Community donations give warming center a boost

Those feeling the chill this winter just got a proverbial big, warm hug from the Sequim community.

Dozens of individuals and businesses have donated enough funds to keep the Sequim Warming Center open for another 50 days, said Jean Pratschner, who organized the center inside the Serenity House Resource Center at 583 W. Washington St.

“I was gleeful and thankful and over-surprised,” Pratschner said this week. “They’re still coming in. Every day, someone hands me a check.”

Cost of keeping the facility — meaning staffing one person through Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) — recently rose to $200 per night, but thanks to local donations the facility will be able to handle that and more, Pratschner said. The donations will likely keep the warming center open through this winter and possibly through the end of 2018.

The center is loaded with food, clothing and blankets, and a volunteer list is full of willing helpers, Pratschner said.

“This is an awesome town, so generous; a wonderful town,” she said.

In fact, Pratschner said warming center organizers plan to add a second staffer to make sure the first paid staff member — who works a 12-hour shift — doesn’t have to work overtime or get exhausted.

The center will open during severe weather from 8 p.m.-8 a.m. Minimum temperatures were raised from 32 degrees or below to 35 or below, Pratschner said, “so we should be able to open many more nights.”

To open, the weather forecasts has to be back-to-back-to-back (three consecutive) evenings of anticipated freezing temperatures, Pratschner said, using an average of the National Weather Service, NOAA and local predictions.

Pratschner is seeking volunteers help post (or take down) signs alerting the community that the center is open. They will be posted at schools, parks, the Sequim Library, public bathrooms and other key landmarks.

In addition, the center itself will have a big, red flag waving on days the center is expected to to open.

Donations to the warming center are tax-deductible.

To donate, send checks to: OlyCAP attn: Kathy Morgan, Sequim Warming Center, 823 Commerce Loop, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

For more information, email to action@olycap.org, call Pratschner at 505-264-0278 or Morgan, OlyCAP Housing Director, at 360-385-2571.

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