A steady stream of people filtered in and out of Rick Bollman’s office at Corpus Christi House on a recent weekday afternoon.
Many were waiting to pick up mail — the Boise day shelter, 525 S. American Boulevard, is a place where those who don’t have a physical address can get “snail mail,” and folks there enthusiastically carry off small piles of correspondence. About 500 people have their mail delivered there.
Others who popped into Bollman’s office were after free bus passes. The shelter has given out more than 1,300 passes so far this year.
“Within reason, we’ll provide just about anything to people,” said Bollman, the shelter’s operations coordinator, as he handed a guest several stamped envelopes.
Bollman is relatively new — hired in March of this year — but he’ll be familiar to a lot of Boiseans. The 59-year-old was a longtime Boise school official, serving as principal at Monroe, Liberty, Cynthia Mann and Maple Grove elementary schools.
Bollman retired in July 2015 and was looking for some part-time work when he was tapped to run Corpus Christi House. He supervises volunteers, helps guests and participates in community groups that assist the homeless. His board asked him to be sure people aren’t sleeping in front of the building at night, a concern following the removal of the Cooper Court tent city in December 2015.
“We don’t want them camping,” he said. Police regularly patrol the area to prevent that from happening.
The shelter, opened in 2003 by a group led by former Hyde Park Mennonite pastor Tim Cooper, was created in the Catholic Worker Movement tradition as a place where the needy are welcome and treated with dignity.
Corpus Christi House is the first morning stop for many of the homeless who spend nights at nearby Interfaith Sanctuary. The day shelter is open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, though it does close daily from about 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. for cleaning.
Breakfast food is available from 7 to 9 a.m., snacks from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and lunch food is available at 2 p.m.
Corpus Christi House is a warm, dry and safe place for the homeless to relax, have a hot cup of coffee and a bite to eat, take a shower, do laundry and use computers (lab next door to the main facility). It’s a hive of activity but many guests just sit quietly in chairs spread throughout the cafeteria or in the front entryway, now a bit of a construction zone due to a shower remodeling project.
Bollman works closely with Mariah Ertel, a volunteer with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, and a small army of community volunteers. The shelter has about 40 active volunteers, with about seven or eight scheduled to help out each day.