Penny Salazar-Phillips is the Program Director of Joshua Station, a long-term transitional housing community for homeless families. JS is an old hotel near I25 & 8th Avenue where families can live up to 24 months while they are getting back on their feet. These families receive critical counseling in an environment that emphasizes community support.
Q: How long have you been with Joshua Station and where did you come from before that?
Penny: I have been with JS for approximately 8 years - 3 years on the Board of Directors and 5 years as the Program Director of Joshua Station. Before that I served for 20 years as the Executive Director of Alternatives Pregnancy Centers here in Denver.
Q: What do you like most about JS as an organization?
Penny: I love working with the families and assisting them in changing the parts of their lives they want to leave behind. The best part is the daily visits and hugs from all the kids who live here.
Q: How is JS different than some of the other transitional housing programs available in CO?
Penny: I am most proud of two things about our program. First, JS has an openness to give families a chance that may not be eligible for other programs. The only restrictions we have are sexual abuse crimes against children and a habitual violent crime history.
The other strong component at JS is that our program is designed to create a community where we live out the values of creating emotionally and physically safe relationships; a place where respect, integrity, grace and forgiveness can flourish and transformation can happen.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges for JS in the past?
Penny: Well, there are always the challenges of finances but I believe the biggest challenges come when we have to say good bye to families that are not making healthy choices to move their lives forward in respect to addictions or other destructive lifestyles.
Q: What do you foresee as the biggest challenges for the future?
Penny: One of our big dreams is to have another JS location so as to increase our ability to help a greater number of families. We also dream about opening a next step facility so our graduating families that need more time can stay an additional amount of time to continue the journey.
Q: What trends are you seeing for homeless families?
Penny: With the economic climate has increased the number of families in need of support.
Q: What is JS most in need of at this time?
Penny: Well of course I need to say donations. First money to run the program, it costs us $24,000 a year to provide a full range of services and housing for each family. The next would be donations of goods like toiletries, cleaning supplies and laundry soap. If you have time and you want to volunteer, please give us a call and see where you could plug in (web site).
Q: Anything else you'd like the general public to know about JS?
Penny: Please come and visit us and see the great stuff that is happening here.