Saturday, September 18, 2021
Sept. 18, 2021

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Vancouver cooling centers offer refuge, help those in need stay safe, cool

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
3 Photos
Tracy Jones of Vancouver joins a crowd of local residents at the Living Hope Church cooling center as she escapes the extreme heat on Monday afternoon. The church offered fans, cold drinks, popsicles and snacks. "I'm glad they have something like this. It's rough out there," she said.
Tracy Jones of Vancouver joins a crowd of local residents at the Living Hope Church cooling center as she escapes the extreme heat on Monday afternoon. The church offered fans, cold drinks, popsicles and snacks. "I'm glad they have something like this. It's rough out there," she said. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

When Pastor Brian Norris saw the need for people to escape the heat this weekend and Monday, he jumped on board to organize a “cooling center” at Living Hope Church.

“A lot of these people we look at as family and friends,” Norris said. “When there’s a need, we will fulfill that need, whether that be getting food in bellies; if that means getting people in showers; if that means opening up because it’s over 110 degrees outside.”

Living Hope Church was one of a handful of cooling centers that helped the community’s struggling citizens during historic heat temperatures. The cooling center is part of the church’s effort to help address homelessness, and at 2 p.m. Monday, about 40 people were getting food bags, clothing, tents, tarps, sleeping bags, backpacks, showers and other refreshments from the center.

The church organizes many programs and events year-round open to all community members at its location at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road, including heating centers when temperatures are low.

The church’s cooling center doesn’t plan to open today, as the high temperature is expected to reach 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Portland. The only one open today is at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 400 S. Andresen Road, available from 3:30 to 8 p.m.

Amber Barnett, a regular visitor at the church, said she’s never experienced temperatures as hot as these, and she worries for the homeless community. Barnett said she woke up to her 2-year-old dog panting on the tent floor, and that’s when she knew she had to find shelter.

“There should be day centers like this open more throughout the city instead of just grouped in downtown because the homeless community is spread wide out, and we don’t really roam far from our homes, whether that be a tent or a blanket,” Barnett said.

Barnett wasn’t the only one worried about her pets. Visitor Caleb Bliven, along with his three dogs, said he was grateful for the opportunity to stay cool indoors.

Sarah Beverly Schneider, an organizer for the cooling center, said her parents, Gary and Rae Anne Schneider, worked in collaboration with Living Hope to organize the cooling center and other similar programs year-round.

“We know people are in need, and we want to help make them feel special,” said Schneider.

Columbian staff writer
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