This information is drawn from the City of Olympia’s website about the numbers of homeless persons in the community, and some of the city’s programs that exist or are being developed. The link to the city’s website provides excellent background on the homeless crisis in Thurston County:
OUUC is a member of the Faith Alliance for Tiny Houses (FAITH), bringing together faith communities interested in building and/or siting tiny houses at their congregations.
Tiny Homes Sunday Dinner Second Sunday
Dinner for 10
We are providing food for the residents of the Tiny Houses in Olympia WA on the 2nd Sunday of every month. We need Dishes (main dish, sides, bread) to feed 10, help with delivering the food and eating with the residents. The Tiny Homes are located behind Westminster Presbyterian. To volunteer to support OUUC’s work for the monthly dinner for the Tiny Homes Project, contact Jo Ann Young
In recent months, both Thurston County and the City of Olympia declared homelessness a public health emergency, spurring responses from government, non-profit organizations, and faith communities to address this crisis.
OUUC has long been involved in programs to alleviate the harsh conditions of people living on the streets, in tent encampments, and in shelters. Here are some of those programs.
INTERFAITH WORKS OVERNIGHT SHELTER
For the past few years, OUUC members have provided food and hosts each third and fourth Wednesday at the shelter located in the First Christian Church in downtown Olympia. Currently the Hosts are not needed, but food donations are.
New Unity Commons: https://www.theolympian.com/article256762237.html
Guests moved into Thurston County’s first new homeless shelter in seven years last Friday. Unity Commons, a 65-unit housing shelter operated by Low Income Housing Institute along with Interfaith Works was dedicated during a Dec. 21, 2021 ceremony.
Unity Commons, located at 2828 Martin Way, boasts common spaces, outdoor decks, computers, even a turf area for pets to relieve themselves. It’s a huge step up from the church basements that Interfaith Works has traditionally operated out of, where residents had to go elsewhere to shower. Still appreciating meals twice a month from OUUC.
The brand new Unity Commons building’s Adult Shelter is on the first floor and opened full to its capacity of 53 guests on December 17. The other floors are 62 furnished apartments for adults. They will be filled as they are furnished.
The dinners include four or five main dishes and side dishes. Between 2,912 and 3,172 meals are served each year by 208 to 312 hosts.
To volunteer to support OUUC’s work at the Overnight Shelter or the monthly dinner for the Tiny Homes Project, contact Jo Ann Young
Each month a team of OUUC volunteers prepares and serves a meal at Olympia’s Community Kitchen at the Salvation Army, serving up to 200 guests a night in the dining area. Want to help peel, chop, cook and serve a wonderful dinner? Contact Karmel Shields. Can be found in OUUC Connect.
SUPPLIES FOR THE HOMELESS
Blankets, clothing, toiletries, first aid supplies, and food are regularly collected at OUUC, for those living in encampments or visiting the Care Center in downtown Olympia. Operated by Interfaith Works and Providence St. Peter, the Care Center offers a warm place during the day, where guests can take showers, do laundry, and connect with assistance programs. Supplies also go to Interfaith Works Overnight Shelter, Salvation Army, and Union Gospel Mission for their guests.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMS SERVING THE HOMELESS
Several OUUC programs provide funds to the shelters and services serving the homeless.
BOOKS, BROWNIES, AND BEANS
The annual fabulous one-day book sale, complete with a cabaret of musical entertainment, fresh coffee and brownies has, for several years, benefited programs serving homeless individuals and families, before Covid impacted us. All proceeds from the sale go to the recipients; in recent years they have included Community Youth Services shelter, Sidewalk, Interfaith Works Homeless Programs, and Family Support Services. We have had several on line book sales, and are planning a BBB for late summer. Want to help with this wonderful event? Contact Kent Canny.
Read about the history of the book sale here: BBB History.
SHARE THE PLATE
One-half of all contributions given in each Sunday’s offering that are not designated as church pledges go to a nonprofit in the community. Many of those organizations, including the Free Dental Clinic the Free Medical Clinic, and the Food Bank serve very low-income individuals in our community, including the homeless. Approximately $12,000 to $16,000 is distributed each year to those agencies that have applied to be part of OUUC’s Share the Plate program. Your organization may qualify! Contact Eric Felch.
In addition to programs to meet the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness, several OUUC members are working with the City of Olympia and with other faith communities to alleviate the housing crisis and help people move from the streets and unmanaged tent encampments into structures that offer more privacy and permanence. OUUC volunteers are joining others to build Tiny Houses that will be situated on city property and will be staffed by persons from LIHI, the Low-Income Housing Institute.
An Ad Hoc Committee on Tiny Houses has prepared a report with recommendations for next steps; informational meetings to include members of the community, as well as the congregation, are being scheduled to provide an opportunity for questions and comments on the Ad Hoc Committee’s recommendations.
The Conestoga Hut provides another type of transitional housing.
The huts, with front porches and doors that lock, a bed frame, mattress, window, and space for storage, provide a temporary home where people can find stability while trying to find permanent housing. Several congregations in Eugene, Oregon have hosted the huts and their residents on church property for several years, and their experience informs how Olympia congregations might respond.