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KentHOPE walks for homeless shelter
By Kierra Elfalan
For the Kent Reporter
An organization determined to establish a 24-hour homeless shelter in Kent walked the downtown streets last Friday in a mobilizing show of support.
KentHOPE – in collaboration with 25 local churches – has been working for three years to build a homeless day center and overnight shelter in Kent.
"Today's walk was a 'Journey to the Cross,'" said Pat Gray, chair of the executive committee for KentHOPE. "But it was also a walk to show hope for the homeless neighbors that we have in Kent."
The Hope for Homeless Walk began at Kaibara Park, where leaders spoke of Jesus' "Journey to the Cross" and led the crowd in prayer. At City Hall, walkers placed candles around a sign that read, "These candles are lit in honor of those in Kent without a home!!"
Participants also gathered and sang at the Command Labor Building, the walk's final location, where one member of the homeless community and supporter of KentHOPE yelled, "God bless KentHOPE!"
"I've been homeless for five years," said the man, who only gave his name as Dave. "I live under a bush with a sleeping bag, and that's all I've got. The homeless thing just has to get better."
Dave wasn't the only member from the homeless community who came out to support KentHOPE and its goal.
"I've been homeless down here over a period of 10 years, and this is something that's really needed," Karen Kelly said. "What this would do for the community is bring (the homeless off) the streets and into a place where (they) can get something to better themselves and the community."
About 85 supporters participated in the walk, according to Gray. They gained the attention of honking cars, waving bystanders and curious people who watched from the windows of businesses.
"It's a show of strength," Gray said. "It's a show of the amount of people in the community who have a concern, want a solution and want to serve the homeless."
Kierra Elfalan is a University of Washington student working for the UW News Lab.