March 27, 2016. Retrieved online March 28, 2016 from Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News
[Excerpts below reprinted with permission: Read the complete Las Cruces Sun-News article]
LAS CRUCES – Dignity is coming to Camp Hope, the tent city on the campus of Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. “Project: Dignity,” spearheaded by Matt Holt and his sister, Julie Wilson, is an effort to bring indoor plumbing — including showers and toilets — to the residents of Camp Hope. The project has been funded, and construction is well underway.
Holt, who describes himself as a “recovering attorney,” is now a professor at New Mexico State University’s College of Business. Wilson, Holt’s sister, is the CEO of Reasons Group Inc., a consulting firm in Fort Worth, Texas, that specializes in business development and marketing strategies.
When the project was launched in December, the siblings offered dollar-for-dollar matching donations up to $30,000.
Nicole Martinez, executive director of Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, said the community response was immediate.
“The donations that have come in for it — it really has ranged from people coming through the front door, wanting to donate and saying they read it in the paper, to organizations coming together to give us what they can,” Martinez said. “These are people who have believed in the Community of Hope, and have wanted to contribute to help ending homelessness, and improving the situation for those living on the streets.”
Residents weigh in
James Sassak, the camp’s chief operational member, said it is impossible to overstate the impact the facility will have on residents’ health. Currently, the camp has four port-a-potties, which residents will be glad to see replaced with indoor plumbing.
“I worked in the scrap yard for seven months while I was living here,” Sassak said. “I was working six days a week, and it was literally hell. You’re just miserable — you didn’t even want to move. You go in your tent, do the little birdbaths and wash up as best you can. But you don’t feel good, ever. It’s just miserable.”
Camp Hope is at 999 W. Amador Ave., adjacent to Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. Donations for the project, and to help meet the general needs of the homeless, continue to be accepted.
“Every penny that is donated to ‘Project: Dignity’ will be used for the project,” Holt said. “While we’re pretty confident we’ve reached our goal, we could always make it better.”
For information, call 575-523-2219 or visit www.MVCommunityOfHope.org.