Warming Shelter volunteers sought, training offered

The Hood River Warming Shelter seeks to provide some of the most vulnerable in our community with a warm place to sleep, according to coordinating Pastor Linda Presley of Valley Christian Church.

“The shelter served 63 different guests last season,” said Presley. “In total, we filled beds 463 times with folks from our Gorge community and beyond, from older single men, to families with babies.”

The program offers an opportunity to access a warm shower to improve community members-in-need health and welfare.

With colder and wetter weather already arriving, the shelter, hosted by a rotation of churches, is preparing to reopen for the season on Dec. 2.

“Congregations have stepped forward to host our homeless. Our most pressing need is for volunteers,” said Presley. “We need the help of the community as volunteers to make sure that we are staffed.”

Volunteers would be asked to serve 4- to 5-hour shifts between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. in churches during the winter months. A short training program is required of those interested in volunteering and space is now available in those sessions.

Warming Shelter locations include Hood River Alliance, Riverside Community, The Vineyard, Immanuel Lutheran and the Church of the Nazarene. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church will be preparing dinner for guests throughout the program.

Each night three shifts are staffed with two people each (adults 18 or older) who have had training and have had background checks.

Each site has volunteer coordinators or teams that assure guests are treated respectfully and have what they need, and that volunteers have support as well.

“We understand that people who can’t volunteer would like to help,” said Presley. She suggests three additional needs that supporters can help fill: Food donations may be given to FISH or by contacting Rev. Anna Carmichael at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Clothing may be taken to Hood River Valley Christian Church Thrift Store where guests receive free clothing.

Monetary donations may be made through the organization’s website, hoodrivercares.org.

Training is required for all volunteers as well as a background check.

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This year three volunteer training sessions are planned in November:

n Nov. 7, 6:30-8 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church

n Nov. 8, 6:30-8 p.m. at Riverside Community Church

n Nov. 17, 9-10:30 a.m. at Vineyard Christian Fellowship.

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Visit hoodrivercares.org to learn more about Hood River Warming Shelter, issues surrounding homelessness, and how to help Gorge neighbors in need, or email hrws@hoodrivercares.org.

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