“We had staff and no place to put them,” says foundation director, Leslie Nezario. The Abriendo Inn will function as space for the Hospice grief services. “You go in and it doesn’t feel like an office building. It’s very comforting,” adds Nezario. Beds have been replaced with sitting areas, but the estate has otherwise remained the same in appearance.
Sangre de Cristo Hospice was established in the 1970s as a non-profit to assist families experiencing a severe or terminal illness. The organization’s doctors, nurses, chaplains and counselors currently serve more than 1000 patients per year in six Southern Colorado counties. Nine employees will work at the Inn. Along with the care for the patient, Sangre de Cristo Hospice puts emphasis on guiding loved ones and family members through the difficult time.
Last year, the bad economy sent the Abriendo Inn into foreclosure forcing the bank to take over. Pamela Nelson, former owner of the bed and breakfast, was distraught not knowing who would purchase the Inn. “I relish having people there and it’s a place that so many people love. I was scared of where it would end up,” she said.
Near the end of October, Nelson was informed that Sangre de Cristo Hospice bought the estate and was surprisingly overjoyed. “If it can’t be a bed and breakfast then it has to be this,” said Nelson. She had originally purchased the Inn to be closer to her ailing father. After his death, Nelson says that the Inn helped her mourn. “It helped me and now it can comfort other people, too.”
Nelson sees the transformation from bed and breakfast to grief counseling center as a positive experience. For Nelson, the heart of the matter is that the Inn continues to play an important role in the community of Pueblo. Nelson has since been hired by Sangre de Cristo Hospice to cater events hosted at the Inn. The hospice hosts their dinners and social events in the space.