PowerHouse needs our help to keep doors of its day shelter open
One of the most vital human services in our community in these troubled times is the PowerHouse Ministry Center in East Wenatchee, which offers people experiencing homelessness a place to warm up during winter days and cool off during the hot days of summer.
The low-barrier day shelter that operates four days a week is desperately short of money at this time and faces the prospect of perhaps having to close its doors, said Dave Kleinfeldt, a pastor who volunteers at the shelter regularly to give relief to PowerHouse Ministry’s sole employee, Scott Slack.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do; we have about a month and a half of funding left right now,” Kleinfeldt told me. The center typically has reserves of $30,000 but now that fund has been depleted to between $5,000 and $7,000. It costs about $5,000 for utilities, rent and to cover the cost of one employee.
There is a lot of effort being put into developing a low-barrier overnight shelter in the Wenatchee Valley, and Kleinfeldt believes that may have diverted funding available for other programs, including PowerHouse. Kleinfeldt sees the need for both places.
The organization is supported by a diverse group of organizations, including churches, Serve Wenatchee Valley, local homelessness funding and individual donors.
Those who visit PowerHouse have a chance to get a bite to eat, take a shower, relax on old couches or chairs, do laundry and perhaps find some donated clothing to wear.
For the PowerHouse regulars who have jobs in the community, having a place to get cleaned up and ready for work is essential for maintaining employment.
On the day I visited, a man reported being attacked and injured recently by a fellow individual experiencing homelessness. Such is the plight of those who have no place to live and who aren’t comfortable with the rules that go with religiously-governed overnight shelters in the community.
Kleinfeldt’s day job is at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Wenatchee. He also serves as pastor for two small congregations which meet upstairs in the building that PowerHouse rents on the north end of Valley Mall Parkway.
PowerHouse is also a place where agencies that provide services to folks experiencing homelessness can stop by to see if they can match individuals with resources such as mental health counseling, and alcohol and drug treatment.
About two-thirds of the people who use PowerHouse are experiencing homelessness, Kleinfeldt said. On busy days, as many as 75 people visit the day center. The typical PowerHouse visitor camps out in the community. On winter nights, they likely didn’t get much sleep so they look forward to getting warmed up and getting a cup of coffee and a meal.
It’s common for those of us who haven’t experienced homelessness to pass judgment and blame them for their situation. However, those who work with these individuals point out that high rental costs, a catastrophic medical bill can force people out of housing. Regardless of the circumstance, they are human beings and deserve to be treated with dignity.
As Kleinfeldt points out, once someone is on the streets it is terribly difficult to break that cycle. Getting services requires identification and most of these folks have had those documents stolen. Getting a job means having clean clothes to wear and that’s almost impossible living on the streets. You can surely see how hopelessness sets in.
It’s great that some day the valley will have a low-barrier overnight shelter, but what a human tragedy it would be to lose the vital human connection that PowerHouse provides in its day shelter. Our community needs both.
We can help PowerHouse provide essential human connection with those experiencing homelessness. It will take financial contributions, clothing donations and kind-hearted volunteers. To donate or volunteer, check out powerhousewenatchee.com.