A excellent chance to step up for your community
Over our recent days of sub-zero temperatures I heard rumors (at this time unconfirmed) that two members of the homeless community in Spokane died of exposure. That is two too many, but it might have been a lot worse. Keeping people from dying of exposure a low bar for a country as well off as the United States, but it’s where we’re at. Many living on the streets in Spokane found shelter thanks to the efforts and leadership of many people of goodwill who stepped up to donate or as volunteers to help those left abandoned by society and circumstance. The City of Spokane under the leadership of newly installed Mayor Lisa Brown facilitated the reopening of the Cannon Street Shelter under management by Compassionate Addiction Treatment, expanded the short-term capacity of the TRAC Shelter, and provided material help and cooperation whenever and wherever it could—in spite of being in office only two weeks. And:
“In addition to responding to this emergency, we are taking notes about the inadequacies that we want to reform,” Brown said to City Council members and assembled city officials Monday [January 8th].
Thanks to those words and efforts I feel a lot better about the moral conscience of my city than I did under then Mayor Woodward’s: “I think we need to get to the point where we’re working to make homelessness less comfortable….”
Hope House Women’s Shelter, Family Promise Open Doors, and other organizations stepped up their surge capacity.
In an ongoing effort Julie Garcia and her staff of Jewels Helping Hands provided triage, oversight, and hands-on efforts in cooperation with four small local churches to provide shelter and warmth for twenty people each. Thanks to outreach from JHH staff and volunteers, neighbors at each of the four churches assembled a “meal train” to provide supper to those sheltered. (More about the details of this JHH/”Love Spokane”/Spokane Homeless Coalition/Spokane Low Income Housing Coalition initiative in a later post.)
Now as snow falls and temperatures moderate we still have the issue we started out with: there are a growing number of our citizens who are homeless, either sheltered or unsheltered. Part of the years-long multi-faceted effort to stem the tide of those rendered homeless is the Annual Spokane Homeless Connect to be held this year on Thursday, January 25th, a week from tomorrow, from 10AM to 3PM at the Spokane Convention and Expo Center at 220 West Spokane Falls Boulevard downtown. It is fascinating to attend and even more satisfying, educational, and eye-opening to volunteer—and volunteers are still needed. Please read the news release republished below, check out the link SpokaneConnect.org/ and sign up to volunteer. You won’t regret it.
Keep to the high ground,
The 12th Annual Spokane Homeless Connect is scheduled for Thursday, January 25th, 2024, from 10AM to 3PM at the Spokane Convention & Expo Center, 220 West Spokane Falls Boulevard in downtown Spokane. The annual Spokane Homeless Connect, which will enter its 12th year this January, is the largest and longest-running homeless services event in Spokane. The annual event is designed to offer as many different services as possible under one roof. How does a community event of this magnitude operate? On Volunteer Power!
“We’ll need over 100 volunteers at this year’s Connect,” said David Stone, the Homeless Connect’s Volunteer Coordinator. “Each year’s Connect runs smoothly because of community volunteers who show up and put in time serving and assisting our guests. It’s mainly light work answering questions, giving directions, and helping guests find what they need. We love it when church groups or community service groups sign their people up and get involved.”
What Volunteers Have To Say . . .
· “Before volunteering for this event, I had no idea how many agencies there were assisting this population. It was great to see so much help available.”
· “As a volunteer escort, I assisted guests in finding the resources they wanted in the vast convention center. All of the guests were so appreciative and grateful for all of the services they were able to access.”
· “This was such a great event to be a part of! It made me proud of my city that there were so many generous people helping. And gave me some confidence that we can address the issue of homelessness.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer can sign up online through our website, SpokaneConnect.org/
Volunteers At The Core
According to Kari Stevens, Chair of the Connect Planning Committee, volunteers form the core of the Spokane Homeless Connect. For the past 12 years, the Connect has been organized and operated by a Planning Committee made up of volunteers who meet months in advance to plan each year’s event. Each committee member donates their time and expertise to make each year’s event a success. This equates to thousands of volunteer hours and is an amazing reflection of our community’s desire to address critical issues like homelessness.
“Community engagement is the obvious answer to how we effectively address homelessness in Spokane,” said Stevens. “Every year, volunteers from local homeless service providers team up with government agencies, faith communities, non-profits, grassroots service groups, local businesses, and private individuals to provide as many services as possible in one place and on one day,” said Stevens. “The goal is to remove barriers and create change for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. It really is a beautiful sight, and it brings our community together so we can improve the quality of life for everyone.”