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Sequim Community Help Center shuts down

Thousands of stomachs have been filled because of Steve Welty's Sequim Community Help Center.

Welty has helped young adults overcome addictions and find lives off the street through his Teen Center.

Even his Barbara Allen Laundromat, named after his late mother, has touched people in need of clean clothes and a shower.

"I have had so many miracles happen here than in my whole life," Welty said.

"It had to be because of God!"

Welty is pastor for Glory House Fellowship, which shares 155 W. Cedar St. with the help center, teen center and laundromat.

He has chosen to close its doors.

"We've come to the end of this without the needed money," he said.

Welty started the Sequim Community Help Center 10 years ago after another center closed. He said God told him to continue helping people.

A few months later, he started Glory House Fellowship Church.

Members' tithes were the lifeline for the center.

However, the church's small congregation couldn't maintain the cost of several programs.

Welty and his wife Debra invested $500-$800 a month - draining their savings - to support the facility.

"We decided that one person cannot keep it going alone," he said.

Welty filed for three different grants but was denied.

The center's lease was up on April 30, but the Weltys spent May clearing out and selling items to pay off utility and rent. They are at half their goal for paying off their utilities, Welty said.

He does not foresee reopening the help center.

"We've sold just about everything," he said.

The Teen Center catered to young adults out of high school. Many came to play games, use the computer or eat a free meal on Friday nights.

"It's given them something else to do other than hanging out. There's not a lot of places to play pool if you aren't over 21," said Jake Lee, an employee of Welty's Sequim Window Cleaning business.

Lee said he visited the center often to play pool, too.

"Tigger," 19 and a recovering cocaine addict, said Welty helped him on his road to recovery.

"Steve always had time for me to come to him. When I come here, I always feel safe," he said.

"Steve opened this up because he knew kids in Sequim and Port Angeles didn't have anything else."

Closing the laundromat will hinder many individuals' routine for clean clothes.

A homeless man who gave only his first name, "Bob," said a friend referred him to Welty to launder his clothes, take a shower and get a hot meal.

"I'm really saddened by it closing, but it's typical because of other agencies going through it, too," Bob said.

"What can you do? It's a constant fight!"

Sequim Community Help Center provided bus passes, rent and utility aid, weekly warm meals and hotel vouchers for people if they moved from another state or city, their houses burned or they were homeless.

Glory House members also funded Thanksgiving meals through the help center a week prior to the holiday. They gave boxed dinners and turkeys to needy families and individuals.

They gave away 50-60 boxes in 2008 and distributed others through OlyCAP, Serenity House and Healthy Families in Port Angeles.

Welty said he worked with 17 local and state nonprofit agencies to support the center.

"In all the 10 years I've been here, I have never taken a salary. It's always been volunteer-only," Welty said.

The help center has moved three times since its start because of availability, accessibility and rent, Welty said. They have been at their current location 31/2 years.

Glory House Fellowship's church will continue, but services will be held weekly in the homes of members who cannot drive or travel easily.

Persons who want to donate to Glory House Fellowship and the Sequim Community Help Center should write checks to "Glory House Fellowship" or "GHF" and send them to P.O. Box 1912, Sequim, WA 98382. A tax-deductible receipt will be returned to each donor.

For Glory House Fellowship's service times, call 681-6882 or 461-6717.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.



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