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Aspen Homeless Shelter Determined To Help Locals Despite Pandemic Shutdown

Jan 18, 2021

Traditionally on Martin Luther King Day, the Aspen Chapel invites locals to cook a special dinner for people who visit the Aspen Homeless Shelter. Last year, nearly a hundred adults and children gathered for the annual meal at the chapel. 

“It’s always a lovely experience of doing everything together, but this year with COVID-19, we obviously couldn’t have a hundred people in a room together,” said Nicholas Vesey, the minister at the Aspen Chapel. 

Instead the chapel is asking its members to prepare a meal on Monday that’s big enough to feed eight people, then freeze it for delivery to the homeless shelter later in the week. 

Reverend Vesey hopes this year’s “Cook Up A Storm” theme will honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of community service. 

“It seems to me that his life was all about helping people who were oppressed and persecuted have a better life in some shape or form,” he said. 

The Aspen Homeless Shelter will serve the donated meals to eight people every night until they run out as part of their Hot Evening Meal program. The shelter’s executive director, Vince Savage, says the annual dinner is one of many programs that has to be adapted to adhere to social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Usually during the winter months, the shelter offers a warm place to sleep at the Catholic Church in Aspen for anyone who needs it, but they’ve had to discontinue the overnight service. Many locals without a permanent home are now living in campers, vans or tents at an emergency site set up by Pitkin County earlier in the summer next to the Brush Creek Park and Ride. 

Morning Edition Host Eleanor Bennett spoke with Savage, who worked in the civil rights movement during the 1960s, in the Deep South, where he was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr..