Hood River Warming shelter opens on Sunday

Hood River Shelter Services will open for the 2017-2018 season this Sunday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at Riverside Community Church, 317 State St., in downtown Hood River — the sole site this year.

Last year, the warming shelter rotated among five locations.

This is the shelter’s eighth season in operation.

“As the weather is getting colder in the Gorge, we are preparing to warmly welcome our guests to the shelter,” said Shelter Executive Director Laura Westmeyer in an email.

“We’ll be set up with cots and mattresses, blankets and sleeping bags. Warm meals are being generously provided by local restaurants throughout the season. We also provide breakfast, access to a medical physician, shower vouchers, fresh clothing and referrals for other needed services.”

Dr. Laura Starrett will provide medical care on site each week as a volunteer physician, said Westmeyer.

There are many ways to help this year, from donating time to items.

“We have an enormous need for volunteers,” noted Westmeyer. “Even taking one shift per month is a big help. If every volunteer took five shifts over the full season — just about one shift per month — then we would need 140 volunteers to operate.”

Each overnight stay contains three shifts: 5-7 a.m. (wakeup, checkout and cleanup), 5:45-10:15 p.m. (setup, intake and service), and 10:15 p.m. to 5:15 a.m. (evening prep and overnight watch).

Returning volunteers are asked to sign up for their first shifts at the email above, or hoodriverws@gmail.com if they have not yet received the scheduling link.

For those who wish to donate physical items, the shelter is always in need of heavy winter gloves and sleeping bags, she said. Email to arrange for pickup or drop-off.

The shelter also needs volunteers to sign up for the Laundry Love program. Coins and laundry detergent — and about three hours a week once a month — are needed.

Laundry Love Coordinator Alicia Speidel explained that volunteers meet Warming Shelter guests at the laundromat at a designated time with quarters and detergent so guests can do laundry.

“Are clean clothes important to you? Do they make a difference in how you present yourself to others?” she asked in an email. “Imagine not having clean clothes to wear or even the ability to wash your clothes. That is a reality for the homeless in our area.”

For more information or to volunteer in this capacity, email Speidel at info@hoodrivercares.org.

Those who wish to help but are unable to volunteer should contact Westmeyer, also at the email above, for more information on specific needs. Direct contributions can also be made through PayPal at the shelter’s website, www.hoodriver cares.org.

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