EarthLinks' micro-enterprise Workshop Program is where homeless and low-income persons from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds earn a small stipend for their work in our garden and creative workshop. While participants are helping to create crafts, art or products, they gradually attain a new understanding and respect for Earth, themselves and one another. Staff and volunteers help with basic life skills, accountability, employment training and goal setting. Program participants learn more about the interconnectedness of humans and nature. At EarthLinks, the participants find themselves centered in an accepting community, encouraged on their road to recovery. Many participants suffer from mental illness and addictions, and the interface with nature and the creative process is calming and healing.
EarthLinks grows gardeners to generate self-worth in lives that are often fragmented. The EarthLinks Peace Garden welcomes everyone, even those that are not welcomed elsewhere. Participants cultivate the garden, providing an essential grounding experience that increases a sense of self-worth. The physical labor of gardening provides meaningful, productive activity and utilizes skills often overlooked, while providing opportunity for learning. The therapeutic effect of gardening is well established. Through our gardening, we grow food for our community and beautiful flowers and gourds that are incorporated into the products created in the craft workshop.
Sustaining people and the planet are the goals of EarthLinks. Learning basic sustainability skills such as community formation and maintenance, composting, gardening and bee keeping, participants reacquaint themselves with their innate knowledge of self-care and support. Participants in the program become the teachers to the broader community of basic environmental sustainability.
In 2018 Workshop served 73 unique individuals and 82% of participants obtained and/or maintained stable housing! Of the 67 participants who defined 253 goals for 2018, participants with one year or more in the program achieved 58% of their set goals and participants with less than 12 months achieved only 28% of their set goals. Of the 67 participants who set a personal goal, 89% achieved at least one of their set goals. Additionally, participants who have been in the program longer have higher self-esteem, a stronger connection to community, and a stronger connection to nature. We also show a correlation in our statistics that the people who are more connected to our community have a stronger sense of self-esteem, indicating that our work to build strong community also serves to strengthen each individual. 18 of the 73 participants volunteered 418 total hours during 2018.
In 2017, Workshop served 73 unique individuals and 58% of participants obtained and/or maintained housing! Furthermore, 32% of participants who were in the program between 1-2 years and 79% of participants who were in the program for longer than two years have obtained/maintained stable housing. Of participants who have been in the program longer than 6 months, 92% accomplished a personal goal. Additionally, participants who have been in the program longer have higher self-esteem, a stronger connection to community, and a stronger connection to nature. We also show a correlation in our statistics that the people who are more connected to our community have a stronger sense of self-esteem, indicating that our work to build strong community also serves to strengthen each individual. 18 of the 73 participants volunteered 776 total hours during 2017.
In 2016, Workshop served 67 unique individuals and 60% of participants obtained and/or maintained housing! Furthermore, 54% of participants who were in the program between 1-2 years and 80% of participants who were in the program for longer than two years have obtained or maintained stable housing. Of participants who have been in the program longer than 6 months, 80% accomplished a personal goal. 23 of the 67 participants volunteered 531 total hours during 2016.
In 2015, 73 unique individuals participated in our workshop
community. Also, our workshop participants bravely faced so much in 2015 - lack of housing, economic poverty, physical and mental health challenges, transportation barriers, among others. Yet they worked hard towards stability,
obtaining housing (70%) in a difficult housing market, forming supportive community among one another and communicating their worth to our whole Earth community through their work, knowledge, gifts and artistry. Participants also engaged in more than 6,100 hours of workshop, enrichment and volunteer time with EarthLinks in 2015.
In 2014, 70 unique individuals participated in the Workshop Program. Participants worked hard to move our facility to our new location in Sun Valley and moved the garden, bit by bit in pots and other containers! 50% of Participants also volunteered with EarhLinks, and participants engaged in more than 5,900 hours of workshop, enrichment and volunteer time with EarthLinks in 2014. 79% of participants maintained housing during the period, and 80% moved towards completing another personal goal during the period.
In 2013, EarthLinks hosted 68 unique individuals in the Workshop Program, and 74% of those maintained stable housing while in our program. Sales of products created in the workshop accounted for 10% of our income during the year. 100% of workshop participants gained a positive connection with the EarthLinks community and 40% of them volunteered with EarthLinks in addition to their stipended work.
In 2012, EarthLinks had 72 participants in the paid workshop and garden program. At any given time, due to size, staff and funding limitations, we can accept 50 adult participants in the program. Participants who continue to meet our income guidelines are not expected to leave the program upon attaining more stable housing. Instead, we encourage participants who have obtained some housing to remain with the program and be supported during their transition by a supportive and caring community.
In 2012, approximately 15% of our budget was funded by sales of the products created in the EarthLinks workshop. Sales of the products indicate the quality of the work produced in the workshop and the skill brought to bear by the participants to their work. Participants also grew 445 lbs of healthy, organically grown produce in the Peace Garden in 2012, including collards, mustard greens, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins and other vegetables and fruit. With fresh produce being all but unknown to this community, this marks tremendous success.
A leadership team, bee club, writing workshop, mindfulness group, heart collage, knitting club, gardening club, and financial advising workshops are examples of enrichment programs that are available to our participants throughout the year.
Disabled, General or Disability unspecified
EarthLinks offers participants year-round day hikes and regional explorations focused on building a sense of connection with other people and enlarging and deepening their sense of community to include the natural world. We provide transportation, food, volunteer facilitation and interpretive guides for these ventures into nature. Day Trips engage people to explore and relate to their larger surroundings. Through this program participants gain awareness, insight, trust, hope, and community. This program is led largely by volunteers.
In 2017 we had 6 Day Trips into Nature serving 27 individuals.
In 2016 we had 12 Day Trips into Nature serving 55 individuals.
In 2015 we had 19 Day Trips into Nature serving 125 individuals.
In 2014 we had 20 Day Trips into Nature serving 127 individuals. This program is maintained and offered through dedicated volunteers who plan each day trip carefully. EarthLinks continues to offer this service to the clients of the Gathering Place thanks to the dedication of this volunteer corps.
In 2013 we made a total of 21 day trips with 121 unique homeless and low income participants. In 2012 we made a total of 24 day trips with 164 unique homeless and low-income participants. Destinations included Chautaqua Park, Barr Lake, Eldorado Canyon, Lair o' the Bear, Long Hopes Donkey Shelter, Castlewood Canyon, and the Denver Art Museum.