Serenity House helps more than expected

Serenity House of Clallam County served 3,608 homeless or at-risk individuals in 2008.

The 26-year-old private nonprofit agency had assisted more than 2,000 people in 2007 and helped 908 more people than expected in 2008.

"It was a staggering 80-percent increase," executive director Kathy Wahto said.

Serenity House created two major new programs in 2008, Re-entry and Permanent Supportive Housing.

Re-entry works with people returning from incarceration to assure that they re-enter society successfully, reducing repeat offences.

Permanent Supportive Housing settles chronically homeless individuals into stable housing, reducing their demand on emergency medical and law enforcement services.

In December, all 12 units were occupied and there has been no turnover.

A 58-percent increase in revenue from government grants in 2008 helped fund Serenity House's new services, but Wahto predicts such revenue to slow down in 2009.

"We will continue to hold expenses to the minimum and watch every dime," she said.

At the agency's annual meeting on Jan. 20 at the Peninsula College LongHouse Cultural Center, Wahto presented three Sally Garnero Memorial Volunteer Awards:

_ Volunteers Everett Zentz and Alex Wolf were cited for exceptional service at the Street

Outreach Shelter.

_ Joan Reichert was recognized for volunteer work at the Serenity Shop in Sequim.

_ Joan and Harry Clancy were recognized for volunteering at Serenity House Thrift Store in Port Angeles.

Sally Garnero was one of the co-founders of the Serenity House Thrift Store in Port Angeles. She died Nov. 23, 2008.

Community Partner Awards were accepted by Pam Tietz and Kay Kassinger of the Housing Authority; Dawn Saiz, Peninsula Community Mental Health; and Bob Thomas, Sequim St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Also, Jeri Boe, Community Corrections supervisor, state Department of Corrections; Donna Tidrick, Sequim Community Aid; Pam Fosnes, who organizes Saturday meals at the Dream Center for youth; and Dr. Mary Wegmann, New Beginnings.

Cheri Fleck of West End Outreach and Sarge's Place also received awards.

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