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What would you do? Let's give our homeless hope | Eckfeldt
What do you suppose would happen if some catastrophe left 63 of your Kent neighbors homeless? Can you imagine our response? What would be your response?
Just a week ago (Jan. 24) the 34th annual One Night Count of homeless people in King County revealed there were 63 people on the streets of Kent without shelter between 2 and 5 a.m.
Add to that the stark reality the number of homeless people you see during the day in many places in our city. We know we have a challenge. What should/can be our response? We would not turn our backs on 63 of our neighbors/friends. A number of years ago our city slogan was "Kent Cares".
For over three years a number of Kent churches and community leaders have been building the positive will and the creative means to respond to the homeless in Kent. In November 2012 KentHOPE held a fundraiser to begin to bring the dream of a 24/7 Kent Homeless Resource Center to reality. $82,000 was given and the outreach began. We have partnered with the Union Gospel Mission, which who has more than 80 years of successful experience working with hunger, homelessness, poverty and addiction.
But we have a problem. It seems that over the past year every potential site for the Resource Center is not acceptable. Without a location there can be no outreach, there will be no solution. The resource center could bring people off our streets, be a place where more than 30 human services agencies in South County who have services for the homeless could make them available, where dozens of citizen volunteers from our churches will donate their time and share their concern. The gift of caring and hope - a way out of the homeless cycle.
KentHOPE and UGM are earnestly working to get the business community and city elected officials to work together with them to find an appropriate workable location for the Resource Center. This cooperation must be a priority.
Until the 24/7 Resource Center is available KentHOPE opened a Women and Children's Day Center on Canyon Drive on Dec. 16. In the 36 days it has been open there have been 609 duplicated visits by women and children. Seventy-five took advantage of counseling, three enrolled in school, 179 showers, more than 300 items of clothing given and 743 meals have been served. Many of these women spend the night at Holy Spirit Parish/Catholic Community Services Women's Winter Shelter (which closes March 15).
The second community fundraising dinner will be this spring. More details will be provided. Funding goal: $90,000.
Marvin Eckfeldt, who served as pastor of First Christian Church of Kent from 1967-2000, is retired and lives in Kent.