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Kitsap Rescue Mission hopes to expand its services
POULSBO — About 20 homeless people per day seek respite at the Kitsap Rescue Mission's new warming center, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 200 people have sought daytime shelter in the center since it opened Oct. 21.
The crowd is mostly men, but some women and families stop in as well. Volunteers offer them hot coffee, snacks and a place to relax and watch TV, play games or read. The warming center is located in the rescue mission on the corner of 5th Street and Warren Avenue in Bremerton.
Walt Le Couteur, executive director of the Kitsap Rescue Mission, wants to expand the rescue mission’s outreach to include an overnight shelter. "We hear it all the time,” Le Couteur said. “A lot of them don't have any place to go; they are on the streets at night when it's the worst weather."
Here's how you can help. On Feb. 21, 6-8 p.m., there will be a fundraiser for the rescue mission in the Pearson Fellowship Hall at Gateway Fellowship in Poulsbo. For $10, you get spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, and spumoni ice cream. (Family rates will be available).
George Rickle of Passion Ministry organized the benefit; he organizes a benefit for a different non-profit on the third Friday of every month. Rickle expects that 200 people will attend the spaghetti feed.
Rickle's attention to Kitsap Rescue Mission is timely, considering that Kitsap has been experiencing a very cold stretch, with temperatures dipping into the 30s.
The rescue mission would like to buy a 17,000-square-foot building at 810 6th St. in Bremerton. Le Couteur said the rescue mission could expand its Fresh Start program from six to up to 20 homeless men served. He would like to add a Fresh Start program for up to 10 single women as well. In addition, Le Couteur hopes to someday open an overnight shelter that could take the place of Kitsap Department of Emergency Management's Winter Emergency Shelter, but he would like to see the shelter open every night, not just on the coldest nights.
“People really appreciate the day room,” Le Couteur said, adding that it’s not just a place to keep warm.
The rescue mission offers many services to folks that drop in. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the mobile shower unit is available, clothing is distributed, and haircuts are offered to those who would like one.
But what may matter most to the shelter's visitors is the time the volunteers spend talking to them. Many homeless persons are lonely, Le Couteur said; an important characteristic of rescue mission volunteers is their willingness to offer heartfelt warmth to those who crave a bit of company.
If the rescue mission had more volunteers, it could open the warming center on Sunday too. "We're always looking for volunteers,” Le Couteur said.
The rescue mission provides training. Shifts are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers check visitors in and out, monitor the room, and are available to chat. For more information, contact Le Couteur at 360-373-3428 or go to www.kitsaprescue.org/Volunteer.html.