COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo - A hidden gem near downtown is the R.J. Montgomery Center. It's a place where the homeless can go to find hope and solace. Gene Morris is a retired Army Veteran who has been working at this location now run by the Salvation Army for 19 years, "I had a friend who worked down here and said hey we have got a position open. It was five dollars an hour. I took it and have been here ever since."
Gene and the Center staff help veterans and non-vets alike giving them structure and inner fortitude to overcome their life problems and stay off the streets. Jerry Lee Harris has had trouble with alcohol and says the Center has been a godsend for him, "If it wasn't for the Salvation Army, I would not have made it."
Matthew Evans is newly homeless. He was in the military for 12 years. He deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and so many other locations during his time in the service. Evans was honest about dealing with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and his new found homeless status. He got out of the military in 2010, moved to Colorado Springs and tried to find work but couldn't, "I'm working to dig myself out of this situation. It's been a blessing here. The staff has been awesome. When everything is going good, you are not looking for help, not looking for answers to any issues you have. Here, I found solutions from staff or others who live around me."
There are 200 plus beds for men, women and families. You can stay at the R.J. Montgomery Center for emergency shelter for 30 days. Gene Morris says it's about structure and learning to help yourself as far as a longer stay at the Center, "As long as you are working towards an end goal and obeying the rules, you can stay." Morris says the average stay at the Center is 63 days.
The help that the homeless receive from the staff is why they and the Center are our Wear Red Friday Heroes.
If you know someone who is a Wear Red Friday Hero, go back to our main page, go to the Wear Red section and nominate them.