Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Kara Davidson
Gazette Reporter 

Pullman warming shelter seeks more volunteers

 

December 27, 2018



Family Promise of the Palouse is looking for volunteers to help at the warming shelter in Pullman through January 31, 2019.

The warming shelter this year is in the basement of the new Pullman City Hall building, the former Encounter Ministries at 190 SE Crestview.

The warming shelter is a temporary emergency shelter, open from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. on nights when temperatures reach below 30 degrees. It will provide a place for homeless people to be safe and warm in extreme cold weather.

The warming shelter had a volunteer orientation Dec. 20 and opened Dec. 21. The warming center aims to staff two volunteers at a time with three four-hour shifts, 7-11 p.m., 11 p.m.-3 a.m., and 3-7 a.m.

The shelter now has about about eight volunteers and not enough to cover the third shift.

It closed temporarily after Christmas. Another volunteer orientation for anyone interested in participation will be held before the warming center reopens on Jan. 7.

Family Promise of the Palouse, one of the driving forces behind setting up the warming shelter, signed a lease with the city.

While the warming center is closed, homeless citizens can go to the Pullman police department’s lobby, because the building is always open.

In past years, the warming center has been located in the Pullman Police Department’s lobby.

This year Family Promise of the Palouse has sought out a different location in respect to possible comfort in the warming center both physical and emotional, seeing as not everyone would be comfortable resting in a police station. The warming shelter also provides 15 cots, with space for people to lie down without feeling cramped.

Nathan Weller, Pullman City Councilman and chair of the Poverty Awareness Task Force, envisions the warming center as a place to provide not only a warm place for the homeless, but also a place to provide information to help people get back on their feet.

“It’s an ongoing project for myself and the interfaith groups I work with,” said Weller.

Another coordinator in the project is the Rev. Mary Beth Rivetti, a volunteer liaison for Family Promise. Together with Weller, she is setting up the guidelines and format for the warming shelter and volunteers, using guidelines and formats developed by program leaders in other locations in the region.

“It’s like we’re building the plane and flying it. It’s a little bumpy right now,” said Rev. Rivetti.

She explained how the current location for the warming shelter is part of a lease agreement with the city. Work on the interior of the new city hall will begin Feb. 1, limiting the amount of time the warming shelter can take up the space.

On Christmas Eve, the warming shelter was able to help a veteran.

Rivetti mentioned how they are trying to expand their resources for people in need.

“The people in the community of Pullman have pushed for it,” Rev. Rivetti said. She mentioned Reverend C. Shane Moore, Reverend Steve Van Kuiken, and Reverend Elizabeth Stevens as being in the forefront of the project.

These community members have been talking about the need for years. Other supportive community members include service providers, nonprofits, faith based social activists, local government and individuals.

Weller finds it encouraging how caring and giving people are in the communities in and around Whitman County.

Rivetti mentioned how the space for the warming shelter was offered by the City of Pullman early in the fall, and though the space is only available for a limited time, they may have another space available for February.

“I think we like to help people out,” said Weller, who feels the purpose of the warming shelter is to be a program to provide stepping stones.

“The warming center is there as a means of catching people who have made it through the cracks,” said Rev. Rivetti.

“It’s really about getting people back on their feet and getting them the help they need,” said Weller. “Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of an opportunity.”

 
 

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