Homeless Shelter Task Force, partners find ways to help needy

For the Kent Reporter

Every Thursday at 6 p.m., a line forms inside the New Beginnings Church that sometimes stretches from the far side of the room, out the back door and into the parking lot.

The people who form the line are of different ages and background, but they all need the same things: food, clothing and a place to go.

The Homeless Shelter Task Force attempts to meet some of those needs through Willow's Place, a weekly dinner at the New Beginnings Church in Kent where people in need can come, eat and pick up some supplies they might need.

Local restaurants participate by taking turns providing food for weekly meals, said Sally Goodgion, a member of the Homeless Shelter Task Force and the founder of Willow's Place. These restaurants have included Maggie's and Golden Steer, which have been involved from the start.

"Every single week, it's something different," she said.

In addition to feeding people, they also try to help in other ways.

A clothing bank is also set up at Willow's Place during the weekly meals, said Lois Deusen, treasurer of Willow's Place. The clothes are set out on a table and people can pick out what they need.

"Different people donate sleeping bags, tents and jackets," she said. "We just had a request tonight, a guy needs size ten tennis shoes. I'm sure he'll have them next week. We'll put the word out. Someone will come up with it."

Honlulu Molia, the son of the church's pastor, helps with overseeing the weekly meals by making sure everyone stays safe while at the church.

"I wish I could do more though, like provide them shelter," he said. "All we do is feed them, but at the end of the night like tonight, at least 10 of them will say they don't have a place to go."

Molia and those who run Willow's Place try to help as much as they can by giving them money, tents and blankets that have been donated.

"Whatever we got, we give them," Molia said.

Deusen said she has been able to use connections she has made to get additional help such as vision and dental care. Dental problems can prevent people from gaining employment. Fixing this problem can be the first step in helping a person get back on their feet by making them more employable.

"The task force is much needed because there are a lot of issues that I think needed to be dealt with, with the homeless," Goodgion said. "They've been laid off. They've had medical issues. They've had evictions ... More than anything sometimes they need a place to go to just get some hope. For those that are really hardcore living on the streets, they need a base center. They need a place to go rather than hanging out at the library. So there are more issues than just feeding people."

Those who want to help or donate can contact Goodgion at 253-852-0880 or by stopping by the New Beginnings Church at 6 p.m. on Thursdays at 214 Washington Ave. N.

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