Overflow homeless shelters fill up on first night

It's the first time that's happened, organizers say

By Craig Brown, Columbian Metro Editor



Both of the shelters used in the Winter Hospitality Overflow program were filled to capacity on their first night of operation. That’s the first time that has ever happened, organizers said.

This is the ninth year for the program, which is operated by Share, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, St. Paul Lutheran Church and Council for the Homeless. From November to March, it offers temporary nightly shelter in the churches to those who cannot be accommodated in the dedicated shelters.

“For the first time in the history of the WHO, both locations filled to capacity in the first day,” said Craig Lyons, executive director for Council for the Homeless. “As the nights get colder and the rain begins, WHO is a vital and welcome resource for many in our community, including children, who need a warm and safe place to sleep.”

St. Andrew has a bed capacity of 42 for single women, couples and families, plus eight additional emergency family spots, for a total of 50 beds. St. Paul has a bed capacity of 24 for single men. Share House also provides additional bed space in the dining room, which was utilized by seven men on Nov. 1. Each WHO shelter is staffed with professional Share case managers who help clients work toward self-sufficiency.

“For the second year in a row, the WHO program at St. Paul will conduct weekly group meetings,” said Katherine Garrett, director of Share House and Share Outreach. “The meetings will consist of training sessions on resume writing, interviewing, expected behavior in the working environment and guest speakers, all aimed at helping clients to secure employment, housing and move toward self-sufficiency.”

Beds are available on a first-call, first-serve basis through the Emergency Shelter Clearinghouse (ESC). To access these beds, call ESC at 360-695-9677. Families, couples and single women can call 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; single men should call 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

WHO is in need of individuals to fill shift vacancies, as well as for on-call volunteers. To volunteer, contact Kevin Hiebert, WHO Coordinator, at 360-699-5106 ext. 103 or who@icfth.com.

For more information about WHO, including volunteering and how to make donations (monetary or donations of clothing, food, etc.), visit http://www.whoprogram.org.

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