For these in need, warmth awaits -- with community's help

November 23, 2011

As the cold winds arrive and slip through door gaps and window sashes, imagine facing that icy blast with even less protection than a drafty home or poorly heated flat.

There are homeless families and individuals in Hood River who are already fighting that battle - sometimes left completely out in the elements without even a car to shelter in.

According to Pastor Linda Presley, the Hood River Warming Shelter program was created to help those community members and already has a schedule of churches willing to host those in need.

"Last year we served 15 people throughout the winter," said Presley. That number included a family of four.

With this year's tougher economy and rising use of food banks, the number of those needing basic shelter is expected to rise.

Beginning Dec. 4 and opening daily through March 31, the HRWS program will soon be open offering free sleeping accommodations and snacks from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week.

Staffed entirely by volunteers, HRWS is a coalition of community members representing service providers, nonprofits, faith-based communities and local government agencies who have come together to ensure that homeless people have warm and safe shelter during the winter.

The shelter location changes each week and follows a circuit of churches.

"If someone suspects someone of not having a roof over their head, let them know that there is a warm place for them out of the elements. They would receive a light dinner and breakfast for free by showing up at the appropriate site. If they do not know which site it is they can contact the hospital chaplain's office or emergency room to find out," said Presley.

The entire winter schedule is posted following this article. Donations to help cover operating costs may be sent to: HR Warming Shelter at P.O. Box 656, Hood River, OR 97031. HRWS is chartered under the umbrella of Gorge Ecumenical Ministries (GEM) - a nonprofit - and all donations are tax-deductible.

How it works:

People in need of a warm bed may arrive without an appointment or may be referred by an agency or organization.

Regular check-in is offered each day between 6 and 8 p.m. with check-out the following morning by 8 a.m.

Guests can expect to be asked to provide basic identification and to abide by shelter rules and supervising staff requests.

Guests will be offered a free dinner and breakfast.

Each visitor is assigned a sleeping bag and mattress according to gender, with family groups kept together (with some variation depending on facility space).

If no one arrives at the shelter by 8 p.m., the shelter will be closed for the evening. However, local police and emergency room personnel may still request a late check-in for emergency situations until 10 p.m. by phoning site coordinators.

Training for volunteers:

Volunteers are still needed and are asked to attend a training session, be 21 or older and submit a background check. Additional training sessions will be scheduled soon. See website for times.

For more information on any aspect of the HRWS program, or to make an online donation, see the organization's website at:

2011-12 site schedule

Dec. 4-10, Vineyard Christian Fellowship (Ninth and Eugene)

Dec. 11-17, Riverside Community Church (Fourth and State)

Dec. 18-24, Christian Missionary Alliance Church (2650 Montello)

Dec. 25-31, Immanuel Lutheran Church (Ninth and Sherman)

Jan. 1-7, Vineyard Christian Fellowship

Jan. 8-14, Riverside Community Church

Jan. 15-21, Christian Missionary Alliance Church

Jan. 22-28, Immanuel Lutheran Church

Jan. 29-Feb. 4, Vineyard Christian Fellowship

Feb. 5-11, Riverside Community Church

Feb. 12-18, Christian Missionary Alliance Church

Feb. 19-25, Immanuel Lutheran Church

Feb. 26-March 3, Church of the Nazarene (22nd and Belmont)

March 4-10, Vineyard Christian Fellowship

March 11-17, Riverside Community Church

March 18-24, Christian Missionary Alliance Church

March 25-31, Immanuel Lutheran Church

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners