Guest opinion: Community care fuels Sequim Warming Center

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

The Sequim Community Warming Center was a complete success! I for one cannot find the words, shake the hands, raise the flags, shout to the world how grateful we all are for your support.

It’s amazing how you came forth with so much caring, love, food, help, tireless work with clothing, food donations, knitting, sewing, opening the wallet and praying to make this the best Warming Center ever dreamed of.

Here are some facts about us:

Open: 82 nights, plus six days at the day center in February

“Chair nights” (sign-ins): 1,002, or a 12.3-clients-per-night average (twice as many as last year)

Individuals served: 84 different persons (57 men, 26 women, 1 other)

Served, by age: 10-20, three; 21-30, six; 31-40, 16; 41-50, 36; 51-60, eight; 61-70, 10, and 17-80, four

Staff hours (night monitors): 820, supplied by Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP)

And a special thank you to that great St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, for allowing us to use their facility for our Warming Center; You are the spirit of generosity and hospitality.

As for donations and how they were used:

• 76 jackets

• 1,325 other winter clothes

• 32 shoes/boots,

• 56 camping gear items

• 400 hand-knitted foot, hand and head warmers (from about six people)

• 95 vouchers for shower/laundry

• 60 blankets

• 70 cases of canned food/pasta/meals/bars/oatmeal/fruit

• 300 others items, including books, puzzles, Christmas gifts, pet food, movies, snacks, etc.

• $2,500 in cash received for immediate purchase of needed supplies such as toilet paper

• $19,000 cash (approximate) sent to OlyCAP in the past two years for operations.

More helping hands

We also thank the Sequim Food Bank for helping us prepare nutritious meals for our cold visitors, with more than 800 meals served.

The volunteers, oh the volunteers, who signed up to be on-call for our openings: More than 300 half/nights we had to fill, and they were all filled by a promise to come in when called. If they had not promised, we could not have opened and many cold visitors would be turned away.

These wonderful people got up in the night and headed out to our center in the worst weather, coldest nights, even the great snowfall. They were there. Lives were saved, fingers and toes were warmed, spirits were given hope and a sense of Sequim caring for those who are less fortunate.

You were there, my dear VIPs, to warm their bodies and hearts. Thank you all.

Looking ahead

What now? Like squirrels in the summertime, we are still in gathering supplies, especially winter clothing, bags, blankets, gear, life-saving heaters for toes and hands. We are storing it for the cold time ahead. We are making preparations.

What do we need now? This: We need a permanent storage place for our supplies so that we can protect the gifts we must save to hand out later. We need money donations, enough to get through five to six months at $250-per-night cost. Our funds are almost gone. How shall we manage to be there when the temperature drops? Can we get a sizable grant to cover us? Can you pledge to support us, Sequim?

And we need more volunteers for next season. Many volunteers are unable to come back to promise to be there. We would like to visit with you if you are interested in becoming a volunteer now, well-ahead of the need.

Donations of cash may be mailed to: Sequim Warming Center — OlyCAP, 823 Commerce Loop, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

Other donations can be given to SCWC in care of Jean Pratschner at 505-264-0278. If possible, please hold them until we have a secure storage room, as space is scarce.

Thank you, Sequim, for warming up our village.

Jean Pratschner is manager of the Sequim Community Warming Center.

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