Record season for warming center

S-E Staff Reporter

As of last Friday, the Colville Community Warming Center (CCWC) had been open for 73 days.

By the end of March, the center will have been open at minimum 85 days.

“So much of that has been in a row,” remarked Andrea Gjendem, CCWC board member and coordinator.

According to Gjendem, in the history of the CCWC, which is five years, this is the most the center has been open in one season.

During the last season (the 2015-16 winter) the center was open 45-55 days.

The CCWC, located in the lower level of the American Legion, is a warm, secure non-profit facility that provides a place to spend the night for people who would otherwise have no shelter.

The CCWC also provides individuals and families with referrals and resources in order for them to move into secure and productive lifestyles. Services provided includes taking guests to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and to evening church events.

The CCWC board began this season's operations on Nov. 14.

Gjendem said the warming center has run low on volunteers, due to the strain of being open for so many days.

Five other volunteers, besides Gjendem and John Horton, Commander of the American Legion and CCWC board member, have assisted the whole season consistently.

The CCWC uses less than $5,000 in county funds to run the center, according to Horton.

Costs remain low because of the generous donations they receive and the amount of time volunteers give back to the community.

As of March 3, the 35 volunteers, working at the $11 minimum wage, essentially paid $28,105 back into the community with their time.

According to Horton, 45-50 different individuals have visited the warming center this winter season, with up to 520 guest stays. On average, seven people stay overnight, but some nights there were up to 12 guests.

Donations have supported the warming center throughout the long season.

In December, the CCWC held a fundraiser for supplies outside Super One Foods, and in February the Kettle Falls Honor Society donated more supplies to keep them going.

“It's been an amazing year in the fact that there have been restaurants – like Tony's Pizza and Italian Eatery and others that wish to remain anonymous – that have supported us,” Horton said.

Any supplies that will keep, like water, paper products and clothing, will be saved for the next season.

Any perishable food items will be donated to Colville Food Bank or other charitable causes.

While the warming center is closed for the spring and summer seasons, the CCWC will begin working on installing a shower, which they have been pursing for three years now.

According to Horton, Stevens County Commissioners approved the shower. Now the CCWC board is looking for a contractor to work on the bathroom.

The CCWC will finish off the year with a celebration on March 23 as a way of thanking all of its supporters.

Any past or present volunteers, and their families, or anyone who has actively supported the center, is invited to the end of year gratitude dinner. Prestige Care and Rehabilitation - Pinewood Terrace will be supplying the meal.

If you would like to attend, RSVP with Gjendem by calling or texting (509) 690-2505.