IN THE PHOTO: A delivery of recreational items arrived on Dec. 23, 2021, two days before Christmas for residents of Espero Apartments in Durango. Dressed in festive attire are Kelsey Schumacher, left, Espero Site Services Coordinator with Housing Solutions for the Southwest; and Mare Kinsel, Housing Navigator with TeamUP AmeriCorps.

On Dec. 23, the holidays were extra-merry at Espero Apartments.

The supportive housing community opened in October in Durango for residents who formerly experienced homelessness and are living with a disabling condition. The residents and staff celebrated their first holiday season in the space with an added surprise: $1,000 worth of recreational items donated from the Heart of Axis Fund.

Donated items included a movie projector, notebooks, chess and checker sets, card games, puzzles, craft items, painting supplies and a rolling cart and bookcase for storing items. The donations will help build community by promoting socialization, inspiring camaraderie and providing positive rewards.

“Our goal was to help create an environment where people enjoy spending time together,” said Karla Sluis, Heart of Axis Committee lead. “We want every resident to feel welcome, included and comfortable.” The donations were delivered to Espero on Dec. 23.

Kelsey Schumacher, Espero Site Services Coordinator with Housing Solutions for the Southwest, agrees that recreational items are key to creating community in the new space. “It will be so beneficial to have a variety of healthy activities for residents to enjoy.”

The Heart of Axis fund provides Axis Health System employees the opportunity to donate charitably and to direct these funds to support a wide range of specific unmet community and patient needs. In addition, Axis staff write and submit grant applications for projects that benefit patients. To complete the cycle, a committee of five volunteer staff members review applications and prioritize the use of available funds to address patients’ unique needs, including mental health, physical health and social determinants of health (access to basic necessities such as food, transportation and housing).

Espero is the first property in Durango built exclusively to serve people with low incomes who have been homeless and are living with a disabling condition. The community features 40 one-bedroom apartments co-developed by BlueLine Development and Housing Solutions for the Southwest. The apartments were built on land donated by the City of Durango, and are located on a hillside south of Manna-The Durango Soup Kitchen at 1053 Avenida del Sol. Axis Health System is providing a team of three staff members to support tenants on site at Espero: a lead therapist, a case manager and an intern.

Donations needed: Espero residents need pots and pans, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, lotion, toothpaste and household cleaning supplies (new only please). All donations can be dropped off at Espero Apartments, 1053 Avenida del Sol, Monday- Friday 12 p.m.- 4 p.m. (except holidays) For information, call Kelsey at 970.422.2781 or email