Article of the Week #3
“Economic Downturn Hits Home Hard”
Name: ______________ Date Assigned: __________ Date Due: ____________
1.Read the article carefully and make notes in the margin as you read. Show evidence of
a close reading: as you read, underline, make notes and codes in the margin as follows:
+ for ideas or claims with which you agree
- for ideas or claims with which you disagree
! for ideas or claims that surprise, anger, or otherwise cause a strong reaction
? for ideas or claims you doubt or find confusing
* for important passages, quotes, or facts you want to remember
2. Beside the coding symbols above you must also include brief notes in the margins that
demonstrate your thoughts, reactions, comments and connections about the information
3. Answer the questions at the end of the text. Use complete sentences.
Background Info & Vocabulary:
An economic downturn suggests the economy is entering into recession. A recession is
a period of negative economic growth with falling output and rising unemployment.
define an economic downturn it is useful to mention some of the main features of an
• Negative or very low economic growth
• Rising unemployment
• Falling asset prices - shares and house prices
• Low confidence and falling investment
• Increasing government borrowing
A nonprofit organization is formed for the purpose of serving a public or mutual benefit
other than the pursuit or accumulation of profits for owners or investors.
Underline in the text Do your coding and
note-taking in this
Economic downturn hits home hard margin
From the Valley Courier, Alamosa, CO
Posted: Friday, Sep 16th, 2011
BY: Julia Wilson
Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — When state and federal money dries up, what
happens to the non-profits?
“It’s scary,” said Lance Cheslock, executive director for La
Puente, about the current situation for non-profits. “We are
seeing so many people coming into the shelter, and they have
nowhere else to sleep. And we can’t just let them in to sleep.
They are hungry, we have to feed them. We are operating our
kitchen on food donations right now. It’s been ages since we had
enough money to buy food.”
Lunch at La Puente on Wednesday was brown rice with a touch
of chicken and steamed squash and zucchini. For bread each
person received half of a hotdog bun. Over 100 people showed
up to eat, and were grateful for the meal.
“People have the wrong idea about people using our shelter,”
Cheslock said. “They think of the homeless as not wanting to
work, as people who just want to use the system to get by. That
is just not true.”
Cheslock said 96 percent of the people using the shelter are from
“When you get high profile news stories like the ones about the
two people wanted in Texas for murder who were picked up at
the shelter, people start thinking they are the norm for homeless
people,” he said. “They could not be more wrong. The vast
majority of the people here are looking for jobs and working
hard for the chance to get back on their feet. They don’t want to
Volunteers help the clients set goals and move forward in their
efforts to be self-sufficient.
“We have many successes,” Cheslock said. “And it is
heartwarming to see how many of these give back to help
One of the recent successes is Frank Thorpe. Thorpe is not a
native of Alamosa, but it his home now.
Thorpe lost his job in Albuquerque because of a back injury.
When he couldn’t pay his rent he, his wife, and their 2-year-old
daughter were living on the streets.
A friend was driving through Colorado, and offered to drop
them off in the San Luis Valley because he had somehow heard
about La Puente.
Thorpe knew nothing about the Valley or La Puente, but he also
knew he did not want his daughter sleeping on the streets.
Anywhere, he felt, would be better than where he was.
At La Puente he had time to regroup. In Albuquerque he worked
as a contract master car detailer. In Alamosa he was proud to
get a job at a fast food restaurant.
“I’m not a quitter,” Thorpe said during an interview with the
Courier in 2010. “I work hard, and I am not quitting. My goal is
that this time next year I will be giving back. I will be making
things better for someone else.”
And that is exactly where Thorpe is financially this year. He is
back working as a master car detailer, with a growing reputation
for quality work that keeps him busy.
“He is not our only success,” Cheslock said. “We have many,
many successes. That is what keeps our volunteers going.”
With only one paid employee at the shelter Cheslock depends
heavily on volunteers.
“We would like to have more employees there, but the money is
just not available,” he said. “We are the only shelter in the state
with just one on-site employee.”
If the economy stays in a downturn non-profits will be stretched
even tighter, he said.
“I’m not sure how we are making it now,” he said. “I’m almost
afraid to consider the future.”
Immediate needs at La Puente are food and work pants for
agricultural workers, he said. Also “start-ups” for people who are
able to move out, like towels, dishes, flatware, pots, pans, and
“It is scary,” Cheslock said. “How are we going to feed them?
Where will they sleep? Where will the homeless go if we can’t
provide for them?”
September 13, 2011, Statistics for La Puente:
90 people slept at the shelter and 200 meals were
Because of a lack of funds, meals are 100 percent
dependent on donations.
August Alamosa Statistics for the Food Bank:
580 households, comprising 1,943 people, received
food from the Food Bank, also run by La Puente.
Of these households, only 150 have some sort of
August San Luis Valley-wide Statistics for Food Banks:*
1,050 households, comprising 3,073 people,
received food from Food Banks.
Because of the tremendous increase in need,
families can now only receive food every other
month, except for perishables like day-old breads
and pastries that can still be received weekly.
*These numbers are low because data from four other food
banks is missing
In the past two weeks, 180 San Luis Valley households
requested emergency assistance for rent or utilities; many
were turned away because of limited resources.
Valley statistics provided by Hew Hallock and Liza Marron,
co-chairs of the Rural Philanthropy Days meeting in
Saguache, September 14 - 16
In Alamosa County, approximately 21 percent of the
population lives below the national poverty line; in
Conejos County, approximately 23 percent of the
population lives below the national poverty line; in
Costilla County approximately 28 percent of the
population lives below the national poverty line; in Rio
Grande County, approximately 14 percent of the
population lives below the national poverty line;
information was not provided for Saguache and Mineral
Note: in 2011 the national poverty line level for a family
of four is $22,350 annual income.
1. In the space below, list 5 ways the non-profit organization La Puente Home and its
volunteers have helped the people of the San Luis Valley during the state’s
current economic downturn. Look for information not only in the article, but also
in the statistics at the end of the article.
2. Based on this article, what are some fears people have about homeless people and
shelters? Secondly, using information from the article, why do you think it’s
important for readers to understand the success stories of homeless people?
3. In your own words, summarize the story of Frank Thorpe.
4. a. For this question, you will need to use the internet to study some statistics, refer
back to the article, and do some comparing and contrasting. Go to the following
Using the Colorado Counties search bar, examine facts for Boulder County and
Alamosa County. Using this data, create a t-chart that shows the following for
• Population percent change from 2000 to 2010
• Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2010
• Home ownership rate, 2005 – 2009
• Median household income, 2009
• Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009
• Persons per square mile, 2010
5. Based on the data in your t-chart above, write a paragraph that demonstrates your
ability to compare and contrast the data and that expresses your opinion(s) about
the differences and similarities between Boulder and Alamosa counties.
6. BONUS QUESTION. Worth up to an extra five points
Through conversations with your family, find out how the economic
downturn has or has not impacted your family, your extended family, or
family friends. Write a paragraph that describes what you learn from these
conversations and how you feel about what you learned. Use a separate sheet
of paper for this answer.