Warming center gears up to help homeless

The cold weather season is fast approaching and the Colville Warming Center is getting ready to open its doors for the winter. After finding a permanent home in the lower level of the American Legion Hall, the Warming Center has gone through some changes to make this year a success. The center has had a facelift and new energy has been infused into the project. Additional volunteers are needed to extend a generous hand for those who are homeless in the community. The mission of the Warming Center is to ensure that homeless people in Stevens County have a warm dry place to go during cold weather conditions in wintertime. The Warming Center project has been adopted by the American Legion with the support of the Colville Ministerial Association. Beginning last year, the American Legion, with a group of volunteers worked to transform a basement into a warm, secure facility. Volunteers replaced flooring and wall paneling; installed restrooms, plus access to a washer and dryer. The warming room has couches and chairs, a television, game table, and books to read. A kitchenette provides hot water for tea and cocoa, coffee, and instant soups to help warm occupants. “We value respect for the dignity of all humans, especially those who are homeless. We aim to create a space that is physically safe for all regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” says Lisa Meddock, who is assisting with operations. “Guests arriving at the Center can expect to be greeted by friendly volunteers. They will sign in and must agree to abide by simple guidelines put in place to protect the safety of staff and guests. Belongings are put in a secure location and returned to the person upon leaving our facility the following morning. “Our goal is to be the first point of contact for services supporting homeless resolution.” Volunteers are needed to keep the Warming Center open and operational. The Upper Columbia Volunteer Center, a project of Kettle Falls Horizons Community Programs, located in Kettle Falls, has stepped up to help. The group is assisting with recruiting and training compassionate volunteers who are interested in helping to combat homelessness in the community. Teams of three volunteers will rotate shifts to cover nights when temperatures drop below 20 degrees and there are people waiting for Warming Center services. The more volunteers that are available the more the community can share the commitment to meet our goals. Volunteers can help identify needs such as Veterans services, family support, mental health, and information on possible housing opportunities. Other services might include a bus ticket home or referrals to other opportunities supported through the Department of Social and Human Services. Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact the Upper Columbia Volunteer Center, located behind the American West Bank in the Kettle Falls Horizons office and computer lab at 365 W. Third, Suite B. For more information call (509) 723-0708 or visit the internet site at kfhorizons.org. Donations for the Warming Center are being accepted through the Colville Ministerial Association. The Center will be in need of non-perishable food items and paper products. Monetary donations are greatly appreciated to help balance expenses that in-kind donations do not cover. Contact Pastor Jim Castrolang at (509) 684-3444 for more information about donations.