Shelter Services gear up for winter season

With a new name and leadership, Warming Shelter seeks a home for 2016-17 and for the future

Carol Dearholt and Jan Miller

Carol Dearholt and Jan Miller

Headlines in the Hood River News eight years ago told of a homeless person who froze to death on a sidewalk in Hood River. This became a wake-up call for a group of people connected to GEM (Gorge Ecumenical Ministries). The Hood River Warming Shelter Steering committee was formed and the Warming Shelter opened in December 2012.

ways to help the shelter

n On Wednesday, Oct. 26, attend a volunteer training meeting at Hood River Valley Christian Church (975 Indian Creek Road) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Andy Wade, volunteer coordinator and Lorena Ruiz-Gonzalez, guest service coordinator, will conduct the training.

If you are a returning volunteer, you do not need to update your training unless you would like a refresher.

• Guests are often in need of good winter boots, winter weight sleeping bags, socks and gloves. If you go to the website — — you can purchase food stuffs, socks, or sleeping bags from the virtual store or you can leave any donations through the website or at St Mark’s Episcopal Church.

• Purchase copies of “12 Columns of Christmas,” a compilation of 12 years of annual Christmas editorials in the Hood River News. All proceeds go to Shelter Services; copies are available at the Hood River News office, 419 State St., for $5 each. (If your church or organization would like multiple copies, contact editor Kirby Neumann-Rea at 541-386-1234; lots of 10 are sold for $40.)

At first, the shelter was housed in local churches, but the need for a consistent location for the shelter became evident. A permanent base throughout the season gives stability and accessibility of services to guests who would otherwise have to sleep on the streets during the winter. So far Shelter Services has not found that space for this winter’s use.

Two regular volunteers — Carole Dearholt and Jan Miller — have stepped up to take over the position of co-chairmen when Rev. Anna Carmichael left Hood River in August.

The organization has changed its name to Hood River Shelter Services, and has bought a wheelchair accessible van to get those in need to the shelter. The vehicle got plenty of use this summer as Shelter Services provided a cooling center on Sundays at Mid Columbia Center Living.

“We have received some large donations, but we are still looking for a home — a place to call home for the season or we would be eternally grateful for a forever home,” said Miller. Call Miller at 425-223-0816 or Dearholt at 547-490-1920 if you know of a place.

The website,, will also give you needed information.

People in the community have stepped forward to assist shelter guests. Dr. Laura Starrett will again provide medical exams and referrals when needed. Rite Aid will come to the shelter to provide needed vaccinations and flu shots. This year Jim Goode, working for Mid Columbia Center for Living, will provide adult counseling as needed.

One of the most rewarding ways to serve the homeless is to become a volunteer, and a new opportunity to learn and get involved happens Oct. 26 (see box).

Training is free and anyone interested in volunteering at the shelter is encouraged to attend. There are six positions in three time slots that need to be filled each night for the shelter to remain open: opening shift from 6 to 10 p.m.; night shift from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and morning shift from 5 to 7 a.m. Each volunteer can select what day(s) and shift(s) that they would like to help.

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