For a first-time attempt at caring for our homeless neighbors, the Cold Weather Alliance can pat themselves on the back! Despite having to move from location to location during the three-month operation in Monroe, on the winter’s coldest nights, the group offered a roof overhead to 14 individuals, many who came multiple nights. During those 24 nights, from December through February, volunteers opened doors, laid out mats, provided security and warm conversation for those in need.
During the planning stages, Hannah Lundstrum from the YMCA in Monroe held the Alliance together. She kept the mission alive by sending her monthly email notices and consistent messaging. She not only kept minutes, but she kept communications flowing from churches to civic centers to firefighters and to police. And she kept a table full of community members from getting so caught up in the planning minutia that they might lose sight of the end goal: to open a shelter in December.
And as the weather grew colder, Candice Johnson jumped in as the site lead. Candice basically ran the show. She was instrumental in getting the door open to the homeless. She packed up her and her husband’s mobile unit, carrying cots, mats, pillows and such – pretty much everything needed for one to get in out of the cold for a night. Together with Therese Quinn from Snohomish County Medical Reserve Corps, a half-day training session for volunteers was in place.
The volunteers met enthusiastically for one last time on March 29 at the YMCA to reflect on the first-time effort and to share their experience. They agreed that sleep came much easier for them during the cold winter days, knowing that that together Monroe could provide a piece of “home” for those without.
The Alliance is looking for a committed location for winter 2013-14. They prefer having one location in rather than changing locations throughout the winter months. Although they prefer it to be in the downtown Monroe area, having one committed location is their first priority. A kitchen area would be nice but not essential. If you know of an organization or individual that might be interested in helping, please contact Therese Quinn at (425) 388-5075 or Eleanor Walters at (360) 863-3699.