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North Kitsap cold-weather shelter in works
POULSBO — A Poulsbo city council member is making efforts to establish a winter weather shelter in North Kitsap. Council Member Connie Lord, a First Lutheran elder, is working to create a warm haven for those in need at the church this winter. She hopes to have the shelter opened before the next big storm.
Establishing such a shelter is quite a process, Lord said, and she’s currently awaiting training and setting other logistics in place; in the meantime, Lord has traveled to the severe weather shelter at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, where she observed the operation and networked with other volunteers during her shift.
She’s also hoping to spread the word that the county’s shelter is available. There are at least 88 known families, with children, living in cars throughout Kitsap County, and other homeless living in wooded area camps may be reluctant to leave their belongings behind. But the shelter at the fairgrounds, Lord said, is a warm and comforting reprieve for those most exposed to the area’s treacherous cold weather. Kitsap Transit is providing bus passes to the shelter free-of-charge.
That shelter is scheduled to remain open through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 19, Lord said.
“They are committed to keeping it open seven days a week,” Lord said. “No questions asked, you just go down there, the person signs in, it’s very comfortable, it’s warm, lots of food and clothes available.”
Baby supplies are also on hand, as are heated Kitsap County Humane Society pet kennels, with food and water dishes for animals.
“They really, really have a good system there,” she said.
Volunteers are still needed. For more information, visit the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management Web site at www.kitsapdem.org, click on the “new volunteers” tab and then “severe weather shelter volunteers.”
Lord said she hopes to tap into a coalition of Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap churches, similar to the operation at the fairgrounds, in order to set up a shelter on the North End.
“I want to make sure that we have this available this winter if we have another terrible storm come in,” Lord explained. “It wouldn’t be just for homeless either. If people are without power — there are a lot of vulnerable people that need shelter.”
Lord recalled a winter storm in 2006 that left many senior citizens in the Poulsbo area without electricity for days, and credits that time as jumpstarting her desire to help.
“I’m well aware of the homeless population that’s out there. I’ve known some people that have lived on the streets and have told me how hard it is. It’s just something that’s always on my mind, especially when the weather gets bad,” she said. “We just need to get the parts and pieces put together.”