Local Churches Provide Sanctuary From the Cold

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Game of Thrones may be over, but winter is still coming. The inclement weather is particularly hard on our homeless neighbors. Last winter, over 500 individuals in Washington County experienced homelessness. Our homeless neighbors are a diverse population, including men, women, veterans, adults over 65, young adults barely 18, couples expecting a baby, chronically homeless individuals and those experiencing homelessness for the first time.

For over a decade, two churches in Tigard have answered the call by opening overnight shelters. Officially referred to as Severe Weather Shelters, the Tigard shelters are as follows:

  • Calvin Presbyterian Church at 10445 SW Canterbury Lane. The church opens every Friday from December through March.
  • St. Anthony Catholic Church at 9905 SW McKenzie St. The church opens every Saturday from November through March and opens when the temperature is forecast to drop below freezing.

These organizations coordinate with other shelters in Washington County to provide a warm meal, a bed, free clothing and toiletries, and a shower (St. Anthony only) every night of the week during the coldest months of the year.

The problem of homelessness is complex, and solving it touches on many aspects:  affordable housing, treatment of mental health, addiction programs, rent assistance, etc.  While the Tigard Severe Weather Shelters actively partner with Washington County and other non-profits to connect our guests with services to end homelessness, the focus of the shelters is simple: provide the basic human needs of food and shelter for the night. It doesn’t matter how a guest got to this point or if they are ready to take the next steps; it just matters that a human being is cold, wet, and hungry with no place to sleep.

Countless people over the years have expressed how rewarding it is to volunteer at the Tigard shelters. They immediately see the impact: a guest comes back for second helpings because it’s the only meal he’s had that day; an older woman curls up on her mat immediately after dinner because she is exhausted from being in the elements; a young man relates his job search efforts to someone who patiently sits and listens. Shelter volunteers know without a doubt that their efforts make a difference.

The Tigard Severe Weather Shelters invite the Tigard community to make a difference. For more information about volunteering and donations, e-mail kelcie.anderson@live.com (Calvin Presbyterian) or sws@satigard.org (St. Anthony).

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