing the bell for Salvation Army donation drives. Student groups have also helped with weekly meal preparation, donation sorting, and other outreach efforts.

Any student group interested in volunteering can call Puerto Seguro director Duane Baker at 835-2895 on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays.

– NMT –