Christmas Holiday Volunteerism in Las Vegas

Every year the Las Vegas Field office gets into the spirit of the holidays by picking a family of four or five or even more to donate gifts and other necessities to make their holidays brighter. We call them our Christmas Family. We have enjoyed the smiling and appreciative faces of little and big kids alike. But this year I think was the most joyful to date. This year our "Christmas Family" numbered into the hundreds. This year we picked Shade Tree, a homeless shelter for women and their children to be our "Christmas Family".

[Photo: Las Vegas Field Office staff in Santa hats by decorated tree]
Left to right - Roy Porter - Community Planning and Development (CPD); Lorraine Griscavage-Frisbee - Single Family Housing (SFH); Mimi Woodruff - Field Policy and Management (FPM); Mary Cain - Multifamily Housing (MFH); Bernie Yergeau - FPM; Cecelia Coronado - FPM; Phyllis Hargrove - FPM; Kenneth J. LoBene - Director, Las Vegas Field Office.

Shade Tree has served homeless and abused women and children, victims of domestic violence, victims of elder abuse, victims of street violence, female veterans, homeless youth and the physically disabled since 1990. The Shade Tree helps women and their children rebuild their lives through a variety of services, including employment assistance and permanent housing.

The Shade Tree is a 100% free local agency with no national affiliation or support. They are also the largest shelter of its kind in the State of Nevada, and are the only 24-hour accessible shelter specifically for women and children in Southern Nevada. There are currently 364 permanent beds for emergency shelter. The second and third floors of the 38,000 square foot facility consist of the long term residential areas with sleeping rooms for the whole family. There are also libraries, training rooms, rest rooms, and children's play rooms. On average, 33% of their clientele are children under the age of 18. Shade Tree has served over 14,000 women in the past year alone.

The Shade Tree is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and HUD provided approximately $1,514,572 Supportive Housing Program (SHP) grant program funds since year 2001.

Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG), in excess of $2,086,500 has been provided from Clark County government and the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. Also $1,320,690 Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) were provided from Clark County government.

During the time of our visit there were over 200 women and children staying in the shelter. Eight of the Las Vegas HUD staff donned bright red Santa hats and brought over two pickup truck loads of Christmas decorations to help bring a smile to the faces of The Shade Tree residents. The children and their mothers were overjoyed to see all the shiny lights, green garland, beautifully lit Christmas trees.

Before long there were Christmas carols playing. Children were laughing and running around with ribbons and bows trailing. We finished our day with mothers putting plastic snowflakes in the window. A HUD staffer with a slight resemblance to Santa was cradling babies in his arms and small children wrapped around his knees. We wished them all a Merry Christmas and with a promise to return again next year for even more Christmas cheer.

Learn more about The Shade Tree (

Content Archived: August 18, 2011