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‘Compassion Center’ moving to new location in west Durango

Program provides services to those experiencing poverty and homelessness
Residents experiencing poverty and homelessness gather in November 2022 at the so-called warming center at Durango Christian Church. The warming center has become the Compassion Center, which is moving to a new location in west Durango. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

A nonprofit that provides counseling services, job referrals, housing assistance and food-sharing opportunities is moving from a church to its own location in west Durango.

The Compassion Center, which serves those experiencing poverty or homelessness, is expected to open Tuesday at 21738 U.S. Highway 160, Suites A and B. It is located at the former Healthy Hounds and Fat Cats building, between City Cleaners and 4X4 Auto Sales on the south side of the highway.

Previously, the Compassion Center was located at Durango Christian Church near 11th Street and East Third Avenue. The nonprofit had to set up and take down tables and chairs every Tuesday and Friday to hold meetings and serve food, said Donna Mae Baukat, director of Community Compassion Outreach.

Community Compassion Outreach is the nonprofit that sponsors the Compassion Center.

The new building will be controlled exclusively by the nonprofit versus having to share space with the church, she said. That will allow it to create separate spaces for clients, staff members and a conference room.

It is also located near other social services, including Manna soup kitchen and the Durango Community Shelter.

“We’re really excited because it’s going to be really convenient for people to get there and they’re not going to be going through town,” Baukat said.

As of Friday, Community Compassion Outreach was in need of countertops, cabinets and appliances like a refrigerator to facilitate serving food, she said.

The building is located along Lightner Creek and has a large backyard, she said. That will allow clients to hangout in a secluded area versus in the parking lot, Baukat said.

“That’s important for our neighbors as well as the businesses,” she said.

The Compassion Center began as a warming center in November 2022 shortly after the city of Durango and La Plata County governments closed the Purple Cliffs homeless camp south of town.

The warming center provided temporary relief to unhoused residents through the winter. Beyond just warmth, it was providing wraparound services, including peer-based recovery support. It has been serving about 10 to 30 people on days that it is open, but it has had as many as 45 to 50 people, Baukat said.

The new building can accommodate up to 50 people, she said.


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