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By Jesse Robles
For the Sentinel 

A Season of Giving: Goldendale charities on the cusp of Christmas


Thankgiving is over , the weather gets colder , the holidays are arounds the corner , and the thoughts of many turn to those with less than us. It is during these times that low-income citizens begin to face dropping temperatures and food shortages. But many charities such as Father’s House Fellowship and the Goldendale Food Bank stand ready to help the less fortunate in these rough times when a moment’s kindness can have the power to save a life. Father’s House Fellowship, located on 207 S. Klick

itat Ave., operates both as a church and an emergency shelter for those with nowhere else to go. Created in 2014, the Father’s House Emergency Shelter has become an important place for the homeless population of Goldendale and the surrounding communities. As Elder Will Dreger , supervisor of the church’s charity operations, says, “So far we’ve helped numerous people. People coming out of jail, people that are passing through town, people that are at the hospital call us, the County Sheriff calls us.” He mentions receiving clients from organizations from the State police to Programs for Peaceful Living. The most important service that Father’s House offers is as a shelter where either individuals or families can find temporary shelter from the elements, a lifesaver as temperatures drop to below freezing. For this purpose, two rooms, one for men and another for women (although there is an exception for families and married couples), are reserved for that very purpose. Due to city ordinances, the maximum time people can stay is three nights in a row but there are arrangements that allow some to access extra non-consecutive three-day stays. The rooms themselves are clean, warm, and include comforts such as television, VCRs and movies. The services also include access to food, showers, and access to a washer in order to do laundry. However, the Fellowship does not stop at offering a place to sleep, eat, and clean. People can donate important items to Father’s House by calling them at 773-4719 from the hours of 9 a.m. to noon. These donations often include clothing, food, appliances and furniture. Those last two are in particular high demand according to Dreger. “We get a lot of turnover on this,” he says. “We have a constant need of beds, dressers, washers and dryers. Any type of [working] appliances, we’ll take them.” On the subject of volunteers, Dreger pointed out how people could help. “All they will have to do is call me, of course.” The number he gives is (509) 250-1703. “Just ask for Will,” he continues, “if [someone] would like to come in and volunteer.” Most of the volunteering work he mentioned involved staying the night at the church in order to ensure the safety of the occupants and to make sure they follow church rules, such as enforcing an alcohol ban. It is a comfortable enough position as the church has set aside a room for its volunteers to sleep in much like the ones it has set aside for its clients. Another organization that sees increased demand in the holiday season is the Goldendale Community Food Bank of East Klickitat County. Located on 104 E. Simcoe Dr., sharing a building with the Christ the King Lutheran Church, the Food Bank has become a source of nourishment to many who would otherwise go without. Originally, a single room operation, the Bank’s stores of food and clothing have grown to take up no less than two, three during the holidays, rooms in the lower parts of the Church. Alecia Atwood, manager of the Bank since 2003, is asked about the many way a person could help them make sure that there is enough food to go to the large clientele the Bank. The simplest way, and the reason the Bank exists, is to come in to the Bank during its open hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and donate anything from canned food to clothing, although clothing donation should be restricted to Thursdays when the people in charge of the clothing donations perform their own operations. When asked what might be needed to help people through the winter, Atwood brings up a problem not many people think of when it comes to food charities: “If you want to donate any canned food for pets or a bag of dry food, we can break down pet foods. I think an important thing right now is also people’s pets. A lot of our clientele have service animals of one sort or another.” The Bank accepts all forms of canned and other preserved food, although they mention needing to be careful with items that experience freezing in the cold weather. But Atwood stresses the need for people to have a ready access to healthy protein sources. “Proteins are the most important item here,” she says. “Any foods with 7 grams of protein is what we’re looking for here.” Among the sources of protein she lists are cans of chili, beans, and many different kinds of soup. “We can always use more volunteers,” Atwood adds. “It’ll help take the load off the volunteers we do have so that they don’t have to come in every day that we’re open and they can take breaks.” A stated goal is to “use one person every other Monday or Thursday so [the current volunteers] don’t feel like they have to be pressed into service.” Asked about why they do this, both Atwood and Dreger mention a past of unemployment and homelessness respectively. “It’s enlightening” Atwood says. “Hard, too. Lifting more than anyone technically should be lifting. But it’s fulfilling.”


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