Since the Snoqualmie Valley Winter Shelter has opened, we have logged more than 1,900 volunteer hours from over 100 people and have served over 550 meals (not including sack lunches) from many groups all over the Valley. All of us from the shelter have been pleasantly surprised by the great amount of support from this community. The shelter has been able, through all of its many partners, to find veteran’s benefits for one of its members and Social Security benefits for another. With work shirts and boots, three members of the shelter have found jobs.
Most importantly, we have been able to erase some of the stigma and fear of the unknown surrounding the homeless through the forward-thinking people of the Valley. As a result of the amazing number of people with the insight to see that the future is better for us all by giving these people a chance, many thanks. These folks have been able to come out of survival mode and with some nutritious food and a safe place to sleep; many have begun to make decisions that will positively impact their lives. These changes will mean a better future not just for these people, but also for the health of the community at large as they become contributing members of the Valley, and dare I say, taxpayers. We have, collectively, improved the health of the homeless in our community in the short term, but more importantly, we have taken the first steps to improve the health of our community.
The shelter has taken in enough money to secure staffing until March 31; the startup cost has been met so if you have been considering taking action, we ask you to consider that every dollar that is taken in now can make a huge impact on sustainable operations of the shelter. Even a small donation of time (Volunteer hours reduce the need for paid staff) or money can keep us open at least until the cold weather is behind us. You can donate online at www.cfhomeless.org/donate/donate.php
These first steps are a beginning to getting other necessary services in place to meet the needs of a wider range of problems that face our homeless population; but kudos to the shelter guests that have shown they are already willing to help themselves. Now they can take those first paychecks, and secure their own shelter. We tell our shelter guests that “this is your shelter” and they have adopted, cleaned and taken care of it, but the truth is that this shelter belongs to us all. It is a testament to the caring, giving part of our community as a whole.