Benefit concert to raise money for homeless shelter

Posted 1/8/20

The homeless shelter at the American Legion has been full every night since extending to its winter hours last October, according to shelter manager Mike Johnson.

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Benefit concert to raise money for homeless shelter

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The homeless shelter at the American Legion has been full every night since extending to its winter hours last October, according to shelter manager Mike Johnson.

Now, the shelter and its volunteers are gearing up for the coldest months of the year. Last year, during the February “snowmaggedon,” the shelter operated 24 hours a day, providing beds for its normal 32 residents while also providing a “warming center” in the kitchen, for people who might not have a warm, safe place to be in extreme weather.

Operated by Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), the American Legion and the Community Outreach Association Shelter Team (COAST), the shelter managers and volunteers are hoping that if more bad weather comes, the shelter will have enough food and money to operate 24 hours a day and provide meals and warm drinks for those in need.

To offset the costs, COAST has organized a benefit concert to take place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the New Life Church at 1636 Hastings Avenue in Port Townsend. Eight bands and solo performers will play blues and rock, sixties covers, folk, Irish melodies and classic country music.

“Fort Worden had ‘The Thing,’ We are rolling out ‘The Love,’” says Marcia Reidel, Co-Chair of COAST. “This event will show that our community’s compassion for our homeless neighbors runs deep.”

“Donations of nonperishable food, warm gloves and gifts of money are encouraged and hoped for,” Reidel said. “These are the things we need to help so many people who would otherwise be suffering on the streets and in the woods. We serve many elderly men and women and veterans. Without the shelter these people with no family support would have no safe place to spend their nights.”

The musicians performing will be Anne O and Her Band, Buck Ellard, Gilbert & McHagar, Happenstance, Mike and Val James, Soul Posse, The Retrofiers and the Water Street Boys. 

“The creativity and talent of the musicians we will showcase is stunning and diverse,” Reidel said. “This is going to be a very fun evening, and a wonderful display of generosity for the most needy among us.”

COAST has a team of nearly 400 volunteers from churches across the city and county that make homemade meals for dinner every night at the shelter for six months a year. COAST also provides breakfast supplies and sack lunches and supports the shelter in other ways year round.

“Sixty-two percent of our budget comes from in kind volunteer hours and food donations,” Reidel said. “But the other part of our budget goes to support operations, helping pay for some of the paid staff at the shetler, kitchen supplies, paper products. We need the cash support as well. It goes to great use.”

The volunteers need money and supplies in the form of non-perishable foods and paper products like paper towels, napkins, plates, cups and more to continue making their daily meals.

According to Johnson, right now the shelter is also in need of blankets, paper products, sleeping bags, tents, and tarps. They also could use things like cough drops for the dormitory-style shelter rooms.

“There’s nothing that disturbs sleep more than one guy waking up at 2 a.m. coughing,” Johnson said.

The shelter also provides free showers and clothes for anyone in the community who needs it, even if they aren’t living in the shelter. Johnson said that due to its limited space, he has to turn away people some nights because there just aren’t enough beds.

“While we know many more could be helped, the capacity of the shelter is limited to 12 female beds and 20 male beds,” Reidel said. “The occupancy rate is close to 100% all winter season.”

The concert will also provide an opportunity for people to meet some of the volunteers involved in COAST and find out how they can join in helping out. While COAST operates the daily meals for six months a year, the shelter still needs more volunteers during the summer months, Johnson said. And if a winter storm does come, it will be all hands on deck to provide everything needed to keep people safe from the cold.

For more information about the concert, contact the New Life Church at 360-385-1717.

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