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'It's heartbreaking' | At Loveland nonprofit, need has doubled over the past year

Over the past year, more people have needed assistance with food, utilities, clothing and rent, and the House of Neighborly Service has been there to help.

LOVELAND, Colo. — In just one year at the House of Neighborly Service, which provides basic needs including food and clothing, the demand for services has doubled.

Many families still feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation. They struggle to find stable, good paying jobs. Plus, everything costs more now, making it difficult to put food on the table and pay rent.

It can be difficult to ask for a hand up, but it becomes easier when you have a neighbor to show the way.

"If you are a needy person living in Loveland, it's a good place to be," said June Tate.

Tate has volunteered at the Loveland nonprofit organization for six years. She's the first face people see when they walk in. Tate said it's her mission to get people what they need – needs that have increased a lot.

"Five years ago, I didn't see as many people coming to have housing assistance," Tate said.

Cheryl Wong,  assistant director of House of Neighborly Service, said demand for the nonprofit's services has more than doubled since 2021. The organization serves people on the brink of becoming unhoused with resources that help fill the gap.

"It's heartbreaking," she said. "It really is definitely a different picture than it was a year ago for many people in our surrounding area."

When the pandemic hit the restaurant industry in March 2020, Andrea Sharum and her husband suddenly found themselves out of work. Together, they're raising three teenagers.

Sharum said the House of Neighborly Service helped her with rent and that all the resources "have been great."

"If this place wasn't here, I'd be so lost," she said.

Exploding costs from inflation and soaring rent prices have put more people like Sharum at risk. But because of services like those at House of Neighborly Service, she said she's starting to feel stable again.

"It took me two years before I could find a place to live, get back on my feet," Sharum said.

On this day, she gets the opportunity to shop for clothing and food her family needs, at no cost. In each corner of this building, there's someone who knows Sharum's story. They're the people who gave her hope. 

"Without this place I would seriously be in my car for the last year," she said.

It all starts with a kind neighbor. 

"Tell me your needs and I'll tell you how, which office you can get some help," Tate said.

A neighbor who's selflessness makes all the difference in a family's life. 

"Hope. Everything in this place is hope," Sharum said. 

With photojournalist Bryan Wendland.

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