When the Colville Warming Center got off the ground last year, things went off without a hitch---except volunteers to keep the facility opened and staffed were hard to come by. Established through Rural Resources and a local Christian Ministerial Association the center offered homeless people in the Colville Valley, a warm, safe place to go to during extreme cold weather conditions of 15 degrees or a high wind chill factor.
Though a solid base of dedicated helpers did emerge, the center unfortunately wasn’t able to open until January, when winter weather had already driven most people to seek possible shelter elsewhere.
“We think last year’s pilot project for the center was successful, and we are very thankful to the people who got it up and running and donated their time and resources to make it happen,” says Angela Ward, Rural Re¬sources Community Development Coordinator. “We would like more volunteers this year though, so we can open up the center in November. We need the community to step up.”
The Colville Community Warming Center (CCWC) will be based out of the Colville American Legion Frank Star Post on Main Street. American Legion member John Horton is the director of CCWC.
Teaming up with the American Legion
“People often recognize the American Legion as having a very strong commitment to veterans and people know that it is a very patriotic organization,” says Horton. “But also part of that mandate is public service. We (Frank Star Post) are excited about this opportunity to provide community service.”
“Anyone can end up homeless,” adds Ward. “We don’t want to make the mistake of saying it only happens to a certain type of person. Many of the people we saw last year were just like you and me---they had just fallen on some really bad luck.”
The CCWC also has an extensive network of individuals, organizations and businesses that help get the word out about the weather. If the forecast calls for the temperature to drop, the word will be spread at the weekly free lunches provided by local churches, reader boards at businesses, on radio station KCRK and on the Statesman-Examiner’s Facebook page.
“The objective is to not only get these people someplace comfortable to spend the night, but to connect them with the means that Rural Resources offers in hopes of helping them get off the street and get more security.”
The CCWC is in need of instant food, granola bars, nuts, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, hygiene and paper products and cash donations.
“Any help that we get would be wonderful,” says Horton. “Watching people like Angela do this type of work reminds me of my own moral imperative to step up and lend a hand. It would be great if we could get more people who felt the same.”
For more information or to volunteer, call Ward at 685-6101.