They tell me, “I’m Homeless,” “I’m just out of jail,” “I just aged out of the foster program,” “I just left an abusive situation,” “I can’t afford rent,” “I have PTSD,” “I have ADHD,” “I’m Bi-Polar,” “I’m out of medication.”

This past July, I assumed the job of Executive Director of St. Vincent DePaul (SVdP) of The Dalles. It has been a learning situation and an eye opener for me. I’ve met many kinds of homeless people in the last three months. They stop by Monday through Friday morning for a breakfast provided by Bread and Blessings. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday they are here for meals provided by Community Meal.

On a daily basis, we at SVdP provide the following services: showers, laundry, food bank visits, assistance with vouchers for clothing, gas, prescriptions and emergency housing.

Often, they come to our facilities for companionship, to share with each other a meal and to share information on how to survive on the streets.

The questions that are the toughest to answer are: “Where do I go to sleep?” “Where can I safely store my things?” and “Where can I use a bathroom?”

For the most part, the homeless people I interact with have long-time connections to The Dalles.

Many have vouchers for housing, but are unable to find a place. Unfortunately, the housing situation is not something a small non-profit like SVdP can solve on our own.

The worst time for being out on the street is the winter.

Another service we have offered for years is “The Warming Place.” It is a winter shelter that we operate from Nov. 15 through March 15 on nights when temperatures approach freezing. We can accommodate up to 19 people.

We depend on volunteers to operate the majority of this service, including The Warming Place. Volunteers need to be awake at night to assure the safety of everyone in the building.

We are in great need of more volunteers to help us run The Warming Place. Our volunteers have dwindled as longtime volunteers have aged out, or can no longer handle being awake all night. As a new volunteer, you would be provided training in advance of your shift.

Your investment of a nights’ sleep would go a long way in keeping folks safe and warm on a long winter night.

We are thankful for the many organizations that donate time and money to feed those in need through community meals. We are thankful for those who donate food and clothing to us. We are thankful for those who donate to St. Vinnies, and shop there, as they provide us with vouchers to assist those in need.

Again, most of these homeless folks have long-time connections to The Dalles. and I think it would also be helpful if city and county governments worked to help provide a bit more for all of our citizens.

Dave Lutgens

 Executive Director SVDP

The Dalles

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