Funding gone cold for Sequim Warming Center

The Sequim community continues to show heart for its homeless.

But a long, cold snap this winter could close the Sequim Warming Center’s doors just as it gets started.

Jean Pratschner, who has organized a warming center inside the Serenity House Resource Center at 583 W. Washington St., says the center has received $3,500 in funding for this winter through December of 2018 — or about 16 days worth.

The center is scheduled to open today, Wednesday, Dec. 20.

“$3,500 is not adequate,” Pratschner says. “We’ll be blowing through that (this) December. January is not warm and is our biggest month, probably.”

Much of what it takes to keep the center open has been donated, Pratschner says. She first suggested the idea to the community group Sequim Cares more than a year ago, and the project began to see fulfillment by October. Serenity House is donating the space and the center now has a list of about 50 members volunteers.

Pratschner says she calculated the center needs $180 for one paid staff member to work a single 12-hour shift; that covers minimum wage, benefits and insurance, she says.

The goal, she says, was to get at least $5,500 in funding from OlyCAP to get things moving via a housing grant, but that number came in much lower than hoped for.

Pratschner estimates now the warming center may need as much as $9,000 to stay open through December 2018.

“Everybody’s on board (and) we’re ready to roll,” Pratschner says. “I can do some fundraising in the summer but we’ve got to get through this winter.”

The center will open during severe weather, 32 degrees or below, from 8 p.m.-8 a.m. for anybody except unaccompanied minors. To open, the weather forecasts has to be back-to-back-to-back (three consecutive) evenings of anticipated freezing temperatures, Pratschner says, using an average of the National Weather Service, NOAA and local predictions.

It won’t host any cots or sleep facilities except for children, Pratschner says, and pets are welcome if calm and controlled. Before an individual can use the center, trained employees/volunteers will check for drugs, weapons and dangerous animals at the door for safety.

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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