Winter Welcoming Center continues into spring

PORT TOWNSEND — The Winter Welcoming Center — a refuge offering free shelter, companionship, electrical energy, snacks and computer systems — is staying open via April 25, co-manager Ben Casserd has introduced.

The downtown heart, within the Pope Marine Building on the pier at Water and Madison streets, is open seven days per week from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., providing a spot to get heat in addition to sizzling drinks, face masks, heat clothes, entry to pc printers and details about group sources.

Initially deliberate as a wintertime haven, the middle has prolonged its operation amid continued chilly, windy climate. Casserd reported the welcoming heart is seeing a each day common of 14 company with a complete of 1,617 patron visits since opening in mid-December.

The Jefferson Interfaith Action Coalition (JIAC), with help from native donors, funds the welcoming heart, whereas the town of Port Townsend, for the second consecutive yr, is leasing the Pope Marine Building to the nonprofit coalition at no cost.

The heart, Casserd stated Tuesday morning, is greater than a spot to get heat. He and the workers try to make it a haven the place folks really feel revered and protected — which implies everyone seems to be examined on the door for COVID-19.

Some 320 COVID exams have been administered because the welcoming heart opened, Casserd stated; a couple of folks examined optimistic.

“We refer them to the Express Clinic for a PCR test,” he stated of the Jefferson Healthcare clinic, which has the exams in a wagon outdoors its door at 834 Sheridan St.

This yr has been a beneficiant one by way of donations, Casserd famous.

“The public response this year has been absolutely amazing,” he stated, including that a whole lot of socks have been donated after which given to folks in want.

In addition, 166 Mom’s Laundromat vouchers have been offered to folks with out entry to a washer or dryer.

Donations of products and cash can be accepted via April 25, Casserd stated, noting that socks are the most-wanted objects; new underwear, tents and different tenting gear in good situation are additionally welcome. For info, cellphone 360-821-1926.

Julia Cochrane, an advocate for unhoused members of the group, stated she’d prefer to see a welcoming heart open year-round — however not essentially downtown. The Pope Marine Building has labored as a winter and early spring location, however she is aware of the town rents it out for numerous occasions throughout “festival season,” spring via fall.

She added that the JIAC will apply for grants, because it has executed up to now, to fund subsequent winter’s heart. Local church buildings and the Jefferson Community Foundation have been supportive, Cochrane stated, as have people: A $5,000 nameless contribution got here on this yr.

Cochrane additionally emphasised that such help ensures the workers is paid. The managers and monitor group all have private expertise with residing with out shelter, she stated.

Casserd, for his half, makes use of his abilities as an authorized restoration coach at and across the heart. De-escalation and data are his roles, as he gives patrons with what he calls “resource cards,” with almost 50 cellphone numbers and addresses.

They vary from the county’s 4 meals banks to the Washington Recovery Helpline, 866-789-1511 and the nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Veterans Crisis Line, 800-273-8255 (textual content 741741).

Casserd additionally gives details about the Recovery Cafe in Port Townsend. The cafe and group heart at 939 Kearney St. is open with free meals and numerous help teams Wednesdays via Fridays. More particulars might be discovered at recoverycafeJC.org or by phoning 360-385-5292.

In his work on the welcoming heart this season, Casserd added, he has realized extra about serving to folks address quite a lot of issues, from home violence to psychological well being challenges. He and co-manager Lisa Anderson additionally guarantee the middle’s no-drugs — together with marijuana — coverage is noticed.

“It’s been a really great place for me to hone my skills, but also remember I can’t do everything myself. I’m not a superhero,” he quipped.

Casserd was accompanied this week by Half Pint, the terrier who dozed on his desk inside the middle. Dogs are allowed, offered they’re leashed and managed by their house owners, he famous.

“I don’t like to sugarcoat things,” Casserd stated, “but we do everything we can to help our community.”


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz might be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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